2 Year Maintenance Anniversary

by Christine on December 28th, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

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!

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Why stress makes the gastric band tighter

by Christine on September 15th, 2011

filed under Gastric Banding Surgery

My blog reader Kris was able to link me to an article explaining why our gastric bands feel tighter when we are stressed (or PMSing).  How very interesting! The article can be found here. The answer is that the gastric band is a semi-permeable membrane that actually can absorb fluids in the body!

Often times patients will come in because their Lap-band feels too tight. They find more difficulty with some foods, and are uncomfortable. They ask me “does stress cause the band to tighten?” The answer is, yes, it does.

The biology of stress is this: when you have stress, be it physical stress (like an illness) or mental stress (like your mother-in-law coming by for a short two week visit)…the body reacts by retaining fluid. You may notice that wedding rings are tighter, and there is more swelling in the legs at night.

The balloon of the adjustable Lap-band is a semi-permeable membrane, meaning it is osmotically active. In plain English: the more water you retain,  some is transmitted to the band, so it swells.

If a patient has 5.5 cc in their band (we measure it) and they come in and it feels tighter, we find they have 6 cc in the band. Where did the ½ cc come from? That is from the extra water the body is carrying. Since the balloon on the band is semi-permeable it will retain more water also.

This is the same reason that most people find the Lap-band to be tighter in the morning. In the evening you may notice you have some swelling of your ankles – by gravity your body water has gone down to the legs.  In the morning that swelling is gone, and the water has gone back to the central compartment of the body where the band is. If we measure the band in the morning it can have 0.25 to 0.5 cc more in it (which can make a difference).

This is also why we don’t like bands being too tight. People need room for stress – of all kinds. Leaving room in the band to allow for this, means that patients will have fewer difficulties.

 

Upon further web searching, I see that there are several scientific studies that have been performed that have verified this claim, such as this one here.

This knowledge makes me realize two things: (1) When your band is too tight or too loose, don’t go running to your doctor to get it fixed right away. Give it a little time to see if the saline levels balance themselves back out. Also, (2) If you experience a “looser” band, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your band is leaking or is broken. First try increasing your fluid consumption and see if that fixes the problem. If there is a noticeable decrease in “restrictive feeling,” then go see your doctor.

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Too much restriction!

by Christine on September 14th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

I really think this is the first time in 2.5 years that I’ve had TOO much restriction with my gastric band! And I’m not sure why.  What correlation does stress have on the band? Unless it’s getting an injection, the band is a relatively static piece of plastic. So why am I suddenly so tight I can’t keep any food down? Does stress somehow cause irritation of the stomach lining or something? That doesn’t seem like a reasonable physical response to me.

Yesterday I went to Paneras for lunch and ordered the creamy tomato soup (my favorite). And hour later I had only had 5 spoonfuls, and I had to barf the last of that up. NOT NORMAL!

I have an appointment scheduled for next week with my surgeon’s office. I had originally intended on getting a fill because I was feeling like I could eat too much and I was hungry all the time. Now, I’m wondering if I should cancel my appointment or even get a little Un-Fill?  I wonder if this will pass.

In better news…my medicine is finally kicking in, and today I feel more human than I have felt in a week. Much less depressed and much better focused.

Also–my weight is creeping back down. 130.0 today and going down by the day.

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Fill #10 or something

by Christine on July 19th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Today I had a follow-up meeting with my surgeon (the marvelous Doctor P. who can perform miracles, I tell ya!) to see how I’m doing since my port replacement surgery.  This trip to the doctor’s office was a really weird experience. I remember the first time I went to my surgeon’s office.  I felt so orka fat going in there. I mean, I was seeing a doctor that specialized in fat asses like mine. When I got to the waiting room, I remember being so relieved that all the seats were the extra-wide ones. I could sit comfortably while waiting for the doctor, imagine that!

I remember seeing other people in the waiting room. Other fat people. People that took up every inch of those extra-wide seats. I remember sitting there distressed, realizing that I was one of them. I belonged there, waiting to see the Fat Doctor. It was a very eye-opening and humiliating experience. I was also terrified those first few visits to the doctor’s office. I was scared of what this process would all entail. I was scared that I wouldn’t qualify for the surgery. I was scared that the surgery would fail me, like all my diets and exercise failed in the past.  Scared and humiliated; that was me.

