Sunday, December 1, 2013

Childhood Obesity Fundraiser!

Indulge in wonderful gifts this holiday season while making a difference in Childhood Obesity! 25% of the total sales (minus tax/shipping), my commission, will be contributed to the National Childhood Obesity Foundation by January 15, 2014.

To shop and contribute, simply shop online anytime in the month of December at - upon checkout, you'll be asked if you'd like to join a party. Simply select the "Childhood Obesity Fundraiser" and your purchase will contribute to the total!

To read more about the NCOF, visit their website at - let's band together this holiday season to help address this important problem in our society!

Facebook Event (join and invite your friends!):

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today I am thankful for...

  • Exiting the "Obese Class 2" category of weight this morning and entering "Obese Class 1" - only 33 pounds to go until I'm no longer obese...I'll take "overweight" any day!
  • 2013 - the year in which my horrific journey with the LapBand ended and the year my Gastric Sleeve allowed me to reclaim my weight loss journey and health.
And, of course, all of YOU, my family and friends, who continue to inspire and encourage me on a daily basis!

Monday, November 11, 2013

50% Lost!

Check it out!  Today's entry in my "Monitor Your Weight" app tells me that I've officially lost 50.42% of my excess weight!  Woo hooooo!  In reality, I have no idea what my goal weight really is - 169 lb. is the current benchmark, but only because it's (a) half of my largest weight pre-LapBand and (b) because it's when I'll have reached "normal" status on the BMI index.  Of course, never having been that light as an adult means that I don't really know if that's my "goal" - we'll see how I feel as I get closer!

But...yay for milestone victories!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New adventure!

Now that I'm not having ongoing issues with a slipped LapBand, and am happy in my new life with the sleeve, I've decided to tackle a new venture as an Independent Consultant with the Scentsy Family, representing both Scentsy and Velata!

Scentsy Personal Website
Velata Personal Website

After years of being a scented candle fan, with a variety of scents of high-priced candles in my home to feed my addiction for yummy smells, I discovered Scentsy Wickless Candles at a friend's party when I moved to the East Coast.  I bought my first warmer package and instantly fell in LOVE with the Scentsy products.  I had to have more warmers to flood my house and office with more!  The Scentsy experience was heightened when my boyfriend ditched his high-priced candles and fell in love with the products as well - we were a forever changed home!

I hosted my first Scentsy party a few months later and, taking advantage of hostess gifts, earned more Scentsy products to enhance the atmosphere in my home - especially for the holidays!  Yes, I have quite the collection of Christmas warmers, ranging from plug-ins to full-size warmers!  Currently, I have the "Linger" scent beautifying my home and the "Pumpkin Roll" scent at my office entices all who walk by, and we often have a discussion about how amazing the Scentsy product line is.

At my first party, I was also introduced to a newer Scentsy Family brand: Velata!  I got my first Velata fondue warmer and chocolate...admittedly, my boyfriend and I ate some of the chocolate without putting it in the warmer for melting - it's that good!!  I love bringing out my fondue warmer for parties, and my boyfriend's daughters find the fondue experience a fun and delightful treat!  I'm looking forward to expanding my own love of Velata with the newer spice rub, cheeses, chocolate mixers and equipment (the Raclette, Party Trays & more!) - I know that these are high quality products that will bring joy to my family!

I hope you take time to browse my websites above, and feel free to ask any questions you have!  I'm happy to help you host a party of your own (even across the miles!), host a fundraiser, or aid you in becoming a new consultant yourself!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weight loss is funny!

In the twenty weeks since I've had my gastric sleeve, I'm down 65 pounds...and couldn't be happier!  I belong to several Facebook groups that deal with the topic of WLS and the gastric sleeve, and I always giggle at those who freak out about stalls.

While I weigh myself almost daily, I record my weight each Friday on my Excel spreadsheet, as my surgery was on a Friday.  Now that I'm way past the pre-op and post-op rapidity of weight loss, I've noticed a very specific trend about how my body has been losing weight...

...I stall.  Every month.  For a good couple of weeks.  Then I lose 10 pounds over the course of a week or so.  Then I stall again.  C'est la vie!  I happen to be in one of those "loss" periods at the moment, but I noticed that even in the last stall (where my weight hung around 248 and 249 for awhile), I didn't stress about it.  I continued to go about my life (as busy as it's been lately!) and knew that the stall was just my body's way of "settling" all of the previous loss.  I'm okay with this long as it continues!

Do any of the rest of you notice this trend in your own loss?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Goal Met!

In the spirit of random goals, the next short-term goal on my list was to lose 61 total pounds.  That loss would take me to 250, which is approximately what I weighed when I moved to the East Coast in the summer of 2011.  (This was before my slipped LapBand got worse and took me on a self-pity gorge of nachos and frappuccinos!)

I'm a daily weigher, generally, and I was delighted to see 249.2 on my scale this morning, so I had to come post about it!  I'm happy to now be closer to 200 than 300, and I can't "weight" to see 11 more pounds of loss (my next goal) - at that point, I'll have less to lose than lost!

I had my gallbladder out last month after developing issues with it post-sleeve, but I lost nada from the surgery.  In fact, the past few weeks have seen little loss because I haven't been paying much attention to what I eat - calories, protein...nada.  I've lost 3 pounds already this week, and I contribute that to (a) tracking my food once more - paying attention and (b) this nasty head cold thing I've been dealing with since Sunday that leaves me less hungry than a normal gastric sleeve patient.  Regardless, I'm working on my protein and calories, and I'm stoked to be able to cross another mini-goal off of my list!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

3rd Surgery of 2013

What a crazy year it's been for me!  A year ago, I was working and living in Virginia while dealing with the daily stress and pain of a slipped LapBand.  With an insurance policy through work that was determined to let me suffer with the slipped band, I resigned myself to the fact that life was what it was.

A year later, after having been laid off, I've been employed in Maryland for 7 months and living in this state now for a month.  With a new insurance plan, I was able to have my LapBand removed in March and be sleeved in June - 50 pounds of weight loss so far, but still a ways to go before (a) I'm back to my lowest weight achieved with the LapBand and (b) at my goal weight...I'm working on it!

Last week, a few days shy of 12 weeks post-op with the sleeve, I developed sharp stomach pains that resulted in me leaving work early (I rarely take time off).  While the sharp pain turned into a dull pain about 24 hours later, eating, drinking and swallowing continued to be painful for the next, few days.  In consultation with my surgeon, I had an ultrasound on Friday to reveal that I have a new problem...

"Congrats Joia, 

You have to give birth to your gallbladder. Paul just texted me to tell you have "sludge". You need it out. That is what your pain prob. is. Call and make an appointment with Dr. Trad to get that scheduled. See you soon. Allison"

While I enjoyed the humorous tone of my nutritionist/program nurse administrator, I'm a little bummed that I now have to have my third surgery of the year.  Work is at a crucial "just getting the school year started" time and I'm now waiting for tomorrow's appointment to find out when my gall bladder removal will happen and how long I'll need to be out of work (this time!) to recover.

Surgery every three months?  Surely wasn't in my plan a year ago, but I know that gall bladder problems are common with weight loss surgery patients (so common that, from what I understand, many people have their gall bladder removed at the time of their surgery).  My mom isn't thrilled that I'm having "another complication," but I'm hoping that this small hiccup in an otherwise flawless recovery process will be the final hiccup in my weight loss journey!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

State of My World.

Good morning, and happy Sunday to everyone!  I stepped on the scale this morning not expecting much (currently in TOM) and was happily surprised to see a 2 pound loss from Friday, my normal, weekly weigh-in day!  The weight seems to be coming off at a steadier pace over the last, few weeks - I think it's a combination of moving more AND eating more.  Always shocks me to find that on the days I think I've gorged on food, my weight drops.

Also, I think it's hilarious that I now call eating 1,200-1,300 calories "gorging."

Work has kept me insanely busy over the last week (I've been exceeding my FitBit step goal every day without exercise), and this week I'll be "on" as I visit over 25 schools in 5 days to welcome them to the school year and provide updates from the teacher's union I work for.  I had my VSG surgery at the end of the school year - will my 45 pound weight loss be noticed by those teachers I'd worked with last school year?

