by Christine on July 27th, 2016
Here’s a list of celebrities who have had weight loss surgery. Google them to learn more!
- Rosie O’Donnell – Gastric sleeve in 2013
- Sharon Osbourne – Gastric band in 1999
- Randy Jackson – Gastric bypass in 2003
- Roseanne Barr – Gastric bypass in 1998 (some say the sleeve)
- Lisa Lampanelli – Gastric sleeve in 2012
- Chris Christie – Gastric band in 2013
- Star Jones – Gastric bypass in 2006
- Anne Rice – Gastric bypass in 2003
- Al Roker – Gastric bypass in 2002
- Carnie Wilson – Gastric bypass in 1999
- Ann Wilson – Gastric band in 2002
- Ann Wilson – Gastric band in 2002
- Diego Maradona – Gastric bypass in 2005
- Brian Dennehy – Gastric band in the early 2000s
- John Popper – Gastric bypass in 1999
- Ralphie May – Gastric bypass in 2003
- Patti Austrin – Gastric bypass in 2004
- Charlie Weis – Gastric bypass in 2002
- Etta James – Gastric bypass in 2001
- Jesse Jackson Jr. – Duodenal switch in 2004
- Caitlin Van Zandt – Gastric band in 2008
by Christine on March 3rd, 2015
I haven’t updated in a long time, and that was originally because everything was going great. And then everything wasn’t going so hot, and, honestly, I guess I just didn’t want to be a downer. Or I didn’t want to really accept what was going on with me. But…now I need to formulate some kind of gameplan. If there are any readers of this blog out there, I could use a little advice or support. Even just a pat on the back saying, “it will all work out” would be appreciated these days.
Way back in March of 2014 (a year ago) I started experiencing less restriction. So I went back to my physician’s office, and the P.A. there told me I needed a fill (0.25 ccs). I went back a month later with non-existant restriction. The P.A. said I needed another fill and gave me a larger fill (something like 1.5 ccs). Still no restriction. So I went back 2 weeks later and got another fill. Two weeks later, I got another fill. I started getting antsy about this…..I could TELL something was wrong. But when the P.A. asked me if I was experiencing any pain (I was not), they just said I needed another fill. And another fill.
This went on for several month, each time with me telling the P.A. “Something is WRONG. I have like 13 ccs in my band: I shouldn’t be feeling NO restriction!” I really had to raise a fuss, and finally got an appointment with my bariatric surgeon (after much cock-blocking around the office. I understand–they don’t want to waste the surgeon’s time when it’s something the P.A. could deal with but their lack of taking me seriously was aggravating to say the least. At any rate, sometime in August, I finally got to see my surgeon.
Mr. Surgeon looked at the notes of months-after-months of fills with no restriction, and my explanation, and he finally scheduled me for some tests. First came the upper GI: you know, the drink where they make you drink the barium “milkshake.” I did that test, and the technician came out of his little closet and said, “normally you’d be free to head home, but can you wait around for a second?” I said sure. Technician guy called my surgeon’s office, and a few minutes later the bariatric surgeon’s office asked to speak to me on the phone. “There is a BIG problem with your band,” they told me. “We need you to do the other test ASAP.” When I hung up I asked the technician what was going on. He compared that day’s stomach image with one from when I had my gall bladder out. The band was GONE. It just wasn’t there.
The next day I had my endoscopy, and my bariatric surgeon confirmed that the band had eroded all the way through my stomach. I’m talking: it was INSIDE my stomach. Total erosion. Perforations in my stomach wall like crazy. Infection in my stomach. Crazy stuff. He told me it was imperative that I remove my band ASAP.
I took the weekend to go hiking off in the middle of the Adirondacks — alone — and have a little sad time for losing the band. (I was instructed that if I had any stomach pains AT ALL, then I was to get myself to the hospital ASAP because I could theoretically die or something. Oy!) Then, the first week of September I went in to have the band removed.
My last-hurrah hike up Wright Mountain, 4587 feet elevation
Band removal surgery went pretty much the same way that it went when it got put in. In out, home that day. Sure, my tummy hurt, but at this point I knew what to expect.
The next day I was slow moving around. That’s fine. To be expected.
The following day I felt worse instead of better. I was tired and achy. I was hot and feverish. My incisions were hot to the touch. Hubby drove me over to my surgeon’s office, and when the P.A. tried to touch my incisions to take a look, it hurt SO BAD I started shrieking and kicking the wall and damn near passed out from the pain. He told me to get myself to the E.R. at the hospital immediately.
