Guest Post ~ This is Dana’s Gastric Bypass Story

I have decided to feature Guest Posts on my Blog which will feature stories of others who have had Weight Loss Surgery. While I love that you all follow My Story I thought it would be fun to hear others as well.

Everyone has their own story to tell and their own experiences when it comes to Weight Loss Surgery – both good and bad. I think reading all about what others have experienced will help you either make the choice to have the surgery yourself or help you through if you already have.

So I put together a list of questions for my guests to answer and asked them to be completely honest with their answers. I am hoping to have many Guest Posts featured here on my blog and it will be so much fun to read each and everyone of them. So are you ready? Ok lets go…

This is Dana’s Story…

1. WHAT TYPE OF WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY DID YOU HAVE AND WHAT DATE WAS IT?

I had bypass surgery on July 24th 2012

2. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT SURGERY OVER ANOTHER SURGERY – LIKE GASTRIC BYPASS VS. LAP BAND

I went to my Dr’s office wanting the lap-band. My husband wanted me to have bypass surgery as it seemed more effective. I was afraid it was riskier. I spoke with my surgeon about what was best for me. He said that people who have lap-band tend to not lose as much and that I might do better with controlling my sugar and carb urges with the bypass since it won’t let you eat certain things in excess like the band will. So, I went with the bypass.

3. WHAT WAS YOUR HIGHEST WEIGHT PRIOR TO SURGERY AND WHAT WAS YOUR WEIGHT THE DAY OF SURGERY? WHAT IS YOUR WEIGHT RIGHT NOW?

My highest weight pre-surgery that I actually weighed myself for was 285 lbs. After that I just put the scale away and refused to look. Even at the Drs office, I would get on the scale backwards! Talk above refusing to face your reality!

4. HOW DID YOU COME TO MAKING THE DECISION TO UNDERGO WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY?

My father became very ill with cancer. He had already had a triple bypass heart surgery and a cardiac arrest. My mother has several medical conditions related to her weight and my grandparents died from several health related issues. I have three young kids and decided that with my weight the way it was and the lack of ability to do anything slowly creeping up, I was on my way to becoming my parents very quickly. When my dad became very sick his wish was to see me take better care of myself. I began to look into the surgery and working on what I needed to do to get ready for it.

5. WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSED YOU TO GAIN SO MUCH WEIGHT— ARE YOU A COMFORT FOOD EATER? HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH WEIGHT ALL YOUR LIFE? HOW MANY DIFFERENT DIETING PLANS HAVE YOU TRIED OVER THE YEARS? CAN YOU NAME THEM?

My weight started creeping up with the birth of my girls. I was a stay at home mom with little to do so I would snack with my kids. Once the house was picked up, I just sat around all day. We did not have a second car and I was stuck at home, so I just sat around. When my other two were born I had bad depression, so I just ate, that became a habit and ten years later I had gained about 150 lbs. that I just could not seem to get rid of. I did not struggle with weight as a child, so it really was something that just kinda happened to me. I tried to do some dieting on my own, but always gave up fast because it was too hard, or I would just desire crap food and give up on caring. The worst was when I would lose 20 or 30 lbs and think it was good enough and give up.

6. DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY APPROVING YOUR SURGERY OR DID YOU SELF PAY FOR IT?

My insurance was great through the whole thing. We have blue cross through my husbands company. They did not have any exclusions for our policy, so I was able to get everything approved. I had to complete a few medical tests such as an EKG, A Psych consult, An upper GI and an extensive blood work up to make sure there was not an underlying condition causing my weight problems. It took about a month and half to get all the apts done. My surgeons office actually took the longest as they were very busy. Once I had all the paperwork and tests done. My information was submitted to the insurance. I had a notification in about 4 days that it had been approved. I was called a week later and given a date 4 weeks away for my surgery. It all went pretty quick.

7. WHAT WAS THE PROCESS YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY MADE YOU GO THROUGH TO GET TO THE POINT OF SURGERY? EXAMPLE: HOW MANY MONTHS OF NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING, HOW MUCH WEIGHT IF ANY DID THEY REQUIRE YOU TO LOSE… WERE YOU DENIED AT ALL THE FIRST TIME ETC..

