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About this blog

A compilation of thoughts and experiences as I progress through the quest of self reduction. Hopefully some may find the tales helpful and informative... if not at least it will give me something to look back upon and remissness.

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Havamal

A fair bit of time has passed since my last post so I figure it is time for another one. Especially considering I actually have a day off where I do not have to run a round like a mad man. As mentioned in my previous post my work life kind of exploded. I have been averaging 14-16 hour days with little sleep, but I have most of the people trained to the point that they can kind of function without someone there standing over them and as a result my hours are starting to get back to normal. Then again my normal is 12 hour shifts, so… really not that much different, just not as many days in a row.

Another plus on the work front is my wife finally finished the coloring book she has been working on and it is now published and available on Amazon! This has been a long project and has finally been completed. Just in case you are interested it checking it out here is a link:

Dragon Fancy

Now for the WLS information:

I am now 86 days post-surgery and things are still going well. I have lost 85.1 lbs. since the surgery for a total of 101.8 since I began this process. I guess a pound a day is pretty good. I hope it keeps up because I still have a long way to go! I am still only getting in about 800 calories a day, less than what my doctor would like to see, but that is all I can really get in without feeling ill. I thought as time progressed I would be better at handling a little more volume of food in my pouch but that does not seem to be the case… I still only hold about 2 oz. before I get the uncomfortable full feeling.

Some of the side effects have been getting more… well… interesting. Being of Norse descent I have always had a natural immunity to the cold. As a matter of fact I have never had an issue of my hands or feet getting cold, even in extreme cold. My wife has always enjoyed this phenomenon because she has typically run colder and can always count on my ability to warm her up instantly in the winter. Well… that does not seem to be the case anymore. I think that Mr. Snow Miser has moved in and is messing with me. I am finding that my hands, feet and of all things my nose, have been getting cold… Very cold… especially my nose… What the heck is with that? The rest of me will be nice and warm and my nose is like someone attached an ice cube to it. I'm not sure what to do about the nose issue. When it is your hands you put on gloves... When it is your feet you put on warmer socks… but how do you keep your nose warm? Wear earmuffs front to back instead of ear to ear?

Stats update:

Start Weight: 465 lbs.

Surgery Weight: 448.3 lbs. (16.7 lbs. lost prior to surgery)

Current Weight: 363.2 lbs. (85.1 lbs. lost since surgery)

Total Lost: 101.8 lbs.

Starting BMI: 63.1

Current BMI: 49.3

Thankfully with my work schedule I have not had an issue of keeping my energy level up. Then again I'm not sure that I would know considering that I am constantly burned out! My hours are slowly reducing so hopefully I will have more opportunity to post and comment in the forum. Just keep in mind, I am still lurking on the forum and am keeping up with reading posts as I can.

 

Until next time… the saga continues….

Havamal

I know it has been a long while since I last made a post. There is a reason for that. Kind of…

Before I get into the non WLS side of what has been happening I'll update how things have been going for the last couple of weeks. I am now currently in week 8. I have adjusted to eating normal food as much as the definition of post-surgery "normal food" lets you. That really did not sound right… I am happily eating a post-surgery diet of normal food… just not much of it!... Ya, that's better! All kidding aside, things have been going rather well. I have been blessed with no adverse side effects and have not encountered any foods that have given me issues. I have only had two real issues, one has been with constipation, but the doctor thinks that it might have to do with the iron content in my multi-vitamin. The second has just been a recent development. I have been getting a nauseous feeling after taking my multi-vitamin, I even vomited the other day after taking it… not sure what is up with that yet. I will be getting ahold of the office on Monday to see what they have to say. I still have not been able to get my caloric intake up to where the doctor would like to see it, I have still been hovering around the 600-800 range rather than the 1000-1200 range the doctor would like to see me at. I do need to increase my exercise level, but it has been hard with the hours I have been working… That is about it, as far as the WLS.

 

Stats update:

Start Weight: 465 lbs.

Surgery Weight: 448.3 lbs. (16.7 lbs. lost prior to surgery)

Current Weight: 383.0 lbs. (65.3 lbs. lost since surgery)

Total Lost: 82.0 lbs.