Hubby dragged me off to the E.R. The doctor there called down some surgical technician from upstairs. He came down carrying a bag of knives and medieval torture items. He draped a towel over me and told me to hold on to it, and he cut me open right there. No sedative. No pain killer. No anesthesia. Just cut me open right then and there. OMG THE SMELL. Seriously. Hubby went green, and nurses down the hall could smell the stink of infection. I was sobbing from having NO ANESTHESIA (did I mention that?!) and trying to hold my shit together.
After I got cut up and slapped back together, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me home. A day or two later, I was feverish and delirious. Temperature of 103 degrees, stinking like a motherfucker. I called my surgeon’s office and they told me to head to the hospital.
So here’s the deal when you have a non-scheduled operation: you get put on a waiting list, and MAYBE they get to you and MAYBE they don’t. In my case, it was three days before they got around to seeing me. In the meantime, I hadn’t had a shower in about 10 days and I was stinking like no tomorrow. My lovely long hair started to rot and mildew to my head in my feverish sweats. At one point they wheeled me out of the room for some X-ray or something, and I had a balls-to-the-walls feverish delirium where my bariatric surgeon did a complete Bollywood routine with a posse of sexy nurses gathered behind him. It was hilarious.
At any rate, three days later, I had a THIRD surgery, which cut out the rest of the remaining infection. At this time I was told that when they originally took the port out, it acted as a suction-cup and sucked all the infection from my stomach into my abdomen area. (Why I wasn’t given antibiotics originally is totally beyond me.)
I had visiting nurses visit me for about 6 weeks after I got home from Surgery #3. Wow, what a fantastic organization the Visiting Nurses are! I adored all of my nurses, and what a relief to not have to drive to a medical facility EVERY DAY to have my wounds cleaned. Slowly, the giant pit they had created in my stomach closed up and healed. No problem–this time.
At this point it was the end of October, and then I got a call that my father wasn’t feeling well. He went in for a series of tests and found out that he had lung cancer. And not just lung cancer….but it had spread and had already spread to his bones. He was given 5 weeks to live. The next several weeks involved lots of communication with my mom (my parents live out-of-state from me) and coordinating travel and visits with other family members. I got to visit my father the second week of December, and he died a day after I returned home to New York. I then went BACK to their house for funeral-type arrangements and to (try?) to give support to my mom. We were there for another few weeks.
To top it all off, my very best friend in the world met up with me to chat about my father at some point in November, and cussed me out for being the most horrible human being known to mankind. So: I lost my band, my father, and my best friend all in the course of a few short months.
Then there was Christmas, and then there was New Years.
I have to admit, I wasn’t wrapping my head around the loss of my band. Not really. I mean, it was all wrapped up in the loss of my father and my best friend. It seemed like the only one of the three that I could actually process at all was the loss of my friend. At the slightest mention or thought of him, I would burst out crying and was a wreck. The rest just feels numb.
When it comes to the band, I think I was just thinking I could wait it out. Sure, the weight started coming on really fast, but my bariatric surgeon told me to see him in 6 months after I healed, and we would discuss the next steps. In my head, I was holding on to the hope that another surgery could be done. That the weight loss could be dealt with soon; I just needed to get through the next few months.
In the meantime, I was seeing a dietician for food advice. That wasn’t very helpful to me at all, since I think she deals mostly with dietary issues that those who have had gastric bypass need. It was the usual: “eat your proteins and veggies; eat fewer carbs” blah-blah-blah “lean and green” advice that I already knew.
Today I had my six-month follow-up with my surgeon, and to say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement. First: I’ve gained 40 pounds in the last six months since my band was removed. Secondly: my surgeon pointed out that my insurance by no means would approve of gastric bypass surgery on me. I brought up the option of paying out-of-pocket for it, and he shook his head. He said that HE would not be comfortable doing the surgery on me, either. At least, not at this point. He seemed to hint that maybe after I’ve reached a BMI of 40+ (again) that he MIGHT consider it–but he said that because of my botched/infected surgery in September, that I’m 3x more likely to have complications if I have bypass surgery, and he’s not sure he’s willing to take that risk with me.
So in other words: I’m shit out of luck.
“Good luck to you, and if you reach a BMI of 40+, give me a call and maybe we can have another chat.”
I feel like the rug has been ripped out from under me. All hope is gone. The light at the end of the tunnel has disappeared and I’m closed into this nightmare. I feel all the things I hated about myself prior to weight loss surgery coming back again. It’s horrifying. I don’t know what to do, but I know I DO need to make a gameplan. And, my current gameplan isn’t working.
