Monday, September 17, 2012

Update: Finally Losing Weight


My Mom reminded me last week that I really needed to write a post for this blog, because the last time I posted, I was in a very negative space, hating the surgeon who preformed my surgery (I'm still not a fan) and declaring my regret for doing this in the first place. Since the last post, I've gotten a better grip on how to eat with the lapband and have actually been losing some weight. 

What to Eat?
A month ago I was completely confused on what to eat, what not to eat, whether to count calories or just focus on smaller portions. After doing an online webinar with the dietitian at my surgeon's office, I think I finally have a grasp on the food portion of my weight loss. Basically, I need to be having three small meals a day, as well as a couple of snacks if needed. The minimum amount of time time between meals should be 2 hours, and the maximum should be 4. I am supposed to eat about a cup of food total per meal and that cup should be filled with high protein and high fibre foods. To give you a small example of what I am eating, here is a sample menu. 

Breakfast
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of high protein and fibre granola

Lunch
1 whole grain tortilla
1 tbsp peanut butter

Snack
3 whole grain crackers
light marble cheese

Dinner
1 veggie burger (without the bun)
1/4 cup cottage cheese
20 whole grain 'chips'

Snack
non-fat frozen yogurt

Getting a fill? 
While I was definitely eating properly, the weight just didn't seem to be coming off and I was stuck at 19lbs  for a good 3 or so weeks. One day I would go down, the next I would go up, and I was getting really frustrated. I called the surgeon's office and decided to book an appointment to get a fill (they would tighten my band so I would be more restricted and have to eat less). However, a few days before my appointment, I found myself  eating more food and actually losing more weight. It seems that I wasn't eating enough,and so my body was stuck in 'starvation mode'.  I called the office, spoke with a nurse, and while she didn't seem to like the idea of me eating more (although she never asked what I had been eating), she agreed that I should hold off on the fill for the time being. 

My weight loss to date. 
I am happy to say that as of today, I have lost 26lbs since my surgery and it is really starting to show. My face is much thinner (hallelujah!), my clothes are getting pretty big and I seem to be able to move, walk, etc. more easily. My first goal was to lose 25lbs and,because I did, I will be getting a new tattoo in the next couple of weeks. My next goal is 50lbs, which I hope to be at by Christmas. 

Thanks for all of your support and I promise to update this blog more frequently than I have been. 

xx
Alicia



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Updates: One Month Post Surgery


While I am definitely not where I would like to be (in terms of the amount of weight I have lost, or really haven't lost), I am happy to say that I am one month post surgery and doing so much better than I was the first few weeks. Here are some updates:

Pain
I am so happy to say that I am no longer in pain (well at least pain related to my lap band).  My incisions are finally healing, and while they do get itchy from time to time, they no longer hurt, burn, stab, etc. I am back to wearing regular pants (no more sweatpants) and can do up my jeans without them pressing on my large incisions.

Food
I am slowly introducing a number of my favourite foods back into my diet. So far I haven't had many problem foods, but have to constantly remind myself to chew chew chew and eat slowly. I have had a couple of 'stuck' incidents that resulted from me eating too quickly or a too big bite, and they are not fun. I got stuck on a piece of granola bar the other day and didn't make it to the bathroom in time to throw it back up. This concerns me a bit, as I am scared to eat out in public with others should I have to throw my food back up.
I realized in the past couple of days that I wasn't getting enough protein (and possibly eating too many carbs) so I have made a conscious effort to introduce more protein packed foods into my diet. I tried greek yogurt for the first time last week and while I am not loving it, it's okay when paired with blueberries and some protein packed granola. Other protein packed foods I plan to introduce this week are vegetarian burgers, vegetarian ground meat and possibly a homemade protein shake (still unsure what kind of protein powder to use).
I am trying to stay within the 1000 calories per day mark, and so far have no problems with this.

Weight
My weightloss has been absolutely frustrating. In the past two weeks I have gone up and down so many times, I can't even remember the different numbers. Before I had my surgery, my family's main concern was that I wouldn't lose weight. I have never been a really big eater, so it's not like I am cutting down from eating a bag of potato chips and a litre of coke a day. Also, I had tried to lose weight in the past two years (weight watchers, no carb diets, etc.) with no success. The surgeon assured me that if I followed the program I would lose the weight. Well, what now? I am going to call the surgeon's office tomorrow and request a face to face sit down with the dietician as I am not satisfied emailing her or talking over the phone. There has to be some reason I am not losing the weight, and I would like to know why.

Telling Others
This week I helped out at a golf tournament my Dad was running. When it came time for lunch, I had to tell the person in charge that I couldn't eat the food they provided and would have to go home to get my lunch. They looked at me strangely and so I had to explain why. I don't have a real problem telling people about my surgery (hello, I have a blog all about it) but can imagine that in the future I won't want to explain my food choices to every single person I interact with.

A Big Outing
One of the things I was most concerned about after surgery was the Kenny Chesney concert I had tickets for 3 weeks after my surgery. I honestly didn't think I would be able to make the 3 hour drive (there and back), but when the time came, I was feeling okay and managed to make it out. There were a few incidents with stomach aches, but overall I had a really good time. I brought my own food into the concert which definitely helped.

I am slowly learning what to do and what not to do with my lap band, but really hope the weight starts coming off soon.

xx
Alicia




Saturday, August 25, 2012

Self Conscious


I know I haven't updated in a while and I promise to do a big update later this evening or tomorrow. I quickly wanted to write about something while it is still in my mind. You would think that as I begin to lose weight (not the amount I would like to have lost, but I have lost some) I would start to feel better about myself. This has not been the case. I don't know if it is the fact that I am constantly thinking about my weight, but I have been feeling so self conscious to the point that I don't want to go out in public. This afternoon my sister and I were supposed to go out shopping so she can get some clothes for teaching (she recently got on our school board's supply list), but I had a bit of a mental break down over the fact that I felt too fat and was embarrassed for others to see me. There have been a few times in the past where I have had my moments of being self conscious but honestly never like this. I hope this feeling goes away soon but I'm honestly not sure it will. It's hard thinking about your weight constantly. Worrying about not losing enough, or your clothes being too sloppy or too tight. I definitely thought I would have some emotional breakdowns, but not about this.

xx
Alicia

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Updates (Two Weeks Post Op)



I apologize for not writing any posts this past week. Luckily my absence has less to do with the fact that I am still in pain, sick, etc. and more to do with the fact that things are finally getting back on track. While I still have a bit of pain around my incisions, I am feeling worlds better and am so happy to start to feel like myself again. Below are more updates: 

Pain
Like I said above, my pain is world's better.  I had my incisions checked yesterday (all of the bandages were also removed) and while the large incision is still quite tender, the other four don't bother me at all.

