Technical Glitches

Ran into some technical problems.  The last post I wrote disappeared into the air.  So we’ll try this again.  Its been a busy few weeks.   I did well for about a week or so after my last endoscopy and then problems returned.  I was still having issues with vomiting and now add chest pain.  I ended up going into urgent care for fluids.  I was two liters low.  I kept in contact with my doctor’s office during the week.   Finally we decided that yes, I needed to do another endoscopy.  This was be the third one since May.   I really didn’t want to keep doing endoscopy after endoscopy.  Even though I know that sometimes it takes multiple attempts at stretching to resolve the strictures.  The good news is that no more strictures, however I did develop more ulcers.  They are mild but they are what is causing me to vomit and have chest pain.  These are ulcers on the surgical suture area on my new stomach pouch, not the big bad bleeding ulcers that are common in normal stomachs.  Although they can get worse if not treated aggressively so back on meds and a bland diet.  My endoscopy was on Monday and already I am feeling sooooo much better.  I am still unable to tolerate most meat proteins.  So I am still trying to listen to my body.  Concentrating on eating slowly, getting in my protein, and my water.  I will try something new only once a day and see how it goes.  Just going slow.  I see my surgeon again next week for a follow up.

So update on my stats….20180811_202642

Highest weight 270 pounds

Surgery weight 262 pounds

Current weight 192.5 Pounds

I am very quickly needing to buy new clothes.  I continue to hit the resale stores as I am still transitioning down sizes.  I have put some of my clothes up for sale online.  Going to need new hunting clothing but unsure what size I will be in November.  As you can see I got a bit sun-burnt today walking on this warm day.  I am starting to loose some hair.  I knew this was coming but its still hard to see all the hair going down the drain and in my comb.  Good thing I have some curl to hide the bald spots.  They do warn you about it at the pre- surgery classes.  It will eventually grow back.  It is such a shock for your body dropping all this weight so quickly.20180716_115439

I’ve been keeping busy physically with lots of activity.  I continue to kayak with my new pup.  Of course walking is a must with a young dog.  I recently found a dog trailer at the resale shop so now I have a doggy co-pilot for biking. 

My younger pup loves it the older pup not so much.  Tonight I did a 4 mile ride.  Although not super long there are two large hills and this is really my first time back biking in two years.  So I am happy with that.  Also I did a lot of walking today while volunteering at a prison.  Even though I am keeping busy with physical activity I am really trying to listen to my body.  We had a decent drive home after volunteering and I was able to nap in the car.  I am pushing fluids as I type to keep well hydrated.  It was very warm here today.

I took the younger pup out to a local state park yesterday for a short walk.  We had lots of fun splashing through really warm standing water.  She found some crane friends she wanted to run and bark at.  Best of all no ticks!!  They have a dog beach but she didn’t want to swim at all.

This week is all about working on foods.  I continue to love the Orgain protein shakes premade with organic milk.  I did not like the vegan powder version…. yuck!!!  My other go to items right now are oatmeal, re-fried beans with cheese, greek yogurt, and soup.  I did try some of my homemade pickles the other day.  I just chewed them really really well.   Early summer is typically when I start my canning season.  I skipped strawberry season, I didn’t want to tempt myself with all the yummy strawberries.  Plus I really don’t need any jelly or jam at this point I am not eating toast or bread.  And lets talk about sugar content.  I am not able to tolerate anything beyond a 8-10 gram sugar content in a serving.  Anything more than that I get dumping syndrome. 

You may be asking well what is dumping syndrome?   It is a group of symptoms that may result from having part of your stomach removed or from other surgery involving the stomach. The symptoms range from mild to severe and often subside with time.

 After gastric surgery, it can be more difficult to regulate movement of food, which dumps too quickly into the small intestine. Eating certain foods makes dumping syndrome more likely. For example, refined sugars rapidly absorb water from the body, causing symptoms. Symptoms may also happen after eating dairy products and certain fats or fried foods.  I even have to be careful of certain sugar alcohols that are used in sugar free options.  Sucrose is a big trigger for me.