45 pounds sounds like a lot of weight to lose - and it is! - but, truth be told, I'm just now starting to feel frumpy in the size I'd been wearing, and the smaller clothes I have are still a bit too tight for public wear.  I recognize that I fooled myself into thinking I was a 22/24 at the time of my surgery, when those clothes were actually tight on me.  Realistically, I've probably dropped from a 24/26 I should have been wearing and am now closer to 20/22 - that's an accomplishment!  Regardless, I've got work clothes all the way down to Size 16...and I can't "weight" to get back to some of those clothes!

Here's to continued weight loss, the start of another school year (my 11th in the education industry!), and to reaching my goal weight before another class of seniors graduates!

Monday, August 12, 2013

G'bye morbid obesity!

I don't want to jinx it, but the weight has been flying off of me over the past week.  I remember weighing in at 275 last Monday, elated that I'd hit the "25% of my excess weight lost" benchmark.  Today?  One week later?  I weighed in this morning at 268.8 - that puts me out of the BMI's "morbid obesity" range!  That's also a loss of 6.2 pounds in just one week - wow!

I have no idea why my loss has picked up over the past week, but I'll take it!  Despite dropping my Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte all over the floor this morning, I'm in a great mood because of this morning's weigh-in.  I'm in the 260's!!  Woot!  It's been awhile, and I finally feel like I'm not "close to 300."


Saturday, August 3, 2013

New State, Renewed State of Mind.

Happy weekend everyone!  We've completed our move to Maryland and, barring some odds and ends, are completely unpacked!  Feels good to be settled into our new home, and I'm looking forward to a short commute on Monday morning when I return to work!

After the guilt I'd experienced over the last couple of weeks (see previous blog entry) while going through the stress of moving and commuting to a busy time at work, I was eager to get my kitchen unpacked and restocked with groceries yesterday.  I put on the FitBit this morning, started back up on my diligent logging of food in MyFitnessPal, and I have a renewed sense of accountability moving forward!  New exercise regimen?  I've climbed 22 flights of stairs today according to my FitBit - gotta love living in a townhome!

I saw my doctor on Thursday (day after moving - yes, I was exhausted) and he did a double take when he saw the weight that my nutritionist had just taken...he was convinced I'd lost more because of my "tiny face!"  I laughed, then told him that I always lose in my face first.  I'm still a big girl from the neck down, but I know that getting back into my healthy routine, and having eliminated the excuses as to why I wasn't working out (3+ hour commute each day, too wiped out on the weekends), I can do this!

I'm 8 weeks and 1 day post op today from my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.  I've lost almost 25% of my excess weight.  Time to bring on the other 75%!

8.5.13 Update - I did it!  25% of my excess weight is officially gone forever!  

Friday, July 26, 2013


I shot out of the surgery gate on FIRE - not literally, but was quite pleased with my ability to get all of my required protein and fluids each day early into my post-op recovery.  I'm now 7 weeks post-op today and, although I've progressed through all of the post-op diet stages and am now on full foods, my drive and commitment has temporarily vanished.

We're moving in 5 days, primarily to eliminate the insane commute I've had for the last six months.  In those 5 days we have to drive 800 miles round trip (tomorrow) to take my boyfriend's daughters back to their mother, pack the majority of our house on Sunday (we've done little packing at this point), then I have to attend 2 of 3 days of a conference 90 miles from home on Monday and Tuesday.  Stress?  Yeah.  I'm there.

My belief is that the stress of the move combined with the seemingly endless commute, the tough couple of weeks at work, etc. are what has been my "derailment" over the past couple of weeks.  I'm not getting my protein in.  I'm not getting my fluids in.  I'm not eating the level of calories I've been at (primarily because I either choose protein or nothing at all).  I've not been sleeping well...and I have no idea why because I'm literally exhausted and my energy stores are seriously depleted.  I have bags under my eyes when I get home from work each night.  The acid reflux that is common with sleeve patients is a constant battle now - despite the fact that I took a 14-day regimen of Prevacid to eliminate it (Prilosec is now calling my name).

Weight loss?  It's been slow and steady, regardless of my above issues.  I'm now 1.2 pounds away from having lost 25% of my excess weight...and I have yet to start any kind of exercise regimen.

I think my nonchalance came in the few days preceding the 6 week post-op mark.  On that day, I transitioned to "normal diet"...and I'm having a hard time prioritizing me in the midst of everything else going on right now.  And?  I feel guilty about that.

5 days until the move.  I'm one who likes to unpack and "settle" immediately, and I've taken 3 days off of work to do so (in addition to the 2 weekend days that follow).  Once the move is done?  It's back to me.  Workout will become regular (2+ hours back into my day thanks to the commute elimination!).  I see my doctor again on August 1 and will discuss my disgust with the chewable vitamins I've not been eating because they're too bitter for me (although, they don't make me vomit - so they're better than the first ones I used!).  I'll also discuss my reflux and ask for clearer direction on the macronutrient requirements and calories I'm expected to consume.

I don't want to just lose weight with my sleeve.  I want to be healthy.  It will happen...just give me 5 days to eliminate the guilt.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hello 270's!

My weight fluctuated so much in 2012 that I'm honestly not sure when I was last in the 270s.  Yesterday, however, on my 6-week post-op weigh in, I was 279!  I know that when I was pre-op for LapBand removal in March of this year, I was in the 280's, so it's probably been at least since 2012 that I've been this "small."  I'll take it!

I read somewhere recently that gastric sleeve patients are expected to lose 30% of their excess weight in the first 3 months post-op.  For me, that means I've got about 6 weeks left to lose 10.6 pounds - that's totally doable!  I'm looking forward to hitting 275 in the coming week or two so that I can claim "25% of my excess weight lost."  In all honesty, though, just hitting the 270's was celebratory enough for me!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Things Thursday (a day early)...

I'm in the mood to blog tonight, although I don't have a particular topic upon which to focus.  As such, I began reading through some of the blogs I follow and it hit me - AHHH!  It's 10 Things Thursday tomorrow!!  So, here are my ten things - just a couple of hours short of Thursday. :)

1. I will be 5 weeks post-op on Friday from my sleeve gastrectomy and I'm down 28 pounds as of this morning - that includes the 10 pounds lost in the 10-day pre-op diet.  My head is battling a lot with itself as I continue to do what I'm supposed to do, yet not seeing the numbers I'd really love to see on the scale.  I'm hoping that by the time Friday rolls around (the official weigh-in day for my little trackin' sheet), I'll have hit a 30 pound loss.  That number just sounds good.  Beyond that?  The next "goal" on my checklist is 36 pounds - that's 25% of my excess weight loss!  Lessssgo scale!

2. I continue to read a lot on the sleeve forums - sometimes answering questions I didn't know I had yet.  But, more often than not, I'm absolutely dumbfounded by the questions people are asking to the general internet world immediately post-op about what foods they can have, pain they're experiencing (not mild pain either), etc.  CALL YOUR DOCTOR.  WHY didn't you know the post-op diet recommended by your doctor for recovery?  WHY are you trying to get advice from a plethora of people who all have different recommendations from THEIR doctor?  Clearly, some people were not meant to go through weight loss surgery...and, unfortunately, I feel that some may literally "bust a gut" while they try to ingest a ribeye when they're a few days post-op and "need some real food."  Effin' idiots.

3. Through the same forums, I met a "sleeve sister" who was sleeved just a few days after me in a town where I'm moving to (see #4) - we met "IRL" (yes, I'm totally down with the cool kids) last night at Color Me Mine.  It was my first time there - since painting is not a strength of mine, yet my need for perfection was extremely frustrating.  However, the conversation was fun and I'm excited to have a future gym buddy and friend in my new community!

4. Boyfriend and I signed the lease to our new home on Sunday - we move in August 1!  In just 3 weeks, we'll be in a hotel at this time, having loaded up our current house and handed over the keys.  In short?  My 3+ hour commute each day is quickly coming to an END!  

5. And?  My new house has a private hot tub on the 1st floor deck.

6. And?  My new house is a 3-story townhome (never lived in one of those) with laundry on the 1st floor and my bedroom on the 3rd floor...who needs a gym when you get to have that type of exercise in your life?

