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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Maintaining, Spring Parties, and Other Stuff

by Christine on May 2nd, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

Good morning Revolutionists, and it’s a good morning, too, with one less terrorist out there plaguing the world. Congrats to our servicemen for getting Bin Laden, and my thanks for keeping us all safe.

It’s been a busy weekend for me, but kind of relaxing as well. Friday I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding. I know…the whole Royal Wedding thing is silly and trite, especially since they are not my monarchs! When I was a little girl, I remember my mom letting me stay awake all night long so I could watch Princess Diana marry Prince Charles. It is a very strong memory for me. My mom is a big fan of the British Royalty, and watching that wedding was like watching a fairy tale come true.  I wanted to watch the wedding because of that memory with my mom and to let a little modern-day fairy tale enter into my life.

Plus, London is one of my most favorite places in the world. I love to broadcast showing London landmarks that I love so well–Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, etc. Those places bring back a lot of memories for me.

Friday I went home after work, read my book a little bit, and went to sleep early.

Saturday I went out with a friend to the Museum of Firefighting in Hudson, NY. There were a lot of fire trucks there, which were pretty cool. However, there was disappointing little on the design of fire stations, which is what we were looking to learn about.  It was a beautiful day for a drive, and on the way we stopped at the Chatham Brewery in beautiful Chatham, NY, Huds0n-Chatham Winery in Ghent, NY (a really lovely place, with some great cheeses too!), and Harvest Spirits Distillery in Valatie, NY.  All three of these places we visited had great wines/vodkas and had a picturesque drive to get there. It was a great trip!  For lunch we stopped at Four Brothers Pizza. They have a few locations in the Upstate NY region. I used to absolutely LOVE their garlicy pizza, but unfortunately I can’t eat pizza anymore.  Instead I ordered a side salad (which was huge, and the salad dressing was delicious) and the veal parm sandwich (minus the bread). Unfortunately the veal was thin, dry, and deep fried. Not tasty or healthy. The salad was a much better value.

Sunday morning I took about 20 bags of top soil and tried to fill in a sand pit in our back yard, where our above-ground swimming pool used to stand. I put down grass seed. It was a lot of lifting and raking, and today my back in aching so I know I got a workout in. I also went for a short walk to enjoy the beautiful weather!

In the afternoon the hubby and I went to his boss’s beautiful 2nd home to celebrate his wife’s (and the company’s Office Manager)’s 40th birthday.  For her birthday he got her an awesome limited edition Porche convertible. It’s totally sweet! I hope she can take me for a ride in it sometime!

In the evening we had a few friends come over to watch Game of Thrones, the new HBO series with us.  Hubby and I have been fans of the Game of Thrones book series by George RR Martin for years. It’s our favorite book, and my cat Arya is named after one of the main characters! The HBO series is really well done and is in keeping with the book. We’re loving it…check it out if you like that kind of thing.

I ate a little more than my calorie alotment on Saturday (thanks to the alcohol + fried veal, boo!) but I ate under my calories yesterday. Therefore, it was no surprise that I was at the same weight this morning…127.0.  I’m still in maintenance range.

I’m only one month away from my port surgery.  I’m nervous about it and I’m unsure of how much the surgery to replace my port will hurt. Will it hurt as much as the original surgery? Will it be easier on me? Will they need to inflate my tummy with that awful gas? Will I need to be knocked out? I’m stressing out about these details!  I will be glad when it’s done though. The other day I was wearing a skirt with an elastic band, and it was riding on my protruding port site. Boy, it really hurt, and I was really sore for hours that day. I can’t wait to get that fixed.

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P90X-ing my night

by Christine on March 14th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Good morning Revolutionists!

I haven’t updated my blog in about a week! Yikes! Mostly that is because I didn’t have very much to share, but that’s still not an excuse to go AWOL.  Sorry about that! Here’s a little recap of my boring but busy week:

Wednesday after work I went snowshoeing with a friend. We went on a local golf course and walked 9 hilly holes, which took about an hour and a half. It was dark when we got done.  We went out to dinner afterwards and split two appetizers; I had diet sod, some cheese fondue, and some ahi tuna appetizer thing that was delicious. I got home late and fell right asleep.

Thursday I had an appointment with another surgeon at another hospital to discuss options with my port. He highly recommended that I simply re-attach it the way it was always supposed to be, in the same spot, etc.  He gave good reasons why he thought other re-attachment locations would be a bad idea and risky, and I tend to agree with him. I will contact my surgeon this week to schedule a port-reattachment surgery. Man, this has been a long time in coming! Thursday evening we met friends at the local bar for pub trivia. Our team won both at halftime as well as at the end of the night. That meant we got two sets of prizes. We wanted to be good sports, so we gave away one set of prizes to the #2 team.

Friday morning I went to a local event…Global Foundries is building a huge facility in town–it’s the largest commercial building project nation-wide. The meeting was like a Chamber of Commerce event, with 500 people attending, trying to learn how they can get a piece of the work. I met some interesting people while I was there, although I don’t think I met the right people that could potentially give my company work. I must work on my networking skills!

