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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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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My Baltic Sea Vacation!

by Christine on June 21st, 2012

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

Hi everyone! I’m back from my vacation, and wow! What a vacation it was! I’ll give you the lowdown, but because this is I suppose technically a weight loss-ish blog, I’ll let you know what the food situation was at each place.

I took a mother/daughter cruise through the Baltics. It was me and my mom, my mom’s best friend, and her daughter. Four of us total. We started the cruise in Copenhagen and went to Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. I also got to check out a little bit of Iceland on my return trip home. It was a fantastic vacation, and I’d highly recommend it!!!  Because it was a cruise, we mostly ate on the ship (Norwegian cruise lines, and the “free food” — not the pay restaurants — was just mediocre). However, we ate lunch at the ports when we could.

My band was exceptionally tight throughout the whole trip. I had called my surgeon to get it loosened before I left, but he couldn’t get me in for a whole month, so I just had to suffer. I barfed a LOT of my food up due to band tightness. However, the ship had soups on the menu often, and I discovered that the pastries went down pretty well, so I didn’t starve!

Weight & Exercise:
Started at 128.0 pounds.
Returned home at 126.5 pounds.
Lots and Lots and Lots of walking in each port! I took a yoga class on the ship one day, too.

DENMARK

Food:  Day 1:  Lunch was a salad with smelly prawns, hard boiled egg, avocado, and some creamy dill dressing (not my favorite). Lots of “Danishes” — the little pastries, which were fantastic!  My friend and I stopped at Wagamamas (one of my favorite restaurants) for dinner, and I had some Beef Miso Ramen soup.

Day 2: Breakfast included a Danish and some apple juice.  Late lunch/dinner on Day 2 was at a pub and included some nachos with cheese/guac/sour cream and a beer.

GERMANY

Food: Breakfast: 2 pieces of bacon, 1 scrambled egg, and some yogurt. We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant, and I had Tuborg beer, tomato soup, and a warm apple streudel. I had a cappucino that was so strong I had to put 4 packets of sugar in it! Yikes! The soup was a little odd tasting, but the desert was great! Back on the ship I had a steak and some cauliflower soup, and vanilla ice cream for desert. I had 2 cosmos during the kick-off of the ship’s sailing!

ESTONIA

Food: Breakfast involved some yogurt and orange juice. We did so much walking that we kind of forgot to eat. We stopped for a quite bite of some pastry that looks like a croissant but was filled with goat cheese. Warmed up, it was delicious! And I had a Fanta.  Back on the boat I had grilled chicken and fried mushrooms which were delicious! I had a espresso martini for dessert.

 

RUSSIA

 

Food: Day 1 breakfast included some fresh watermelon, 2 slices of bacon, 1 scrambled egg. Lunch involved chicken stroganoff, a side salad, a jelly roll, and some red wine for lunch. Dinner involved Chicken Kiev and soup.

Food on Day 2: Breakfast was yogurt and orange juice. Lunch involved beef stroganoff, cabbage soup (which was amazing!!), a baked apple, and white wine for lunch. Dinner was teriyaki chicken and rice, with soup and some lime sorbet.

FINLAND

Food: Breakfast included a danish pastry and orange juice. We were walking so much we kind of accidentally skipped lunch. We stopped for a danish in the afternoon. In the evening I had some orange roughy and mushroom risotto, soup, and lemon sorbet.

SWEDEN

Food:  Again, we walked so much we forgot about lunch! But this wasn’t good because we were very crabby about missing lunch.  Dinner was some chicken dish, tomato soup, and sorbet. This was a rather stressful day due to everyone being incredibly cranky, and it involved into the only drink-a-thon of the drip: 2 Blue Moon beers and about 4 shots of tequila.

ICELAND

Food: We had breakfast before we got off the ship: watermelon and yogurt and orange juice for me. I stopped at a grocery store in Copenhagen in the morning and had tabouleh salad, cheese and crackers, Fanta, and some cookies. When I got to Copenhagen I stopped at Quiznos for a turkey sub for dinner and another Fanta.

