Wednesday, January 05, 2011

"Looking back would you do it all over again?"

"Looking back would you do it all over again?" That was the question I was asked a few days ago over Facebook from a friend from high school. This is in reference to Gastric Bypass Surgery that I had in 2005 when I was 19 years old.

I have been bigger all throughout childhood and adolescent years.

My highest weight ever was 260 pounds. I was always the girl with a pretty face or the proportionate fat girl. I mirrored my mom a lot back then. She was big too. She had Gastric bypass before I did. I really don't remember what conversation my mom and I had to get the process going but obviously we had one.

I had the Open Roux-en-Y procedure.Here is a description with the help of

"In a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the stomach is made smaller by creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach using surgical staples or a plastic band. The smaller stomach is connected directly to the middle portion of the small intestine (jejunum), bypassing the rest of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum)."

When I say open, it means I was cut open to have the procedure done. Tricare approved that because it was tried and true and before lapraoscopic procedures were common. While they were in there they removed my gall bladder as well since gallstones is very common in patients. 

In the part of the stomach that was removed they placed a drain in it and a hole in the left side of my stomach which needed to be emptied frequently. 

So had surgery and was stapled inside and out. It looked like a rail road track was laid down on my stomach and I had a plastic tube with a reservoir that holds stomach contents sticking out of my left side.I had to learn how to eat all over again starting off by eating liquid ounces, then mush and on to soft solids. Also, simple sugars like candy, soda, ice cream and such causes a negative effect on a person called Dumping Syndrome. 
"This happens because food moves too quickly through the stomach and intestines. It can cause shaking, sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and often severe diarrhea." Usually when that happened, I wanted to die. It is such miserable and painful experience. But, what I have found out that if I had a diet coke and got sick, I would try it again and I soon gained a tolerance to it. So, lost about 100 pounds. I exercised during the transition but I didn't really work hard at it. I was more into my social life at that point because I was getting smaller therefore more attractive to the opposite sex which of course being my 19 year old self, I basked in it and started to become the type of girl I personally detest.
At my smallest 160lbs and no boobs

With the surgery and having your intestines rerouted it is not uncommon to become anemic with iron and b12 and other mineral deficiencies which the doctors encouraged supplements. Did I listen? No. When I was pregnant with Caitlin, I of course took prenatal vitamin whenever I remembered. I was so miserable with the pregnancy and did not associate it with mineral deficiencies. Had to go to emergency room several times and each time was given a prescription for Iron. Caitlin was born very underweight and jaundiced. I tried breastfeeding and for the first 4 months of her life she was not thriving. It wasn't that I didn't produce milk but my milk wasn't full of nutrients like a normal woman would have. So, she was put on preemie formula and she fattened up real quick.
Eric with baby Caitlin @ 3 months old no meat on her.

In early September 2010, I was super sick and on my period. I was so sick I was in the commissary and I was looking for someone to call an ambulance. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I was faint, pale, and sleepy. I just could not function and even think coherently. Our friend Jason was in town and he is in Physician Asisstant School and we were going over symptoms and he asked if I am deficient in minerals. Then it clicked. Also, because I was on my period and losing blood it made symptoms that much worse. I called my doctor and immediately got prescription for b12 shots and got iron. Because I have been deficient for so long it took my body a while to adjust. The doctors then said i should gone in and gotten a blood transfusion. I was stupid and naive and now I can say I am taking supplements every single day.

Complications are common in having Gastric Bypass. My mom experienced a life threatening one but will not go into detail about it because it's not my story to tell.

Also, the pouch that is your new stomach is still a muscle and with that it stretches. Which is what happened to me. I became more tolerant to foods and then got into my negative ways with partying and not eating healthy foods. Then met husband and got into happy relationship weight and then produced 2 kids and therefore gained 50 pounds and somehow got over 200 lbs again.

"Looking back would you do it all over again?"

No. Despite having to go to a class given by the hospital and having psychiatric approval I wasn't equipped with the proper knowledge of food, diet and exercise. I won't discredit the surgery at all though. Surgery is a great jump start but it is not a solution. I was 19 and pretty self absorbed and was only looking at immediate picture. I wanted quick and easy weight loss. I wouldn't recommend anyone my age to have it.
Use that energy investing into surgery and obtain a dietitian/nutritionist and tools to help aid in pursuing a healthy lifestyle instead.