Exhaustion
I am definitely not feeling as exhausted as I was the first week, but still find that I need to take it easy. I went out to a store with my sister last week and after 20 minutes realized I needed to go home and rest. My body definitely sends me signals when it has had too much, and I am being careful not to push myself beyond my limits. 

Food
Last week was part of the 'pureed food stage' and surprisingly wasn't that bad. After being on a strict liquid diet, it was nice to have something different. I was worried how things like scrambled eggs and cottage cheese would go down (a lot of people get horrible stuck episodes with scrambled eggs) but I am happy to say I have yet to get stuck (knock on wood!). Yesterday was my first day of soft food (basically an extension of the pureed stage but adding a few items in). After talking to my nutritionist, I decided to try some weight watchers lasagna. It was weird taking such small bites and having to chew them 20-30 times, but it tasted so good!

Weight
My weight has been all over the place this week. One day I'm down two pounds, and the next I am up three. It is really freaking me out, because of course I did this whole thing to lose lose lose.  I honestly don't think I am eating too much (if anything before yesterday, I was eating too little). I am afraid to call the surgeon's office because I think they will try and blame the weight gain on me and just assume I am eating bad choices, or eating too much but honestly, that is not the case. For breakfast I eat one egg, with a bit of low fat cheese on top, and a mini yogurt. For lunch, I have 1/2 cup of homemade soup and for dinner I have 1/2 a mini weight watcher lasagna and 1/4 cup of cottage cheese. I do usually get hungry around 8 and will have either a popsicle, a little more lasagna, or 1/2 of a low fat homemade carrot muffin. 

My First Fill
I remember before I had my surgery, I read all of these posts in the online forum I frequent where people were saying how they couldn't wait to have their first fill. I personally thought they were crazy as the idea of having a huge needle stuck in my stomach, and spending 2 days on a liquid diet again are not appealing. Now, I totally understand. While I am eating less than I would have before the surgery, I don't feel as full as everyone says I should be. Now that my stomach is not swollen, and my band has not been tightened, I am hungry throughout the day. I believe I can't have my first fill until 6 weeks after surgery, so the next month may be a little rough. I am going to try and eat until I am not hungry, but also not ignore true hunger, and not eating can make me feel very sick. 

Regret
I am definitely not regretting this surgery as much as I was last week, but I am still very upset with the place I had my surgery. I feel like they deliberately left A LOT of information out in order to secure my money. There are so many things I have found out since having the surgery, that they never informed me of. I do plan on writing them an email expressing my displeasure (that's putting it nicely), but every time I start to write it, I get super angry and have to walk away from the computer. 

As always, thank you so much for your support! It is so so appreciated. 

xx
Alicia

Friday, August 3, 2012

Updates, Updates and More Updates (One Week Post Surgery)





I apologize for no written posts in the past week, but I have been in the inner depths of hell (slight exaggeration). To say my pain on days 2 and 3 was excruciating would be an understatement. It was so bad! Not only did my incisions hurt, I had really bad gas pains in my chest and back. The nausea I experienced was also really bad and I was petrified of throwing up because I didn't want to make my stomach hurt any further. Luckily I was able to use relaxational breathing to stop myself from being sick to my stomach. Here are some updates from my week:


Pain
Like I said above, my pain has been really really bad. I thought that day one would be the worst of it, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little smug day one thinking "if this is the worst of it, I am flying high!".  Trust me, it wasn't the worst of it. I have had several kinds of pain (listed below): 


1) Incision pain: I had five different incisions during surgery (all on my stomach) including one large incision and four small incisions. For some reason, these have been burning and itching like crazy, causing me to feel a slight bit nauseous every time I look down to make sure they are okay. 


2) Gas pain: To be honest, the gas pains I have experienced (mostly in my shoulder, chest and back) haven't been as bad as I thought they would be. They are uncomfortable, making my chest feel a lot of pressure, but with a little gas-x and a hiccup like burp (apparently people with the lap band need to re-learn how to burp...what?!), they are easily made better. 


3) Muscular pain: This has definitely been the worst kind of pain. While I know that the doctors didn't cut any of my stomach muscles, it certainly feels that way. On days 2 and 3, I was unable to lift myself up from a lying to seating position because I didn't have any strength in my stomach muscles. This caused a lot of screaming, crying, moaning, etc. 


4) Fibromyalgia pain: Unfortunately this surgery has caused my fibromyalgia to flare up. My back has been extremely painful, and unlike the other pain that can be somewhat helped with heavy pain medication (I have been trying not to take much, however), the fibro pain is constant and doesn't go away. 


Eating
The first week consisted of full fluids, which to be honest is just fine with me. I haven't been very hungry, and have actually experienced a fair bit of nausea every time I have something to eat. My favourites during this week have been cranberry juice, popsicles, unsweeted passion tea over ice,  and Yop (a yogurt drink). Today, I move onto to the pureed (or mushy) phase which includes things like apple sauce, scrambled eggs, low fat pudding, yogurt and cottage cheese. I am really excited to be able to eat some 'real food' again, but am also really nervous to see how these foods will go down (and if they will stay down). 


Weight
I am happy to say that as of yesterday I am down 14lbs (since the start of my pre-op diet). The weight seems to be melting off at the moment,  until yesterday (when I somehow gained 3lbs). My mom thinks I should stop weighing myself daily, so I am going to try and start weighing myself on a weekly basis, so I am not upset by any random gaining. 