The next day, on my way home I had some nuts at the airport, 2 beers on the plane. Stopped for lunch on the 2 hour drive to my home and had 2 chicken fingers and some tomato soup.  Hubby cooked dinner: steak, rice, and skim milk.

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Leaving for Europe!

by Christine on June 5th, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

Good morning Revolutionists!

Weight check-in: 128 pounds. Right where I want to be.
Band status: A little problematic
Exercise status: Doing well! Picking it up a bit!

Exciting news! Tomorrow I leave for a 10-day trip in Europe! Well, factoring in travel time, it will be a 14 day trip. I’m very excited and can’t wait to embark on this adventure! My itinerary is as follows:

* Fly to Copenhagen and spend 2 days with a friend there.
* Board a cruise ship. Head to Berlin, Germany.
* Tallinn, Estonia
* 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia
* Helsinki, Finland
* Stockholm, Sweden
* Back to Copenhagen
* 1 day layover in Iceland on the way home

I’ve been to Europe many times (I lived over there for a year, actually) and have been fortunate to do a lot of traveling, but I have never been to any of these countries before! I am very excited to explore new places and to see my dear friend in Copenhagen!

Even more importantly, I get to see where my family comes from. I am half Danish and half Russian (I’m actually first-generation American on my mother’s side), and getting to see where my people come from will be pretty awesome. Actually, getting to experience Russia with my mother will be a really momentous occasion. (Read more about why by reading this old post.) I’m looking for to it, for sure.

On the other hand, there are some things I’m really nervous about. For starters, I think any mother/daughter trip can be nervewracking. Why is it that mothers and daughters have the most complex relationships, involving so much baggage and competitiveness?  It’s very odd. I think any woman would be stressed to spend 10 days stuck on a ship with her mom, but considering that my mother and I don’t have a history of getting along well, it’s particularly anxiety-producing for me. I’m working hard at not dwelling on this negative associated with the trip (after all, where would dwelling on it get me, except to be over-sensitive?) but I feel my nerves tightening with each impending hour.

I’m also nervous for lots of gastric-band related reasons: What if I can’t find any food that I eat? What if I have to barf and I can’t find a bathroom? Will I overeat on the cruise and gain weight?

At any rate, it will be an interesting, epic trip! I can’t wait to start it!

As for my band, not all is well in paradise. For starters, it is way, way too tight. I can’t keep going at this rate, even though it’s been this tight for about 6 months now.  If I retain even a little bit of water, it’s so tight that even milk won’t go down.  No bueno.  I called my doctor’s office to get an un-fill, but the soonest they can get me in is a month from now (holy shit!) so I am stuck with a too-tight band for this vacation. I’m disheartened that my doctor’s office was not more flexible for me.

Secondly: I’ve been coughing at night a lot. Every night, actually. I wake up in the middle of the night with the feeling that something is caught in my throat. Cough-cough-cough. And, it sometimes escalates until (eeek, sorry this really TMI) I accidentally barf on myself in bed.

I don’t know what’s going on exactly–I haven’t talked to my surgeon about this. But I have a theory. I believe my upper stomach has either expanded or my band has slipped.  So my upper stomach has a bulge or a pooch…and food gets stuck in the bulge and irritates me at night. I don’t know what the fix for this would be. I’m hoping that merely loosening my band will solve this problem, but I’m worried that the solution will be a surgery to fix the placement of the band. That’s why I have been too chicken to make an appointment with my doctor. I’m not up for another surgery. I’m worried about what he says the problem is, and I’m worried about his solution for fixing the problem. Not to mention I don’t want to go through all the testing, the awful barium drink, the x-rays, etc. No, I’ll just get an un-fill and see if that fixes the problem first.

I’ll keep you posted, of course, about what’s happening in my band-land.

Thanks for reading, and check back in 2 weeks for pics of my vacation!

