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My WLS Journey Parts 1&2

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In Remembrance
Oct 11, 2005
Part 1 is being reposted so you all have the full story. I know it is a long read but it is worth it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006, 3am. I was taken to the emergency room. I was sick for many days. I kept throwing up and couldn’t eat much. I knew what it was before we even went. I had gallstones and they were getting worse. For the last 3 years I had been dealing with them. Since 2003 doctors told me to have WLS, and remove my gallbladder at the same time. Well, 3 years later I still had gallstones and they were getting worse. Turns out some of them had become loose and lodged in my liver. At this point they could no longer put me on the back burner. I was admitted to the hospital on one of my many stays there. I was in and out of the hospital at this point every couple of months for one reason or another. I was scheduled to have WLS in 2003 but they decided 2 weeks before the surgery that the doctor didn’t want to operate on me because I was an extremely high risk patient.

Here is a list of my many health conditions: Congestive heart failure, Cardiomyopathy, enlarged heart, hypertension, a kidney disease, diabetes, and severe gout, fatty liver and fluid retention. I was taking 17 pills a day just to stay alive. I have been ill since I was 27 years old and have been near death more than half a dozen times. I have gone into heart failure a few times and my heart function has been down to 10% which is on the border of cardiac arrest if it had gone any lower.

While in the hospital in February, I met a doctor that was going to remove my gallbladder and he asked if I was still interested in having WLS. I said if you think you can get me thru the surgery, why the hell not? I was going to die anyway if I had stayed at my current weight. I decided to take my chances and go for it. I was told my mortality rate was 20% which is very high, considering for anyone else having general surgery it is only 1-3%. In my eyes I had a 50-50 shot and anything was better than the way my life was going.

My husband walked out of the room while the doctor was talking to me about the surgery, and he said I was going to die if I had WLS. I told him I was going to die anyway, sooner rather than later, if I didn’t get some of this weight off of my body.

March 6, 2006, I decided to make several changes in my life. I was 588 pounds and gaining weekly from immobility. My husband was full of negative energy so I asked him to move out. I needed to be in a calm, centered place that was stress free. I went to my pre-op that following week. My mom, dad and my best friend, Anna, took me and have always been my rock. The doctor went over every last detail with me and made sure we all understood everything. We decided to do my surgery open because he had to also remove my gallbladder and find the gallstones that had lodged in my liver. I also opted to have 14 extra feet on my intestine removed so I would loose even more weight in the long run.

On March 23, 2006, the day before the surgery I wrote my will, called all my friends/family and told them all how much I loved them. I was so calm it was scary to most of them. To me it meant I was ready. I had Jell-O and chicken broth every few hours that day because I couldn’t eat anything 24 hours before the surgery. My parents spent the night at my place. We woke up very early to get ready. My mom was very somber and kept looking at me like she was never going to see me again. I told her not to worry, if anything did happen I wouldn’t feel a thing because I would be sleeping anyway. We all said a prayer together and left for the hospital.

We arrived at 8a.m. and I was taken to pre-op to change into a gown and given something to help me relax. The entire time my parents were by my side and my best friend was stuck in traffic trying to get to me before they took me in to the operating room. She kept missing me at every turn as they wheeled me to another pre-op room. She went into melt down outside, so they let her in to see me for one minute.

I was given an epidural to help me with pain after the surgery. It took a long time for them to get it in my spine just right because of all of my back fat, plus you can’t move at all while they are injecting. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist spraying something in my mouth and telling me to swallow. They were having trouble getting the tube in my throat. A few hours later I heard lots of noise and people calling my name. They were saying squeeze my hand if you can hear me. I could hear them but I couldn’t move my body at all! I couldn’t speak because I was on a vent with a tube down my throat. I was told in advance that I would be on the vent for at least 24 hours to make sure I could breathe on my own. My pain meds were also limited so I was more alert. My doctor did this because of my heart conditions. It would have been easy for someone with my health conditions to just slip into a coma and not wake up. This is why I was given the epidural to help with the pain. Oddly enough, it worked.

Being on the vent was the worst part for me. I begged them to take it out. I felt like I was choking and they would have to come in and suction out the tube. I would wake up every hour and watch the clock to see how much time I had left on this machine. I was in ICU for 7 days. After the 24 hours went by I was taken off the vent. I had tubes coming out of me all over the place. I had a catheter that went thru my neck and down into my heart. I had a central line that went thru my neck. I had a tube that went down my nose into the back of my throat. I had 4 IV’s just incase one went bad. One in each hand, one in my neck and one in my thumb and this was just day one in ICU.