Hospital Visit
Unfortunately on Wednesday, I had a bit of a scare. My sister and I were out on a quick shopping trip (my first real attempt at getting out of the house), when I started feeling like I couldn't breathe properly. My chest was extremely painful and tight, making it hard to catch my breath. We went to the emergency room, where they got me a bed right away, gave me some pain medication (morphine is my new best friend), and did some blood work and x-rays. When the doctor came back to the room to tell me I tested positive for blood clots, I was freaking out. Luckily, he gave me a shot of blood thinners (in my stomach), and ordered some tests for the next day. I am happy to say that after two different tests yesterday, there are no blood clots the doctors can physically see (I don't know if my test was a false positive or if I did have some clots and the blood thinners diluted them), and I was able to go home. 


TMI
I posted a video of my hospital experience yesterday (including a call I made to my parents when I wasn't able to breathe very well). I realize that some people think this is too personal, and question why I would post such a video on the internet. Here is my answer: From day one, I decided I would be completely open about this process. I want to share both the bad and good with my subscribers/viewers for a number of reasons: 1) I am an open book and it is easier to show what is going on with my life, than to hide it like some really big secret. 2) I know the majority of people who read this blog, aren't planning on having weight loss surgery, but for those who might be considering it, I want them to know the good, the bad and the ugly so that they can make a more informed decision. 3) When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I kept everything to myself. I didn't think any of my friends would understand what was going on with me, and I didn't want to bore anyone with the details. Needless to say, I lost A LOT of friends, and became extremely unhappy. I don't want to lose friends because I am keeping every bad thing that happens to me to myself. The lap band is going to be a huge part of my life forever, and it would be weird for me to talk about everything else in my life, and not share the details of my surgery/recovery. I know not everyone will agree with my approach, but I have never forced anyone to read this blog or watch my daily videos. This is who I am, and that is not going to change


Regret
To say that I have regretted this surgery every single day would be an understatement. At this point, the pain has been so bad, I really wish I had not gone through with it. With that said, I know that will not be the case in a couple of months. Every single person I have spoken with about the surgery (or heard speak about the surgery), has said they have absolutely no regrets, despite the fact that they have had a variety of complications. 


It is my hope that week two will go a little more smoothly and I will be fancy free and flying high very soon. As always, thanks for all of your support. 


xx
Alicia



Monday, July 30, 2012

Surgery Day Video

Sorry I haven't posted in the last couple of days, but I have been feeling really unwell. The pain has been completely overwhelming and, coupled with extreme nausea, has been making me regret my decision to do this. I hope to be back to normal within the week, and will be able to fill you in on more of the details. For now, here is the video my sister and I shot on surgery day. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Surgery Update



I just wanted to give you a quick surgery update. I won't go into all of the details in this post, but wanted to let you know that the surgery went well and I am home. They were able to band my stomach and also fix a hiatus hernia they found. I am in quite a lot of pain especially in my stomach area (think working out your abs for the first time in years x 1000), but have decided not to take the pain medication prescribed to me because it makes me sick (I would rather have pain than be sick to my stomach). 

I am already learning how different eating and drinking will be with his band, as having sips of water feels very weird. I've been sticking to ice chips so far, and today I will get to try some clear juice and some popsicles. 

Thanks again for all of your support. When I feel a little more up to it, I will let you know more details of my surgery and recovery (my sister videotaped a lot of it). 

xx
Alicia

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doctor Concerns





I know I said my last post would be the last before my surgery, but I am feeling pretty upset and wanted to get some feelings out. Before I talk about those feelings, I just want to say the following. The surgeon we selected to do my surgery has done over 4000 lap band surgeries without complication. He has given talks all over the world and is considered an expert in his field. Every person who has written about him on message boards has said nothing but wonderful things about him and his bed side practice. 


With that said, I am somewhat upset with him right now, and while it may just be nerves talking, I am not 100% confident in him. Here are my issues. 


1) When I went to my initial consultation, he refused to believe that my weight gain could be related to anything other than the fact that I eat too much. I tried to tell him that we have always been diet conscious in our house (we have low fat everything) and that I surprisingly have a fairly small appetite. He believes that the only reason I gained weight is because I consume too many calories. 


2) At the consultation my mom asked a number of questions. Just to give you a quick background, my mom is a psychologist and professor at a big university here in Ontario and does A LOT of research on all of my medical problems/procedures. Like a lot of the doctors I have seen, this doctor did not like the fact that my Mom was questioning him so much, and at times would cut her off before she could ask her question. I personally thought he was rude to my mom, she didn't (I am always sensitive about that. I remember crying in the emergency room before getting a needle in my back, not because I was scared of the needle,  but because I thought the doctor was being mean to my Mom..lol). 


3) The doctor made everything sound so easy.  You'll have your surgery, you'll recover in a few days and you will eat whatever your family eats just in smaller amounts. What I have heard from the people who work for him (a lot have had the surgery) and people online, this is not the case. A lot of people don't recover for a couple of weeks and you are not able to eat whatever your family eats because there are a lot of things you may not be able to tolerate.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this one because I know that the majority of the follow up after the surgery is done by the nurses and support staff (and he may not know everything people go through after surgery). 


4) After not losing a lot of weight (and actually gaining one day) during the pre-op diet, I wrote my patient co-ordinator and once again expressed concerns about other medical reasons I might not be losing the weight. She wrote back (she is incredibly nice) and said she was forwarding my email to the doctor and I would hear from him directly. Well, I have yet to hear from him (it's been 1 and 1/2 days). 


I don't plan on going into the surgery before I have discussed my concerns with him, but I know that when I am already upset and nervous, it may not come out in the nicest of ways. I am not someone who just thinks "he's the doctor, he knows best" but I also don't want to upset someone who is going to be cutting me open.  Also, I have only met him once, very briefly (maybe 20 minutes) and everyone talks about just how nice he is and how is so great to patients, gives out his personal number and will go out of his way to help his patients. 


