Lap Dance

This blog documents my experience with the adjustable gastric band. The surgery took place in July, and thus the pre-op and post-op information can be found in the July archive.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Laziness Has Its Rewards

I haven't been as diligent about working out this week; I only made it to the gym three times. I was really tired, but that's no excuse. Sometimes I talk myself out of going by imagining that it will be terribly hard and long, even though every time I go it's fine and I feel very virtuous afterward for going. That's such a stupid thing to do. So I'm trying a new tactic of telling myself that I have to go, but if it's too hard, I can do it at a lower incline or just for twenty minutes. Once I get there, I inevitably do the full thirty minutes at minimum, and at the usual incline.

I think I'm making more progress getting in shape, because it now takes a 20% incline (instead of the old 15%) to get my heart rate above 150 beats per minute. I'm pleased with my progress.

Despite my lackadaisical approach to the gym, I miraculously lost another 2 pounds, and met my goal of 192 pounds. I'm not taking it for granted - I'll get my butt to the gym this week.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Setting a Goal

Last week, my sweet husband and I discussed how my weight loss is coming. We decided that a reasonable weight loss goal for the end of July would be five pounds, or 192 pounds. Since last week, I'm down three pounds, to 194 pounds. It's terrific to be safely on the south side of 200, even when my weight fluctuates throughout the day.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Walking My Butt Off

I set today as my goal for getting back on the incline trainer and working out for real again. I made my goal of 30 minutes. I was quickly tired and out of breath, and although I did it at a lower incline than pre-surgery, I kept my pulse at a very respectable level and burned plenty of calories.

I can't return to lifting weights until August 8. I am anxious to lift for two reasons: one, if I continue to use my muscles, perhaps the weight loss will come from fat instead of muscle. And two, once the fat burns off, I want to have an athletic look.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wedding Fatigue

We had to go to a wedding today. My husband was in the wedding party, so it was the usual 14-hour commitment that comes with that. Thanks to Midol, my back was okay for most of the day. The swelling even went down enough that I could wear a dress I already had instead of having to buy a dress I would only wear once. I was very pleased about that. I actually looked pretty nice, and the husband always looks terrific in a tuxedo.

I have a huge, dark bruise on my left forearm and another on my right bicep. My dress was sleeveless (which turned out to be good, since evidently crazy catechism-thumping Catholics in northern Illinois don't believe in air conditioning when it's 95 degrees out), and so whenever the photographer wanted to photograph my husband and me, I had to rearrange myself to the side where they weren't visible. It was a bit too Barbra Streisand-ish in the vanity department for my tastes, but I didn't want photos that look like Mr. Kennedy's hobby is beating me. Hello, Barbra? You don't really have a good side, and right now neither do I.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Weighing In

The weight has been dropping off drastically, due both to the lack of calories I've taken in and to the swelling going down. At one week post-op, I weigh 197 pounds. I weighed 202 the morning of surgery, and went back to 208 from the swelling. You can't imagine how much I love being on the other side of 200 again. I'm still swollen, but you can't really tell by looking at me with clothes on. I kinda wish I'd measured my belly at the height of swelling so I could compare it to my pre-op measurements - just a little morbid curiousity. It'd be interesting to quantify just how gross I looked.

Despite doctor's order to stay on full liquids for two weeks, I'm trying out mushy foods starting this evening (think mashed potatoes, pudding, cottage cheese). My husband makes delicious garlic mashed potatoes, and that's what I'll be having for dinner. I'm hoping that expanding my repertoire will help me eat enough at the wedding we're traveling to this weekend that I won't raise suspicions.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Back to Work

I went back to work today, and it went fine, thanks to periodic dosings of Midol. I worked until I got tired, about mid-afternoon, and then I came home. I have lunch with the same friends nearly every day, so I had to think up a story to explain the liquid diet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Five Days Out

I found a cure for my back pain! I thought it was gas pain, but it was actually a muscle cramp. Out of sheer desperation, I crushed up a Midol with a hammer and swallowed it, and shortly my bask relaxed and felt just fine. Thank goodness. Oh, thank goodness. With that problem cleared up, I'm ready to go back to work. The swelling has gone down sufficiently that my clothes fit.

I finally ate something. That's rather figurative, since I am on a liquid diet. I drank an Atkins shake and some V-8. Frankly, I was a little scared to push anything in my stomach. I know how important it is that I don't throw up or get nauseated. Also there's just the fear of the unknown. I can't tell any difference in how much I can drink at a time. I drink a whole portion, and I don't feel full, but neither do I feel hungry. I'm just drinking the amount that I think I'm supposed to, and not going by feel. I don't really feel anything. I'm not having the stomach rumblings or gas that other people have reported.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Four Days Out

I still haven't been hungry, so I haven't eaten anything. I felt very sluggish today, and my back is still grossly painful. None of my pants fit because of the swelling. I am supposed to go back to work tomorrow, but I don't feel like I can sit at a desk all day with my back feeling like it does.

