Tummy Pains! Oh no!

by Christine on March 12th, 2013

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Good morning Revolutionists! I hope you are all doing well!

Things have been good with me, can’t complain overall! I’ve been skiing a lot, making new friends, keeping busy at work. Life is good…keeps getting better and better, really. I am very, VERY blessed!

It’s been two 1/2 months or so since I last posted, and there have been some gastric-band-related developments happening I wanted to share with you.

The last week of January I started experiencing some tummy pains whenever I ate or drank anything.  It was sharp, shooting pain right in the middle of my stomach, dead center.  This went on for about 4-5 days, and eventually the pain just stopped.

I went to my GP, who said, “Yup, sounds like a gallbladder attack.” Apparently people with the gastric band have a predisposition towards gallbladder attacks, and so I’m inclined to believe with Dr. GP. I had an ultrasound done and some blood lab work; the results showed that I had ONE gallstone. Dr. GP says, “That’s really not enough to be causing this.”

Two weeks went by like normal, and then the pain came back for another 4-5 days. When the pain hit, it would also cause my back to ache like a mo-fo! OW! It was very painful, and I eventually ate as little as possible. Consequently, I lost about 8 pounds.

I then made an appointment with my bariatric surgeon. I said, “Hey Doctor P, what’s the deal with this?” He said he wants to do a range of tests on me to try to figure out what’s going on. Some highlights of our conversation:

  • He said that band patients should have a series of gastro-intestinal (GI) tests done every couple of years just to make sure that everything is okay, as a matter of good maintenance. It’s been 4 years for me, so he think it’s time for me anyway. He wants me to have these Upper GI tests done to see if everything is still where it is supposed to be.
  • He said that the pain is not likely to be the band eroding through my stomach. This is because, for most band-erosion patients, they have a moment where suddenly the band feels very loose. You loose restriction very suddenly. This is not at all the case for me.
  • He said that it sounds like the gallbladder to him, and that ONE gallstone IS enough to cause pains like I am receiving. However, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are all in the same general area, so it COULD Be any of those things causing it. Also, it could be ulcers in my tummy causing the pain. Many things it could be.

So Monday I went in for my first round of tests: The Upper GI. I remember doing this test as part of pre-op for the surgery (read about it here), and I was NOT looking forward to it.  In fact, I was pretty sure that the moment the technician told me to chug that nasty, vile shit, I’d turn Exorcist on them and spew it all over them, the room, etc.

It was a very different experience than the pre-op Upper GI, folks!  For starters, they had me standing instead of laying down. They concocted the same disgusting drink, and they allowed me to SIP instead of chug. I think I took 5 baby sips, at which time my gag reflex started to kick in with the smell. They didn’t make me drink any more of the drink….they had enough to see what they needed to see.

Doc called today to say that the tests show that there is NO BAND SLIPPAGE. Hooray! Test one done…two more to go. I’ll keep you updated with those as they go along. I will, of course, let you know what the total outcome is of this tummy pain shenanigan of 2013!

In the meantime, I wanted to talk about something that’s bothering me.

Test #3 to rule out all of the various things that could be wrong is going to be….get this….taking ALL the fluid out of the band, and just waiting to see if the tummy pain comes back.

When Dr. P told me this, I told him he’s welcome to amputate a foot or an arm, but do NOT touch the band. He laughed and said this is a common reaction.

People, I’m flat-out terrified that the minute the band gets loosened up, that ALL my weight is going to start coming back, all at once. I shared my fears at therapy group last night (THAT didn’t go well….in fact there was another former-band patients who said she had the same thing happen with her, and the only option was to REMOVE the band entirely! OMGZ! That’s infinitely worse than just going without band fluid for a specified length of time!)