As I stated above, it was pretty straight forward. I did not have to have any pre-surgical counseling or weight restrictions. My BMI had to be above 40 or I had to have co-morbids. I was perfectly healthy so I had to have a high BMI (Over 40) mine was 43.6 when I started and 41.8 the day of surgery.

8. HOW DID OTHERS REACT TO YOUR DECISION TO HAVE WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY? DID YOU HAVE SUPPORT? DID YOU KEEP YOUR CHOICE A SECRET FROM YOUR CO WORKERS OR ANY OTHERS?

My husband and girls were very supportive from the start. My husband of course worried about the surgery, but he wanted me to finally be happy and healthy and able to do fun things again. My mom started the process with me to have the surgery too, though she had to have a 6 month weigh in for her insurance. So she has not had hers yet. My dad-was scared for me. He said, “well if that is what you want to do and it’s going to help, then do it” he passed away 2 months before my surgery, so he never got to see the changes I have made or how happy I am about them now, but I know that he would be so proud of how well I have done and how much better I look and feel. I have a couple of friends who have had the surgery and they have helped me a lot in dealing with some of the bumps that having the surgery can cause. My other friends-most did not know until a few months after my surgery that I had it done. When I posted it on FB all of my friends were very supportive and love getting updated pictures now. It’s nice to have a cheering section on days where I feel like I’m not doing as well.

9. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR SURGERY — DID IT ALL GO WELL OR DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS AND IF SO WHAT WERE THEY.

My surgery went very well. They gave me a nice sedative that morning since I was so anxious, but after that it went great. It took just over 3 hours for my surgery and my liver was in great shape. It’s so important to have that liquid diet even though it sucks beyond belief. It does make the surgery so much easier! I had a terrible case of the hiccups that were so painful every time I laid on my back, so I tried to stay on my left side. They said it was due to the sedation. I had a low potassium count after and I had to have some given to me. Other than that, it went great. I had a wonderful nursing staff. I did stay in the hospital an extra day (2 days total) because I was not walking around as well as they wanted me to be =) This was mostly because of how much the sedations effects me. It takes a very long time to recover from sedation for me.

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10. HOW WAS YOUR PAIN AFTER SURGERY — HOW LONG WAS IT BEFORE YOU FELT GOOD ENOUGH TO RETURN TO YOUR NORMAL ACTIVITIES/WORK?

It took about a week and a half to feel “normal” again. I had a good deal of pain after I got home. Nothing I could not handle or the vicodin didn’t help with, but I was pretty uncomfortable most of the first 4 days. A lot of gassy issues and some reactions to the stuff they use to clean your skin for surgery. Once that went away I was tender in my stitches for about another week then I was pretty fine.

11. DID YOU HAVE A HARD TIME FOLLOWING THE EATING RULES AFTER SURGERY? IF SO WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST RULE FOR YOU?

I had a hard time during the pre-op liquid that was terrible. Hard to cook for your family and drink crappy protein shakes for two weeks. It sucked I’m not going to lie! After surgery I developed an awful intolerance to protein in the form of Whey-I puked it up everytime no matter how it was taken or in what amounts. After a week of trying to keep it down and having nothing but water, they moved me onto pureed food so I could eat! Its been easy peasy since.

I had a hard time during pre-op too – locked myself in my bedroom – lol

12. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU NOW HAVE TROUBLE EATING OR CANNOT TOLERATE SINCE THE SURGERY?

I have trouble with pasta and anything too sweet. I have to say I had trouble with plain water for about 3 months and anything cold for about 2. Now I can drink anything cold or hot, water is fine. I don’t like drinking milk anymore, though I have had no problems with dairy or intolerances of any kind with food. I can not- not, repeat NOT eat pulled pork or shredded pork. It gets stuck almost every time. The exceptions to this is on the borders pork they put in there fajitas, its like magic that melts in your mouth. Shredded pork is evil and can not be trusted!

13. DID YOU EXPERIENCE ANY AFTER SURGERY DEPRESSION FROM YOUR HORMONES GOING CRAZY?

I would have to defer to my husband on this one. I have to say no with the exception that I did have buyers remorse during the ease back or what I call the torture period of liquid to purred to soft foods that lasted a month. I was pretty grumpy then! I cried a lot thinking I had done something awful, but you have to understand that 2 months before I had lost my father whom I was so close too and the week before my surgery my beloved grandmother (his mom) was diagnosed with cancer and was sent home terminal. So, I was an emotional wreck at the time anyway.