Starting BMI: 63.1

Current BMI: 51.9

 

Now on to the daily life stuff that interferes with everything else.

I work as a night shift supervisor in a 24/7 logistics office that is operated by four supervisors and one manager. Just before I went for my surgery the manager transferred to Florida, which really did not make a difference since he did not do much in the first place. He had planned this transfer back in January and had already left mentally. During the first week I was off, the other night shift supervisor quit. To top things off one of the day shift supervisors turned in her notice but agreed to stay long enough for me to return to work.

In order to cover for my absence and the departure of the other night supervisor, they flew in two people from a California office. On the surface that sounds good except for the fact that the two people that came to cover had no clue what they were doing. This leads to why I have been so busy for the last month. If you have been following the math, when I returned there was only myself and one other supervisor that knew what we were doing. I spent the first two weeks just cleaning up the havoc that the two people from CA had caused by not knowing what they were doing. The second two weeks I spent training the two replacements which meant that I worked their shift with them training and was on call for them via laptop to solve any issues that came up. Basically I worked 14 days straight. Needless to say I have not had a lot of time on my hands, but it is getting better. One of the up sides of all the changes is that I was able to take the other day shift position.

There is more going on involving a semi-hostile takeover that I won't be able to comment on until it is fully announced and a done deal. Needless to say the new events are going to make my life even more… errr… interesting?

Until next time… the saga continues….

Havamal

Week three has been rather uneventful. I'm still working on improving my stamina and walking distance but it has been a challenge. Between the muscle aches that result from the walking for any length of time and running out of energy rather quickly it makes it hard to make any significant progress in that department. I think that once my caloric intake increases a little more that will help with the energy issues. Right now it is a struggle to break the 400-500 calorie mark. As far as food consumption, the puree phase of the diet was without issues other than feeling full almost immediately. So far I have not encountered anything that my sleeve has rejected, including hot sauces!

I have my release date 8/19 to return to work, which I think has both irritated and relieved my boss. We have a crew of 4 supervisors and one manager in the office and run 24/7. The manager transferred to Florida a week before I went out for my surgery, he would have been the one to cover the gap I was leaving. To cover me they flew in a supervisor from CA. A week after I went out on my LOA the other night supervisor quit, leaving them with another hole to fill, which they did by pulling in another supervisor from another location. The next day one of the day shift supervisors resigned and their last day is 8/22. They still have not been able to hire anyone to fill the two vacancies and are still flying in people to cover. Needless to say the boss has been scrambling to hold things together. He is happy I am returning but is bummed that it was not sooner!. I could have probably returned last week but my doctor felt that it would not be a good idea due to the stamina issue considering I work 12-13 hour shifts. The doctor wanted me to increase my caloric intake before I returned in order to combat the fatigue, but that so far has been rather difficult. Now that I am on the Soft Foods Diet phase I will be on a quest to find things to eat that are within the dietary boundaries of being high protein, low fat, no sugar but has a high caloric content… kind of sounds like a oxymoron!

Note on the Sciatica… It seems to be getting better, the sharp pain has occurred less and now I am just getting numbness and mild pain occasionally, typically once I have been on it for a while.

 

Stats update:

Start Weight: 465 lbs.

Surgery Weight: 448.3 lbs. (16.7 lbs. lost prior to surgery)

Current Weight: 409.6 lbs. (38.7 lbs. lost since surgery)

Total Lost: 55.4 lbs.

 

My Saga continues...

Havamal

Well here I am 16 days Post-Op and feeling pretty good! I waited on writing this post so that I could include the results of my two week follow up appointment. The last week has been an ongoing experiment of how far I can walk and what liquids my stomach can tolerate. My doctors plan has me off of clear liquids and onto "Full Liquids" the second week. I have found that the definition of "Full Liquids" varies from plan to plan, some plans classify "FL" as only being the Clear Liquid diet with protein drinks added to the mix. Other plans include adding such things as strained cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cereals such as cream of wheat. My doctors plan had me adding protein drinks for the first part of the week and if that went well then slowly try adding cream soups, Greek yogurt or applesauce near the end of the week.