I should also point out that I AM seeing a therapist, but unfortunately I am not able to talk to him about food-related issues. He seems to be completely unable to discuss the topic of emotional eating. In a particularly adversarial session with him a few weeks ago, he was saying that if I just went low-carb, that all my weight problems would vanish. I wouldn’t overeat. I wouldn’t be hungry. I wouldn’t stress-eat. Low (or no-) carb is a magic formula that will solve all my weight problems. I told him that (1) I agree that low (or no) carb is the way to go, so he doesn’t need to convince me of that. (2) I’ve been there, done that. And I didn’t lose weight. and (3) Low (or no) carb is not going to solve my emotional eating problems. He disagreed and said that low (or no) carb will just make all my food and eating and self-image problems “magically vanish.” Needless to say, we have agreed to disagree. And I have sought out an Overeaters Anonymous group locally that I would like to try going to sometime.
So I am aware that I need to create (1) a food plan, and (2) an exercise plan, and (3) deal with my emotional eating issues, and (4) continue to work on acceptance of who I am/what I look like, regardless of my weight. I’ve been working actively on the latter issue for YEARS now with no real progress. It probably wouldn’t hurt to try to find a nutritionist that can really help me. I’m not at all opposed to signing up for a personal trainer. But I’m stuck with the feeling of dread because I’ve DONE all of that in the past and nothing worked. I almost feel like the more energy and effort I put into trying to lose weight without magic bariatric surgery, that it continues to reinforce my hatred of my overweight self, so it’s kind of a self-perpetuating downward spiral of negativity.
I also still don’t know what to do about this friend that hurt me so badly in November. And I really haven’t done much with respect to grieving for my father, either. The last few months have been such an overwhelming blow of awfulness, that I don’t think I’ve even begun to process what has happened to me.
So like I said in the beginning: if you have any advice to offer, or a pat on my head to give, please help.
A picture of me with my dad, a week before he died.
by Christine on March 20th, 2013
Yesterday I went in for my second test to try to figure out/rule out what was causing my stomach pains back in Jan/Feb. I was originally scheduled for a regular endoscopy, but the day before my bariatric surgeon called and asked if I would consider allowing him to perform a trans nasal endoscopy (TNE) instead. I said sure. The benefits of the the TNE are: no sedation is required (therefore my hubby didn’t have to take time off work to drive me), instant results, and no gagging reflex.
An endoscopy is where they send a camera & light down your throat and into your stomach to investigate your throat/tummy for ulcers, lesions, tears, etc. A typical endoscopy goes through your mouth; a trans nasal endoscopy starts from your nose and uses a slightly smaller tube/wire.
Well, the procedure was pretty awful, overall. Since I was playing guinea pig as my surgeon was learning how to use this new technology, he asked me to write up my experience. Here’s what I had to say:
OW. Holy smokes, that was quite painful and uncomfortable! This shouldn’t come as a shock to Doctor P, as I asked him to stop about seven times because it hurt badly (pain 7 or 8 out of 10). The part that hurt the worst was near the sinuses, before he got to the throat. I know that he used a spray and that lidocene gel to numb me (which I know worked at least partly, because it made my tongue and lips numb), but it didn’t seem to make much difference on that sensitive sinus area at all. I wonder if there is something more effective and powerful that he could use to numb this area in the future!
Once he made it past that area (and, it seems that simply working quickly and not dallying in that area helped), the procedure was mostly fine. I could feel the scope move down my throat and into my stomach, but it didn’t hurt. It was just a little weird and foreign. When he was wiggling the scope around in my stomach, it hurt a little (pain was about 2/10), but more annoying/uncomfortable than anything else.
My suggestion is that when he gets the scope down into the throat and stomach, to slow down the movement a little. The jabbing motion made the pain worse and my anxiety worse. Also, it helped when he held the scope firmly against my nose to prevent it from moving against that awful sinus area. Kind of firmly planting it there helped to reduce the discomfort. (In other words, when he was wiggling the scope at my nose like a spatula scraping against a cake bowl, that was no good.)
When he pulled the scope out, it didn’t hurt. Afterwards I did not feel any pain or discomfort. I did use the procedure as an excuse to have a small milkshake later on. A real treat!
He asked once during the procedure if I wanted to look at the screen to see what the scope was looking at inside my stomach. I DID want to look, but I was too scared to move my head and move that damn scope against the sinuses, so I said no. If there was a screen just over his shoulder on the wall where I could see, that would have been cool, and the distraction would have been welcome during the procedure.