Two and a half years later, the change was astounding. I walked in the door and went to the receptionist, who looked at me like I was from another planet when I told her I had an appointment with Doctor P. “What is this for?” she asked me. “A follow-up visit after my surgery 2 weeks ago,” I told her, and she stared at me like I was insane.”Are you sure?” she asked me.

There was a woman in the waiting room. She was a much older lady–60 years old or something, much older than the usual weight-loss surgery patient. She had to use a walker to get around. Her weight was clearly hindering her ability to move, even to walk or stand at the counter. She kept looking at me and smiling at me, but was clearly puzzled. Why are you here?

There was another woman in the waiting room. Maybe 35 years old, probably a mother of 2.5 kids and a soccer mom to boot. She looked like most of the patients I have seen sit in that waiting room. She stared at me the whole time I was in the room. Glaring at me. Seriously, if looks could kill I would be dead. I wanted to tell her, “Do everything you can to make this surgery work, lady. I was you two years ago. This shit will change your life. It’s for REAL.”

I felt uncomfortable. Out of place. A stranger in a land that I used to be a member of.

The waiting room chairs seemed so big today. Like I could fit 3 of me in them. When did they get so BIG?

Then the nurse called me into the consult room. I was thinner than her. In fact, I was thinner than the ladies working at the front desk, and the woman working in the office down the hall. I was the thinnest person in the building, aside from Doctor P himself. Weird. The nurse was very nice, very complimentary, remarking on my weight loss. She smiled a lot and made me feel more welcome, and I appreciated that.  She told me that in her experience, the success weight maintenance patients are the ones that come in for regular visits (like once a year) and keep tabs on their weight and progress. I weighed in a 134 pounds on their scale (fully clothed, a bucket of water in my system) which was only 1 pound more than last time I weighed in in March. That surprised me.

Doctor P came in to see me. He took the bandage off my tummy and oh my! The incision is so small! The new incision is exactly 1.5 centimeters wide. I took out a ruler and measured it.  The freaking port is bigger than that! How do they do that?

Sorry for the gross pic, with my stretch marks and crap on there. Still, it shows how small my scar is, and how well it has healed in just 2 weeks!

While I was at the doc’s, I asked him for another fill.  He warned me about the dangers of over-filling (like he always does) and then he agreed to give me one (like he always does.) He gave me a whole 0.5 ccs in my band this time! That’s a lot! I asked him how much fluid I have in my band currently, and he said “more than 10.”  I thought I had a 11 cc band, but maybe mine is bigger. That means I’m nearly tightened to the max? It doesn’t feel that way.

I took my gulp of water, which went down just fine, and I was on my way. I made sure I gave Doctor P a hug first. A man that helps to give you your life back deserves at least that much, right?

It’ll be a soup night for me tonight, as it always is after I receive a fill!

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Bloodletting!

by Christine on July 18th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Good morning Revolutionists! I hope you are all doing well. It’s a busy few days for me here, as you could see from yesterday’s post. This week at work will be a busy one, too.

  1. My car is on the fritz. Again! I thought buying an Acura meant that it would be better built, but apparently not. My air conditioning stopped working today, and today I was quoted $1400 to fix it. Cripes!!! It’s very very difficult to get ahead financially sometimes, you know? We’re exploring much, much cheaper options to fix it.
  2. Tomorrow I have a follow-up appointment with the bariatric surgeon. I’m healing nicely, so I don’t expect any bad news on that topic. I am, however, very eager to get a fill. I hope he will accommodate my wishes!
  3. Tonight we’re going to see Harry Potter! We’re also going out to dinner with friends. It’s always very important to pre-plan your meals if you are eating out; otherwise you will forget your commitment to lose weight and order something dumb like nachos or pasta with cream sauce.  There are a variety of salads and fish dishes at this restaurant that I like. I will order those, and then ask for a bunch of stuff to be replaced or removed to cut down on the calories even more. It’s picky, but it works!

Despite the issues with my now-shitty-POC car, I’m feeling pretty good today! I slept well, nothing hurts or is broken on me. I’m grateful to have a job and a paycheck, a husband that loves me, friends that put up with me, a house that hasn’t burned down, etc.

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