The diet has been pretty easy to follow, especially considering that my sleeve will only accept about 4-5 ounces of anything other than water sipped over about 20 min, after that point I have a very full feeling and don’t dare sip anymore! The later part of the week I slowly tried a few new things, tomato soup, apple sauce, Greek yogurt & cottage cheese. These things have been a nice treat from the water and protein drinks and they have been a good pre test for phasing into Week Three - Pureed Foods.

The Two Week Follow Up Appointment

The appointment went pretty well. All my stats are right where they should be including blood pressure, which has not been this low in years even with medication! Hopefully this means that my blood pressure meds can be reduced soon if not eliminated. My incision points are healing nicely, I have been applying a vitamin E cream to the incisions to help reduce any scaring and that seems to be working well. The only negative things I had to bring up with the doctor was my sciatic nerve and some muscular issues.

  • The sciatic nerve is just something I have to deal with right now, at least until the weight drops off to the point that it will fix itself or until the changes have reached a point that it can be addressed with out the possibility of my body changing and undoing any corrections that might be made.
  • Muscular issues - These are just the normal muscular issues that most people encounter as their center of gravity changes due to the rapid weight loss. Basically areas of muscles are having to work harder than they are used to in order to compensate for the shift in weight displacement. It varies from person to person but in my case the worst is the band of muscles that run across my back, right below my shoulder blades. When I go for a walk those muscles are worked pretty good and knot up to the point I can barely move. It will get better over time or once I heal to a the point I can start using my Bowflex to work those muscles back into shape. To coin the phrase "If I knew then what I know now" one of the things I would have done pre-surgery would have been to work my back muscles and abdominal muscles more, if I had I would have reduced these muscular issues significantly.

All in all the appointment went well. The doctor was very pleased with the rate my wounds are healing, the fact I am having none of the normal possible side effects and the amount of weight lost so far. On that note here are my current stats as of 8/8:

Start Weight: 465 lbs.

Surgery Weight: 448.3 lbs. (16.7 lbs. lost prior to surgery)

Current Weight: 415.4 lbs. (32.9 lbs. lost since surgery)

Total Lost: 49.6 lbs.

 

On to Week Three - Pureed Diet…

Havamal

Week One

The first week has been a bit of a blur. Being limited to water, broth and Sugar Free Jell-O does interesting things to the body. The goal has been to consume at least 50 oz. of fluids per day, more if possible. Key phrase there is “if possible”. During the time from waking after surgery to being discharged, roughly 22 hours, I consumed 80 oz. of fluid. I thought hitting 50 at home would be a snap… but it turned out to be more difficult than I thought. My mind was a little muddled on the first day of being home from the hospital due to my body starting the ketosis phase so I forgot to track my fluid intake, but I did start the following day. Here is what I consumed the remaining 4 days of the week:

 

Water

Broth

Jello

Total

7/28

23 oz.

6 oz.

1 oz.

30 oz.

7/29

40 oz.

6 oz.

2 oz.

48 oz.

7/30

45 oz.

6 oz.

3 oz.

54 oz.

7/31

53 oz.

4 oz.

3 oz.

60 oz.

The doctor had sent me home with a large bottle of liquid Oxycodone for pain, and a bottle of anti nausea pills. Thankfully I really did not need either. I took a dose of the pain killer the first 2 nights just to ensure that I slept well, not because I was currently in pain, but rather as a prevention of possible pain.

I kept down for the first week as per my doctors orders and I am glad I did. The first couple of days are a bit of a blur as my body adjusted, not so much to the new stomach but rather the lack of nutrient consumption. Eventually my mind started to clear… not sure that it is completely clear yet… actually not too sure it was clear prior to the surgery… but it is getting clearer! From what I have read of other persons accounts I have fared pretty well, at least thus far.

Now for the down side.

Getting around the appeal of food is interesting, especially when others are eating. I don't physically feel hungry but at certain times or when someone else is eating my mind starts going "hmmm… that would taste good about now". I just remind myself that I didn't go through the lengthy process just to defeat myself stupidly. Besides, I would hate to think what my stomach would do if I ate something right now!

