Friday, March 29, 2013

BYOC!

"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 right...my 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 mornings...like 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

FOUR MORE DAYS!

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 health...to 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 2012...you 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.