Friday night, after work, we went to a friend’s house to play board games. It was fun, and I got to see some friends I don’t normally get to see. We didn’t get home until about 1 a.m.

Saturday I spent all day writing my book–remember that book I was working on while I was unemployed? Well, I still want to finish it someday, so I spent the day working on it. Then we had dinner with the in-laws, then we met friends for karaoke at a local bar. It was a really packed day, and I was absolutely exhausted by the time we got home.

Sunday we were supposed to go skiing, but I was simply too tired from my hectic schedule. We opted to stay home and sleep in, which was absolutely wonderful and perfect! I spent the day reading the rest of a book on the couch, cleaning the house, and doing some errands around town. I baked some chicken for dinner, with a small side of sauteed vegetables.

Overall, I’ve been eating out at restaurants way too much! I have a fridge full of leftovers that I will never get to. Examples:

  • Thursday I had lunch at a greek restaurant. I had one-third of a salad with gyro meat on top.
  • Thursday night we went to trivia at the local pub. I had chicken tenders (fried) with honey mustard dressing. (don’t worry, I only had three chicken tenders, since they were fried. I did not eat any of my french fries.)
  • Friday I had a garden salad for lunch from a little deli and have TONS of leftovers from it.
  • Friday for dinner I stopped at Paneras for some soup to eat at board game night. John had ordered pizza, which I can’t really eat. Soup was better. I also had some chocolate chip cookies while I was there. BAD!
  • Saturday I had baked fish and a beer at a restaurant while writing my book.
  • Saturday for dinner we went out with the in-laws. I had half a cheeseburger ( no bun) and a small side salad instead of french fries. Hubby ate the other half of my burger.
  • Sunday I skipped lunch and baked a chicken breast for dinner. No eating out!

That’s a LOT of eating out!! It’s expensive, and it’s very hard to control your calories when you do that much outside eating.

My weight is still holding “steady” at three-pounds higher than my goal weight. Not a tragedy, but I’m frustrated that the weight won’t come back down. Surely my dining-out and busy schedule don’t help at all!

At least I got a little bit of exercise in. Last night hubby started P90X, which is a workout video series that is kind of geared towards men.  We did Day 1 of it, and I enjoyed the arm weight strength training. I intend to do Day 2 with the hubby as well and perhaps go hiking or snowshoeing again on Wednesday if the weather holds up!

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Fear of the future (lapband)

by Christine on November 27th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

I have a cousin, Shodi, that was one of the first people to have the lapband surgery, wayyyyy back when. She lives in Texas, and apparently her surgeon was the guy that “invented” the surgery.  She had the lapband and lost a bajillion pounds of weight, looks fantastic!  I didn’t know Shodi when she was overweight; the only time I really remember meeting her was a few years ago, and she looks healthy, normal, fit, and gorgeous!

But according to my mom, after she lost the weight, Shodi started having major issues with acid reflux. I don’t know all the details, but apparently Shodi’s surgeon decided to take all the saline out of the band. (He kept all the “hardware” inside her, just took all the fluid out.)  This was a while ago, and while the acid reflux issues were aleviated, Shodi started to gain weight again. According to my mom, Shodi has gained all the weight back and then some.

Apparently Shodi has returned to her surgeon to ask to start the fill process once again, but her surgeon said no. He told her that the only option left for her is to have gastric bypass surgery.

I don’t know the surgeon’s reasoning for this, whether the stomach acid is close to eroding the band through the stomach or what other medical complications may be. However, my cousin got the feeling that the surgeon was just trying to scam her for more money, more work. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just get a fill, especially since all the hardware is still in place. I don’t understand either.  (I recommended that she talk to another weight loss surgeon to ask those very questions. Get another opinion!)

All this leads me to be really apprehensive about my own band and my ability to keep the weight off. I know that in the next year I’m going to have to get my port taken out entirely because it sticks out in the most bizzarre way, and it will eventually push itself through my skin. (read more here)  That means I won’t even have the hardware in place in case I ever start gaining my weight back.I’ve always doubly-appreciated the band because of the peace of mind I feel that if I ever started to gain weight again, I would have the means to go to the doctor, get another fill, and keep my weight from ever being a problem again. But this is not necessarily the case, especially since I need to get my port removed.

Statistically, most gastric banding patients don’t lose very much weight. (Most patients lose approximately 30% of the weight they needed to lose. So, for me, I wanted to lose 100 pounds, but stasticically I should have only lost 30 pounds! The fact that I’ve lost all 100 pounds of the weight I needed to lose defies the odds.) Furthermore, most gastric banding patients gain all the weight back. I do not want to be a statistic. I know that I can fight these statistics by learning healthy eating behaviors and exercising regularly. In other words, don’t allow the band to be a crutch, but use the band as a means to live healthfully.  Although I feel like I’ve done that, I have this uneasy feeling that I might have the same problems as my cousin Shodi and gain weight down the road. I don’t want this to happen to me. I’m fearing the unknown future.

This is the only picture of Shodi that I could find of her “overweight.”

Here’s a picture of me with beautiful Shodi from a few years ago….2003 maybe? Can’t you tell we’re related?!? We have the same eyes!

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