About the worst side effect I have had through this process has not been related to the surgery so much but rather a sciatic nerve. I have had an issue with the sciatic nerve in my left hip for years. Usually it manifests its self as a numbness in my thigh with the occasional  shooting pain similar to feeling like a coat hanger being thrust up and down my thigh. The last 2 mornings I have awoken about 4am with a pain in my thigh and hip that the closest way I can describe it is as a red hot poker jammed in my hip and thigh with electricity coursing through it. When I got up this morning I could barely stand. With a little time stretching and sitting upright the pain subsided after about an hour. I can only assume that the weight loss that I have already experienced as loosened and freed up the nerve so that it can shift around resulting in the increase of pain. Something to talk over with my surgeon ASAP.

All things considered so far this has been a really good experience, I have no complaints so far other than I can't wait to be to the point where I can chew something! On that note I will close out this post with my stats... today, one week post op, is the first time I climbed on the scale since surgery day. Here are the results so far:

 

Start Weight: 465 lbs.

Surgery Weight: 448.3 lbs. (16.7 lbs. lost prior to surgery)

Current Weight: 423.6 lbs. (24.7 lbs. lost since surgery)

Total Lost: 41.4 lbs.

Havamal

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 - Surgery Day

Woke up at 05:00 grabbed a shower and lathered in the sterilizing solution that the hospital provided. I had taken a shower and coated with the same solution the night before and slept on clean sheets in order to reduce exposure to things that might prove bothersome with having surgery. Having been someone who has been working a graveyard shift, sleeping through the night was a challenge… one that I was only moderately successful at. Surprisingly, having consumed nothing  since 9pm I was neither hungry nor thirsty. Which was one of my concerns, especially the thirst issue considering I am one of those persons that constantly has some sort of beverage even if it is just the water bottle I constantly have at my side. Anyway, my appointment for surgery was at 07:45 so my wife Julie and I departed for the hospital at 06:00 just incase there was morning traffic.

Once at the hospital things progressed rather quickly. Within minutes I was checked in and Julie and I were whisked off to another waiting room where I was taken into another room where I sterilized again and changed into an operating gown. I had barely gotten changed when a nurse showed up, had me get on a gurney and off I went. As they wheeled me through the halls we picked up Julie from the waiting room and she stayed with me in a "Pre-surgery" holding room, but it wasn't long before my surgeon, his AP, and the Anesthesiologist came through and said good morning and asked a few final questions.  A short wait and Julie returned to the waiting area and I was rolled into the OR. The last thing I remember was transferring from the gurney to the operating table, laying down situating myself… then the next thing I was aware of was waking up in room with a couple of nurses watching over me, one of them saying "your oxygen is low, you need to breathe!". The next few hours are tough to recall, just kind of a disjointed awareness of my surroundings.

As it turns out there was a bit of a complication during the initial part of the surgery. One of the first things they do is send a scope down your throat to make sure there are no issues with your intestines. This is a very common procedure, however there is a nerve cluster that the scope occasionally comes into contact with and when this happens the results are usually very mild. But I have never been one to not step up to a challenge, instead of the usual minor nerve reactions I did the one in a million reaction and my heart stopped like flipping a switch. I flat lined for a little over 20 seconds before they restarted my heart. My surgeon almost canceled my procedure, but he and another couple of doctors assessed the risk and determined that the risk of continuing were less detrimental to my health than not completing the VSG and my remaining obese.

At about 4pm I was encouraged to get up and walk around the floors perimeter hallway with a nurse guiding me. This was probably the first real awareness I had of the discomfort of all the cuts and stitching and such… not pain, just a tugging sensation when I moved. Especially when I got up out of the bed! I spent the night getting up every 2 hours and doing a lap around the perimeter, by morning I was walking on my own and doing 3-4 laps. During this time they brought me little one-once  cups of water, 10 at a time… this is where the sip, sip, sip starts. From 4pm on the 25th and 2pm on the 26th when they released me, I had drank 70 ounces of water and 10 ounces of chicken broth. I guess from their comments this amount was a little unusual, but good.