7. I'm still not convinced of why people choose to live on the East Coast.  I haven't been able to wear a sundress and flip flops YET - and "doing" my hair is the bane of my existence point with this constant rain and humidity!  Ugh.

8. I transitioned to "soft foods" this past weekend and am loving the restriction I have!  I'm eating 70+ grams of protein per day and focusing on keeping my calorie count below 1,000 per day.  And I'm not hungry.  THIS is what I wanted from the LapBand (but never got) - and THIS is why I'm now sleeved.

9. Work is incredibly slow right now.  Working in the public education field in the summer, when your colleagues and bosses are taking vacation, means that there ain't a whole lot going on.  My vacation was spent on my surgery in June and I've got a few days off to move.  Wooo...don't be jealous of mah summer adventures!

10. Boyfriend and I will be picking up his 2 daughters on Sunday so that they can spend a couple of weeks with us - fun!  Although I have to work and commute, I'm hoping we can squeeze in some fun time on the weekends...when we're not packing up the house.

Ta da!  I hope you all have a fantabulous end to your week!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Freedom from Obesity

Today is a day of celebration in the United States, as we celebrate freedom and celebration is a different one, with tomorrow being 4 weeks since my Gastric Sleeve surgery.  Truth be told, the boyfriend and I aren't fans of large crowds, heat, traffic, waiting, etc. - living in the D.C. metro area means that we're staying indoors and watching fireworks on TV this year!  (Although, we plan to take one of the D.C. boat cruises next year to watch the fireworks from there!)

Instead?  I'm celebrating my freedom from obesity - because I will not be "obese" by the time 'Merica's next birthday comes around.

My weight has been stalled for quite awhile now and my brain is having a REALLY hard time with that.  I thought I had broken the stall last week when the scale went down, but it sharply went back up and I've been hovering between the same 2 pounds for what feels like eons.  Despite doing everything I'm supposed to do nutritionally, I hadn't begun any sort of working out - I was using the "not consuming enough calories to work out" excuse.  Today?  I decided to jump onto the treadmill I own and never use.  After telling the 'mill I wanted to do the "Weight Loss 1" workout, which incorporates the dumbbells it came with and lasts for 30 minutes, I popped my ear buds in and started to jam to tunes, feeling good about getting into my groove.

Around minute 14, after adjusting to automated and rising inclines and speeds, my vision went blurry and I started to get dizzy.  I decided to push through to the 15 minute mark and stopped.

Thought you were healed enough to work out?!  Think again!! 

Although it will take months to heal my stomach (not even on solid foods yet!), my head knows that my body will need time to adjust to any intense workout.  I still feel somewhat like an epic fail for not completing the 30 minutes I set out to do, but, if nothing else, I've learned over the last 4 weeks to listen to my body.  I feel good about what I'm putting into my body, and I have to respect when my body is done with it's first post-op workout after 15 minutes.

So, here I sit with my 2nd protein shake of the day, happily sipping to restore some calories and fluids into my body.  No hot dogs, BBQ or beer for me this year...but it is truly a day of celebration as I continue to work on my freedom from obesity!

Sunday, June 30, 2013


My weight loss journey has always been one for health - knowing my family history, co-morbidities were going to sneak up on me as I continued to get older if I didn't take care of this obesity STAT.  Unfortunately, the LapBand was less than ideal for me...I'm excited that I'm now down 25.6 pounds since my 10 day pre-op diet started before my Gastric Sleeve surgery on June 7.  I'm starting to see the loss on my body and feel the loss in my clothes, and in tracking my every intake on MyFitnessPal, I know I'm doing this the healthy way, too!

Long-term health is definitely the main objective, and I'm super stoked to finally see some light at the end of the "battle with obesity" tunnel.  But, somewhat superficially, what else do I hope to get out of this?  Ooo - I know!  Let's make a list!!  I do love me some lists!!

Weight Loss Journey Goals

  • Lose 25 pounds - check!  (Having something to check off makes my list feel good)
  • Lose 61 pounds - This will put me at 250, which is the weight I was 2 years ago when I moved to the East Coast.
  • Lose 72 pounds - At this loss, I'll officially have lost more than I have left to lose!
  • Lose 96 pounds - Puts me at 215, one pound less than the lowest weight I recall being as an adult.
  • Lose 112 pounds - Onederland!
  • Lose 142 pounds - At 169, I'll be exactly half the person I was pre-LapBand.
Sure, the goal losses aren't your standard "25, 50, 75, etc.," but I feel that my goal numbers have purpose...symbolism, if you will.  I've got no timeline for any of the above goals, as I don't yet know how my body will lose weight once I'm back on normal foods and past the initial recovery phases of being a post-op sleever.  Ideally, though?  I'd love to hit that second target by the time my birthday rolls around on August 28.  36 pounds in 2 months?  Maybe.  I wouldn't expect that kind of loss long term, but it just might be doable in my post-op recovery mode!

Life as a Thin Person Goals
  • Be a stunning bride! - No date set, but it's gotta happen sometime!  Nick and I have been together almost 3.5 years now!
  • Wear a bathing suit without feeling the need to wear some cover up skirt, shirt, etc.
  • Shop in any clothing store I want to, knowing that clothes fit me.
  • Allow my inner confidence to reflect on the outside.
  • Not be afraid of any chair or seat - no matter how fragile it looks!
  • Eliminate back, tailbone & knee issues - while other incidents caused the issues, the weight sure ain't helping!
  • Not being the heaviest person in the room.  Cuz I usually am.
  • Be a runner.  I have visions of spending hours on my weekends jogging, running marathons, etc.
  • Using food as energy, rather than letting it be the focus of my time.
  • Not feeling guilty about a cupcake, appetizer, etc. because "I really shouldn't eat that."
  • Having the energy to do more than "commute, work, commute, TV, bed."
I'm sure there are others on my list, but they're escaping my brain at the moment.  What about you?  What "life as a thin person goals" do you have?!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"I don't care about weight loss right now."

I went to a follow-up with my doctor on Tuesday (18 days post-op), just a few days into the "puree" stage of my post-op recovery diet.  I expressed frustration at not having lost weight in the past week as I stepped on their scale (despite my head understanding all of the reasons why stalls happen, and knowing that the weight will come off eventually as I continue to do the right things).  What shocked me, though, was the response from my doctor....

"I don't care about weight loss right now, it'll come off eventually!"  

I absolutely LOVE my doctor and appreciate that he's more interested in me making a full recovery (it's been textbook so far) than in dropping pounds as of yet...his response made me recognize that my new "tool" isn't quite ready to do it's job yet.  Clearly, the post-op diet is in place to help your stomach heal and to transition slowly through diet phases in order to re-acclimate your stomach to various foods in the world.

Just.  Hard to wrap my "gut" around the fact that I'm not losing weight at this point, despite my head knowing what's going on.  

will say, though, that it makes me excited for things to come!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Eve of 2 Weeks Post-Op

Tomorrow will be two weeks post-op...and I can't believe my surgery was that recent!  My week off of work last week for recovery was well spent sleeping and adjusting to massive liquid intake - I've now been at work (including the 3+ hour commute each day) all week and have been doing fine!  My energy gets a little low now and then, but I'm blaming that on the severe calorie deficit...I think the post-op sleepiness has subsided.

I've been on "full liquids" since shortly after my surgery - essentially, anything that passes through a straw has been my daily diet.  Am I sick of protein shakes?  Yup.  Am I drinking a ton of water?  Yup.  Am I taking my vitamins?  Yup (although there is more on that...see below).  Am I hungry?  Nope.  I find myself eating just to (a) ramp up my energy and (b) to ensure I'm getting 70g of protein each day.  I could totally get used to this lifestyle!

Vitamins.  Eff you.  I've been great about taking my multivitamins (berry flavored) and "calcium + D" each day and have been using the Bariatric Advantage brand - honestly, I had a bunch leftover in my pantry that hadn't expired and I thought I should use them before I tapped into the Opurity brand I stocked up on pre-surgery.  I've been getting all of my chewable vitamins in each day - with BA?  That's 6 multivitamins (in 2 doses - one in the morning, one at night) and 5 "calcium +D" (that taste like ass...cuz they're lemon flavored...and I hate lemon flavored).  I've been pleased that, until yesterday, I had no post-op issues.