48 hours after my surgery I still couldn’t have anything by mouth. No ice chips, no liquids, no nothing! The nurses were wonderful. Every hour the nurse came in to turn me and swab my lips. I wasn’t able to move much at all because my incision was a foot long. My gout got worse and I was unable to walk. The lift team came in daily to get me out of bed and into a chair so I could sit up. The doctor was very concerned that I was unable to walk. But they couldn’t give me the old medication I use to take to keep the gout under control because on my new stomach.

They gave me a course of steroids to bring down the inflammation in my feet. Because of my heart issues we were taking a big chance. After 7 days in ICU, I was moved to a regular room. Still couldn’t walk but I could sit up in bed with some help. I was also able to sip some juice or water and chew ice. Food was the last thing on my mind. I hated all the food they gave me in the hospital. The protein shakes made me vomit. I had my mom bring my protein drink from home. I used Pro-Complex and it tasted just like chocolate milk.

Once I was moved to a regular room, I developed a fever and my white blood cell count was elevated. This meant an infection. The middle of my incision was infected. The doctor pulled out a few of my staples and it was badly infected and had to be drained and packed. The wound began to tunnel and grew deeper. The fat was beginning to turn to liquid and had no where to go. Once the wound was opened it can not be stapled shut again. Now the wound had to heal itself from the inside out.

April 4, 2006, I was discharged and sent home. I was still unable to walk on my own. I had to use a wheelchair and a walker. When I had the energy to try and walk on my own. I weighed 524 pounds the day I was discharged. For the next 6-8 weeks, I was on liquids. After 8 weeks I went to pureed foods. This was not fun at all. I could never finish a protein shake. It would take me hours to get it all down. For breakfast I would eat 2 teaspoons of cottage cheese. Throughout the day I would work on my protein shake. I also could eat about a quarter of one soft scrambled egg. Slowly, and I mean very slowly, I introduced my new stomach to food again. At no point did I ever feel hungry.
April 10, 2006, I weighed 518.
April 12, 2006, I weighed 515.
April 16, 2006, I weighed 509.
April 21, 2006, I weighed in at 499.
This was a huge milestone for me. I had been over 500 pounds for many years. I would lose and gain the same fifty pounds over and over!!

Once a day, a wound care nurse would come to check my wound and pack it. The wound was packed 4-5 times a day in the beginning. It was a north and south tunnel. My friends and family all took turns sleeping on my couch to take care of me. I was unable to be left alone and could still only walk a little.

Everyone saw the changes in my body but me. I saw the same old person.
May 5, 2006, I weighed 484 and that was the last day of purred foods.
May 10, 2006, I weighed 482.
May 17, 2006, I weighed 481.
But the following week I gained 5 pounds. I was shocked and was stressed out about it. I, of course, called the doctor right away. He told me to relax and that my body was just trying to hold on to the fat, and due to my lack of immobility, I was still retaining some fluid. The doctor put me on a new gout medication and it began to help. I got out of the wheelchair and on a walker, still in pain but trying to power through it. I was able to free myself of the walker and wheelchair.

Every day the nurse came to check my wound and it was not getting any smaller. I can’t keep anything down and throw up several times a day. Severe nausea and dry heaving was how I spent most of my days. Dehydration set in and I ended up in the hospital. They did an upper GI test to see if I had a blockage. None was found. I spend a week in the hospital, and then was sent home. My wound became infected after I got home from the hospital and they thought it might have been a staph infection, which you can get from a hospital stay. Well, it wasn’t, but a nurse did leave a piece of gauze in my wound. My fever was 105 degrees and I almost ended back in the hospital again. My doctor had his hand inside my wound and pulled it out. I was in shock and sick as hell.

The doctor decided to try a wound vac. Which at the time sounded nice, but didn’t help me at all! It made the outside of the wound close and the inside was still a gaping hole. I had to have another surgery to reopen that section of my incision. This was done under a local anesthesia and hurt like hell. During this surgery the doctor found a piece of sponge that a nurse left inside of me from the wound vac. I have pictures for the people who aren’t faint at heart. June 4, 2006, I was down to 474. The next few weeks I struggled to learn how to eat again. I threw up all the time if something didn’t agree with me or I took one bite too many. On July 24, 2006 I weighed in at 466 and I was concerned to see my weight loss slow down. This turns out to be due to my lack of mobility.

By August I could walk again on my own. I couldn’t go far but I could walk around my home and to and from my car. I now eat tuna, salmon, green beans, eggs, cheese and crackers. I couldn’t eat chicken or anything reheated in a microwave. I ate beans, Bad Idea! The gas built up and caused pain for hours. I do not eat any sugar or drink any soda. August 6, 2006 I weighed 460.
August 14, 2006 I weighed 453.
August 21, 2006 I weighed 450.
My wound was still open and I still can’t be alone because someone had to repack it several times a day.

