Unlike many morbidly obese adults, I've not been overweight my whole life. In fact, for a large part of my childhood, I was actually underweight for my age. Growing up, I was active. I played volleyball (badly), took tap, jazz and ballet & I rode horses in Elementary School. In Middle School I was slightly less active because I was not involved in organized sports, but I did walk... a LOT as it was my only transportation. The walking continued into High School as I did not have a car until college. I was also on the Color Guard and I was a cheerleader. When I graduated from High School, I weighed a whopping 135 pounds and I thought I was FAT. I look at my yearbook pictures and have decided that I would love to go back to my High School self and just slap the heck out of her sometimes.
When I started college, I didn't walk quite as much as I did in High School. I did start taking dance classes again, and I started taking ice skating lessons. I did gain a bit of weight in college, but still ended up graduating at 175. Again, I thought I was FAT. My senior year of college, I started hormonal birth control and had a nasty fall on the ice during a lesson. Those two things halmarked the beginning of my weight gain. I'm not laying everything at the feet of birth control pills. If I were able to maintain my activity level when I started them, I would probably not have gained as much as I did. However, the fall I took hurt my back to the point that I've not skated much since. It took several months before I was even able to walk very far without pain. Of course, I was young and indestructable so I didn't even think about going to the doctor about it. Maybe, if I had, I wouldn't have degenerating disks in my spine.
My eating habits have never been great, so poor food choices + hormonal birth control + lack of regular exercise = steady weight gain over the last 15 years. I graduated High School at 135. I graduated College at 175. A year later, when my husband and I got married, I was at 190. In late 2009, I had my "moment of clarity" when I stepped on the scale and saw 301! When I saw the 3 starting my weight, I knew that it was time to do something. I'd had good success with Weight Watchers and with South Beach before, but it was fleeting. As was the success I had with Atkins, Slim Fast, and every other diet I'd been on. I figured I'd give it one more shot with Weight Watchers...
After another failure, I went back to researching the idea of surgery. I'd looked at it off and on over the years, but I knew I didn't want the bypass. I figure that all my plumbing is the way it is for a reason, and I didn't want to mess with that. So I looked at the Lap-Band and that seemed to be more what I was looking for. But I didn't do anything about it. March 2010, I was depressed about my weight and was getting more and more frustrated about my attempts at losing weight. I was journaling in my paper journal and decided then and there to make an appointment to go see my Internist. I put the pen down, picked up the phone and called. During the appointment, I broke down in tears, and I -hate- to cry in front of people. I just couldn't take it anymore. So I asked him how he felt about surgery. He told me that, after seeing me struggle with my weight for 10 years, he was all in favor of it. So he recommended the practice that I finally decided on and I went to the informational seminar.
At that seminar, I met one of the ladies who works in the office, and she'd had a procedure I'd never even heard of: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. She looked FABULOUS and was still losing, so she'd not had any plastic surgery yet. She didn't look like a skinny person wearing a fat person's skin. After the seminar, I went home to think about my options. Foothills and Dr. Colquitt offer RNY, Realize Band and VSG. I found out that my insurance company was one of two at the time to cover VSG so that made VSG a viable option. So, I sat down with my hubby and we weighed the pros and cons of the various surgeries. I read as much about each type as I could. I meditated on it. I prayed about it. I found Obesity Help and started reading what people had to say on the message boards. Then I went to my initial consult with the surgeon. He and I decided on the VSG.
After that consult in May 2010, I had an upper GI, blood work, an EKG, two visits with the psychologist (where I cried AGAIN), diet and nutrition classes, emotions and overeating classes, support group meetings, and a 6-month medically-supervised diet. Finally, on November 23, 2010 my paperwork was submitted to insurance. I was told that they had up to 30 days to respond, but I got my approval on November 29. Considering that it was over Thanksgiving, I'd say that was pretty darn fast! Then the mad scramble began to try to get a surgery date before the end of the year because my insurance changes January 1, 2011. I told the insurance/scheduling person (who is FABULOUS, by the way) that my absolutely ideal date would be 12/17. My date was 12/20/2010, so I'd say she got close.
My surgery went "textbook", according to my fabulous surgeon. I spent more time in recovery than normal but only because they were having trouble finding me a room! I was in my room about 2 hours and the PT tech came and made me walk, which I did without complaints. I was NPO until after my leak test the next morning. Once I had that test, I was cleared for clear liquids and that first sip of water was HEAVEN. I only had a little nausea in the hospital, which the nursing staff took care of right away. The worst nausea came after the leak test! My surgeon came by after the leak test and told me it looked great and that if I could keep down jell-o, water and broth without vomiting, I could go home. I could, so I did, meaning I was only in the hospital overnight. I had some nausea the night I went home, but Dr. C had prescribed phenergren and a dose of that fixed me right up. I didn't even need Tylenol for pain once I went home.
I've not lost quickly, but I'm currently (03/15/2011) averaging 3 pounds/week, which is better than I've done on any other diet I've ever tried. My mindset is better because I'm relatively confident that I'm BANISHING my excess weight! Losing implies that I might find it again, and I'm done with that. :-) The Sleeve is NOT an easy way out, but it IS an awesome tool to facilitate banishing my excess weight.
For any folks who are considering the VSG, or any other weight loss surgery, I want to offer some advice. This is only from my experience. I'm not a doctor, and your mileage may vary. :-) I determined that, when I decided to pursue surgery, I would do everything my doctors and the team of nutritionists, etc. told me to do. I figured that they knew better than I did, or I'd already have had long-term success. This mean submitting to the process, which was an extremely difficult thing for me. I went to the classes I was required to attend, and I paid attention and sought to pull the marrow out of them, despite the fact that the information presented was something I'd heard a thousand times. I was told to lose 5% of my body weight prior to surgery to make the surgery safer by shrinking my liver. I was unable to do so, so I submitted to the torture that is the pre-op liquid diet. Unlike many people I've seen on my message boards, I followed it to the letter. I had no "food funerals" and the only "cheat" I had was eating an orange for the Vitamin C because I had a cold. I maintain that my textbook surgery and nearly painless recovery is due in large part to my following directions. :-)
I hope you are able to glean some knowledge from reading this blog, and I am open to polite, thoughtful and respectful questions.