Sarah’s Weight Loss Journey – Blog entry #3: I Finally Get the Band! (The first two years)

     I think I left off about the time of my lap band surgery.  I went in for surgery on December 14th, 2008.  I was going to get the 10cc Realize Band put in place.  The surgery itself was a breeze!  Maybe it’s just because it was almost 3 years ago, but I don’t have any memory of anything horrible. I was a little sore and there was some discomfort from the gas they fill you full of, but overall things went great and I was off to a new start.  So for the first few weeks I did everything as directed, ate tiny bites, and counted 25 chews for everything that went in my mouth, and to my astonishment, I wasn’t hungry. I was loving this so far.  My doctor was right here in the same town I am in, so it was super easy to hop in the car and go for my regular fills.  You go about once a month and let them put a little more saline solution so the band gets slightly tighter every time.  My first fill scared me to death!  THAT needle was going to go IN MY BELLY???  But the doc used Lidocaine so I didn’t feel too much.  Actually, the Lidocaine hurt worse than the needle as I would find out later.  This was amazing!  I was never hungry!  I would usually eat breakfast and then not even think about food for the rest of the day.  My poor family!!!!  I had to set an alarm to remind myself that people around here do still eat and I should probably do the motherly thing and fix them something.  Things were off to a great start!  The weight started falling off pretty quickly.  I thought this was the greatest solution to weight loss that was ever invented. Then…..something got “stuck”. 

     I thought I was going to die.  Every band patient does it… you get a little too complacent with the bite size or don’t chew, and you know it the instant you swallow it, but it’s too late.  I had company over so I had to run to my room and lock the door.  There was a horrible, excruciating, stabbing pain in my chest, my eyes started to water and turned red.  I started foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog.  I grabbed the trash can and it just poured out of my mouth while my body tried to water it down enough to make it go down.  I thought I was going to die!  This went on for a good 15 minutes before I finally felt this odd, “thunk” in my chest as the food finally went down and then there was an instant relief.  The whole ordeal scared me to death!  I never wanted to go through that again.  I had read that if you get something stuck, all you had to do was make yourself vomit and it would come up. But you are also told by the doctors that this can make your band slip and really mess things up.  But after that experience, I was pretty sure I would rather risk that than feel like that again.  I just had to be more careful!!!

     After that, I became more careful and didn’t have any problems for a while.  I probably lost about 10-15 pound a month at first… and you could always tell when it was time for a fill because the weight loss would slow down, or you could start to eat more than you knew you should be able to.  One bit of advice for you though… DON’T get it filled too much! I was lucky that my doctor was less than 5 miles from me, so on the rare occasion that the fill was too much, I could run right back and get some taken out.  Except for the one time my doctor left town before I realized I couldn’t get anything down.  That was a Thursday, and the doctor wasn’t in town until the next Monday.  It is not fun, safe, or healthy to go five days barely able to get even a sip of water to stay down.  It was so tight that I didn’t even have the option whether to throw up or not, everything I swallowed came right back up.  It was horrible.  I lived off of sucking on ice for five days until I could finally get back in and get it unfilled a little bit. On the plus side, I lost like 10 pounds in that week…but wouldn’t recommend it.  I had another round of it being too tight towards the last few months that it was working.  I had really bad reflux when I went to bed, and I was throwing up about once a day, if not more because things were getting stuck all the time.  I think it was more disturbing for my family than for me. I was dropping weight like crazy at the time, so I didn’t go back to the doctor.  Again, looking back, probably not a very good way to go about losing the weight.

     Overall, I was very, very happy with it.  I will skip a huge chunk of time… in two years I had lost just over 140 pounds.  I bounced back and forth between 155 and 160.  I went from a size 22 down to size 10. (I’m 5’10” tall so 155 to me is pretty good!)  It was SO much fun to go shopping!  I gave away all my old fat clothes. My high blood pressure went back to normal… People I hadn’t seen didn’t even recognize me anymore.  People treated me differently (this actually kind of irritated me but I was on the better end of it now so it was okay). I felt like a million bucks!  I even decided to reward myself and going the final step by getting a tummy tuck.  I can’t say that I regret the decision, but I do believe that is what caused my lap band to mess up.  It was a nightmare. I will pick up with that horrible experience next time.

At the current time: Saturday, 11/19/11.   It’s been almost a year since my tummy tuck and the lap band nightmare. I’ve decided that the lap band revision is the next step. I am two weeks in to quitting smoking, and five days in to my pre-op liquid diet before my Sleeve Revision surgery on Tuesday.  I’m really not sure which is harder… not eating or not smoking.  It is horrible!  I’ve questioned whether it is worth it or not, but after gaining 40, maybe nearly 50 lbs back, I have decided it is.  I got depressed after the tummy tuck messed up the lap band, and once again turned back to food.  I also think maybe the lap-band ordeal kind of messed up the psychological aspect of eating for me.  I went so long not being able to eat without throwing up that when I could finally eat, I lost control again.  I started eating all the time, anything and everything, just because I could. It felt GOOD to eat instead of it hurting when I ate every time.  And I am HUNGRY now all the time.  I wasn’t used to that either.  So,  yes, I think this will be worth it.  This blog about the sleeve surgery will be more “real-time” so I can give you many more details about it than trying to remember about things that happened three years ago.  I’m getting a little nervous now.  The weekend is almost over and my pre-op appointment is on Monday.  Surgery Tuesday morning.  I should be home on Wednesday, but I don’t know how goofy I will be on pain medication.  But I will be on and let you know how it went as soon as I can.  Thanks again for reading. Sorry it was a long one this time. 


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