Overall: In the future, I personally would prefer to be sedated and have a regular endoscopy done. I know I don’t have a very high tolerance of pain, but I don’t think my anxiety can handle something like that again. That initial pain wasn’t worth the benefit of having instant results; I’d be much happier to be sedated and wait 4 days for results.
Throughout the entire procedure, after 3 or 4 times stopping him due to pain, I started crying. Sobbing! I even cried after the first painful part was over. And when it was all over, I kept crying. Apparently I’m a big baby when it comes to pain. I was totally like this:
(Although that pic is of me getting my tattoo last year, not yesterday’s doctor’s office! I was equally pathetic though. Ha!)
So…I had some instant results though! Doctor P said everything looked GREAT: no ulcers, the band was in place, no erosion, etc. So he felt pretty confident that it’s the gallbladder giving me problems. “When do you want to have it taken out?” he asked me.
I replied that I’m feeling fine now, and there’s no real sense in having surgery if I feel okay. So when/if the tummy pain comes back, we’ll schedule the gallbladder surgery. He agreed, so that’s the plan. I’m just hanging out and waiting.
The good news is that I appear to have convinced Doctor P NOT to remove the fluid from my band, hooray!! I’m a happy camper at that news.
by Christine on March 12th, 2013
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?
Some info about gallbladders and the gastric band:
- All about gallstones and how weight-loss is related to them (good article!).
- Changes in gallbladder motility and gallstone formation following laparoscopic gastric banding for morbid obestity.
- Gallstone formation after weight loss following gastric banding in morbidly obese Dutch patients.
by Christine on December 28th, 2012
Hello Revolutionists! Is everyone enjoying this holiday season?
I realize that it has been a while since I’ve posted! The reason for this is mainly because I haven’t really had a lot to talk about with regards to my gastric band and weight loss. In fact, I seem to be holding steady with my weight loss and doing pretty well overall, which is great!
A few months ago (October/November) I started to notice a change in my eating patterns. First, I was eating a lot more quantity than I normally would, and the food wasn’t making me feel “full.” Secondly, I stopped snacking throughout the day and was relying only on 3 larger meals per day. Thirdly, I was having less barfing episodes and blockage.
And…the scale was going up. Just a little bit, but enough to make me start to panic a little. (My “goal weight” is 125 pounds, and I was at about 133 pounds at this point.) So I made an appointment with my surgeon’s office and had a fill. It had been a year since my last fill, so he gave me about 1.0 ccs — a big fill!!
Although it’s not my “sweet spot” and where I want to be — I think I need another medium-sized adjustment to get there — it has made a big difference. I’m eating less, feeling fuller for longer. And my weight has crept back down. I was at 127.0 this morning: right within my maintenance zone!
I still haven’t picked up my exercise the way that I should, but that’s not to say that I’ve been entirely sedentary. I’ve been doing a vigorous yoga class every Sunday morning. When I say “vigorous,” I mean, it’s a class designed for INSTRUCTORS of yoga, who know what they’re doing. We do crazy arm balances and contortions of the type that you see on magazine covers. It’s really hard, but really fun!
Other than yoga, I am not doing anything on a regular basis, but I keep busy with miscellaneous activities. This fall I was rollerblading and hiking a bit. This weekend I am going to start downhill skiing on a regular basis through the winter.
My weight has adjusted on my body; that is to say, my body shape is changing. My Size 4 pants are fitting a little tight on me…it seems that my hips and butt have taken on some weight. So it’s a Size 6 for me. I’m trying not to stress out about this because it’s not like the scale has dramatically gone up. I keep telling myself that it’s normal for my weight to re-position itself on my body after losing so much weight, like it needed a “settling in” period. That being said, I feel like this is a less than optimal change.
And I’ve been busy with some trips this fall, too! I ran away to Jamaica for an overnight trip with a friend, I spent a weekend in San Antonio, I took the hubby to a relaxing weekend in Lake Placid, and we spent Thanksgiving in Atlantic City. We have a lot of exciting trips planned in the next few months as well: a ski trip, a weekend in Boston, a few weeks in the UK, etc. I can’t wait!
Here are some pictures of the last few months, to show that I’m still in my maintenance zone!
Last but not least…a friend of mine had the gastric sleeve surgery just a few days before Christmas! Good luck with your journey, Karen! I can’t wait to see your progress!