In early January 2010 my weight skyrocketed to 295 pounds, the highest it had ever been. After years of dieting and failing, I had come to a point in my life where I knew something had to be done. It was about this time that I started considering weight loss surgery. I had considered the surgery option in the past, but insurance wouldn’t cover it and I felt like I was cheating the process and myself by not losing weight the “natural” way.
During my yearly gynecological appointment I spoke to my doctor about my weight and expressed to her my desire in obtaining information about my surgery options. We discussed the unhealthiness of my current state and she assured me that the surgery would not affect my chances of getting pregnant in the future. In fact, she said that my chances of getting pregnant would increase with the surgery and subsequent weight loss. She knew how long I’d struggled with my weight and said she thought the surgery might be a great path for me and recommended a doctor to do the surgery.
Prior to seeing the doctor for a consult, they require all prospective patients to attend a weight loss surgery seminar, where all surgery options are discussed and questions are answered by one of the clinic’s doctors. I went to the seminar in late January and then scheduled an appointment with the doctor. The earliest they could see me was a few weeks, which put me in the middle of February. While I waited for my first appointment I continued to research my surgery options. I asked a nurse friend if she knew anything about my doctor and she confirmed that he is one of the best and highly recommended him as well, which was very reassuring.
My surgery process officially began at my consult appointment in February 2010. I met my doctor and we discussed my options a little more. He confirmed that I was definitely a surgery candidate and we decided that, if approved by insurance, I would undergo gastric bypass surgery. During this appointment I met with the office’s insurance specialist and was advised that my insurance would cover the surgery and that they required all surgery candidates partake in a 3-month nutritional course and a psychiatric evaluation. I was registered for my first class, for the middle of March 2010, and sent on my way with a packet of information to look over.
The 3-month nutritional classes are in place to prepare future patients for life after surgery, and discussed topics like what foods to eat and which foods to avoid after surgery, what to expect before, during and after surgery, what a post-op patients food portions would look like after surgery and vitamin consumption. The classes were really informative and prepared me for what was ahead.
I scheduled my psychiatric evaluation at the end of April, because it needed to be completed prior to my final nutritional class. The psych evaluation is put in place to evaluate the patient’s state of mind and to be sure that he/she is not going the surgery route for the wrong reasons. The doctor asked a lot of questions about my past dieting, my eating habits, my job and about my family support system.
I attended my final nutritional class in mid-May 2010. Once my final class was on the books, the insurance specialist submitted my file to the insurance company for approval and the waiting game began. I received an official notice from my insurance company about a week later informing me that I had been approved. I scheduled my surgery for July 20th.
Two weeks prior to surgery, on July 6, I went in for my pre-op appointment. I was given my official liquid-diet instructions for the following two weeks, I purchased my vitamins and protein powders and I discussed any concerns with my doctor. I then headed over to the hospital for pre-surgery testing. My official 2-week pre-surgery weight was 306 pounds, my highest weight ever. All tests came back fine and the hospital officially cleared me for surgery as well.
I began my 2-week doctor required liquid diet, this diet is supposed to shrink your liver and prepare it for surgery, on July 7. I was allowed anything liquid (low fat milk, decaf coffee, jell-o, pudding, broth, etc) and was instructed to be sure that 4 to 5 protein shakes were consumed a day. The day before surgery, July 19, I was only allowed to drink clear liquids. I consumed lots of water, tea and sugar free Jell-O, of the not red or orange variety. Around 4:00 p.m. I was instructed to drink an entire bottle (about 10 ounces) of Magnesium Citrate. This is a bowel cleansing tool. It is supposed to clear out your system for a cleaner surgery. The magnesium citrate took a lot longer to start working, but once it started I was in the bathroom a lot.
My surgery was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and I was to arrive at the hospital by 8:30 a.m. When it was finally time my anesthesiologist gave me a pretty amazing IV cocktail and I was rolled to the operating room. The next thing I remember is being awake and getting rolled out to the post-op area. I was told everything went well.
The next 48 hours were a whirlwind. After an hour in the post-op area I was finally rolled to my room. I felt really groggy but wasn’t in too much pain. My parents spent most of the afternoon keeping me company while I was in and out of sleep. I remember being really thirsty but wasn’t allowed to drink anything until after my leak test the next morning. I didn’t get much sleep that first night because of IV drips beeping, nurses needing my vitals at all hours of the night and some internal discomfort, mostly gas.
The next morning, on July 21, I was wheeled down to the x-ray lab for my leak test. An x-ray of my internals was taken and then I was given a small bottle of a contrast liquid to drink. I drank the liquid and then waited about 10 minutes and was x-rayed again. This test is done to make sure that everything was connected correctly and that there were no leaks internally. Once finished I was wheeled back to my room. I was finally allowed water and ice chips. About an hour later I started walking.
The next morning, on July 22, I passed the “pee test” and my doctor cleared me for release. I was beyond excited. By 11:oo a.m. I was a free woman and on my way home. When I arrived home I was in some pain, mostly gas, and went straight to lay down and get a little sleep. I was uncomfortable for a few days. The gas pains are very uncomfortable but bearable. It hurt to walk some of the time and turning while laying down was hard. The few days after surgery were a lot easier than I had expected.
As the weeks progressed I transitioned from different food levels. The first week after surgery I continued a liquid diet. I then graduated to a pureed food diet for two weeks, a soft food diet for a week and then I was cleared to eat any and all foods. Lucky for me I’ve had no issues with any foods that I have eaten.
I am currently one year post-op and have had no regrets with my decision to have surgery. It has been a life changing procedure that I would highly recommend to anyone that is considering it. I know how hard it is to lose weight. I know how hard it is to diet. Surgery is not for everyone and even with surgery, work must be done to succeed. Yes, I do indulge in some of my favorite foods sometimes, but not as often as I would like. It is a tool that can help. I know that I can and will gain the weight back if I revert back to all of my old eating and non-exercising habits. I can’t guarantee that that won’t happen, but I will fight it every day for the rest of my life.
Greis (pronounced Grace) is a single, 30 something, Texas girl with an iPhone addiction. She loves her hometown Houston sports teams, Astros Baseball & Texans Football! When she’s not working as an inside sales analyst for a local manufacturing company, you can usually find her on the internet, watching trashy reality television or snuggling her niece, Audrey. In her spare time she enjoys a good chick flick, reading teenage vampire books (the sparkly kind) and dreaming about what life will be like when she finally wins the lottery. You can read more from Greis on her blog, Amazing Greis.