Yesterday?  Sweet mother of baby Jesus.  I took my 3 multi's right before going to bed.  Chewed 'em up as I walked upstairs to my bedroom.  And then?  Nausea.  Mild, but nausea nonetheless.  Um.  Why?!?  Chalking it up to my tummy being unhappy, I grabbed my lil' box of vitamins on my way out of the house this morning as I went to work.

By the way?  I found these cute lil' plastic containers designed to hold salad dressing "to go" for your lunches...they're perfect for holding all the vitamins I have to consume in a day!

As I'm sitting on 95N in Northern Virginia today, going slower than a turtle in rush hour traffic, I grabbed my lil' box and took out my morning multi's...chewed 'em up...and got SICK.  Imagine this: I'm in Lane 2 of bumper to bumper traffic.  I get sweaty.  I'm doin' that lil' gag motion - you know, the one where you just know vomit is coming, but you're trying to hold it in.  I roll down the window, turn the radio off (because that was going to help, right?) and turn the AC on full blast.  I'm sweating while I look around my clean car for an empty cup, bottle - ANYTHING - that I could puke into.  I just know the trail of multivitamin spittle is a-comin'.  Nope.  Damn my clean car.  I furiously merge into Lane 1, only to piss off the other "bumper-to-bumpers" that were mad I added a delay to their 2mph drive.  My thought process was to pull off on the left shoulder and vomit - in front of the bajillions of D.C. metro commuters - if I needed to.

Thankfully, I drank a few sips of water in between deep breaths and the moment passed.  Eff you vitamins.

Thinking that this was my body's way of telling me it's hungry and knowing that I'm allowed to transition to purees (anything that doesn't require chewing) tomorrow, I decided I would try the multi's again this evening with some Pintos n' Cheese I picked up earlier at Taco Bell.

Side note?  That $0.99 was worth every damn penny.  After 2 weeks of liquids, nothing has ever tasted so good in my life!

I chewed up my evening dose of multi's and started to eat a bite o' beans.  Surely this new approach - having food to accompany the multi's - would help, right?  Bite 2.  Yum...oh...shit.  I'm gonna hurl.  Quickly, much more rapidly than this morning, I was NAWWW-SHUS!  I ran to the bathroom and vomited...only, my stomach doesn't have much in I dry heaved and spit up some berry flavored spittle, along with some unprocessed Pintos...until the moment passed.

Tomorrow's plan?  I'm switching to the Opurity vitamins.  We'll see if it makes a difference.  I had e-mailed my nutritionist earlier today telling her about the onset of nausea, despite taking the same vitamins I'd BEEN reply yet.  I go in for a follow-up on Tuesday, so we may discuss other options then if the Opurity causes the same sickiness.


Update: Switching to Opurity vitamins did the trick!  Bariatric Advantage can suck it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week 1 Stall.


Throughout my 10 day pre-op diet and the initial days post-op I was steadily losing weight.

Surgery was 6-7-13.  When I felt well enough post-op, I continued to weigh myself daily (I really need to get over that habit) and moderately lost until 6-12-13 for a total of 18 pounds lost.

It's now 6-16-13.  My scale hasn't budged in 4 days.  I'm doing everything right (fluids/protein/rest/vitamins) for the most part and my scale doesn't want to reflect that.

I've read a lot about sleeve patients stalling in Week 3 as their bodies recover from the trauma of surgery and calorie reduction, and I know I recovered faster than many I've read about...but really?!  Stalling 6 days post-op?

Ugh.  I'll be patient.  My calorie intake is stabilizing now that I'm comfortable with the "full liquid" stage of recovery (I get to continue this joyous stage until next weekend), and I'll continue to follow doc's orders on liquids/proteins/vitamins because I don't want "user error" to be any reason for hiccups in my process.  It's not as if I'm consuming more calories than my body uses - nowhere near that.

Just.  Dude.


And, yes, I took body measurements on surgery eve (6-6-13), so I'll update those every few weeks to see the transition when the scale won't talk to me.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm full.

I've spent a lot of time online this week at Vertical Sleeve Talk interacting with pre- and post-op sleevers and, up until today, I felt blessed to have such a great recovery.  I've proudly flaunted the fact that I've been able to get down the minimum fluid and protein recommended for each day since Day 3 post-op.  I've been taking it easy, going slowly, etc., but know that my committment to "the rules" has been a large part of my healing process.

Today?  I can't do it.  I just can't.  As of now I'm at 57g of protein today (I'm supposed to shoot for 70g) and have had maybe 40oz of liquid (goal is 64oz).  While it's not too far away from the minimums, I have felt SO FULL all day today and had to really push myself to get in what I have.  I've had to take two naps today despite my only trip being to the vet - I took advantage of my time off of work to have my kitties' annual visits and shots done today (side note: boyfriend came along to carry the kitties in their carriers because I have a lifting restriction - he's so wonderful!).

I don't necessarily feel horrible today, but it seems like it's been the roughest post-op day this week as far as intake goes (other than Days 1 and 2).  I'm now sitting here with a cup of ice water, sipping away while I socialize and blog online.  I'm thirsty, but I can't bear the thought of ingesting anything else thicker than water tonight.  :::sigh:::

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Post-Op Doctor Visit

I visited with my doctor, nutritionist (NUT) and physician's assistant (PA) today at the 6 day post-op mark.  All went well with the visit - they remarked out how great I was looking 6 days out, removed the last of the steristrips (wounds are healing nicely!) and had a good time reliving my surgery with me.  Due to the 2+ years of chronic LapBand slip I dealt with, my stomach had ballooned and morphed itself into a non-standard looking stomach.  They had quite the grapple in dealing with removing all of the excess they wanted to remove - from dealing with the staple line of my new stomach to pulling out such amount of mass from the tiny incision above my belly button, they had never seen something so large!  Regardless, the surgery was flawless and the pictures (which I got to take home!) show a perfect sleeve.  My doc and PA are quite proud of their work!  Even more so, they reminded me that the barium swallow I did on Saturday morning (Day 1 post-op - I was still in the hospital then) was a perfect picture of what they want a sleeve to be.

We talked about my intake - my fluid, protein and vitamins have all met the minimum since Day 4 - and they advised me to stay on "full liquids" until the end of week 2.  At that point, I'm allowed to transition to purees and should schedule a follow-up with the PA and NUT again to make sure my speedy textbook recovery is still going strong!  I stopped taking the pain and anti-nausea pills on Tuesday (Day 4) but had kept the anti-nausea patch they had prescribed for me on until today.  Essentially, the patch is good for 72 hours - they made sure one was put on me just prior to my surgery and I had switched it out for a new one on Monday.  I've just removed that patch and, barring any further nauseous episodes, I'll be medicine free while I continue to recover!

The only real symptoms I've faced this week have been blurriness (blamed on the anti-nausea patch), dry mouth (but, surprisingly, no chapped lips - also blamed on the anti-nausea patch) and exhaustion.  Now that the patch has been removed, I look forward to eliminating the first two symptoms. Unfortunately, the exhaustion will continue for a week or two (at least!) while my body continues to recover from the major surgery I had 6 days ago.  My PA reminded me that the first 2-3 weeks post-op are crucial for recovery, so continuing to meet my goals for liquids, protein and vitamins are all key...and, of course, I need to get as much rest as possible.

On the whole I'm feeling good, although it's annoying when a simple trip to the doctor and grocery store can leave you so exhaus-tee-ated.  I'm returning to work on Monday (3+ hour commute round trip) and will continue to go slow until my body adjusts.  I foresee a week of early bedtimes next week!  Thanks to all of you who have given your support here and on Facebook - y'all rock!  I'm looking forward to progressing and being successful!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Time to Transition!

Although I felt comfortable enough adding milk and a cheddar cheese soup (just a few sips) into my diet yesterday, today I officially get to transition to "full liquids," which will add yogurt, pudding, strained cream soups (low fat, reduced sodium) & Cream of Wheat to my shopping list.  I'm excited to make some SF pudding with my Unjury protein powder - who can resist getting your protein in while eating pudding?!  I'm really amazed at the ease of my recovery thus far (:::knock on wood:::).  I exceeded my fluid and protein requirements yesterday (Day 3 post op) and I'm going to just continue on that trend line to make sure I'm doing all I can to have a textbook recovery!  My energy level is still somewhat weak, but I'll continue to get some R&R and sip, sip, sip throughout the day.  I'm confident that I'll be fine to return to work on Monday!