An early dumping phase may happen about 30 to 60 minutes after you eat. Symptoms can last about an hour and may include:

  • A feeling of fullness, even after eating just a small amount
  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Sweating, flushing, or light-headedness
  • Rapid heartbeat

A late dumping phase may happen about 1 to 3 hours after eating. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Flushing or sweating
  • Shakiness, dizziness, fainting, or passing out
  • Loss of concentration or mental confusion
  • Feelings of hunger
  • Rapid heartbeat

These symptoms are not life threatening but neither are they pleasant.  But paying more attention to my body has allowed me to avoid dumping syndrome.

I’m excited for canning season.  I did put up a bunch of garlic dill pickles.  Tried a new recipe and I got crunchy dill pickles…… yeah!!!  I also pressure canned some beets.  Soon it will tomato time and apples.  I usually make a bunch of salsa and tomato sauce for gifts.  This year I will be making some low sugar applesauce for myself.  I really enjoy the canning and then I know what is actually added to the fruit and veggies.  I also give them away as gifts.

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With lower calorie counts I am still having some fatigue.  Especially after work multiple twelve hour shifts in a row.  I think this will get better as I am able to eat more calorie dense foods.

I was told that my surgeon would consider fixing my hernias in three months.  As this was the whole point of gastric bypass this makes me happy.  Yet, I can’t take off work again this year for surgery.  This next one will be a twelve week recovery as it can’t be done laparoscopic.  The hernias are stable and although large and uncomfortable they don’t pose an immediate threat to my health.  I am also hoping to travel abroad next year in early summer so I think I will hold off until after that trip.  That way I don’t have the added pressure of trying to recover fast enough to travel and take the time off work.  It also makes me think about possible future surgeries.  As I lose weight the skin is starting to hang in places.  Skin surgery is a common topic in many of the message boards and support groups that I attend.  I want to wait to see what will retract on its own.  However, I am considering breast surgery.  Yet this will wait for at least a year or two.  I am not sure that I would want surgery on my arms or legs.  When my hernias are fixed, we may and try to get plastics involved to help remove the excess skin on my abdomen.  For now it will remain do I want skin surgery or do I not…..time will tell what I decide.

 

I’ll leave you with these thoughts…..20180716_115439fb_img_1534020467868

Slimming down

It is amazing how quickly I am losing weight.  I am now down to 209 pounds.  Crazy to think that April 18th I weighed 262 pounds.   I just wish I could enjoy the process a little bit more.  I’ve had a few more complications since my last post.  I’ve had some close friends and family ask recently if I regret anything with all the complications.  And honesty I can say…… my only regret is not doing it sooner.  20180710_16461720180707_163244

So the complication saga continues….. I don’t want to scare those who are pre-surgery.  The complications I have had aren’t all that common.  I’m just “lucky”.  So I went back to the ER for vomiting and dehydration.  They admitted me overnight as my potassium was slightly low and moved up my endoscopy procedure to that day.   I am so thankful for that otherwise I would have had to wait until today to do that.  I was trying to figure out how to keep working while vomiting and very low calorie count.  During the endoscopy they stretched another stricture and found a small esophageal tear.  That small tear was very uncomfortable for several days.  They aren’t sure if the scope may have caused it or the vomiting.  I am currently on a full liquid diet once again for another week.  Then I can try and transition to pureed and soft foods.

It has been a frustrating journey the past few weeks.  I should have just had my second endoscopy sooner, however I wanted to try different textures and different foods.  I wasn’t convinced the stricture would return so quickly.  Several ER trips and an overnight stay later, I am finally feeling a bit better.  I’m a RN, so I can navigate the system well and yet I still was drip fed information, felt unsupported, and not listened to.  So I kept pushing my care providers and calling.  So I would encourage any patient that feels the same way to keep persevering.  Don’t give up.  After coming home from the hospital the next couple of days were tough with swallowing because of the tear in my esophagus.  I called the clinic and was finally able to see a provider.  It didn’t help that this was during the holiday weekend.  She was amazing and really took the time to talk with me, listen, offer me Kleenex, and give me some hope.  I was in a really dark place and having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.  She was exactly what I needed.  We came up with a plan and she followed through on calling me at home and checking in.  I can’t say enough how big of a difference this made.