I know a lot of people are going to think (and maybe write): 'Don't go through with it, or find another doctor' but it's not that easy. There aren't many lap band surgeons in Ontario. He comes very highly recommended and is seen as a leader in his field. While I am upset by the way he treated my mom and me, I would rather have a good doctor operating on me, rather than a friendly doctor who sucked. 


My mom and I are going to call the office tomorrow to discuss my concerns. We have paid a large amount of money , and I believe I should be 100% confident in him before we go through with the surgery.  Hopefully the bedside manner he has shown all of the people on the message boards comes out, and who knows, maybe I will grow to love him. Fingers crossed. 


To end this post, I wanted to share a joke my mom and I always say every time we meet a doctor like him. 


Q: What's the difference between God and a doctor? 
A: God doesn't think he's a doctor. 


xx
Alicia






I know I am going to receive a lot of 







Last Post Before Surgery and Anxiety




I am an anxious person, I have always been an anxious person and I will probably always be an anxious person. With that said, the way I feel when I get anxious never gets easier. Luckily I was able to hold off any major anxiety over my surgery until today (I guess with a day and 1/2 left that's good). I feel absolutely horrible at the moment. My stomach hurts, I am completely nauseous and I kind of feel like I can't breathe. 


When I had my brain surgery a few years ago, I was a complete mess the night before. I was up all night crying (well screaming and crying), throwing up and begging my parents not to make me go through with the surgery. It was one of my worst life memories, and I am so afraid that is going to happen to me again tomorrow night. Krista, my mom and I are heading to Mississauga tomorrow, and plan to spend the night at a hotel so I can be at my surgeon's office early the next day. We booked a suite with two rooms so that Krista doesn't have to spend the night listening to me freak out (my poor Mom on the other hand does). 


My mom and sister aren't allowed to stay at the clinic while I have my surgery and aren't supposed to come back until the nurse calls them to say I am ready to go home. That is NOT okay with me. Whether I seem like a baby or not, I have always done a lot better having a family member with me during the various medical procedures I have had (MRIs, spinal taps, etc), and know recovery will go much more smoothly if they allow my Mom and/or sister to stay in the room with me. I wrote my patient co-ordinator and explained my worries to her, so hopefully her response will help calm some of my anxiety. 


This will probably be my last post before surgery on Friday (unless I get the sudden urge to write something tomorrow). While the doctor told me recover is 3-5 days I have read a lot of blogs where people say they didn't feel well for 2-3 weeks (I know, I know, everyone is different, I might be lucky and only be down for a day or two). I am going to try and update this blog as much as possible after surgery, and will make sure my sister comes on here right after my surgery to give you an update. 


Thank you all for your support and encouragement. You have made the whole process a lot easier for me, and I am grateful. 


xx
Alicia





Sunday, July 22, 2012

Very Disappointing Numbers



Before I started the surgical process of losing weight, I had tried several different diets. Unfortunately over the past couple of years I only seemed to be gaining weight, and no matter what I tried (weight watchers, no carbs) nothing came off. It was then that I decided to go the surgical route. 


To be honest, my house has always been 'low fat'. We always choose the healthier options when it comes to food, and we are rarely seen sitting out with bags of chips and bottles of coke gorging ourselves. 


When I met with the surgeon preforming my surgery, we questioned him about this. How is it that someone who doesn't eat very much (I had fairly small appetite) can continue to gain weight? How can someone who used to be able to lose significant amounts of weight on a diet, suddenly not be able to lose even a couple of pounds? Could something be medically wrong? He was unwilling to hear that and said that in no way could this be medically related. It was clear that I was eating too much and needed a strict diet. While I didn't 100% agree, I figured he was the doctor and therefore knows best. 


I started this pre-op diet ten days ago and have had less than 1000 calories every day. I have stuck with just drinking protein shakes and eating veggies, until 3 days ago when I made the choice to eat fat free cottage cheese (only 1/2 cup a day). I figured that with such a strict diet I would definitely lose weight. I've read stories about people losing 20-25 pounds during the pre-op diet, and some doctors actually require you to lose 10 pounds during the pre-op diet to show that you can actually lose weight (and stick with a strict diet). 


This evening I got home from my cottage and decided to weigh myself (I weighed myself right before I started the pre-op diet). I didn't want to get my hopes up, but figured I would have lost at least 8-10 pounds. NOPE. Not even close. I have spent the last 10 days dying from hunger and nausea to lose 2.5 pounds!


I know some people are going to say, that's great, every little pound counts, but I don't see it that way. Why am I spending thousands of dollars to save surgery when I don't even know if I can lose significant weight? Is there something medically wrong and should we explore that before I have major surgery? 


My mom and I are going to call the doctor tomorrow morning, but I can't help but think he will somehow blame it on me and my 'over eating' habits. It's so disappointing to work so hard and see such crappy results. :(


xx
Alicia

What?!


It is day 10 and, emotionally,  I am feeling much better. On Friday my sister and I took a trip to the States for some retail therapy. I had been feeling really sick all day (as only eating vegetables and protein shakes will do that to a person), so I made the decision to add something else to my diet. I decided that cottage cheese would be my best choice. First, it has a ton of protein (something I am supposed to get a lot of), and second it is both low in calories and fat (I got the lightest kind available).  Unfortunately, because my surgeon's office has been closed since Friday, I haven't been able to share my decision with the doctor or nurses. However, I think it was the right decision for me, and I can't even tell you how much better I feel.


On Friday I got a really strange email from my patient co-ordinator. She said that I had checked off a number of things on my pre-op form that she wanted to double check. She said I had sleep apnea (nope), diabetes (nope) allergies to medication (nope), asthma (nope) and that I am pregnant. Wait, what??!! First off, no, I am not pregnant. Second, why would they only be asking me this a week before my surgery? Do they operate on women who are pregnant? If they do, is this the type of place I want to have my surgery? Did they confuse my chart with somebody else's?  Again, is this the type of place I want to have my surgery? My Mom and I are going to call tomorrow and clarify some things, but it seems very weird to me. 