Besides, who wouldn't be stoked to step on the scale this morning and see 16 pounds of weight loss since she started her 10-day pre-op diet 2 weeks ago?  I lost 10 pounds in the 10 days of pre-op diet and 6 pounds since surgery 4 days ago.  I'm okay with that trend line!

I've got a follow up to see the doctor on Thursday; I'm sure he'll be pleased with my progress and results thus far!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 3 Post-Op

I'm at the point in recovery where my brain is ready for more food/activity, but my stomach isn't following...could it be that because today is Monday, and I'd normally be sitting in traffic on my way to work?  I'm thankful for taking this week off, and I fully intend to follow all post-op instructions (including diet!) so that I can maximize healing, minimize complications, and use this tool for what it's meant to do!  I'm actually not hungry, and I recognize that, but starting to miss the act of chewing (Pringles sound good right now!)...but it will be awhile before I get there, so I'll be patient!

My goal each day is to drink 64oz of clear liquids and have 70g protein.  I had stockpiled Unjury in 4 flavors prior to surgery and managed to get down a watered-down "Strawberry Sorbet" and "Chocolate Splendor," in addition to some water and Crystal Light, yesterday for a total of 58oz of liquid and 42g protein - not too bad considering it was only Day 2 post-op!  Drinking liquids/protein is a full time job right now, and it's all I'm dealing with beyond sleeping off and on throughout the day.  I feel like I've been getting up and down enough to use the restroom, refill water bottles, etc., but I would like to start some light treadmill work today to increase my activity (anyone know when the danger of blood clot formation passes?).

Overall, recovery seems to be uneventful...and that's exactly what I want it to be!  I'm looking forward to the transition to "full liquids" tomorrow!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Good morning everyone, and welcome to my new life as a sleeved person!  All went well with my surgery and, barring some nausea at the hospital while in recovery, I'm doing great!  I was discharged at 3pm Saturday after the procedure was completed Friday morning.  Unfortunately, my nausea got the best of me on Friday while transitioning into my own observation room, and then again on Saturday morning after drinking the nasty gastric thinner and Barium for my swallow test.  Once I was able to prove I could hold down liquids, I was ready to go home!

I don't have much remaining nausea/pain at this point, but I'm staying on my meds anyway to ensure the nausea stays away - I have no interest in heading back to the hospital because I, literally, "bust a gut."  My doctor assured me that once I had made it to the point where they'd discharged me, it'd be rare to complicate anything from the surgery, but you can never be too careful!

So now I sleep, sip water, sleep, sip, sleep, sip...and I'll continue to do that until I feel more energy.  Took this week off of work, so I look forward to my sleep/sip cycles - very relaxing!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In less than 24 hours...

...I will be awake and in my observation period at the hospital as I begin my recovery from Gastric Sleeve surgery!  My surgery is scheduled at 9:15am with a 7:15am arrival time.  I'm told that the procedure will take roughly 2 hours, followed by an hour in recovery as I awake from my anesthesia sleep.

P.S. I love anesthesia sleep.  I always get SUCH good, deep sleep!!

My doctor has me signed up for a 23-hour observation in my own room following the surgery - gotta make sure I can tolerate fluids, excrete said fluids and clear a barium swallow Saturday morning before I'll be released into my boyfriend's care at home.

P.P.S. Why 23 hours?  So odd.

SO looking forward to this new journey, and to put all of the research into practice!  Seriously, I've read more about the Sleeve than I ever did about the LapBand (and I read a certified f*ckton on that)!  Perhaps it's because there is absolutely no going back from my choice this time?  Regardless, I'm ready.  Brang it!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calling low-carbers!

How do you possibly maintain this lifestyle?  I'm not complaining, as I know my 10 days of "no more than 50g/day" are leading up to my sleeve surgery, but eating the same, basic menu is already getting old - and it's only day 3!  I'm clearly a carb-o-holic as I miss my Starbucks (yes, you can order low-carb, but your options are few), bread (had a lettuce-wrapped burger when out last night at Red Robin)...ugh.  I'm not looking for dazzling recipes since this is a temporary thing - I'll just continue to enjoy my home-packed lunches of hard boiled eggs, tuna, cheese, protein shake...blah.

My boss is buying lunch today since one of my colleagues is retiring after today - not knowing the carb count of the food he's getting, I'll stick with what I packed :).

Monday, May 27, 2013

"I don't care if you eat 10,000 calories..."

As alluded to earlier today, my pre-op diet for the Gastric Sleeve surgery consists of 10 days of eating no more than 50g of carbs each day.  That's it.  Really.  While cooking bacon and packing some food for my 12+ hours of commute and work tomorrow (hard boiled eggs, chunks of pepperjack and cheddar cheese, assorted nuts, lunch meat and bacon - coming in at a total of 15g of carbs), my doctor's quoted line in the title of this blog came to me again.  When I questioned my doctor about eating platefuls of bacon while on this pre-op diet, as bacon is a zero carb food, despite the massive calories and fat grams that would introduce to my system, he told me, "I don't care if you eat 10,000 calories, just no more than 50 grams of carbs!"

According to him and my nutritionist, we have a warped view of how food is processed in our body.  And, of course, the weight loss industry takes advantage of those misconceptions.  I couldn't quite wrap my head around why my doc would be okay with me eating two of the big three macronutrients (fat & protein) in unlimited quantities, yet swearing off their counterpart carbs.  He explained that his goal in my pre-op diet was not to have me lose weight (although, inevitably, he says I will anyway), but it's to shrink my liver so that he has easier access to my stomach.

So why does this pre-op diet do that?  For a longer explanation, read here.  For the short explanation, one of the liver's jobs is to process carbs - it gets plenty, then distributes the excess as fat to my upper arms, stomach, butt, thighs, etc.  When I starve the body of carbs, it has no choice but to process the fat in the liver for energy.  Ta-da!  Shrinking liver and, inevitably, shrinking waist line.  Google it - you'll find many a research article with similar proofs as doctors and scientists work to treat Fatty Liver Disease, obesity and other diseases.

Of course, this low-carb diet is not the "plan" for the rest of my life.  My nutritionist and doctor believe in a balanced approach to eating, with a focus on protein and healthful foods.  While I'll spend the first couple of weeks post-op on liquids (mainly water and protein shakes to aid in hydration and healing), my diet will eventually return to normal - with much smaller quantities.

As I discussed with my mother on her visit here this past weekend, my obesity has never been a problem of healthy vs. unhealthy foods.  In reality, I make a lot of "good" choices in my nutrition, from fat-free milk to sugar-free creamers (when not drinking black coffee), to ground turkey vs. beef, etc.  My problem has largely stemmed from an inability to control my portion sizes.  Bariatric surgery is the tool, the forced behavior modification, that eliminates that issue.  From then on, it's up to me to continue positive choices in my nutrition and making sure my body gets what it needs to survive.  Admittedly, I don't always make healthy choices - the Chipotle steak burrito and chips/salsa I had for dinner tonight are evidence of that.  However, I'm from the camp that believes no food should be sworn off from someone's intake if they want to eat it.  Have ice cream - in moderation.  Have nachos - in moderation.  Recognize that moderation speaks to both the frequency and quantity of intake.  Life requires balance in all aspects of our lives for happiness and success; our nutrition is no different.

Bring on the pre-op diet and a slimmer, stronger, healthier Joia!

Ready for pre-op!

To say that I'm excited about my sleeve surgery next Friday is an understatement.  I don't know that I was as excited to have the LapBand surgery over three years ago, but I know that I'm heading into the sleeve surgery with my eyes wide open, my brain adjusted to the change, etc.  Tomorrow starts the ten days of pre-op diet for me which will allow the reality and mental preparation to sink in.  Friday I head to the hospital for my pre-op bloodwork, then it's a matter of completing a 4-day work week before I sleep and have surgery!

Can't it be June 7th already?!