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I was also told I need to slow down and let my body heal.  I have always been fat and active, I have a hard time sitting on my butt.  Especially during nice weather.   So I did try and slow down, although I did a small hike on Saturday couldn’t just sit at home on such a beautiful day.  Nature is a balm to my soul.  Below is a picture from my hike at Parfrey’s Glen.

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My plans going forward are much the same.  Take some time to listen to my body.  Take some time to rest when needed.  Focus on my water intake and protein.  Slowly advance my diet.  My next non food reward is going to be skydiving!!!  I am hoping to go once I am below 200 pounds.  Most likely in September.

Keep working with the puppy on training.  Especially potty training…..  Just gotta keep swimming literally and figuratively.  I know the difficulties will pass.  I know that I will be able to enjoy my new physical form.  Even if I lose some muscle mass now I can rebuild again.  My identity is not just my strength.

It’s funny this surgery will change you in ways you never thought possible.  But then again how can it not.  I am rediscovering who I am.  Yet I am still me.  I still love my family and friends.  I enjoy many of the same activities as before. (except they are easier to do now).  But I am different.  I need to redefine who I am.  What makes me me?

At some point I will dive back into the dating scene.  I’m nervous for that.  I almost feel like well you wouldn’t date me when I was fat but now that I lost some weight you will…..  I know that I don’t need to have a boyfriend to be complete, yet I am tired of being alone.  I want someone to share my life with both the ups and the downs.  We’ll see where the path leads.  For now I am concentrating one foot in front of the other.  Step by step.

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Just keep swimming…..

I can’t believe its been a little over two weeks since I last posted.  I’ve been keeping busy and having a few more complications from surgery.   Hence the just keep swimming title.

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I ended up in the ER again last night due to vomiting, abdominal pain, and chest pain.  Turns out that I have a kidney infection.  Likely from the kidney stone I had earlier.  I got a dose of IV antibiotics and am now on oral.  The vomiting issue continues to be present.  I have an appointment on July 10th to have another endoscopy and possible stretching of a stricture.  I am hoping to have someone to drive me to the procedure.  That is the part that sucks about living alone.  They won’t let me take a cab home.  I have also restarted the ulcer medications.

It has made the past few weeks more difficult.  Because who really likes to vomit.  It makes you feel crappy all day long.  However I am doing my best to keep my spirits up.  I would still say even with some of the complications I would do this surgery again in a heartbeat.  Some days are harder than others to keep the positive attitude going.  On those days I turn to my friends and my animals for support.  I added a nine month old puppy to my household.  She is so sweet but a still a puppy.  I have a long road with her curbing puppy mouthing and chewing to appropriate items and potty training.  I forgot how much I hate potty training…..But when she crawls up and puts her head on my shoulder and snuggles in it is worth all the effort.  And lets face it getting out to walk her during the day gets me outside and better able to lift my spirits.

My friend and I found a groupon for a local gym that made it really inexpensive to join for 2 months.  I currently belong to planet fitness which is good but doesn’t have a pool.  I missed swimming.  So now I am swimming laps again multiple times a week.  It feels so good to get in the pool again.  And of course sitting in the nice warm whirlpool afterwards is awesome!!!  As of today I am down to 214.4 pounds.