Other than that, I have been trying very hard not to think about the surgery. My sister and I decided to start our own youtube channel (daily vlog, fun videos, etc.) which has really taken my mind off of the fact that I am having surgery in 5 days (oh man, a chill just went down my spine). 


We are off to spend the day on the boat which will hopefully take my mind off everything. 


xx
Alicia



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Warning: Bad Headspace



I woke up this morning thinking, 'wow, yay...I  made it to day 7' and then it all went downhill. As much as people try to encourage me to keep on truckin', it's hard. I feel like absolute CRAP. Not only am I still hungry, my hunger is making me super nauseous and I am barely able to swallow my shakes or veggies as I am so sick of both of them. 


I don't understand how some pre-op diet allow patients to eat high protein, low carb foods (cottage cheese, lean meats) and I am stuck eating this crap. 


I know everyone says 'don't go into the lap band forums online', but it is comforting. I know people are looking out for my best interest and worried that I am going to psych myself out, but come on, everyone who is saying that to me has never been through this surgery. I need to go into forums where I feel support from people who are in my situation and guess what, not everything they say is sunshine and roses. There are a lot of problems that result from the band, and from what I have read it is going to be a really tough road. I would rather know the reality of the situation then be completely shocked after the surgery when I am in horrible pain, or food is getting stuck in my band causing me to 'foam at the mouth' (gross, I know, but that's the reality for a lot of people). 


I am somewhat regretting my decision to do this as I don't want to spend the next 30 years of my life at doctors appointments and emergency waiting rooms. The way the surgery was explained to me is as follows: 'You will have a 30 minute surgery. You will leave recovery in two hours. You will feel back to normal by day 3. You will eat whatever your family eats, just in smaller portions'. 


This is actually not reality for 99% of those who have the band (even those who have been operated on by my doctor). Most people don't recover for a number of weeks (some people still have horrible pain a month later). There are many items you will not be able to eat. Most people cannot digest pasta, bread, rice, corn, lettuce, etc. after surgery as they get stuck in the band, and cause a lot of problems. I am not stupid, neither is my family. I knew that it wasn't going to be as easy as the doctor made it out to be. I figured I would have a bad few months, but I didn't think that I would spend the rest of my life having to worry about every little thing I ate and whether or not I was going to be in pain after my next 'fill'. 


I think knowing all this, I would still have made the decision to do the surgery (nothing else has worked), but I feel like I was fooled into handing over a ton of money, when I really didn't have all of the facts. 


I know that I am in a bad head space today. I may wake up tomorrow, read this post and think, what a complainer/sourpuss, but right now I am just not doing well. I feel like this is breaking my spirit and I am definitely afraid to see what the Alicia on the other side of this whole thing is going to be like. Will it be worth it? I guess that is to be determined. 


xx
Alicia

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A 'No Energy' Update



I just wanted to do a quick bullet point update to let you know that I am still alive (the pre-op diet hasn't killed me... yet). For some reason, I have absolutely no energy today, so the idea of typing an actual post makes me want to curl into a ball and cry (my beauty blog is being neglected). 


* I don't seem to be craving 'real food' as much as usual, although I don't seem to have an appetite for anything. I am working on shake #2 for the day (i only drank 1/2 of the first one), and I will be happy if I am able to finish it (shake #3 is not happening). 


* My mom made me a new shake for breakfast. It was a vanilla meal replacement shake combined with some raspberry crystal light powder. It reminded me a lot of really sweet pink chocolate. It wasn't bad, but I think I will save it for my evening (or dessert) shake tomorrow. 


* I managed to get out of the house today. My family went boating and I decided to join. At first I really regretted my decision as a rocking boat and a queasy stomach don't go together very well, but once I got into the nice cool water, I felt a lot better. 


* My energy level is at an all time low. I had a shower today and was seriously out of breath by the end of it. Everyone keeps talking about how much energy I will have once I am in ketosis, but so far it has not happened. 


* My mom bought me some ketosticks (basically you pee on them and then see if you are in ketosis). Last night, my stick said I was between 'small' and 'medium' (whatever that means), but this morning it said there was no trace of ketosis. Everyone says I will feel amazing once I reach it. I hope they are right. 


xx
Alicia

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Try of My Meal Replacement Shake (Video)


I have started a new youtube channel for Funny Face Weight Loss, as I hope to record my weight loss journey. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had my sister record my first sip of the Slim Time meal replacement shakes I have to drink. I warn you I have absolutely no makeup on, my hair is not done and I am in my PJs. While I would definitely never call the shakes 'tasty', they have been getting better as I get used to them, and I am now able to drink one in about 20 minutes (day one it took me 3 hours to finish one of them). 


If you would like to see more videos of my journey, feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel here







xx
Alicia

A Rough Night



Last night was rough! The lack of food has been making me feel super dizzy and faint, and somehow at 5am I ended up 'passed out' (I didn't lose consciousness or anything, I don't think) on the bathroom floor, feeling absolutely horrible.  I've been told several times that I will reach a state of ketosis soon, and feel super energized (and not at all hungry), but so far, it has not happened. 


This morning I feel a little bit better than last night, but still feel incredibly dizzy and sick to my stomach. I was able to drink the majority of my protein shake this morning, but am not sure how I am going to handle drinking two more of them today. 


Off to have a little nap, and hope that my body is in ketosis when I wake up. 


xx
Alicia







Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pre-Op Diet Day #3: Updates



I am on day number three of my pre-op diet, and things are so-so. In terms of the diet itself, I am getting better at drinking the shakes (this morning I finished mine in 20 minutes), and don't find that I am as hungry as I was the first day. I haven't been eating as many vegetables as I should be, but I did have a 'salad' (lettuce and some mushrooms with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar) for lunch. My parents bought some popsicle molds today, so we are going to try and make some shake popsicles so I can have those, instead of my shake, for dinner.  