I went to the gym again today and walked another hour, faster yet. This evening I discovered that I can lie comfortably on my port side.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Three Days Out

I stopped taking the pain medication today. I didn't notice a difference in my back pain when I took it or when I didn't, and I couldn't drive while I was on it. I wanted to stop taking it so that I could drive to the gym. I walked another hour on the treadmill, this time a little faster.
My husband went to work today, so I puttered around the house today. I worked a little bit, and generally looked and felt improved. I still haven't eaten, and I'm concentrating on staying well hydrated.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Two Days Out

I continued to feel better today, and the swelling continued to recede. Mr. Kennedy went with me to the gym. I walked on the treadmill rather slowly for an hour, and he used the incline. Slow walking is cetainly not a calorie-burner, but the doctor recommended walking as much as possible, and that was as fast as I felt up to walking. I still have not eaten since the night before surgery.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Next Day

When I woke up bright and early this morning, I felt so much better. I wasn't tired, and the belly swelling had gone down a little. The gas pressure was mainly in my shoulder and my back. I could sit for periods with my feet elevated. I puttered around all day, watering the plants with an empty Gatorade bottle. I'm banned from lifting things until a month after surgery. I enjoyed a long afternoon nap lying on my side.

I looked and felt so much better that I shooed Mr. Kennedy out the door to attend some pre-wedding activities that had been previously scheduled. He was reluctant to leave, but I was confident I'd be all right. Before he left, he made sure I could take a shower. That was the first time I'd had the courage to look at my stomach. It was covered with iodine. There are five incisions. Four are small, maybe half an inch long. The incision where the port is is about an inch and a half long. I have huge dark bruises where the IV was on my forearm, and also on my upper right arm from the heparin shot.

The doctor had prescribed liquid Tylenol with codeine. I was taking it as scheduled, hoping that it would help with the pain in my back, but it didn't. I wasn't hungry at all, and the only calories I had all day were from a bottle of Gatorade. I was back up to 208 pounds from the swelling.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Day of Surgery

Today was the big day. We arrived at the surgical center at 6:30 a.m., with surgery scheduled for 7:30. The surgery prep was very rapid. I changed into my hospital gown and booties, they slid in my IV and gave me a heparin shot, and I gave a urine sample. Unfortunately I didn't know I was going to have to give one, and I went before I came, so that was a bit of an ordeal. I have an irrational hatred for giving urine samples.

It seemed like all the staff members came in to watch when it was time to weigh me. I felt like a prize fighter. Dr. Horgan has a rule that he won't do the surgery if the patient has gained any weight since going on the liquid diet. The liquid diet is meant to shrink your liver so that it does not block the surgery area as much.

I wasn't at all worried about the weigh-in, except for the fact that my husband would find out how much I weighed. I knew I'd lost weight, but according to their scale, I'd lost ten pounds, and they were very pleased. According to my scale, I'd lost six. My weight fluctuates wildly through the day, and on average I will weigh three pounds more at the end of the day than I did when I woke up. I figure that probably accounts for the difference, since they weighed me in the afternoon last time.

My sweet husband kissed me goodbye, and they rolled me right into the operating room. As an aside, my anesthesiologist was a very cool guy. And then I was out.

When I woke up, I was unbelievably groggy, and I kept falling asleep. After surgery, Dr. Horgan had gone out to tell Mr. Kennedy that the surgery had gone fine. There was a surprise: Dr. Horgan had discovered that I had a huge hiatal hernia, and had repaired it during surgery. A hiatal hernia is when the stomach pushes up through a hole in the diaphragm, which develops because the musce has a weak spot. The symptom is acid reflux. That accounted for the fact that I had experienced severe acid reflux since high school.

For laporoscopic surgery, the surgeon pumps the chest cavity pull of gas. I don't know why, but I speculate that it may be to give more room to work. Evidently Dr. Horgan had pumped half the atmosphere into me, because I was blown up like a Macy's balloon and felt like hell. I was so swollen that actually gave me some stretch marks, I noticed later. My incisions never hurt, but the gas hurt terribly and my skin was all painful. The incisions were sealed with surgical glue, which is great because there are no stitches to remove and you can take showers to your heart's content.

We waited around all day, walking frequently and sipping little cups of water. The IV pumped me full of fluid, and I was in the bathroom every 30 minutes all day. I had to fight to keep myself awake. I must have looked wretched, because my sweet husband was very verbally supportive, but looked like he feared I would expire at any moment. The time flew by for me, but I'm sure Mr. Kennedy was excruciatingly bored.

The nurses had guaranteed that I would be released by 2:00. I had to do a barium swallow under x-ray so they could make sure that everything was flowing properly. Unfortunately, they didn't do that until 3:30, which got me dressed and out of there just in time for the heaviest of Chicago Friday afternoon traffic. Because I was chock-full of gas, every bump and movement was agonizing. So we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Eisenhower for almost two hours to get home. It was pretty excruciating.