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Needing to be “perfect” all the time

by Christine on May 22nd, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany:

I need to be perfect. All. The. Time.

I always kind of knew this in some way, but I always called it being “a little odd” or “anal retentive” or “OCD.”  I never really put it like that: “The need to be right all the time,” but it’s true. I have an obsessive need to do the best possible job at all time and be as perfect as I can be at all times.

It’s crazy. My life is good—really good! But if 11 out of 12 things are going well for me, the one thing that is off-kilter will send me spiraling into a depression or an anxiety attack. It can be as small as having dishes in the sink or being late for an appointment (which, as it happened, is what triggered me yesterday).

And it’s not just my mood that gets affected. I have a hard time forcing myself to try new things that I think I’ll suck at (note: remember when I tried playing flag football this fall and got tackled within 30 seconds? And I vowed never to play again?) or, for example, I have a hard time going to sleep if I have laundry waiting to be finished. When I throw a girls-night party at my house, I get so crazy over cleaning the house, having the right food, games, and party favors, that I exhaust myself and spend so much time in an anxious fit that I don’t spend any time socializing with my friends. It seems that everything becomes a casualty when I get obsessive about having everything just right.

Why do I do this? Obviously it all stems from my childhood, but two different things have contributed to this. For starters, I had an overachieving older brother that my parents pretty much hero-worshipped. I knew I could never be as popular, handsome, smart, or talented as him, but damn I sure tried to live up to his standards. Why? Because I wanted to my mom’s acknowledgement and respect. Which I rarely got. I remember one time I got a report card with all As and a B-, and my mom’s reply was “you need to try harder. This isn’t good enough.”  And so I just kept trying harder. (It’s no surprise that I eventually “figured the whole school thing out” and graduated with a 4.0 for my Masters Degree.)

The second reason why I do this is a little more complicated. I was often…harassed or verbally abused, especially if I stepped out of line or did something noticeable. In fact, I would say I mastered the art of being invisible and staying off the radar. Nothing gets you noticed faster that fucking up a task, so I worked my ass of to get shit done right and done well to avoid a future confrontation. I remember one time I was asked to go out and mow the lawn, and I was so afraid that I wasn’t doing it right – all those pesky long-grassed trimmings at the edges of the lawn—that I subsequently spent about 5 hours trimming all the edges with a pair of scissors until my fingers bled. All so I didn’t get yelled at for not doing it right the first time. When I was in middle school I got teased for having blingy hair-scrunchies and different clothes (I nearly got my ass beat once for wearing a new brand of jeans, Guess Jeans, that nobody heard of). So I just learned to dress tidily, usually all in black or solid colors, nothing noticeable or offensive. Boring. Yes, I was very, very boring.

This perfectionism OCD-ness has reaches in all areas of my life. My work needs to be done just right before it goes out the door. I will get depressed and hide in the bedroom if I forget to pick up the gallon of milk hubby asked me to get after work, or forget to pick up the dry cleaning. I berate myself for not calling my family enough and not being a good enough daughter.

This whole innate desire to get it Just. Perfect. definitely can be seen with my weight, self-image, and food issues. I realize now that I’ll never look in the mirror and like what I see. Something will always need to be fixed. (I spent a solid hour at work looking up information on getting plastic surgery done on my eyes, to eliminate the bags under them.)  The fact is, even after a year of “maintenance mode” following gastric banding surgery, I still don’t feel confident that I have my body under control. I also don’t feel that I have my eating under control. (After missing my pysch appointment yesterday I consumed 4 candy bars and cried in my car.)   

And when my weight fluctuates over my Goal Weight (125 pounds), even 3 pounds or more, I berate myself, find myself tottering on the line of depression.

I know that being obsessive about getting it just perfect all the time is toxic and not healthy. But knowing that and stopping how I feel are two radically different things. I don’t know how to change my attitude, perspective, and goals.

Obviously I will bring this up to my doctor the next time I meet with him. I’m not really sure how to get over this, but at least I’ve recognized it.

 

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