I am so sorry – that all must have been very hard for you.

 14. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED DUMPING SYNDROME AND IF SO WHAT CAUSED IT AND WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO YOU. EXPLAIN YOUR SYMPTOMS.

Not full on, I don’t think. If I eat too much sugar I get where I don’t feel well. I get sleepy, my tummy is upset some and I just feel very blah. I keep my sugars in the single digits per serving and do pretty well with them.

15. DO YOU DRINK PROTEIN SHAKES? IF SO WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR AND BRAND AND DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL WAY YOU PREFER IT? COLD/HOT, MIXED WITH SOMETHING ELSE ETC…

I stay far, far away from protein shakes. I have tried several and they all make me sick. I can tolerate bolthouse farms protein-coffee blend in small amounts. It makes me a little queasy now and then, but it stays down.

16. WHEN YOU WERE ON THE PUREED PART OF THE DIET— WHAT WAS YOUR GO TO FOOD?

Progressive chicken enchilada soup! I pureed the hell out of it, but it had a bit of a spice so it was not bland. Plus it was hot and salty so it was not the same sweet same old as my shakes. I was a little worried about it on my diet, but my surgeon said my liver looked amazing, so it must have been fine.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AFTER WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY ALLOWED SNACK NOW?

Hummus! I make it myself and keep it in the fridge at all times. It’s a perfect quick snack and I love how easy it is. I also like caprese salad. Mozzarella and tomatoes with olive oil and basil. Its my go to lunch.

18. WHAT VITAMINS DO YOU TAKE ON A DAILY BASIS SINCE THE SURGERY?

I use vitafusion gummies in everything. A multi-b complex- D- I also take iron and b12

19. HAVE YOU HAD ANY COMPLICATIONS SINCE HAVING THE SURGERY? ANY ADDITIONAL SURGERIES OR ULCERS?

Yes. I have an ulcer that took a couple of months to figure out. It is NOT my friend but it IS my fault. I was NOT good about taking my acid reducer, add this to my stress and other factors and whamo and nice ulcer. But I have cool pics from the scope they did of the inside of my stomach!

Ouch – that does not sound like it was fun, but hey at least u got good photos – lol

20. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HAIR LOSS SINCE HAVING THE SURGERY? IF SO EXPLAIN AND IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT.

How I am not BALD I do not understand!!! My hair comes out in handfuls and has for MONTHS. I am not a fan of the amount that comes out. It’s a great thing my hair was so thick when I started this journey! My hair is very thin now.. not like see to my scalp or anything, but I can feel how much lighter it is. I have no idea how to make it stop.. I just keep dealing with it and hope that my lack of protein and attempts to increase that will help.

Have you tried adding in Biotin to your Vitamins?

21. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WOW MOMENT AFTER YOU LOST SOME WEIGHT FROM THE SURGERY — LIKE SOMEONE NOTICING, BEING ABLE TO FIT IN A SEAT WITH ROOM TO SPARE, DROPPING A CLOTHING SIZE ETC…

My first wow moment that stopped me was actually not long ago. I know I have lost weight, I know my clothes are all way smaller, but in my head I am still that big girl. My husband takes pictures of me from time to time so I can compare. My biggest wow moment was when he took some a few weeks ago and I stitched them together online with my pre liquid diet photos. I was shocked by how big I really was. I started going through old pictures and couldn’t believe it. My girls are always losing me in the store now! My daughter and I fit into one of my old pairs of pants last week, they were not even my biggest ones but she was in one leg and I was in the other. I almost cried.

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22. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE AFTER SURGERY RECIPE THAT YOU LOVE AND WANT TO SHARE?

Nope, sorry. I am still working on yummy foods. PINTEREST is my friend! Look up a favorite Hummus recipe, try a few out and find one you like. I hear ya, I have a slogan- I fear change- I hated to try new foods before surgery, but since I have to find better ways of eating, I have branched out and let me tell you, there is world of food out there beyond fast food or frozen freezer meals that is wonderful, full of flavor and healthy.

Amen!!