When I got home, I could neither sit nor lie down because of the gas, so I stood hunched over the back of the couch for several hours, alternating that with leaning against a dresser. I walked and walked, and then I walked for several hours straight in the middle of the night. My sweet husband, bless him, sat in a chair and watched me all night. Finally I felt like I could lie down for a while, so I slept on my right side (opposite from where the port is) for about an hour at a time. Mr. Kennedy slept on the floor, because he always snuggles me in his sleep, and he was afraid he might do that tonight and hurt me. I tried to convince him that it would be all right, but he insisted.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

T-1 Day Until Surgery

Considering how much of a baby I've been about fearing the operation, I'm doing well today. Tomorrow is the big day, and I'm much more excited than scared. Going through all the clothes that I'm going to be able to fit into by Christmas definitely improved my morale - I have some really cute stuff waiting for me. I'm trying to keep very busy today so that I don't psych myself out.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

More Protein Shake, Please

206 this morning. Pretty good, but I'm already glad that I only have to do this for six days instead of ten. I lifted and walked today and walked yesterday. By "walked," I mean walked on this incline trainer at my YMCA, which has a cushy belt and lets you walk at really steep inclines. I enjoy it, as much as I can enjoy things that make me huff and sweat.

I was hungrier today, but it's not hard to refrain. I'm starting to contemplate the last meals I'm missing by getting surprised on Friday.

Mr. Kennedy has been slathering me with cocoa butter lotion daily in hopes that my skin will have enough elasticity to handle the weight loss without sagging. Therefore I smell like a chocolatey hallucination. We also taste-tested some different liquids, like Kefir, a thick tasty yogurt drink that we enjoyed. The vanilla Atkins shake was also tasty.

Yesterday I sorted all my various storage bins of clothing by size and put them in piles. Some of the people on the DFW Bandsters board noted that if you don't try on clothes frequently, you might go all the way through a size without wearing something. I have a lot of cute clothes starting at a size 14, and I don't want to miss out on wearing them. Looking through my wardrobe made me more excited about the surgery.

Liquid Diet, Away!

I began the liquid diet today. I needed to have one last meal, so over nachos at Qdoba, I told Mr. Kennedy that I was getting sliced and diced on the following Friday. Then we went to the John Mellencamp concert. I'm pretty freaked out about having surgery. There have been some bad experiences in my family. But at least I'm confident that I have chosen a top-flight surgeon.

I hope to lose a chunk of weight this week to give me a jump start, so I'm trying to lift weights and do cardio all week. Maybe the lifting will help keep me losing fat instead of muscle.

I've decided not to tell anyone besides my husband that I am having this surgery done. I am mortified to admit that I can't control myself, even at the expense of my health. I don't want people talking about it at the office, and I don't want to have people watching me all the time to see if it works and how it works. Not to mention the fact that this is not a well-known procedure, and people will assume that it's gastric bypass, with all of those negative connotations. Heck, even my primary care physician did.

As a result, I have a lot of details to work out, such as how to get vacation so quickly, how to explain the new eating habits, and how to explain the quick weight loss.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Initial Consultation

My intitial consultation was today with Dr. Santiago Horgan of the 900 N. Michigan Surgical Center in Chicago. I picked him after doing extensive research on lap-bands and seeing him as an author on every significant American study on the procedure. As luck would have it, he practices in Chicago and was the least expensive. He charges $15,000, which includes all pre-op testing, the surgery, and a year's worth of follow up and fills. Dr. Horgan is also the head of the laporoscopic surgery department at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I was hoping to have surgery in early August.

Because the FDA recommends that one should have a BMI of 40, or of 35 with two or more comorbidities to have the surgery, I was really concerned that Dr. Horgan would decline me as a patient. I am 5'3" and weigh 208 pounds. So I decided to bulk up for my appointment to make my BMI higher - big meals, salty foods, water retention. One thing you'll get to know about me is that once I decide to do something, I do it all the way.

My husband, Mr. Kennedy, thought I was totally ridiculous, and told me so repeatedly. He said that I met all Dr. Horgan's requirement and I was paying cash-money, and no one's going to turn me down.

Mr. Kennedy was right. Dr. Horgan didn't bat an eye. In fact, he wants to perform my surgery one week from today. Although he usually requires a ten-day pre-op liquid diet, he told me to start immediately, which would give me six days. I did all my pre-op testing right on the spot, which I definitely wasn't anticipating. Blood draw, EKG, urine sample, manometry, BAM! I had to schedule a chest x-ray with my regular doctor for the next week.

Frankly, I was really overwhelmed. I had been anticipating an August surgery, with plenty of time for me to eat a round of last meals. Now I'm going in in a week. I hope I can get the money together in time - $15,000 in a week because he requires cash payment day of surgery.