I have  had to start shopping for transitional clothing.  All of my 2xl clothes are huge on me.  I am currently dropping into a large or xl for pants.  And a XL for tops.  Tops are more troublesome due to my hernias.  I still don’t want to wear anything to form fitting.  The harder part is finding bras that fit as I am really not sure what size I am.  Plus I don’t want to spend a fortune on bras that I’ll grow out of in a month.  I have been getting sports bras but they don’t offer much support unless you want to spend more money on them……

I am finding everyday things so much easier… from dishes, laundry and such.  To clipping my toenails.  They are so much easier to reach.  With the complications I have dealt with some fatigue.  No surprise dealing with a kidney infection.  No wonder my energy levels took a dive.  I had thought is was lack of calories. I am just hoping that I will have enough energy to get through a camping trip I have coming up.  I really enjoy camping but this will be a new experience with my food restrictions.  Plus it takes a lot of energy to set up and take down.  I feel like I could just sleep most days away right now.  Just gotta keep one foot in front of the other!!

This a long distance journey… I have many miles to go.  This is not a sprint.  Journeys are meant to be challenging.  For how else to you learn and grow?20180625_172711

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying on the Journey…..

The journey continues…..I’m doing so much better after the procedure a while back.  Although I still have some issues with animal based proteins.  However, its so much easier to eat when it doesn’t come back up!  I am still have some ulcer pain but that is also much better and more manageable.  As a reward for getting under 230 pounds, I used my insurance wellness program to help pay for a kayak!!!

lake kajak kayak
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I haven’t gotten to use it sadly as the weather hasn’t cooperated.  My hope is to get out this next week and try the new puppy in the kayak.  She wasn’t a fan of the water so it should be interesting.

I also had another common complication earlier in the week.  I got kidney stones.  That was fun. I didn’t realize that the treatment for them is the opposite of what you would think.  My primary doctor told me to reduce the calcium supplements.  My bariactric surgeon said that is the wrong thing to do.  The calcium citrate will help bind the citrate in the urine and help reduce stone production.  The big thing he said was to stay hydrated.  So really working on getting enough fluids in during the day.  I do better on my work days than on my days off.

I am finally eating some soft foods and getting a little bit more variety in my diet.  Now I really need to get to work with menu planning and cooking and prepping my meals for the week.  I am also cleared to start exercising more.  So that also needs to be a priority in the next weeks.

I had a small stall in my weight loss.  This most likely due to inadequate calorie intake during my issues with vomiting.  As I am able to eat more my wieght loss has restarted.  Today I am down to 224 pounds.  I will soon need to invest in transitional clothing especially undergarments.  I just don’t want to spend a lot of money on transitional clothing….20180531_000831

Ahhhhhh Relief……

20180507_130534I am feeling so much better today!!  I had a procedure done yesterday called endoscopy.  This is where they put a tube down your throat with a camera and other attachments.  They looked at my new stomach pouch and the  opening from my stomach to my intestines. It requires sedation and so I needed to find a driver.  My friends are so amazing that even at the last minute they helped me out!!

As you may recall, I’ve been dealing with lots of pain, nausea, and vomiting while trying to eat.  Over the last week or so I’ve been mainly on a clear liquid diet.  It is hard to get calories and protein in this form.  I know that there are protein waters but I was having a hard time getting those down as well.  It was confirmed that I have a small ulcer on the suture line of my new pouch.  So for that I will continue to take my protonix and carafate.  These should help it heal over time.  I still need to be vigilant of signs of progression, but this should clear that up.

They also found that the opening between my stomach and intestines was smaller than it should be.  This is referred to as a stricture.  So they put a balloon down and stretched the opening with the balloon.  This will make it easier to tolerate more than fluids.

I am happy to say that today I am able to drink protein shakes, yogurt, and even some soup.  I also feel like I have some energy today.  Probably because I am finally getting some calories.  I choose to stay off work today so I can focus on staying hydrated and advancing my diet off the clears and onto at least pureed foods today.  Plus if I can get some calories in I will be much more efficient at work.  I will not have such a brain fog.  Which is important as a nurse to not have brain fog while working.