23. IS THERE ANY THING FOODWISE YOU MISS THAT YOU CANNOT HAVE NOW?

Ice cream-but I am glad I can’t eat it. I would go through a container by myself. I would eat a couple of shakes a week. I KNOW without needing to have any, it would make me sick, so I just don’t have any. I also miss bread and pasta, but I know the same thing about those. SO, I just don’t eat them or I eat, very, very little!! Like a bite of pasta or the top of garlic bread that is VERY toasted.

Oh I miss Ice Cream, Pasta and Breads too, but if I need some I just have a taste or very little just so I do not feel deprived.

24. WHAT PANT SIZE WERE YOU PRIOR TO SURGERY AND WHAT SIZE ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW?

Okay well I was “wearing” a 22- I needed a 24, but refused to let myself believe that is what I needed to be wearing. Today I am sitting in a loose 12. I can wear 12/13 juniors. I was a tight 2x shirt before with my arms hurting under the sleeves and the shirt needing to be stretchy. I can easily and comfortable fit into a Medium. By the way- juniors lie! They are smaller.. you know they are juniors because they are odd number and go from 15 down. They are snugger in the hips and thighs. So, don’t freak out like I did when you buy 13s thinking they are going to be great and they are way tighter than your 12’s.

25. DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS ABOUT HAVING WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN IF YOU HAD TO?

My only regret is that I find it hard to get all my protein in. I thought it would be easier and I could not understand when people complained about it before. I now get it. It’s hard to eat 80 grams of protein when I don’t eat much per serving and to eat that much without my calories going to high. It’s a struggle, but yes, I would do it all again tomorrow. I would do it again knowing that I would end up with an ulcer or that I had to be harrased my natzi husband following me around with water and food saying what have you eaten today?? There is nothing to compare running up a flight of stairs, getting to the top before realizing I had just had to run up a flight of stairs. No stopping, no stopping and lack or air before I reached the top to. Nothing to compare being able to shower or shave areas below my belly button that I can actually see without a mirror. Nothing that even though I still feel heavy, and I am afraid I am going to hurt him..nothing that compares to my husband picking me and carrying me out of the kitchen-cause for the first time in 15 years, I weigh less than him and he can.

Great answer!!!

26. TELL US THREE GOALS YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF OR WANT TO MEET WHEN YOU HAVE LOST THE WEIGHT YOU WANT OR MAYBE YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THEM ALREADY:

  1. I wanted to be healthy- A BMI in the normal range, a weight in the healthy range and my risk factors for heart disease and diabetes to be cut in half.
  2. I wanted to be happy- I wanted to be okay with how I saw in the mirror. I wanted to be okay with who was looking back at me. I wanted to be able to put on a dress and my thighs not have a rash by the end of the day. I wanted to not be an embarrassment to my husband at work events or to my kids out in public.
  3. I wanted to enjoy life- I wanted to run, to sit in seats and not care where they were. I wanted to not have to worry about not fitting into a ride, or holding my breath to tie my shoe because it hurt to bend over. I wanted to SCUBA dive and not die from running out of air because when you are heavy you go through O2 faster. I wanted to be noticed because I am laughing too loud or having too much fun, not because I could not squeeze between the chairs or fit in a booth or have to sit down all the time because my knees hurt. I have accomplished all of those things mostly. My BMI is 29.2, I am just overweight. not super morbidly obese! I am 25 lbs from reaching my weight goals of being 145 lbs which is the healthy rage for my height. I have officially cut my risk factors in half. I am happy, truly happy. I still have places when I look in the mirror that I will always be unhappy with, but I challenge you to find me one person who has not had cosmetic surgery that is 100% happy with their body. ( so I can kick them). I have some looser skin though it seems to be still tightening up some. I have to work out more which I ACTUALLY ENJOY! who knew! I am getting remarried in July to my amazing husband of 12 years and I had my bridal shower over the weekend. I wore a cute summer dress with nothing for support, I was not sweating, I was not dying, there was no rubbing, no rash, nothing. I felt so comfortable and so pretty. My oldest daughter and I have been asked where our mom was when browsing for corsets. (OMG) she’s almost as tall as me, so I guess I look younger too! BONUS. I don’t feel like an embarrassment to my family anymore. I can fit anywhere, even in booths I have room in front of me. I am hoping to take SCUBA classes in the Fall after our wedding plans are finally done!

That is truly amazing and I cabn realate in every way. You should be so proud of yourself!!! Keep reaching your goals!!!

27. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT HAVING WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY?

I would foremost say take a breath and calm down! If you are this far chances are you are either about to have surgery or just had it. The information is overwhelming and contradictory. Don’t read too much! Don’t read the post from the downers. Almost every post I read before surgery that was about the persons surgery not working for them, was almost always a person who did not follow the rules. Follow the rules! You chose your surgeon for a reason, don’t go off his/her plan because someone elses surgeon has a better/easier rule for what you want at the time!! Find someone who has been there. Your family can be as helpful and reassuring as a sainted nun, but unless you know what gas pain after surgery is, what its like to have a two week liquid diet or have something stuck for an hour… you will feel alone or at the very least like your lost or going crazy. Find a support group of a buddy you can call who can tell you, yes its normal and no your not actually dying-you just ate something you should not have! You are GOING to panic and have doubts the last couple of days before surgery. It’s okay, it’s normal and it will pass!! Obesity help is a wealth of information-just don’t obsess.

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Your life is going to change and that’s okay. How you look at life will change and that’s exciting. It’s scary, it’s intimidating and YOU CAN DO THIS! I would also like to add this little bit of extra opinion:

My dear good friend has had the surgery, my mom is about to and of course I have. I have also done a great amount of reading over the past year. I had read a lot about this and in the past month my friend, mom and I had lunch and the subject came up once more: Will he still find me attractive after I lose all this weight? After all- he always says he likes bigger girls or likes me the way I am. I felt this SAME way. When I met my husband 15 years ago, I was a cute size 14 who thought I was HUGE (I could slap the old me now) My husband at that time said he loved thicker girls.

Years go by and I yo-yo in my weight eventually ending up to my near 300 lbs. Each time I would be concerned with my weight he would tell me, I love big girls, I love your big butt, I love how soft you are to cuddle. He always loved me no matter what. I was scared when I started to lose the weight that he would not love me or at the very least, not find me attractive anymore. After all, that big butt he loved so much was quickly going, I have bones sticking out in places that are not always funny. I wanted to be a better person but I was nervous he was not going to like the end changes.

Then one day he and I talked about it. He said, as you have changed, my perceptions of what I am into has changed. That got me thinking about why that would be. I mean for 15 years he has always liked a bigger, thicker girl. Everyone knows it, the guys at work, his family, not in a give him a hard time kind of way, just a he likes that type of girl kind of way. He obviously still loves me and finds me attractive, our love life is better than ever. He obviously loved me and found me attractive all these years. How could be attracted to and love me both as big as I was and now with all the changes?

Then one day, I had this thought: He likes and loves ME- not who I look like, not what I look like, not what I feel like… me. So, as I change, his perception of ME has not changed. He still sees me for me just as he always has, he still sees the woman he loves, who he laughs with, enjoys life with and talks with. Of course he fell in love with me and the way I looked all those years ago, but even as I changed, his love never did. He loves that I have confidence now and that is attractive to him. He loves that he can pick me and move me around, he always says that every couple of months its like getting a new wife because he has to learn what I feel like all over again. My curves are there, they are just different and some in new places! He actually did not recognize me in a store one day from behind! LOL It’s actually been kind of fun with the two of us seeing each other and me in a new way. This is true for my friend who has lost over 200 lbs and her husband of 10 years. I bet it will be true of my mom and her husband of 15 years when she has surgery.

I would wager it will be true for you and your loved ones as well. Love is not tied to your physical body, lust and desire are sure, but love is tied to you, your heart and your soul. I believe that in true love, desire and lust are tied to your inner self as well. Don’t be afraid of the changes and make sure you talk to your spouse. Many spouses of those who have surgery have the same exact fear. Will my wife/husband still want me after they lose all that weight and get sexy and able to do more?

Wow – That was really great advice and I am so sure so many will be able to relate to that. I have read that over and over on many forum sites. The fear of losing your spouse after having surgery – if you are loved it is for you and not what you look like. So well said!!

Thank you Dana for sharing your story and your great advice with all of my readers. I have no doubt all of it will be very helpful for those thinking of having or who have had the surgery. You truly look amazing and I hope your reach all of the goals you have set forth for yourself!!!

Want to share your story?

If you would be willing to share your story and answer the same questions Contact Me and I will send you what you need. We would love to hear all about you!!

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