Luckily, the next 11 days are fairly busy with events at work (end of the school year means the teacher's union is busy - and that's who I work for!), a retirement party, social events with friends, etc.  I'm eager for the days to fly by so I can begin the final restart of my weight loss journey!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

June 7th!

After completing a laughable psych exam (only laughable because of how true it was), I saw my bari-doctor this week to finalize plans for my Gastric Sleeve.  He had initially said I could have the surgery 8 weeks post-LapBand removal, but his schedule didn't have room that quickly.  Instead, it'll be 11 weeks post-LapBand on June 7th!  Coincidentally, that's my sister's birthday - yay!

I'm now in "prep" mode as I prepare for a permanent alteration to my stomach.  I've stocked up on protein powders, liquid soups, vitamins and supplements...the pantry in my kitchen looks somewhat medical with all of that in there!  I also did some shopping today for sippy cups (I'm about to rock some Tinkerbell!), chap stick, Gas-X strips (worked wonders after the LapBand surgery), a pillow to hold against my tummy while getting up/down and while riding home from the hospital...I think I'm about ready for this!

With less than three weeks to go, the only pre-op diet I've been asked to follow is to do low-carb (no more than 50g/day) starting 10 days before the surgery.  To prep for that, and to help mediate the pounds I've put on since LapBand removal, it's back to the FitBit and MyFitnessPal tomorrow (18 days pre-op) - might as well start reducing calories now!

I've also been reading...and reading...and reading over at VST to hear what other sleevers have to say, recommend and complain about.   The most compelling post I read today (don't know where I saw it, otherwise I'd post it) is one patient's reason for the sleeve.  She commented about how losing weight has never been a problem for her - it's the maintenance and lifestyle change.  I'd definitely agree!  Give me a goal, deadline, etc. that's not too long term and I can rock some weight loss.  But, old habits die hard and I'm quickly picking up large portions of unhealthy food...just because.  I don't know why.  I don't know why the long term goal of a healthier, happier me has been, thus far, unattainable.  I do know that I was trained to lick my plate clean as a kid, and the "chicken police" made sure I ate every morsel of chicken on the bone.  That train of thought stuck with me throughout my life - I eat too fast and I eat too much.  I just do.

The sleeve will finally give me the forced behavior modification I had hoped the LapBand would provide.  I originally went with the LapBand because I wasn't keen on permanent alteration.  However, the Gastric Sleeve surgery has come a long way since my first bariatric surgery and has plenty more to offer patients who need a tool to help them find a healthier relationship with food.  I'm convinced that I have a great team of doctors supporting me this time around, and I feel as though I learned many a lesson through the horrific experience that was my 3.167 years with the LapBand (2+ of that with a severe slip).

I am mentally ready for the challenge this time.  Therein lies all the difference.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Heard of DietBet?

After watching a friend compete on DietBet through social media, I thought I'd check it out.  With a freshly removed LapBand (2 weeks post-op!), my hunger has returned and I want to keep myself in check.  My FitBit is on and logging my every move, MyFitnessPal is allowing me to track my intake and swimmingly syncs with my FitBit...but motivation is hard to come by when you've been miserable for so long with a slipped LapBand and have found a new lease on life with it removed!

I read through the FAQ's and found that bariatric patients aren't allowed to participate...but, lucky me, I'm in between surgeries at this point while I await insurance research from my doctor's office and, hopefully, a gastric sleeve surgery.  As such, I'm a prime candidate for this "DietBet" throw some money into a pool and have 28 days to lose 4% of your weight.  If you do, you split the total pot with everyone who achieved the goal.  Simple, right?  I threw $25 into a pot that has reached $6,150 (everyone bets the same amount, so we're looking at 246 players in my game)...I'm sure there will be many who reach the goal, so I'm not assuming I'll discover a new career path through weight loss (read: not quitting my day job).  After reading through all of their rules, verification, etc. and talking it over with my boyfriend, he joined in on a DietBet as well!  (Of course, we didn't want to join the same game - if we both win, we'd cost each other money by adding one more person to the split pot!)

You can join in games that are already established, create your own, vary the bet amount per game...and, oddly enough, it's working for me so far!  I hate losing money, so you can bet your ass I'm going to stop eating once I've hit my calorie intake for the day.  I did my official starting weigh-in for the game on Tuesday night and, as of my unofficial weigh-in last night, I've already lost 33% of the weight I have to lose by the end of the 28 days...I always love how the initial weight drops so quickly when you go back to doing what you're supposed to do!

Only the starting and ending weights are official, so it's funny to watch people log unofficial weights (i.e. we're only a few days in and one player has claimed to have lost 83% of her required total)...and even funnier to read the commentary by the people who are totally aghast at that competition and, seemingly, discouraged in their task.  :::mindgamesaresofunny:::

It's easy to drop weight rapidly...but not easy to maintain weight loss for a 28 day period.  Wish me luck - I'd love to be the sole winner and end up with a $6,150 prize (minus the site's fees)!

Update: I *did* win my DietBet!  I ended up just shy of doubling my $25 investment, but I'll take it!

Friday, March 29, 2013


"Bring Your Own Crazy:" Five little questions we answer to get to know each other better and to give our blogging brains a break! Come join us and ENJOY!

1. What’s your first reaction when you get really angry?

I know I'm not quiet. I will rant to anyone who will listen and, most likely, post something about it on social media. "Shy" has never been a word to describe me, and it certainly wouldn't be if I were really angry! Initially, I'd probably call my boyfriend and vent to him - he's great at letting me do that!

2. When is the last time you cried in sadness or in joy?

I cry often at commercials, reality show singing competitions (when someone does a great job and begins crying, or their mom is cheering them on, etc.) and other "seriously, you're crying?!" moments. I was told years ago, back when I bragged about the fact that I never cry (I was a tough teen and young adult) that I wouldn't really feel that kind of emotion until I experienced true love. I guess I'm there now?

Sadly, my last real cry of sadness wasn't too long ago - I don't know if it was the impending stress of yet another long commute (I bitch about it often, but I'm really hating the D.C. metro commute that takes 3+ hours out of my life each day) or the myriad of stupid things that happened that morning (I hate that I've let myself gain so much weight back, causing me to never feel pretty in my clothes...I dropped my keys while trying to get them off the key hanger thingy - which I need, because I'd never remember where my keys were otherwise...etc.), but I sat in my car, while still parked in my garage, and sobbed uncontrollably for a few minutes before I pulled myself together, wiped away the tears, and proceeded to drive to work.

3. If the stars aligned and everything was perfect from your partner to your job and income and everything – how many kids would you choose to have?

I've always wanted two - my answer has never wavered. However, I'm now 32 years old, unmarried and still floundering in establishing my second career. I love my boyfriend of 3+ years immensely and he's got 2 kids of his own, and I long for the day we can get custody of his girls (he'd love it!). Foreseeing marriage to him in my future, I'm not so sure that I want 2 of my "own" anymore - his girls are amazing and, if anything, I think we'd have one together to round out a total of 3.

4. If you won the lottery – what is the first purchase you’d make?

A house. I've never owned one - hell, I've never rented anything other than an apartment until August of this last year when boyfriend and I moved into this house. Of course, I'd have to figure out where to live...but, I'd be so rich from the lottery winnings that we could just buy at whim.

5. Repeat question. Summarize your week in real life and in blog land.

I had my LapBand removed a week ago today, and that's been the focus of my week in both real life and blog land - I'm a happy girl who had a textbook recovery, and I got to catch up on some R&R!

Post-Op...and Pre-Op??

My week of recovery from getting my LapBand removed was a little rough, but not too bad!  I did not go to work on Monday, but did go in on Tuesday...and came home to fall asleep by 7:30pm.  I went back on Wednesday and took 2 vicodin when I got home (which had to be only the 3rd or 4th time I took any pain meds since the surgery).  By Thursday I was finally feeling a semblance of "normal" - I woke up feeling rested after going to bed at a usual time and felt less pain in my stomach, abs, muscles and incisions.  As a bonus, Thursday was only a half day - it was time to go see my doctor for my post-op checkup!  (And, as an added bonus, we're off today and Monday for the Easter holiday - yay for a four-day weekend!)