In September, when I decided to change my lifestyle I enrolled in a nutrition class which also goes toward my major. I also logged everything using which I still do to this day. I also utilize a food scale and actually eat a serving. A food scale helps put a visual on a serving size that is on the nutrition label of foods. They are a great tool and are inexpensive. They have them at Target.

Now Fitness. It's hard but I personally think the food part is the hardest. Working out takes an hour a day. Eating is an all day event. Making healthy breakfast, lunch ,dinner and snack choices. Plus there are so many temptations with fast food chains being on every corner and those commercials. We live in a world where quick and easy is priority. We just have to get over that concept and with that we make healthier decisions and benefit all over.

Back to fitness, I dreaded it. Why did I dread it though? Why do most people dread it? For me, it was looking like an idiot when performing the exercises wrong, or looking like an idiot when trying to speed walk or jog and be huffing and puffing while not keeping up. So fear of looking like an idiot and then actually having to push myself and do something I never done made it easy to say, "I can't".

So, I tried multiple gyms and was bored and found everything to be tedious. I did love working with someone, someone who was going through what I was going through. That is why I fell in love with the YMCA here in San Diego. Majority of the people there are average joes. The trainers and instructors are average joes and don't think of you as a statistic or push you to do something that cost more money to get special incentives or perks. YMCA doesn't do that and it is also cheaper. I don't have to pay extra for my kids to be watched and the membership is for my whole family. We pay 45.00 a month.

I eased my way into it. I knew from Eric's lectures, educating myself and even my own experience is to not over do it. So, I started off taking low impact aerobics. I was the youngest person there by about 30 years and the class still kicked my ass. I had Granny Ethel moving way better than me and not winded what so ever. I felt terrible and did not enjoy seeing myself in the mirrors that lined the entire length of the wall. I kept going back, and kept going and tried new classes. I also wear a heart rate monitor watch by Polar. It is a wonderful tool to have for any body doing fitness from beginner to advanced. Each day has now turned into months and I am addicted to going. I even still go to the low impact class once a week because it was that class that has started me. I tried so many classes, yoga, pilates, trx, bodypump, swim, Zumba, total body workout, step. So, the point is to not over do it and find something you like doing. The healthier I got the more I wanted to do more active activites like hiking and such.
My husband and I when we completed a hike

I wouldn't have the surgery if i had the choice to do it all over but I am also thankful for it because it is part of my life and who I am and i live with the evidence of it which is a lovely scar going down my stomach and taking multiple pills every day to be healthy.

Who knows really, I probably wouldn't have met my husband and had my two daughters if I didn't have it. For anyone who has considered having weight loss surgery or is overweight, obese, morbidly obese own up to it and take control of your body. Food is fuel. Fuel your body with the good stuff. Don't do the fad diets and don't treat yourself for a cheat day. Eat food but moderately. Learn what everything on a nutrition label is and what those vitamins and minerals do for your body. Learn what a calorie is and so on. It's worth knowing. I really enjoyed my nutrition class and have applied it. I thought I knew a lot already about food and such but I was astonished at how much I did not know.

So that's it folks. I am not a professional or anything just a person wanting to have a better quality of life and sharing my experience since I have multiple questions. You may meet someone else who may have a total different story with Gastric Bypass but this is my story. I really cannot express the feeling i get when people right me messages and give me compliments saying I have inspired them. How could I actually inspire someone? Crazy. So thank you.

Ps. I have been tracking my weightloss with pictures and I am going to share a picture that I took the other day. I told myself I never ever will share these type of pictures but I am doing it. I am finally comfortable to talk about my weight and how much I weigh. I also appreciate my body now and love it. My stomach although not taut and pretty is in the best shape it has ever been. I have loose skin, huge scar, dimples and stretch mark but I have worked very hard and am very proud I own this body. 


1 comment:

Pamela said...

Wow! You look great and have an awesome shape! I am so glad you posted pics of yourself "stripped" as I say. I too lost some serious weight, 50 lbs in 2 years. I started running and rehauled my entire way of thinking about food. I am currently 156 lbs. but gauge my progress by inches. Do you take your measurements?