Pre-Op Vitamin Class

Today I attended one of the classes that is required before surgery. I cannot post the actual materials from the class since they are copyrighted but I wanted to discuss the main topics we covered because they are pretty important. I’ll list the major topics and a brief overview of what I’ve learned today…

Constipation Prevention

Not a pretty topic but very important. Within the first 3 months expect to encounter constipation. After 3 months your body seems to adjust and is regular again. You should not go more than 3 days without a BM. If you are on your 3rd day you need to take some sort of laxative (these are the top two patients choose: Miralax powder or Smooth Move teas). After taking the laxative and having a BM, you should take stool softeners until you are regular again. There are foods that act as a natural laxative that can be incorporated into your diet to keep yourself regular such as prunes (YUCK, imo) or unsweetened applesauce (there are many more of these foods). Make sure to increase fluids and walk more. This will help tremendously! You can also eat Activia Light yogurt mixed with some protein powder and count that as a meal.

Previous Medications

If you are taking any kind of medications, you should talk with your primary care physician BEFORE surgery about alternatives. Some pills you will not be able to swallow (typically anything larger than a Tylenol will be hard to swallow) and you will need to discuss alternatives. Also, let your PCP know what your diet will be like after surgery so that they can adjust medications (especially those to treat diabetes) accordingly.

Protein Shake Tips

Here are a few tips and tricks to make the best out of your smoothie/shake experience:

  • Protein shakes need to sit for 30-60 minutes after making them before you can consume them. This is because the blending/shaking fills them with air which can cause you to get gas cramps and become bloated.
  • You can make a large protein shake batch in the morning and use it all day but throw it away after 12 hours… the proteins break down and are no longer effective after this time.
  • Magic Bullet (or other single serve blenders) work better than regular full-size blenders because they are much faster and cause less air to be blended into the shake. If you use one of these small blenders, you can consume your shake/smoothie after 15 minutes (instead of 30-60).

Dehydration Prevention

MOST IMPORTANT THING = HYDRATION! Make sure you are getting at least 48 ounces of fluid in throughout the day between meals. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you drink any fluids (so the food has time to empty out of your pouch) and wait at least 30 minutes after drinking anything before eating again (so your pouch is empty again).

Vitamins

This is the second most important thing (right behind staying hydrated)… taking your vitamins. If you do not take your vitamins you can become severely malnourished and deficient and WILL end up in the ER. Each surgery has a different vitamin plan and then they are semi-customizable to the individual on what kinds you want to take.

I am getting the gastric bypass and chose to do the NutraMetrix Isotonic Powder Vitamins regimen because you take these less times throughout the day making it easier to get in… plus the water you mix it with counts towards your daily fluid intake. On this regimen I will take one cap full of the Multivitamin with Iron mixed with one cap full of Calcium Complete in the morning. Then I will take an Iron supplement and a B-12 supplement during the day. And at night I will take 2 more cap fulls of the Calcium Complete by NutraMetrix. Make sure you discuss your plan with your nutritionist because my plan may not be right for you. I just wanted to give you an idea of what it would look like.

One Step Closer

I’m getting WAY too excited right now! I only have my psych eval and consultation with the surgeon left to do (on Thursday) and then they will submit my insurance packet! Eeeekkkkk!

Goodbye ’til next time!

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Band, By-Pass, or Sleeve? That is the Question…

Choosing which bariatric surgery is right for you can depend on a wide variety of things. One surgery is right for every individual. You will speak with your doctor and educate yourself on the different options available to you and then make a decision.

I’ve changed my mind on this a few times but I think I’ve finally made a decision.

So in the beginning of my research I wanted the gastric-band. I figured it was the least invasive and reversible if needed. But after seeing how it was put in your stomach and that there was constantly a pump that need to be filled or adjusted, I changed my mind. Further research lead me to hearing stories of slippage of the band… that’s when your stomach could slip up through the band and be really painful. Eek. That was just not for me.

Then I thought, well, the sleeve is less drastic of a biological change than the gastric-bypass, so I’m going to get that done. And there really wasn’t anything that scared me off of the sleeve. I think it is a great choice but I believe the benefits of the gastric by-pass out weigh those of the sleeve, for me.

After scouring the internet, going to the seminar at St. Agnes Hospital, and speaking with my nutritionist, I have decided that I want the RNY gastric-bypass surgery. All of these sources say that research has shown that it is more effective, especially for patients who have PCOS (which I have) or diabetes. Gastric by-pass works by creating a little pouch out of the upper stomach and attaching your small intestine to it. This way, when you eat food you get restriction (your new pouch is around the same size as a walnut) and malabsorption (caused by re-routing your intestines). See the video below for a short animation of what the surgery is.

What I’ve found from my research:

  • Gastric by-pass is the most common bariatric surgery performed in the US.
  • Long-term data shows that it is more effective than sleeve or band
  • It is the recommended surgery for patients with diabetes, insulin resistance, and/or PCOS
  • It has 2 methods to reduce calories: malabsorption and restriction

Sure, each surgery has different risks or possible complications, but after much debate, I believe that gastric by-pass is the best choice for me.

Pre-Op Requirements

Ahhh! So many requirements to get ready!

In my video below I talk about the requirements needed by both my insurance and surgeon before surgery can be approved. At first it seemed like a long laundry list of nonsense that had to be gathered but now I’m almost done the process and it’s almost time to submit my packet to insurance. Eeeekkkk! So excited!