I was so relieved that they found something yesterday.  I still have this irrational fear in the back of my head from growing up.  I was told that I was a hypochondriac growing up and that most of my issues were in my head.  They weren’t but not all issues are things easily seen.  In particular I had really bad irritable bowel syndrome that made things very unpredictable.  Once I learned my triggers I was able to mitigate some of the IBS symptoms.  Anyways, I still am always nervous when having testing done.  Even though I knew something wasn’t right physically, I still worry that its all in my head.  It’s something I am working on.

Today I’m at 229 pounds.  I haven’t been this low since collage over a decade ago.  I am really seeing in my face. 20180601_133651

Not so much in my torso, but with the hernias I am not expecting huge changes in that area.  I did a closet clean out this week as well.  Got rid of all my 3xl and 22/24 size clothing.  It was three large garbage bags full of clothes.  I have given them to a friend and what she doesn’t want will go to charity.  Its funny even with all that clothing gone I still have a pretty full closet…..

I love to thrift shop and may have a slight shopping addiction.  I have become better recently at not buying lots of things.  I do however really enjoy thrift shopping and garage sales in general.  I am learning to become more discerning in my purchases.  I love a good bargain.  At some point I will need to buy new transition clothing but I am trying to hold off for a bit.  I think I will be living in lots of stretchy things like leggings for a bit.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”-Eleanor Roosevelt
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Complications

Sorry it  has been a bit since I last posted.  I have been having some complications from surgery the past several weeks.  Last week I visited the emergency room for fluids.  I became very dehydrated due to vomiting.   At first I thought that I caught the tummy bug that was going around.  Sadly that is not the case.

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It started when I tried to advance my diet.  I had been trying to introduce some soft food items.  I  started to have more pain with eating.   So they put me on an ulcer medication.  By the way that stuff tastes nasty but I was hoping that would solve the issue.  After the ER visit, I was able to keep fluids down.  Full liquids and pureed foods not so much.  Sometimes they would stay down and hurt other times they would just come right back up.  I have puked more in the last two weeks than I have in years.  It is still not fun!!!

I have to admit that this is definitely affecting my mood.  It is hard to stay positive when you just don’t feel good.  Just gotta get through this.  Things will improve.  I continue to attend support groups both online and in person.  I have joined several private Facebook groups for people who are thinking of or have had surgery.  And of course I have an amazing group of friends and family that are very supportive. All of this makes this just a bump in the road.  I will be off work for a bit with this as well.  So yeah now I get to deal with Unum.  This is who my employer uses for our family medical leaves.  They aren’t fun to deal with.

So for now I am back on clear liquids.  And I am now schedule for an endoscopy procedure on Thursday morning.  They will get a good look at the inside of my pouch and be able to open any strictures with a balloon.  Sometimes the opening between the stomach and the intestines can scar down to the point where it is difficult to pass more textured food.  Hopefully this will help me to feel better.  Thankfully I have great friends that are able to help schlep me around with only a few days notice!!

My dry socket is completely healed and no longer an issue….Yeah!!!  Word of advice don’t get a tooth pulled several weeks after major surgery.  Hindsight 20/20 right.

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Not the best photo in the world but I have also added a new pup to the household.  She originally was with my sister.  However she wasn’t a good fit for the family.  So we are trialing her at my house.  She is only 8 months old.  We believe she is terrier/chihuahua mix.  As you can see my older pup isn’t so sure about this high energy pup. Neither is the cat.

So far things are going well with the integration.  Working on potty training and basic commands.  She is so dang fast.  Just when I thought I had the house relatively puppy proof she proves me wrong.  She is also very adept at getting out the door.

My current wieght is now 230 pounds.  I have lost over 30 pounds in six weeks. I am having to get rid of my 3xl clothes as they are falling off me.  I think I will probably live in stretchy Capri and shorts for the summer as they can more easily accommodate my changing size.  Don’t want to spend a lot of money on transition clothing.  But I will need to at some point.