As for how I am feeling physically, I'm not doing so well. I don't know if it has to do with the diet, or it is just a coincidence, but my fibromyalgia has flared up and I am in quite a lot of pain. This, combined with a constant feeling of being bloated (a side effect of the protein shakes from what I have read), has left me in bed the majority of the day while some of my family enjoys the nice whether out on our boat. 


This morning my mom decided to show her support by taking on my shake and vegetable diet for the day, but she wasn't feeling it. Her breakfast shake (she chose vanilla, which was not good) made her feel sick to her stomach, and the salad at lunch just wasn't enough. She finally gave up around 3:30pm this afternoon and decided to have an egg. 


While I am not as hungry as I thought I would be, I am still having some cravings. Last night I had a dream I was eating sour patch kids and cherry bombs, and when I woke up this morning had a moment of panic, thinking I had broken the diet.  Other than the candy dream, I am actually craving fairly healthy things including blueberries, yogurt, oatmeal and goat cheese (random, I know). 


I started reading a lot of lap band blogs today, and have to admit they really scared me. The surgeon I met with originally made everything sound so easy and straight cut, but it doesn't seem that is the case. According to my surgeon, I will be able to eat anything but in smaller amounts. However, from what I have heard (from both bloggers and people who work with the surgeon), there are a lot of items I won't be able to eat. Each person is different (some can tolerate pasta, some can't), and it's really all about trial and error. That is the part that really scares me because I know I will be afraid to try food as the idea of throwing up or feeling like I am choking is terrifying. 


The surgeon also made it sound like I might have slight discomfort the day of surgery, but should feel normal by the next day. From what I have read, this is not true for most people. A lot of people talked about being in the worst pain ever, and had to be dosed up on fairly heavy pain medications. This really worries me for two reasons. First, I already deal with a lot of pain on a regular basis, and because of my fibromyalgia, I have a lower pain threshold than most (people with fibro apparently feel pain 10x more than people without fibro). Second,  I can't take a lot of pain medications because they make me sick (vomiting need to be kept at a minimum so the band doesn't slip out of place the first few days.)


As for all of the other pre-op rules, I am doing okay.  I haven't shaved my armpits or legs for the past couple of days, and am feeling like a hippie child. I am allowed to swim in the lake (no pools or hot tubs), but haven't had a chance to do so yet. As for tanning, I haven't been outside in the sun very much, and will be sure to wear a lot of sunblock if I do. 


My emotions are all over the place. I have moments where I am completely fine and think 'I can so do this!' and moments where I feel like I can't breathe and think 'What the hell have I gotten myself into?'. While I do have a lot of great support around me, I am worried about how quickly that will fade. When I diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I had a lot of friends who said they were 'there for me', and yet after a couple of months with no improvement, they started to get sick and tired of me constantly not feeling well. I worry that because this will be a process I have to handle for the rest of my life, some of the people in my life will get sick of me having to eat differently, possibly getting sick, having to have my band re-adjusted (you need to be on another liquid diet for this), etc. I do realize that those who aren't supportive aren't worth my time, and those who are closest to me will support me, but it's still not something I look forward to going through again. 


This is, without a doubt, going to be a more difficult journey than I originally thought, but I just try to keep thinking about how I will look and feel once I start losing the weight. 


xx
Alicia

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My List of Positives



With some anxiety, gross tasting protein shakes, and some people that would rather try and make me feel bad, than be supportive, it is hard to stay positive. It is for that reason, that I thought I would make a list of all of the things I am looking forward to when I start losing weight. This way, every time I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I am come back to my list, and try to think positively. 


1) Fitting into clothes: I don't even care about fitting into smaller clothes at the moment, I would just like to feel comfortable, in the clothes I own. I have a number of things that fit, but it always feels like I am trying to squeeze myself into them, to the point that it is hard to breathe, sit comfortably, etc. 


2) A thinner face: I don't know why my face always seems to be the first place that gains weight, but it has become too round for my liking. I can't wait until I have a slimmer face with cheekbones you can actually see.  I think it will be nice applying makeup to a brand new face, and I know I will feel more confident when it comes to 'face of the day' posts, and tutorials. 


3) Knees that don't hurt: While not all of the pain I experience in my knees is related to my weight, losing weight will definitely help take a lot of stress and pressure off my joints. I will be able to walk more, climb the stairs easier and hopefully spend less time in bed. 


4) Feeling more confident: Lately, there has been fewer and fewer days that I feel completely confident about myself. While appearance is not everything, I definitely think I will feel better about myself and my body once I start losing weight, which will only lead to me feeling more confident. 


5) Getting rid of some of my medical problems: I have several medical problems (fibromyalgia, PCOs, etc.), that while not caused by excess weight, are definitely related to being over weight. I am sick of taking a bunch of different medications, going to tons of doctor's appointments and having all sorts of medical procedures done. I hope that with the weight loss, I will become a healthier person, and won't have to worry about my medical issues as much. 


6) Being able to cross my legs: It sounds silly, but I have always wanted to be able to cross my legs properly. Because of my heavier size, my stomach always gets in the way, and I don't feel like a 'lady' when I wear dresses and skirts. 


7) Not suffocating when I lie flat on my back: Because I have a bigger chest and chin, I sometimes feel like I am suffocating when I lie flat on my back. Losing weight, will make me feel like I can actually breathe. 


8) Feeling and becoming more fit: While a large part of why I have trouble working out has to do with my fibromyalgia, my weight is also a factor in how much I can exercise. With less weight to drag around, I think I will be able to exercise more easily which will help in losing more weight, and becoming more toned. 


As the days go on, there are more things I look forward to, and I will be sure to continue this list in future posts. 


Thank you so much to all of the people who have been supportive, and who have written encouraging comments. I really appreciate it. 


xx
Alicia

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pre-Op Diet Day One: My First Meal Replacement Shake


Last night, was not a good night.  I don't want to get into too much detail in this post, but basically I ended up having multiple panic attacks at a concert I had been dying to go to for months. I am beyond nervous, sick, etc. over this surgery, and if the next two weeks are anything like last night, it is going to be a rough road. I do plan on writing a more lengthy post on my emotions and panic about the surgery, but for now I just wanted to give a quick update on the first day of my pre-op diet (video to follow soon). 