Below are some links (also listed in the pre-op section of my links page) that I found useful. I know not everyone has the same insurance but at least you can look to get an idea what the requirements might look like for you. It’s always best to call and ask what your actual plan covers, in case there have been changes.

This whole process has gone pretty fast for me so far. I started about three weeks ago (around Jan 8th, 2013) and I’m almost complete and I’ve been slightly obsessed with reading everything I can about it and watching video blogs. Here are the steps I have to complete before surgery:

  1. Bariatric Surgery Seminar at St. Agnes Hospital – Completed 01/16/2013
  2. Three Hour Bariatric Nutrition Class – Completed 01/19/2013
  3. Consulation with Nutritionist – Completed 01/24/2013
  4. Two Hour Pre-Op Vitamin Class – Scheduled for 01/29/2013
  5. Meet with surgeon – Scheduled for 01/31/2013
  6. Psychologist Assessment – Scheduled for 01/31/2013
  7. Wait around for insurance to approve surgery… already feels like forever and my packet hasn’t even been submitted yet.

Hop in my Time Machine!

This post will take you down my memory lane a little. I wanted to take a look back into the past to see how my weight progressed throughout my teen years til now. I was always “overweight” compared to my peers but now looking back on some of those pictures I would love to be that weight again… especially the earlier years.

1998 (12 years old) - My sisters and I at Busch Gardens.  I'm in the yellow shirt.

1998 (12 years old) – My sisters and I at Busch Gardens. I’m in the yellow shirt.

Spring 2000 (13 years old).  I think I was in the 160's here.

Spring 2000 (13 years old). I think I was in the 160’s here.

2003 - Junior Prom

2003 – Junior Prom

2003 (16 years old).  160-170 lbs.

2003 (16 years old). 160-170 lbs.

2004 Senior Year of High School (17 years old).  I was in the 180s.

2004 Senior Year of High School (17 years old). I was in the 180s.

2004 Senior Prom

2004 Senior Prom

2005 - Roughly 180-185lbs.

2005 – Roughly 180-185lbs.

2006 - At a family member's wedding with my Uncle Pete.  Roughly 185lbs.

2006 – At a family member’s wedding with my Uncle Pete. Roughly 185lbs.

2007 - At work picnic with my friend Joy.  ~185-190lbs.

2007 – At work picnic with my friend Joy. ~185-190lbs.

2008 - Here's where I notice a boom in weight gain.  ~205lbs.

2008 – Here’s where I notice a boom in weight gain. ~205lbs.

2009 - At an 80's concert with friends.  ~ 215lbs

2009 – At an 80’s concert with friends. ~ 215lbs

2010 - Even worse boom in weight... ~245lbs

2010 – Even worse boom in weight… ~245lbs

2011 - Slightly smaller at about 235lbs.

2011 – Slightly smaller at about 235lbs.

Feb 2012 - I went kayaking in FL when visiting my dad.  They had to use a men's 2X or 3X life jacket for me. At about 235-245lbs range.

Feb 2012 – I went kayaking in FL when visiting my dad. They had to use a men’s 2X or 3X life jacket for me. At about 235-245lbs range.

Wow. It is a little emotional for me to look back through these pictures… one year at a time. It helps me to see where I went wrong. I always thought I was so huge in middle and high school because people used to call me fat and it was hurtful… but looking back, I wish I was that weight now. I looked pretty good in those early years. Then in about 2008, I started having relationship trouble and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life school-wise. My life became slightly chaotic. But the worse time was 2010 when I was in a horrible relationship that really tore apart my life and caused a lot of pain, stress, and grief… I must have ate my feelings and now I’m stuck with the result. It’s time to get back to healthy and happy!

Intro

Hey guys! This is my first post on my life-long journey to getting healthy!

I have always been overweight, even since I was a child but the last few years have just been a nightmare with weight gain. I’ve tried a million different diets since high school and they all just work for a short period of time. As soon as I would go off of them, I would gain the weight back and then some. I’ve thought of weight loss surgery before but I never thought I was big enough to qualify. I thought you’d have to be over 300lbs for that and have many health risks. But recently I’ve learned that this was not the case.

About 2 months ago I was watching an episode of Bones and a girl on there had bariatric surgery and looked amazing. This got me curious… I know this was just a show and none of it was real. So I begin to research it… then my roommate’s co-worker got it done a month ago and I have been asking her a million questions. It sounded like the best thing ever. So I signed up for the seminar at St. Agnes Hospital on Jan 19th (in Maryland where she got her surgery done). I called my insurance and found out that I do qualify since my BMI is over 40.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been gathering paperwork that my insurance needs, scheduled my nutrition classes, psych evaluation, and appointment with the surgeon. I’ll explain all of these in later posts. By the end of next week I will have finished all of these and then they can submit my packet to insurance. Eeek! I’m just wayyy to excited.

Why do I want to get bariatric surgery???

Well like I said, I’ve battled weight my whole life and my family has a history of health related issues that I will most likely get if I don’t change my ways. I am pre-diabetic, have joint pain (mostly my ankles and lower back), have insulin resistance, and have PCOS. Fun stuff. Most of these conditions can be corrected or at least mitigated with weight loss… so that’s the main goal. To get healthy. But looking good is a major plus!