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Pureed diet fun

So far the recovery process is going well.  I do have a tendency to overdo things.  Its hard to remember that I had major surgery just four weeks ago today.  My life has changed in so many ways.  I am so excited to see the process in the journey.  I have also found a new passion.  I am very interested in sharing the techniques I’ve developed on shifting my mindset when it comes to food.  I truly believe that to reach my goals I needed to redefine my relationship with food.  I also think that this is a major downfall to most weight loss programs.  I was very proactive about this before surgery.  I was really surprised that patients aren’t required to see a counselor or do any mindset training before surgery.   The surgery is just a tool.  It is a great tool that can help you achieve your weight loss goals, however if you don’t change your relationship with food you’ll probably end up where you were.  In the short term yes you loss weight.  However at some point you will be able to eat regular food again, at that point if you haven’t changed your relationship with food you may be tempted to fall into old patterns.  Why not develop strategies to help deal with “head hunger”  before they happen.  I was really surprised that I’m not physically hunger but I am still craving things I see or smell.  Even though I know that I will get sick if I eat that at this point.

I am still on the pureed diet.  I still am dealing with some russian roulette with food.  One day soft scrambled eggs are ok the next not so much.    Over the next few weeks I am supposed to start to transition to soft foods.  I’ve tried a few crackers with chicken salad.  It was divine, but I have to eat them very very slowly.  I am still working on that.  I have for many years been a fast eater and I am slowly retraining myself.  I am finding that I am sicking to things that I know usually go well, but I find I am getting bored with my choices.  I usually don’t like to eat the same things over and over.  However, when things don’t go well it involves a fair amount of pain and nausea.  Feels like you need to burp and can’t while someone is stabbing your chest.  It can be just a few seconds or up to an hour.  Usually if its longer it comes in waves.

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Vomiting is also interesting.  Its not like it was before surgery.  I usually have to feel nauseated for a while.  Sometimes its just drippy nauseated feeling.  Sometimes is like baby spit up.  I am glad that this isn’t happening frequently.

I am so excited for soft foods.  I can’t wait to try some toast, hard boiled eggs.  Just a change in texture and flavors.

Silly me also had a wisdom tooth pulled a couple of weeks ago and ended up with dry socket.  I would take another abdominal surgery than the pain from a dry socket.  So I guess its good that I am on a pureed diet.  I am also heading back to work next week.

I am a little nervous about heading back to work.  Yesterday, I spent the day planting flowers and herbs.  I moved several large pots around and now today I am feeling some pain near the port site with a stitch in it.  That means I won’t finish my planting before my weekend plans.   As I need to move a raised bed garden and that will require a lot of shoveling of dirt.  I keep forgetting that I had major abdominal surgery only four weeks ago.  As I haven’t had many pain issues after surgery other than my stupid tooth.  But going back to work means lots of lifting, pulling, pushing.  It also means going back to 12 hour shifts.  I definitely don’t have the stamina back completely, so we’ll see how this goes.

Last thought today….I was talking with a friend and she expressed an anxiety about me changing after surgery.  One of our mutal friends had a loved one that had surgery and had a change in personality after surgery.  After reading up on this it seems that this is something that can happen.  Interesting…..there is no doubt that this surgery has changed me, how could it not.  Yet I feel the same as I have always been.  I feel some anxiety that friends won’t invite me or what to hang out with me since I am restricted on my diet right now.  I would prefer they not assume I don’t want to go.  I am a big girl and can choose whether to be around food or not.  I bring my food with me if I am planning to be out of the house for the day.  I don’t expect others to prepare special food for me.  Some days its ok for me to be around other food, and other days I’d just rather not deal with food I can’t eat.  So much of our lives revolve around food.  Time to start inviting folks to non food related things.  So I guess we’ll see if my personality changes….. I don’t think my has yet.  I know that I really still at the start of this journey but I don’t think I will.

FYI  I am finally down below 240 pounds…. its been awhile this am I was 238.4 pounds.  Wow!!!

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December 2017

 

 

 

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May 16th, 2018