I had my first meal replacement shake this morning (chocolate), and I am not going to lie...they are gross. Not only do they taste like 'fake chocolate', they are really thick, very powdery, and not easy to get down (I'm currently nursing my dinner shake, and probably won't finish it for another hour).  After a shake for both breakfast and lunch, I finally had some 'real' food for dinner. My Dad fried up some sliced mushrooms (no oil allowed), added a small amount of balsamic vinegar (I am allowed to have it in limited amounts) and put it over some lettuce. It was a nice break from the shakes, but I'd kill for some bread, fruit, cheese, or anything really. 


A couple of the people who work at the clinic I am having my surgery (and, who have had the surgery themselves) said that the first couple of day are the most difficult. According to them, I will be feeling amazing by day three (lots of energy) and won't miss real food. Fingers crossed!


Tomorrow my sister is going to help me measure my entire body, and take pictures of me from all angels so I can track my progress on this blog. I'd like to share how much weight I lose, but am trying to work up the nerve to tell you how much I currently weigh (it's a pretty big number). 


Thanks again for all of your support. 


xx
Alicia







Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weird Rules Explained (Well Kinda)



I sent an email to my patient co-ordinator yesterday asking a number of questions, including why some of the 'weird rules' I wrote about previously are in place. I didn't get a very lengthy explanation, but I thought I would share the email I received back from her none the less.  The main goal it seems, is not to get any sort of skin infection before surgery,  as it could cause complications when they 'cut me open'.  


My Questions



1) I know that the patient guide said no swimming in pools or hot tubs for 2 weeks prior to surgery. I am wondering why that is and if I am able to swim in the lake, or if I am not supposed to swim at all (we will be spending the next two weeks at our cottage on Lake Huron)


2) I also saw that I am not supposed to shave any part of my body 2 weeks before surgery and wondered the reason behind that.


3) I also read that you are supposed to notify the office if you have a rash, ingrown hair or pimple any time during the two weeks prior to the surgery. Why is that? I have mild acne and get a new blemish almost every day.

4) As for no tanning, do I need to stay out of the sun completely or just not go outside with the purpose of getting a tan? 


Her Responses

1) Dr. Cobourn has informed me that you are able to swim in the lake.

2) You shouldn’t shave due to the fact it could cause razor burn and ingrown hairs (open wounds) which cause risk of infection.

3) Please notify us if you have a rash or ingrown hair anywhere on your torso, for the reason explained above.

4) We do not want you to get a sunburn, again, risk of infection. You are able to go outside in the sun.


xx
Alicia

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Panic Over Protein Shakes



Over the last couple of days, the excitement of having this weight loss surgery has been slowly fading, and instead, the panic is setting in. While there are a number of things I am nervous about (being cut open, not being able to eat normally for the rest of my life, whether or not this will actually work), right now my biggest concern seems to be the protein shakes. Starting Friday, I will have to drink three, 250 calorie protein shakes a day. The shakes, combined with a few vegetables (lettuce, cucumbers and mushrooms) will be the only food I eat for two weeks leading up to surgery. 


While I understand that there are sacrifices to be made  (and hopefully better things to come) if I am having this surgery, I can't help but worry that the next two weeks will be hell. With only two flavours to choose from (I got 6 boxes of chocolate and 3 boxes of vanilla), I am worried that I will hate the way they taste and not be able to drink, or keep them, down. Will the lack of calories be a huge shock to my system? Will I feel exhausted, sick or faint? Will I actually be able to stick with the two week program or will I find myself sneaking bits of actual food throughout the day? Will I feel ostracized from my friends and family? Will the two weeks be just a sample of what life will be like with a lap band? Can I handle this? 


This is sure to be a very 'interesting' weekend, and I will be sure to keep you updated on this part of my journey. 


xx
Alicia



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rules, Rules and More Weird Rules...What?!



I have been reading and re-reading all of the pre-op and post-op information I was sent by the patient co-ordinator I have been assigned for my lap band surgery, and I have to admit, I am beyond confused. First off, there are a billion and two rules to follow (slight exaggeration). Make sure to chew each bite of food at least 20 times, do not chew gum or suck on mints, crush all medication for the first couple of weeks after surgery. While annoying, I can understand why these rules are in place. With that said, there are a number of pre-op rules I just don't get:


1) Do not swim in pools or hot tubs for two weeks prior to surgery: Okay, I can understand why you might not be able to swim for a couple of weeks after surgery (after all, my incisions need to heal), but why can't I swim before hand? Is it just pools and hot tubs I can't go in, or do I need to avoid the lake as well? It's 110 degrees outside (another slight exaggeration), and I can tell you right now, I am not going to be a happy camper when my family is out on the boat cooling themselves in the water as I sit back at home, hot as can be, sipping 750 calories worth of protein shakes. 


2) No tanning for two weeks prior to surgery: Again, I can understand why I might not be allowed to tan my stomach after surgery (my incisions will be more likely to scar from the sun), but why before? Does this mean no tanning beds and laying out in the sun with the purpose of getting a tan, or do I need to avoid the outdoors all together? What happens if I accidentally get a tan standing by my bedroom window? Is the surgery cancelled? Do I need to tape my blinds shut? Go into vampire mode? 


3) Do not shave or wax any part of your body for two weeks prior to surgery: When I first read this rule, I made one of those half laugh/half cry noises. No shaving any part of my body for two weeks? Do they know it's summer? I can't walk around wearing capris and heavy leg hair! What about my armpits? I shave them daily! Do I have to braid my, what will now be, long armpit hair for the surgery so it doesn't get in the doctors way?