In September my wound was making some progress and getting smaller. The wound care nurses now came three times a week because the wound was doing better. The doctor said it would take a year for it to fully close. I was not happy about that news. The faster I lost weight, the longer it takes to heal because it can’t stick together.
September 17, 2006 I weighed 443.
September 24, 2006 I weighed 440.

October comes and fall was here. All I wanted for my birthday was for my wound to be closed and healed all the way. I came close to getting that wish but it didn’t happen. October 1, 2006 I weighed 438.
October 8, 2006 I weighed 440.
October 16, 2006 I weighed 432.
October 22, 2006 I weighed 429.
October 29, 2006 I still weighed 429.
I didn’t panic because certain times of the month I tend to gain 2-4 pounds the week before my monthly cycle. All I thought was, at least I didn’t gain a pound.

November came and all I could think about was my first Thanksgiving after surgery. I was worried about being around all that food. Just the sight of any large amount of food would make me nauseas. I helped my mom cook the usual family feast and we made some of the dishes on the healthier side for me. My entire family was in support of this and stood by me the entire time. I made it thru Thanksgiving and didn’t gain a pound.
November 5, 2006 I weighed 427.
November 12, 2006 I weighed 426.
November 26, 2006 I weighed 422.

December came with yet again, another month for a family feast. This time I was not all that worried about it. I ate pie for dessert on Christmas and that was not a good idea at the time. I ended up getting very sick from the sugar. I threw up almost as soon as I was done with the last bite. It was a very small piece of pie, but sugar was no longer my friend.
December 5, 2006 I weighed 418.
December 12 & 19, 2006 I weighed 422.
December 26, 2006 I weighed 420.

The New Year came and I am stressed out because I was not getting enough protein. I felt like I was overeating but according to my nutritionist, I am not eating enough in a day. For my weight, I needed 100 grams of protein in a day. I was getting down about 60 grams of protein a day. All I could do was to keep trying.
January 2, 2007 I weighed 418.
January 7, 2007 I weighed 413.
January 14, 2007 I weighed 414.
January 21 & 28, 2007 I weighed in at 412.

By February my wound was finally closed. I was very happy about this. It looked like I had a second belly button now that it was closed. When I have a tummy tuck done, it will be my new belly button. The hanging skin is starting to bother me as it hangs more and more. I look in the mirror and I still can’t see this smaller person. I decided it is time to get some therapy. I went into the mental health department and had a consultation with a doctor that deals with addictive behavior. I currently see this doctor twice a month and have been dealing with my desire to eat for no reason. I think about food all the time. I have anxiety about food and my life. I began taking Prozac and it was a life saver. The meds along with therapy have helped me more than I can express. Dealing with the truth about my food addiction was the hardest part of my weight loss journey. Everyday I get a step closer to eating to live, not living to eat.
February 5, 2007 I weighed 408.
February 11, 2007 I weighed 405.
February 18, 2007 I weighed 407.
February 28, 2007 I weighed 406.

March came and on the 24th I was at the one year anniversary of my surgery. My goal for myself was to break the 400 pound mark. I was pissed at the four pound weight gain, but I got over it. I wasn’t moving enough and just being lazy. March 24, 2007 I moved into a new home which is three stories. Now I have no choice but to move, if I want to get anywhere in the house at all. I was afraid at first but the stairs have been a good thing for me. I didn’t make it to 399 for my one year anniversary but I was still going in the right direction.
March 4, 2007 I weighed 404.
March 11, 2007 I weighed 404.
March 8, 2007 I weighed 408.
March 25, 2007 I weighed 406.
March 31, 2007 I weighed 402.

April 8, 2007 I weighed 408. I was not happy about it. I saw my doctor and my body is still struggling to hold onto the fat.
April 9, 2007 one day later I weighed in at 405.
April 13, 2007 I weighed 402.
April 22, 2007 I broke the 400 pound mark and weighed in at 397.
I have not been in the 300’s for the last 15 years. This was truly a happy day for me. One year and one month later I reached my goal of breaking the 400’s. Everyday I keep working on doing the right things for my body. The success feels amazing. Every struggle I went through was worth it. I am nowhere near the end, but I will keep working on a happy ending.

This is all I have to share for now. I will keep writing and maybe next year I will let everyone know how the rest of 2007 went. I also want to make it very clear that I am not a cheerleader for Weight Loss Surgery. I did what I felt was right for me personally. I do believe everyone has the right to choose whatever their choice may be.

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