bariatric surgery, dieting, fat, gastric sleeve, illness, life, surgery
For those of you just joining: I am a 55-year-old ciswoman of mixed racial heritage who started this journey with a BMI of 49, cardiac artery disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. My knee muscles never bounced back all the way after their replacement surgery a couple of years ago–although the titanium parts work fine, at 285 lbs they had too much to haul around. So my mobility has been limited for the last two years and I need a cane on stairs. I had a minor heart attack two years ago, and when they went to place a stent, my right coronary artery was 95% occluded–as the OR nurse said, I was one cheeseburger away from The Big One.
Being fat runs in my family, and although I whimpered in the back of my throat when I hit size 26, I actually have a healthy ego and have been a fat activist. I still support anybody’s body, although if you’re as unhealthy as I was, I suggest you . . . think things over. I will never proselytize, and there are other modalities of getting your body healthier besides the one I chose.
But then came the day my very nice, non-fat-bashy cardiologist turned to me and asked, “Have you ever considered bariatric surgery?”
Tl, dr: I’m not a skinnyism fascist, and I didn’t do this to become gorgeous, because I started that way. My kids need me, and I can’t afford to die yet.
The Surgery: After looking at the options for bariatric surgery, I chose the sleeve over the bypass for two reasons: The “connect piece A to piece Q” part of the bypass creeped me out and . . . damn it, I wanted to be able to cheat a little without an unpleasant physical reaction to simple carbs called dumping syndrome. (I was gambling, because some people dump with the sleeve anyway.)
I ended up losing 25 pounds to slim down my fatty liver, which was in the way, and every so often I would think, “Well, you’re losing weight . . .” (And then I reminded myself that we’d been to that rodeo before and it had all come back, as it does for 95% of the dieting population. True, there’s only a 56% success rate at five years with the surgery, but I know how to succeed and have been given the tools.)
For the last two weeks I was a ball of nerves, but despite an administrative glitch that postponed me a week, I showed up at Boston Medical Center last Wednesday, and the deed was done. Every single staff member (except maybe one nurse who was a tad brisk) was a complete honey and I am proud they are my co-workers.
It was rough. Probably because my surgeon had just reshaped my normal footballish tum into a small banana holding maybe 5 or 6 ounces max, I had horrible post-op nausea and retching, and the anesthesia took a long time to shake. (I’ve been induced with propofol a lot, and it never did this before.) Thus, Wednesday night flashed me back to hyperemesis with my daughter (18 weeks of non-stop “morning” sickness with 7 hospitalizations) because I haven’t had an experience like that in 30 years.
Pain, on the other hand, has been almost non-existent. I’m just on tylenol. Liquid tylenol, which isn’t as yummy as Robitussin but a lot better than the liquid bactrim I’m on as prophylaxis against my kidney stone, which of course picked this week to give me a UTI. What I am mostly is exhausted. I feel like I’ve walked through fire.
Probably the worst part is that all my meds have to be powdered. Imitrex? Kinda nasty. Metoprolol? REALLY nasty. Ranitidine? Worst of all. I know there are those of you out there who chew all your pills, and I think you’re freaks. Brave, wonderful freaks. How the hell do you do this?
I will be on a liquid diet for the next 2–3 weeks, and then graduate to very soft food. Most of my hunger-making hormones were secreted by the part of the stomach they excised, so I will have no appetite for the next half year. Right now, that’s just ducky. It’s all I can do to stay hydrated right now–that’s the first goal; the second is high protein intake to reduce muscle wasting.
I’ve already lost 5 pounds from my pre-surgery weight. But the big news is that my diabetes has somehow gone into remission: No more insulin (I was on a high dose, too) and not even oral meds, thank all the gods, because those pills are huge and I’m sure taste awful.
So far, no regrets, other than some purely post-surgical self-pity. We’ll see how this goes. I’ll keep you posted.