My doctor and nurse were glad to see me in such good spirits yesterday and, as a badge of honor, removed my peeling steristrips.  In their opinion, my textbook recovery was just that!  The interesting part of the visit, though, was looking at what happened during the removal surgery.  The highlights:

  1. My LapBand had slipped so far down my stomach that it was literally chillin' at just a few centimeters above my pylorus (the connection between the base of the stomach and the beginning of the intestine).  For reference, the band is supposed to be just a few centimeters below the top of the stomach, creating a small pouch for food (hence, portion restriction).  My doc has no idea how my band got that far down my stomach, but he was impressed at seeing something he's never seen before.
  2. I have great circulation!  Other than my stomach being swollen from the band that was restricting it's path to my intestines (he has no idea how I've consumed any food without rupturing my insides), my veins were on full display and pumping just fine!
  3. Up to 25% of LapBand patients now have complications (up significantly from when I elected to have the surgery over 3 years ago - I wouldn't have done it at that rate!!), and those complications primarily stem from the fact that the band is a foreign object your body is trying to eliminate.  When you have a band installed, your body creates a fibrous ring around the band, trying to attack and eliminate it.  When the band is removed, the fibrous ring still exists around your stomach where the band was and, eventually, it deteriorates.  In my case, however, that fibrous ring was so dangerous (see #1 above) that, after mulling it over together, the doc and physician's assistant decided to go ahead and cut the ring.  This, in and of itself, can be dangerous - without exact precision, the stomach could be nicked, causing fatal leakage.  Without cutting it, though, they said it would be awhile before I'd have relief of my symptoms, and they weren't okay with leaving me miserable.  Hallelujah - my doctors are some precise bishes and got that fibrous ring cut without incident!  He also showed me the picture of what happened after they cut it - my stomach deflated from the overfilled balloon, swollen status it had been into a slimy pile of stomach muscle mush.  He informed me that they danced a jig once they accomplished that!
  4. Although my doc refuses to remove the band and sleeve a patient at the same time (which I'm pretty sure I want to do next - I'll write another blog about that soon and look for input from y'all!), he did say that if anyone were in the position to have it done, it would be me.  Although the doc prefers that the stomach heal in between surgeries, he showed me that the area they begin cutting for the sleeve (approx. 6cm above the pylorus) was exactly where my band had slipped to.  Essentially, my stomach was largely intact and unharmed....just swollen.
And there you have it!  I'm recovering just fine and celebrated with some Cheesecake Factory with my man last night - and no regurgitation!!!  As I get back into solid foods, it is just unreal to me to feel "full" again without being miserable, sick and rushing off to the nearest bathroom to force some food out.  I'm happy!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Feelin' fine (ish)!

It's Sunday evening - not sure whether to count this as Day 2 post-op or Day 3 (did the operation day on Friday count as Day 1 since the surgery was done so early in the morning?), but I'm feeling, relatively, really good today!  I slept on and off most of the morning and early afternoon, but I'm getting around just fine today - even went grocery shopping with my boyfriend for some post-op friendly foods!  I've been able to move and bend with a little more ease than the previous days and even handled some mushy foods.  Even with the incision tenderness and sore stomach muscles, I'm still feeling like a new and better person than just a few days ago when the slipped LapBand was still a part of me!

My doctor had instructed me to wait until at least Saturday night to shower, but I finally took off my bandages and showered this morning instead - the steri strips are all intact and there was minimal bleeding revealed on the gauze/bandages I've now thrown away.  No signs of infection at this point, so I feel that I'm happily recovering well!

I'm still up in the air as to whether I'll return to work tomorrow or not...with the snow just beginning to fall and a 1.5 hour commute in gridlock traffic (which snow only makes worse...commuting through metro D.C. is a bitch), I think I'm more leery of having a seat belt on and dealing with stop and go traffic, having my seat belt constantly putting pressure ON my incisions, than actually being at work.  My energy level is still low and, as to be expected, I do have a fair amount of incision pain and tenderness - five incisions on the stomach will do that to ya!  My boyfriend would certainly like me to skip work tomorrow and have another day of rest...that's probably the wisest course of action :).

All in all, I'm happy to be recovering as swiftly as I am!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The LapBand is no more.

Good morning everyone!  It's actually so early in the morning (2:47am) that it may actually be "evening" to some, but it hasn't been that way for me since I was in my 20's :).

At any rate, my LapBand is officially removed!  I had my removal surgery at 7:30am yesterday - all went well with the surgery and, after picking up my pain meds at the local pharmacy, I was home and settled in on the couch by 1pm (I think...things were a little hazy having just awaken from the anesthesia sleep).  My boyfriend was so wonderful through the entire process at the hospital, complete with the phone call my doctor gave him after I awoke to update him on my surgery and status (he had been out in the car), and then coming in to sign my release paperwork and make sure I got into the car.  He's been amazing since we've been home - helping me up and down from the chair, making sure I have what I need, monitoring my temperature (my fever was a-risin' most of yesterday as a result of the surgery, but it never got above 101...and I'm back down to normal now).

The surgery: My doctors really are wonderful, and I'm so happy with their professionalism, bedside manner and compassion.  I woke up in recovery to Paul's smiling face with "good" news.  We originally had thought that my "pouch" had been herniated/stretched, which is why we saw it as so large in the latest fluoroscopy pictures.  In reality, my band had actually slipped so badly that the majority of my stomach was creating my pouch - yes, you read that LapBand had slipped that far down my stomach -yikes!  As a result, he says I won't have to wait the three months they originally quoted to convert to the gastric sleeve - most of what they'll be cutting was above the band, so he seems to think we can do the surgery quicker!  Yay!  I'm sure we'll be discussing more about that (and the sleeve) on my post-op visit...remind me to schedule that on Monday :).

The first day: I'm surprised with how much I'm able to move around - granted, I move slow...and I'm hunched over as I walk...and it's not without pain.  However, I've only taken my pain meds once since being home (at 8:30 pm last night).  I've mainly hung out in my recliner, watching TV and reading through social media - heck, I didn't even nap!  I fell asleep around 10pm and just woke up...although I'm sure I'll be going back to bed since it is only almost 3am.  I have 5 new incisions on mah belly (my old incisions from the LapBand placement have all but healed) that are all tender, covered by steristrips and band-aids.  I have pain when I stretch my muscles (to recline, get up out of my chair, sit back down, etc.), but I'm mostly able to sit/lie in a comfortable position that leaves me relatively pain free...unless I move!  I seemed to be more bothered by my chapped lips (to which I applied Carmex regularly in large quantities), my dehydration (which I've been feeding with massive amounts of water...then subsequently getting up to pee often), and the low grade fever that continued to rise (the highest it got was 100.6) - the fever seemed to break a few hours ago when my boyfriend came to check on me and I had been sweating.  I'm sure Day 2 - does it count as "Day 2" yet? - will be filled with more of the same relaxing, sleeping and recovering.  As the anesthesia continues to wear off, I may find myself in more pain and need to take more meds...but we'll see!

All in all I'm feeling good.  I was explaining to my boyfriend that although I'm in pain, I welcome it...because I know that this is part of the healing process that ends the years of misery caused by a slipped LapBand.  My boyfriend and I talked on the way home yesterday about the plan of attack for my food choices between now (well, when recovered) and the sleeve surgery - I'm going to be a bottomless pit and, I'm sure, starving!!  I'm still so stoked to have this thing out, and I look forward to moving forward!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

72 hours...

The countdown continues!  72 hours from now I'll be at the hospital checking in for my 7:30am surgery!  What does that mean?  My LapBand will be removed, ending my:

  1. Daily forced regurgitation of food.
  2. Discomfort after eating solid food.
  3. Intolerance of solid food.
  4. Acid reflux (usually in the now...which is why I'm blogging).
  5. Pity on myself.
Friday can't get here soon enough!!  While I'm excited for Friday and the next three months of healing, I'm a little scared about my stomach being a bottomless pit!  I told a colleague yesterday that I refuse to gain weight, as I'm already wearing the largest clothes I own.  I will not go spend more money on fatter clothes.  That will have to serve as my motivation!!

Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm still completely stoked about my surgery on Friday morning.  I can't stop being excited about it.  I really have nothing to say except that 4 days from now, I'll be happily chillin' at my house (as long as everything goes as planned during surgery that morning), recovering from the pure hell that my life has been - the LapBand will be out and I'll be on my way to recovery!

