Post-op Issues...Q & A
On April 4th, 2016, I finally had my vertical sleeve surgery. Going public about such a touchy subject is a big decision. I have a lot of friends who have done the surgery, or are going to, and they will not tell anyone. One of the main reasons I am afraid to talk about it is because I am afraid I will fail. I don't want to look great for a few months and gain it all back. The choice is up to me. My food and exercise choices will be my results.
One night after having my sleep apnea test, the tech was walking me downstairs through the hospital. He said, "ya know. You qualify for bariatric surgery if you want to do that".
I knew I was huge and I knew I was not happy, but I had never considered anything so extreme. A light went off in my head and hope. Finally hope.
Each person is different and has a different story. When I told my closest friends and family, most tried to talk me out of it. I was morbidly obese, had terrible anxiety and heart palpations, had to sleep with an apnea machine, and very unhappy with how I looked. I was embarrassed for people to have to look at me. One member of my family told me I was only doing the surgery for vanity. Another told me to just exercise. I have heard so many stories about people dying during the surgery that I started believing that they were tall tales. There was ONE person who told me that they supported me and gave me their blessing. For that, I will always be grateful. If you are considering the surgery, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read everything...the good, the bad, the terrible stories and the amazing ones. I will be blogging about my journey and answering questions that people ask me a lot. Not because I'm bragging, but because if my posts help even just one person, the negative comments and the struggle, will all be worth it.
Today I have lost 50 pounds. I still have 60 to go but I'm enjoying wearing normal clothes and sitting in normal chairs without worrying if I can fit. I'm not sure if the fat girl mentality ever goes away. I enjoy going places and doing things. Right now I am in a size 14 and I was wearing a 20. I keep reading that your mind cannot catch up with the changes fast enough. For me, this is true. When I look in the mirror I still see the 3x me. I FEEL better but my body looks the same. A lot of people are nicer to me. Is it because I have a better attitude or because I'm socially acceptable since I'm no longer in the morbidly obese category? On the flip side, I have also noticed the exact opposite reaction. Some of the people I've known my whole life do not want to talk to me, and go out of their way to be snide or say something degrading. My dad used to tell me that if people were not nice, it's usually because they are jealous. I am starting to believe this.
Having VSG surgery is like peeling an onion. Not only are you losing body mass but your emotions, relationships, attitude and your circle of friends change. I will try to talk about my experiences through everything as candidly as I can. This surgery is not for the weak of heart. Relationships crumble if they are weak and people say things that will completely throw you off. Tough skin is almost a necessity. Without making this the longest post in history, I will begin with 'getting started' answers and work my way through there.
**disclaimer: these are my own opinions and experiences. Always go with your gut, and always speak with your physician before any life changes such as this***
I'M CONSIDERING BARIATRIC SURGERY. WHERE DO I START?
A: First, research. Google 'bariatric surgery'. There are tons of Facebook groups about the subject. Tons of articles online and hundreds of blogs. If you have insurance, call them and ask what doctors are in network. If they don't know, call the weight loss centers you have researched and ask them if they take your insurance. Most clinics make you watch a video and then you fill out a LOT of paperwork. Most insurance companies require you to be at a certain bmi and usually have at least one co-morbidity. Examples of co-morbidities are high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes. Every insurance is different and your clinic will be able to tell you the requirements. On the paperwork you receive, answer everything 100% truthful. When it asks what diets you've tried, list EVERYTHING. I had to use the back (examples: Jenny Craig, Atkins, fen-phen, weight watchers, cabbage soup, personal trainer, medi-fast, low-fat, nutrition-system). If you do not have insurance, do not give up hope. There are lots of companies who will give loans for the surgery. Paying cash will give you a deeper discount. I do have friends who have had the surgery in Mexico. While I cannot recommend it, because I didn't have mine done there, I do know there is a Facebook group called 'I left my stomach in Mexico'. It has lots of people and files to help educate you more regarding that. From my previous post you can read the aggravation and time that the whole process takes. Bariatric centers are SWAMPED. You must be your own advocate. Call the insurance company yourself, make sure that your chart isn't sitting in a desk somewhere.
IS THE SURGERY LONG? HOW LONG DID YOU TAKE OFF OF WORK?
A: My surgery took approximately 30 minutes. Recovery, for me, took about an hour. Surgery always makes me extremely nauseated. Every time I woke up I would ask for something. For me, the nausea was always worse than the pain. If this is the case with you, please notify your anesthesiologist before surgery so they can give you a transdermal scop patch that goes behind your ear, and helps with nausea. I was told to take two weeks off and I needed every bit. My stomach was sore from the surgery and I wouldn't have been productive in a clinic. It's also a MUST to consume your liquids so you don't become dehydrated. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. If you are able to have someone stay with you in the hospital, do it. It will be so much easier getting up and down and to the bathroom if you have help.
I will post more Q&A in the next post. If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask!