Yup, It’s the Gallbladder

by Christine on March 20th, 2013

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

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.

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New Tool Decides When to Authorize Weight Loss Surgery

by Christine on August 16th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

There’s a new tool out there hitting the medical community that will help doctors determine when a person should get weight loss surgery. It’s call the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS) and you can read about it in this WebMD article here.

A selection from the article:

“When you have a waiting list, you try to think about how you prioritize people on that waiting list,” says study researcher Arya M. Sharma, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of obesity research and management at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, “Who do you see first?”

“So we thought, maybe take the heaviest patients first because they might be the people who are sickest,” Sharma tells WebMD. “But when we looked at that closely, we found that that isn’t always true.”

Doctors call this the obesity paradox.

 

And this little tidbit:

And when researchers cross-referenced their work against death records, they found that BMI wasn’t a reliable predictor of a person’s death risk, but their EOSS score was.

 

Interesting stuff. Even more interesting is that they list a BMI of 25 or higher as the start of their criteria for the surgery. When I got the surgery, I had to have a BMI of 40 or higher!  Hells bells, I only have a BMI of 24 right now, which just barely puts me in the “Normal Weight” category; I’m only 1 point away from being obese.  In a mere six pounds more than I weigh now, I could qualify for weight loss surgery again. Man, that’s….weird.

What do you think of this new EOSS tool?  What do you think of the BMI requirement for surgery?

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Remembering the start of Banded life

by Christine on June 15th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

The last few days I’ve been prowling Blogland finding a few newly-banded people out there. It is such a joy and pleasure to read about their experiences because, really, those first few months are the most exciting because you are so full of hope, full of energy and excitement to get that weight-loss ball moving, and the future is so full of good things for each and every one of these bloggers!

Today I met Jenny from Goodbye Muffintop. She has a little different experience with the gastric band–and it’s one I can totally relate to.  It’s been a few months since she had her surgery, and (1) her port is apparently flipped around, and (2) although she’s losing a smidgen of weight, she doesn’t feel any restriction. The band just isn’t working for her.

I can totally relate. When I started off on my journey, I was so frustrated. Here I went through this pretty major surgery full of hope and excitement that FINALLY I could get my life turned around and my weight under control. Immediately I knew something was wrong with my port, and apparently the first five-or-so fills I had were completely ineffective; the Nurse Practitioner was injecting saline into who-knows-where in my belly–NOT in my band!!–so i wasn’t getting any restriction. In the first six months I didn’t lose a single pound! Man, was I frustrated!

But in the end we got it sorted out. I finally demanded to see my surgeon who, after a quick check, saw that I didn’t have any saline in my band. So he filled me up properly (I always get my fill directly from my surgeon henceforth; no more jerking around with NPs for me!). Still, as I lost weight, it was obvious that my port was indeed flipped around, and the more weight I lost, the more noticible it was.  (I’m currently en route to get a port re-attachment surgery.)

The whole journey–even the frustrating bits at the beginning–were totally worth it. My only regret is that I didn’t have the surgery years earlier.  Every heart-ache was worth it in the end.

And speaking of heart-aches, I’m reminded by some of these new bloggers how scary the whole Gastric-Band-Puking-Thing can be. Some people call it PB-ing, some call it sliming, etc. Whatever you want to call it, it can be pretty disturbing when you’re starting off.

But really (and I’m speaking to all you new bandsters now)…the whole barfing thing is something that you’re going to have to live with, accept, and learn to deal with.  And it’s not really as scary as it might seem at first because on this journey you will learn what triggers a barf-a-thon and learn to avoid those foods. You learn to chew a lot more thoroughly. You learn to take smaller bites. You learn to take big breaks in between chewing.  And really, the barfing isn’t all that bad either–not like normal barfing–because you’re only puking up the food that is caught ABOVE the band. You’re not barfing up food that is in your stomach, which means no stomach acid is getting out. Oh, I’m not saying that the barfing episodes are PLEASANT, but it’s not as scary as it might seem at first.

The worst part about those episodes is when they occur when you are out in public. In fact, one of my most embarrassing and gross ones happened in April–two years after banding for me!  I was on the beach at a restaurant with friends. I was eating chips + salsa, which are totally safe foods for me, but I was talking and not chewing well, and sure enough I started to get bottled up. And sliming. Hubby asked the waitress for directions to the bathroom and she told me they didn’t have one. So with four tables all looking at me I had to grab a glass off the table and barf into it. Man, that was gross AND embarrassing!

All of us banders have those stories, though, and you are going to have your own stories to tell by the end of this journey of yours. It is just one more part of the whole banding experience though, so embrace it.  It all leads to Weight Loss in the end!!

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Eating in Secret and Hiding Food

by Christine on June 30th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Eating Disorders, Gastric Banding Surgery

Eating in SecretDo you have any “secret” food that is hidden in your house that only you know about?

Do you “hide” food away?

Do you eat in secret?  At night when everyone is asleep? Do you sneak into the kitchen when your kids go outside to play?

Do you feel guilty when you eat certain things, making you want to eat them secretly?

Chocolate candy bars.

I have a stack of them. Mr. Goodbar, that’s my downfall.  My husband doesn’t eat them. The candy bars have nuts in them, which he doesn’t eat.  These candy bars are all mine. I don’t have to compete with a tribe of faster grabbers to snag one for myself. They are mine, all mine!

I have the candy bars on the kitchen counter (I don’t have to fear hubby eating them) but I cover them up with a towel or notepad of paper, etc.

I cover them because I want them to be secret.

I generally only eat the candy bars when I sneak into the kitchen for a water refill when Hubby is safely in the living room. Or, I might eat one if Hubby goes downstairs to play computer games. The eating feels “secret,” which is really silly because I know Hubby wouldn’t care less if I ate them or not.  Usually, I only have a bite or two at a time. I don’t gobble the whole thing down at once.

Eating the candy bar isn’t that big of a deal, really. I don’t want to put anything off-limits to me. I’m not on a “diet,” after all, but just trying to make healthier choices and eat in moderation. Cutting candy bars off entirely would send me into major binge-mode.  That being said, I’ve given this candy bar some kind of power over myself by hiding it, making it “secret.”

HMMMMMM.

Is this disordered eating?
Is this unhealthy?
What would a more positive change to this behavior involve?

That’s the only food I can think of that I hide like that, but in a similar-yet-unrelated tpic…I also hide my laxatives.  There’s a little bit of backstory that I suppose needs to go here. In one of my eighty-thousand-million attempts to lose weight, in a land far-far away, I somehow got it into my head that if food leaves my body quickly, then surely some of those calories would not get absorbed. I was never able to purge (and yes, I tried) but I found some kind of mental relief by taking laxatives.  Big binge? No problem…it’s nothing that four or five extra-strength ex-laxes couldn’t eliminate in a few hours. Owch.

I discovered later that there’s a growing movement to include laxative abuse into the DSM-IV definition of bulimia. In my case, I think that the definition would fit. I think I had bulimic tendencies, even though I didn’tvomit my food. Disordered eating, indeed.

There’s a few things ironic in here. Firstly, it’s ironic that I was even approved for gastric banding surgery. My psychiatric evaluation prior to surgery was a big joke — he never even asked me questions about any history of disordered eating.  Even if he had, I probably would have lied. The second bit of irony: I vomit all the time now, thanks to the gastric band. But oh, there’s a big, huge difference between my vomiting and laxative abuse.  I puke because the food is stuck in the gastric band and I need to get it out. When the food is stuck, I can’t breathe. My eyes water. My heart rate elevates. My saliva starts spilling out of my mouth because there’s no place downwards for it to go.  I do not — I repeat, I do NOT — vomit on purpose because I want to eliminate food that I eat.  It’s the intent that’s quite different between these vomiting versus laxative abuse scenarios.

Since my surgery, my laxative abuse has almost entirely gone away.  I don’t get frantic over the food that I eat because with the gastric band, I just can’t “binge” the way I used to.  I’m not frantic, so I don’t feel any need to “purge” the food I eat.  Even if I have that secret Mr. Goodbar on the counter, I really don’t get worked up about it.  That being said, since my surgery I’ve had problems pooping regularly. This week I realized I went five days without pooping. Clearly, in such instances, a little help is needed. I put Benefiber in every I drink, but it doesn’t help. I’ve gotten “cleanser” lemonade things that haven’t helped.  Grapes, prunes, sundried tomatoes, apples…I’ve tried them all.  Sometimes…a little extra action is necessary. Again, there’s a big different in intent her: pooping because you need to versus pooping to relieve your head after a binge.

There’s a cabinet where we keep all our medications, and the laxatives should go there. But they aren’t there. They are hidden, even now. I know Hubby wouldn’t care about it. I know Hubby wouldn’t use them. But I hide them anyway. Why? Why do I do this? When I take a laxative, it’s always, always in secret. And then I feel guilty for doing so.

Hmmm.

I’m not sure how to resolve either of these issues — the hidden candy bar, or the laxatives. What would be healthier ways of dealing with both of these issues?

Many thanks to Prior Fatgirl (link to blog) for making me think about this today….

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145.5 (79.5 pounds lost) Steering Wheel Gap

by Christine on June 3rd, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

MedifastToday I woke up and discovered that the scale was down! Hooray! I think I can now safely say that I’ve lost 80 pounds and am working on my 85 pounds-lost-mark!

It’s the little things that I notice — and love — the most about losing weight. Today I noticed that there is  SO MUCH SPACE between my body and the steering wheel in my car. It’s astonishing!!! I feel so far away from my steering wheel, but I can’t move my seat up because the leg length is just right. I have such a big gap between me & the wheel that I could easily bend my knee and put my foot on the seat (kind of like a halfway “perching” on the seat). It’s strange seeing all that room!  As my friend Sandy said, maybe I need to bring a pillow with me in the car to put on my lap to fill that gap? Nahh, I like the space!

I have had ZERO appetite the last few days. Today is no exception. So…I’m doing the Medifast protein shakes for a day. I remember how disgusted I was after my Medifast period, and how much I craved real food. I know I need the calories, but I’m just not hungry for food. The protein shakes will be a good way to ensure that I get the calories I need, yet doesn’t require that I choose food that sounds or tastes good. So yeah….protein shakes for the day. If I’m still feeling “blah” about food tomorrow, I’ll do protein shakes for another day!

The Medifast shakes were required by my surgeon prior to the gastric banding surgery. You can buy them online at http://www.medifast1.com/shopping/shopexd.aspx?id=155.  At only 100 calories per packet/shake, it’s a great low-calorie meal replacement!  The website also has areal food for sale (like Nutrisystem) but I have never had any so I cannot vouch for their effectiveness. My friend Christy has used them though and has lost 30 pounds with the Medifast meals. I had lost 25 pounds in 8 weeks drinking only the Medifast shakes.

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