Why am I scared?  Well, partially it’s because the band has worked because of some magic voodoo that I cannot seem to replicate or have any control over. Remember, I did not gain weight initially because I was lazy and overate. I was METICULOUS about my food. I ate insanely well. I measured everything, counted everything, choose every single thing that entered my mouth with extreme care. I exercised 6-7 times a week. I had personal trainers and nutritionists. I tried to loose weight the “healthy” and normal way, but instead I just gained weight. Fatter, fatter.  I honestly didn’t have high hopes of the gastric banding surgery would even work, but it did. Because it’s some seriously magic voodoo, I don’t know.

Could I replicate how I eat NOW, if I didn’t have the band? Absolutely, 100%. But I have ZERO confidence that the weight would stay off. I’ve been there, done that. It didn’t work.  In other words: I am terrified of gaining weight because experience has taught me that I DO NOT CONTROL MY BODY. I can’t set a plan, and be confident that my body will respond in a normal manner. My body operates outside of my control. This scares the bejeezus out of me.

The second thing I’m scared of is the social-psychological impact of gaining weight. There’s no doubt that *I* have changed as I lost weight. I feel better, look better. I have a lot more confidence in all aspects of my life because of the weight loss. But perhaps more importantly: People HONESTLY treat me differently now.  Yes, they might treat me different because of my confidence, but they treat me differently because I’m THINNER.

Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago I was out for drinks at a restaurant with a friend, and three of the friend’s work-colleagues. I had never met these people before. Across the table from us was an overweight woman. These three work colleagues whom I had never met started making fun of her. Mocking her for going out in public. Saying things like she’ll never pick up a date there, never get laid, why even TRY? Making fun of her fat rolls, her ankles, etc. It was infuriating. I finally told them (as they were mocking the lady for “waddling” her way to the door, “MOOOO” they yelled at her) that only 4 years ago, I was the SAME SIZE as that lady. They looked at me in shock, so I pulled out my phone and showed them a before/after picture. They were shocked, and they shut up and looked pretty embarrassed. Good. They SHOULD be embarrassed.

That behavior was abhorrent, but it was a PERFECT example to illustrate my point: People treat fat people differently.  Period. For no reason whatsoever.

When I was overweight. I remember walking into our local convenience store in the morning to get a banana and a bottle of water. I’d smile at EVERYONE. People ignored me. Slammed the door in my face. Nobody was outright RUDE to me, but I was invisible. A ghost.  These days, when I walk into the convenience store, EVERYONE smiles at me. Men and women alike hold the door open for me. The cashiers strike up meaningless conversations with me.

One last example here. My whole life (overweight), I had gone on about 3 dates in my whole life. And I married the last guy that asked me out. My dating life was extremely limited. Oh, how badly did I want to date?! I wanted a boyfriend SO BAD, for most of my life!  I tried being friendly and chatting with strangers. I posted profiles online, at match.com and POF, etc. I had guys take one look at me and say, “Sorry, you’re not my type.” I had a crush on a very good friend of mine for a long time, and when I asked him why he wouldn’t consider dating me, his reply is, “I’m just not attracted to you. I don’t mean to sound mean, but I’m attracted to women much thinner than you.” Now that I’m thinner, guys are coming out of the goddamned woodwork to ask me out. Half of them could care less that I’m married! Every day my heart cries for all the opportunities I missed out on, such as dating and making friends, all because of the way my weight held me back in life.

I’m scared that if I gain weight, that I will return to invisible and despised status by the world around me. I’m scared to hate MYSELF that intensely again. I’m scared to become a wallflower again. I was so DESPERATELY unhappy when I was overweight, suicidally-unhappy I mean….I’m terrified of finding myself in the same state again.

I am sure that I am overreacting. I’m sure everything will work out just fine, that I’ll go through these tests just fine, have my gallbladder taken out, and I’ll go on my merry way. But I also don’t want to live my entire life in constant fear that my weight will overtake me again, and swallow me up. I don’t want to live in fear, and I”m not entirely sure how to get past that.

Hey, I guess this is what therapy is for, right?


(Me, Monday, in my lame hospital testing gown! HA!)

Some info about gallbladders and the gastric band:

 

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