Monday, July 13, 2015

Survivors Guide to the Gastric Sleeve

It has been a full year, and I was told by the nurse at the surgeons office that I could be considered a "Success" at this point. I went from a 54 to a 36 BMI, and lost about half of my body weight in just over a year.

I'll be honest, I haven't exactly been the poster child for EXACTLY how you should behave post op for the best results. However, I feel I probably represent the majority because nobody is perfect. I doubt that anyone follows the Dr. instructions perfectly.

I do have a few things to tell you if you are planning on having the surgery, or you are a recent recipient.

So here are some Do's and Don'ts before and after surgery.

DON'T google things like "How much weight will I lose after surgery."
Everyone is different some people have overwhelming success, while others will tell you they had no luck. If you read all success stories, about people losing 200-300lbs, you will get discouraged very quickly. All you need to know is that if you want it to work, it will work. You will have the results you choose to have. You might have to work harder than others to get it. Remember this surgery is just a tool!

DON'T google anything about what to expect at the hospital in terms of pain, drain tubes, or surgery.
Every Doctor is different. Every hospital is different. I googled EVERYTHING before my surgery, and I thought I knew what to expect. Some doctors use drains, some don't. Some use catheters, some don't. If you have questions, call your surgeon. You will see posts about pain everywhere from painless to the most excruciating pain ever endured. People are different. You simply don't know how you will react. However, if you go in expecting the worst, your brain will mess you up.

DO stop drinking carbonation RIGHT NOW. DON'T WAIT! Also, stop that smoking! 
I double dog dare you to try to fool your doctor on this. Most surgeons that perform this surgery will say NO SODAS and NO SMOKING! Some doctors will even surprise you with a saliva swab before surgery. If they detect that you have been smoking, they can cancel your surgery on the spot. That means, you did all that work for nothing. What's worse, you've lost the trust of your surgeon. Your whole life is about to change. You can sacrifice.

DO follow your pre-op diet plan! NO CHEATING!
To answer your question....YES. The pre-op diet BLOWS. It's miserable. Your brain will try to trick you by thinking things like "This could be my last chance to eat this huge meal" or "Just one night out won't hurt". Any other number of hurtful things. Again, you can't fool your doctor. These diets are for a very specific reason. It's a crash diet to help give the surgeon a bit more room in your abdomen during surgery. They also help with that fatty liver that you most definitely have. It essentially shrinks your liver so that the doc doesn't cut part of it out on accident. OK, that may have been a slight exaggeration. However, the belly and liver are snuggled up next to each other in there. The smaller the liver, the easier it is to work on the belly.

Here is where I am going to say something that my Drs and Nurses will likely strangle me if they saw it.  It's called "The Last Supper". DON'T do it the night before surgery. If you do, you are a dumbass, it's true. A couple of days before the surgery AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN CLEARED. Enjoy a nice responsible meal out with family. Take your time, and enjoy the food. Mentally prepare yourself for the fact, that this is the last time you will be able to throw back appetizers, dinner, and dessert. I think everyone deserves this. In my case, my Dad's birthday was the day before my surgery, and we went out for dinner that weekend.

So, now you have had the surgery. What should you expect? What should you do? 

Well, this is where I will say "Results may Vary".

However, there are some things that aren't talked about much in the Weight Loss Surgery Community when it comes to certain things unless you specifically research them.

DO Expect a flare up if you suffer from gout. 
Rapid weight loss and Fasting can trigger a gout attack because of the ketones released in the body, and Ketones compete with Uric Acid for excretion. You can no longer take those anti-inflammatory drugs that you have learned to depend on. You are stuck with Colchicine for inflammation. If you are on something like allopurinol currently, you will likely be OK, However, if not, the ONLY hope you have is pain medication, colchicine and rest. They will NOT give you steroids after the surgery as it will slow the healing process of your new sleeve. If you have gout Let your surgeon know beforehand.

DO Prepare for 2-6 weeks of blandness, and learn to embrace it.
The next month or so of your life will be BORING. We are talking Jello and broth and water. If you like to eat, this will likely be the worst stage in your journey. The good news is that you won't really be hungry.

DO Sip water.
We aren't talking like you have the flu, and you are dabbling with liquids. We are talking having a cup in your hand all day and sipping on it. I didn't do this, and I regretted it. You should literally be taking a sip of water every 10-20 minutes.

DO Follow the diet plan.
Once you get out of the liquid stage, and move into the soft foods stage, you will notice that you have an appetite again. You will want to move away from soft foods quickly. You will try to justify eating something softish like tuna fish, etc. DONT. Stick to the plan. I decided to eat some tuna....It hurt so damn bad. Follow the plan exactly as they give it to you.

DON'T step on a scale.
So you got your surgery, and you can't wait to see results. Stay off the scale. Seriously. Your body weight does very strange things after the surgery. Water retention, and a bunch of other medical stuff. If you are a Scale Stalker you will get discouraged and depressed. Just don't do it! If you want to see progress, feel free to take measurements.

You will have stalls. You will have times when you think that you just aren't losing weight like you should. You will also begin to get hungry, and you will try to eat to much, and you will vomit. These are things you can expect. It will take you a while before you get use to that new pouch that use to be your stomach.

Don't snack too much, and avoid sweet tea and other sweetened non-carbonated drinks. Most of the time, when you are hungry, you are really just thirsty.

The 20 minute rule is my holy grail.
Are you feeling hungry or snacky? Drink 8-16 oz of water and wait 20 minutes. If you are still hungry, have a healthy snack. However 9 times out of 10, you will find that after that water you aren't hungry any more.

So, one year later, I am healthy and had great results. This is in spite of a terrible accident that put me on my ass for 3 months. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Stay away from google, and just listen to and talk to your doctor.