That is all.

/giddy post

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New look! Whaddya think?

Reinvigorated by my upcoming surgery (6 days 'til this LapBand is out, sucka!!), I feel the need to get back to blogging...and, of course, getting back in the habit of reading YOUR blogs - they really do inspire me.  I've decided (I think) to stick with this blog, but I played around with colors, fonts, backgrounds, etc. to spruce it up.  I may eventually switch over to another domain name, but I know it would require y'all to "find" me again...we'll see!  Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Death of My Band: 3.22.13

I am stoked, y'all.  I received a call this morning from my awesome nurse while on my way to work telling me that (a) my insurance has approved the LapBand removal surgery and (b) that it's scheduled for next Friday!  My restrictions over the next week aren't too bad (no aspirin, Advil, etc. and no more than 50 carbs/day), especially when I know that my 2+ years of suffering with a chronically slipped LapBand will END in just over a week!

My LapBand in Review:
  • January 2010 - Installed LapBand
  • 2010 - Never quite found the "green zone," but played the fill and unfill battle with doctors who never (not even ONCE!) did an Upper GI to look at my band
  • January 2011 - Started having issues of forced regurgitation due to the LapBand being too tight and starting to slip (in our best estimation)
  • July 2011- Moved from California to Virginia to start new job
  • August 2011 - Saw new, awesome LapBand doc who immediately did an Upper GI (and does all of his fills the same way!) to diagnose a slip; continued to extract fluid from band over the next two months
  • October 2011 - Couldn't.  Swallow.  Water.  I'm serious.  I made the drive to the doctor's office two days in a row to have, eventually, all fluid removed from the band.  We filed immediately for a surgery request with my insurance.
  • November 2011 - Surgery denied.  The response?  "We don't cover this typ'a shit."  (I'm pretty sure my recollection is accurate there.)
  • December 2011 - Doctor appealed/testified.  Denied.  I appealed.  Denied.
  • 2012 - Life sucked.  My stomach made my life miserable all year.  1-2x/week I'd have to regurgitate food because of massive pain in my chest.  Of course, the amount/consistency/quality of food could never be nailed down (obviously, I would have just avoided it) - it fluctuated daily and left me guessing.
  • January 2013 - Regurgitation is up to 1-2x/DAY.  No joke.  I was also unemployed.  Stress induced?  Or just time taking it's toll?
  • March 2013 - Reemployed, new insurance activated, immediately scheduled appointment with awesome doc.  Consultation last Tuesday to reacquaint ourselves, Upper GI on Friday, visit two days ago (Tuesday) to see how awful it's gotten (my LapBand is in the opposite direction it should be, and my "pouch" could be mistaken for an entirely new stomach).

That takes us to today's call and my surgery for removal next Friday!  YAY!  In three months (June 2013), we'll convert me to a Gastric Sleeve!  I'm looking forward to a new adventure with a quality physician by my side.

For those who may stumble on this blog/timeline as a means of LapBand research, let me say this...I believe the LapBand can and does work for many people (heck, many of my followers and friends on Facebook ARE bandsters!).  However, it is absolutely imperative that you insist on good follow-up care and an open line of dialogue/communication with your physician.  I didn't know how wonderful doctors and their staff could be until I met the ones I have now in Virginia.  I absolutely trust these folks and have been made to feel like a human being rather than a number for insurance payments.

Removing the LapBand, for me, is a necessity.  My LapBand is irreparable at this point and only serves to cause harm to my digestive system.  It's a clear reality that one bite of food may land me in the ER with an obstructed esophagus - my doctor made that clear back on October 2011 (hence the forced regurgitation when I feel pain).

Converting to the Gastric Sleeve, for me, is my choice.  I'm eager to see how the three months go between LapBand removal and conversion to the Gastric Sleeve, as I plan to track my calories (I can eat salads and broccoli and pita bread and healthy shit again!!) and work out.  I also plan to start going to my doctor's monthly support group for bariatric patients (my doctor in California didn't even offer counseling to my knowledge).  I want to get healthy and fit to avoid obesity related illnesses in my future - if my family history is an indicator, I'll likely suffer from such illnesses if I don't get my weight to a normal range.  I've been blessed thus far to have no "co-morbidities" (i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.), but I know that it's only a matter of time for me.

Who knows?  Maybe the new lease on life given to me next Friday will be the final kick in the ass I need to do this without another surgery in June?  Of course, I want to devour a really large plate of nachos with all the trimmings...but we'll see :).  I'm just stoked, y'all, to get back to a sense of normalcy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

G'bye LapBand!

After showing my Upper GI pics to my doctor today, we all agree that the LapBand must go.  To quote my doctor, "it's beyond salvageable at this point."  I happily agreed.  Next steps?  Insurance approval to get the band removed - hopefully as soon as either this Friday or next (the only day of the week they do surgeries).  I'm anxiously awaiting the call :).

Beyond that, I wait three months for the stomach to heal and convert back to "normal," all while trying to get my life back to non-miserable.  At that point, the doctor will then do the gastric sleeve surgery, should I choose to move forward.

Quick blog, but I am SO STOKED to have this 2+ year long stint of misery (i.e. chronic band slip) OUT OF MAH BODY!!!!  Seriously?  I'm game for a quickie outpatient journey on Friday if they'll have me!

Monday, March 11, 2013

New blog? Or just change this one?

I've had enough of my LapBand.  No, really - it was diagnosed as chronically slipped in October of 2011 and I've lived with the pain that provides since then because I had (a) an insurance plan that denied removing it despite appeals and (b) no business going into debt for the surgery.  It's now March of 2013 - nearly a year and a half after the diagnosis (and, nearly two years after the problems began).

When I moved to the East Coast in the summer of 2011, I was instantly referred to a great bariatric practice by a LapBanded colleague.  The people were not only wonderful to work with, but treated me like a human being instead of a number.  The doctor and his peeps took time to appeal to the insurance company for me, fighting for my no avail.  Since making the choice not to pay out of pocket for the insurance (I was hoping better insurance would be coming my way before I had to be rushed into the ER for an emergency LapBandectomy...or whatever that would be called), I've gained a good amount of weight back and have taken pity on my situation in the form of food.  Of course, there were times I would have to force regurgitation of the food because the food stuck in my herniated stomach and esophagus would cause so much pain and discomfort - colleagues, friends and my boyfriend watched me suffer through it.

As a blessing (?), I was laid off from my employer at the end of know, the one I moved from the West Coast for.  Whether it was the stress of unemployment, interviews, uncertainty, etc. or time had finally taken it's toll, my condition worsened.  Regurgitation that was forced 1-2x per week was now turning into a daily (at least!) part of my life.  I remember a couple of weeks ago when a morning cuppa joe with creamer caused so much discomfort that I had to force it out prior to taking a shower and getting ready for work.

Yes, you read that right - work.  My unemployment stint didn't last long, as I started a new job at the end of January 2013.  While the 3+ hours a day in my car (thank you D.C. metro traffic) commuting isn't the highlight of my life right now, the ginormous plus is that I'm pretty sure I'll be able to be FIXED soon!  I saw those great doctors last week for a consultation and was sent for a fluoroscopy last Friday - I rushed home with the CD of images I was given and immediately popped the disc into my computer.  YIKES!  My LapBand is in an even worse position than it was back in October 2011 and my herniated stomach is...gosh...damn near the size of the remaining stomach below?!  It's bad, folks.  No wonder I've had so many problems, eh?

I'm excited to take the CD to my doc tomorrow when we have our follow up appointment.  Without a doubt, we'll be rushing the images and his medical opinion to my NEW insurance company...I'm hoping we'll have no problem with the approval process and that we can do exactly what my doc said last week - "We've GOT to get that thing out of you."  If all goes as we intend, I'll be ridding myself forever of the band and converting to a gastric sleeve (I'll save that choice for another blog post).  With any luck, this approval process can go so well that we can do it before the end of the month!  Who knows?  I just may hit onederland in 2013 after all!

So the question is - do I continue blogging on this blog with my new adventure, changing the title?  Or do I create a new blog for my new journey?

Eff you LapBand.  I'm done with you.