Havamal

I thought a good second post to this blog would be to give my opinion/experience of the list of prerequisites that I was required to complete in order to have approval by my insurance company. I understand that these requirements vary from company to company and from surgeon to surgeon, but these are just the ones that I needed to complete.

  • Nutrition program: Monitored by nutritionist. Must be 3 months or longer and minimum of 4 visits.
    • This was a great experience. I learned a lot from the nutritionist and she has been very supportive through this process.
  • Exercise program: Monitored by Physical Therapist. Must be a minimum of 2 visits and must occur during the same 3 months of the Nutrition program.
    • These visits were full of good information but I was unable to do a lot of the workouts with the therapist because my body decided to revolt and throw some Kidney Stones my way. It took me 10 weeks to get past the stone issue, needless to say when you are dealing with stones it makes it a little hard to get any substantive exercise.
  • Psychological Clearance: basically an evaluation to determine if you are in your right mind for WLS and whether or not a psychologist thinks you will be successful.
    • The psych evaluation was probably the most absurd part of my pre qualifications... I spent 2 hours with a shrink who had me do a basic online psych test that you would typically find on a Facebook post, then talked to me to be sure that my alter-ego didn't wear a bicycle helmet 24/7 and lick car windows. He asked me to come back for a second visit to discuss depression issues but when I came back all he talked about was how great it will be after I had the surgery. The possibility of an eating disorder or depression never even came up!
    • Then there was the $897.00 bill… oh well, the hoops we jump through right?
  • Standard battery of Blood work.
    • I’m sure everyone has visited the vampire room.
  • EKG
    • Strap on a meter and watch it do its thing!
  • Upper Gi
    • This was a first for me! The Barium solution was… well… a new experience of chalky grossness. Then getting sandwiched in the X-ray machine did wonders (If you are sandwiched in there how do they expect you to turn on your side?)
  • Pre/Post Surgery Nutrition class
    • This class was actually conducted by the same Nutritionist that I was seeing for my supervised diet. I was surprised at the number of people who were attending, there were over 20 people just in this one session! Lots of good information in this one.
  • Post-Surgery Nursing class
    •  This class should have been conducted 3-4 weeks before surgery due to the content that covers the week prior to surgery… but so to a cancelation I ended up taking it the day before surgery (yesterday). Made for a bit of a scramble, and there were things that I should have done but did not have time to do… oh well! Don’t think any of them will end up resulting in a catastrophe :unsure:

Well, see you on the other side, out on the losers bench :)

 

Havamal

I have decided to start this blog for the purpose of documenting my journey and possibly providing insight for others who may either be going through the process themselves or are still considering their options.

First off, I guess I should go back to the beginning and try to explain how I arrived at this point of having Weight Loss Surgery. Like most people, my focus through life thus far has been all about doing what I need to do in order to provide for my family… but I forgot to take care of myself in the process. There was always tomorrow to do that, right?

Now that my children are grown and starting out with their own lives I find myself wanting to enjoy life more with my wife. But... there is always a but... I also came to the realization looking in the mirror that I had deteriorated to the point that even though I am only 46 I won't live long enough to enjoy the freedom of we will have as empty-nesters. I've tried diets and other miscellaneous chants, potions and witch-doctory over the past few years with no success… it was time to take drastic measures.

Four or five years ago I had a doctor recommend that I look at weight loss surgery. I didn't know much about it and I never looked into it because I told myself, like many people do, that it was the "easy" way out. Recently my current doctor gave me the same recommendation and I decided this time that I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't at least look into the option. The more I researched the science behind the surgery the more I realized that it was, as people say, a tool… not a magic bullet. The physical and chemical changes that result from the surgery are key to significant weight loss, but if you still eat the same way you did prior to the surgery the effects are negated. Like any tool if you want it to work correctly you have to keep good care of it and maintain it.

So this is where I am now, A few days from having Vertical Sleeve surgery and thinking that I better get started on this blog. Hopefully someone might get some useful information from my mental meanderings, and if not, at least I will have something to come back to and reflect upon as I go through this process.

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