4) Please notify your patient co-ordinator if you develop a rash, ingrown hair, blemish or PIMPLE anywhere on your body, during the two weeks prior to surgery: Does my patient co-ordinator have a home number I can use? As those who also follow my beauty blog know, I have a slight issue with acne. Am I supposed to call them every time I develop a new pimple? I'll be tying up their lines! No one else will be able to get through. I can understand how a rash, maybe even an ingrown hair, could be worrisome (they don't want you to have any sort of skin infection before they slice you open), but a pimple? Maybe I should see if I can call in every time I don't develop some sort of blemish during those two weeks....it might be easier. 


There are so many other rules I have yet to read through and fully understand, but for the time being, the four rules above are what have me most stumped. I do plan on writing my patient co-ordinator this week to find out all of the answers to my questions, but for now, if you have any suggestions on why the above rules are in place, be sure to let me know. I could definitely use some clarification. 


xx
Alicia





Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Last Meal? Ice Cream!


With just ten days left until I have to start my pre-operative meal plan, consisting  of protein shakes and vegetables (750 Calories a day), I have decided to allow myself to eat whatever I want. While some might agree that this is not the best idea (hello, Dad), I feel like I might as well enjoy my favourite foods while I still can. So what have I chosen for my final meal(s)?. Rich, creamy, delicious ice cream! Although the band will allow me to eat ice cream in the future (after all, its basically a liquid and can pass through the band without a hitch), it is highly recommended that I stay away from high calorie liquids as they won't give me the feeling of being full (the whole purpose of getting the lap band), and will just add unwanted calories. Does this mean I will never have a spoonful of ice cream again? I certainly hope not, but, for now, I am very determined to lose the weight, and want to stick with my diet as long as I can. So after these ten days, it's time for me to say good bye, ice cream.  See you on the flip side. 

xx
Alicia

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One Month to Surgery

One month today I will be going in for weight loss surgery! Needless to say, I am both very excited and completely petrified. The majority of my posts on this blog will be very 'dear diary' style without a lot of structure, but I thought that my first post should be somewhat organized and detail what my surgery entails, and what I can expect in the future. 




The Lap Band
After researching both gastric bypass surgery (the one where they cut a large amount of your stomach and lower intestines out) and lap band surgery, I chose to go ahead with the lap band. Basically, the surgeon will place a plastic band around the small pouch at the top of stomach. This band will require me to eat small meals very, very slowly, which in turn will stimulate the brain into thinking I am full. 




Fills and De-Fills
Based on the amount of weight I start losing, I will be required to go back to see the doctor for 'fills' or 'de-fills'. If I am not losing enough weight, the band will need to be made tighter (a fill), if I am losing too much weight too quickly, it will need to be loosened (a de-fill). To fill the band, the doctor (or nurse) will use a syringe full of water and inject it into a tube in my stomach that connects to the band, and makes it bigger/tighter.  For a de-fill, the doctor (or nurse) will stick the same needle into my stomach and remove some of the water. 


What Can I Eat?
This part of the surgery is what gets somewhat confusing. The doctor I met with last week basically said that I can eat anything, but in smaller amounts. The nurses and other women I spoke with (many who had the surgery themselves),  said that there are a number of foods that I will not be able to eat including soft breads, pasta and tough meat (oh well, I'm a vegetarian). Because the hole the food needs to pass through is so small, all foods need to be chewed within an inch of their lives and you MUST eat very slowly. If you don't eat that way, you will experience what they refer to as PB (productive burps), which is a nice way of saying 'throwing up' (gross, I know).  According to the doctor, I should eat three small meals a day (no snacking in between), and must be careful not to drink water 30 minutes before, during, or 90 minutes after my meals (not 100% sure why yet). I need to stay away from high calorie liquids, carbonated beverages and gum (that will be hard).  


Preparing for Surgery
The prep for surgery is what I believe I will find to be the most difficult. Two weeks before my surgery (July 13th), I will need to stop eating regular food, and go on a diet of protein shakes and vegetables. This diet will help shrink my liver, so that when the doctor goes to place the band on my stomach, he is able to bypass the liver and reach what he needs to. I got my list of acceptable vegetables today, and I am sad to say that the few vegetables I actually like (carrots, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes) are not on the list. 


The Surgery and Recovery
While I will be under general anesthetic (so scary), the surgery itself is done laparoscopically (with only five small incisions), and only takes 30-40 minutes. After the surgery, I will stay in the recovery room for an hour and a half, and if everything goes well, will be able to drive back home that afternoon. The doctor said I should be up and running within four to five days, but I need to be careful not to lift heavy items, and of course I have to follow a strict diet. The first week after the surgery I will be back on protein shakes (I'm sure I will be loving them by this point...not!). The second week I can start to introduce other liquids. The third week, I move on to pureed food, and finally, during the fourth week, I can start eating 'real' (but soft) food.  


My Thoughts and Feelings
To be honest, my feelings are all over the place at the moment. I am really excited to be having this surgery and, hopefully, to lose a lot of weight. I know it's going to be a rough road, but I am definitely committed and ready for a change. With that said, I am in a sheer panic over the surgery itself. The night before I had my brain surgery a couple of years ago, I was pretty much crazy with anxiety. I spent the entire night crying and throwing up (sorry!) and decided I really didn't want to go through with the surgery. The anxiety I experienced was horrible, and I really don't want to feel that way again. I am also really nervous about being put under general anesthetic. You always hear horror stories about people who either, never woke up from surgery or were awake the entire time (and felt everything), but couldn't move or tell anyone. I am also petrified of having a breathing tube. The last time I had surgery the breathing tube was removed before I woke up, but the idea of having something stuck down my throat sends me into a panic. Finally I am worried about how much pain I will be in after the surgery. This is pretty ironic considering the fact that I have fibromyalgia, and struggle with fairly intense pain on a daily basis. The doctor said the pain will be minimal (and they will provide me with pain meds), but I'm still scared. 


The Support
I was beyond amazed by the supportive comments I received from so many of my subscribers. Your encouraging words will help me get through this process, and have definitely helped resolve some of my fears. I plan to document this entire journey (through posts and videos) as I'd love to share it with all of you. 


If you have any questions, would like more information on the process or have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know. 


Thank you again for all of your support. 


xx
Alicia