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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Not your average weight loss surgery patient?

It is no secret I love food...duh! That's how I ended up getting as big as I did and needing to have weight loss surgery. But, due to a series of horrendous and life-threatening threatening illness last year I had to change my ways, lose weight and exercise. There were no if ands or buts about it. So began my journey, which started on January 13, 2013 when my husband almost died.
This is us on August 29, 2013
You never realize how ingrained food is in your head until you quit eating something cold turkey. For me it was potato chips, soda, beef jerky, ice cream and candy. I gave them up, cold. If I didn't I wouldn't. The soda, beef jerky, ice cream and candy weren't as difficult as I thought they would be. But the potato chips were a nightmare. It was six months before I stopped hearing potato chips calling my name, even in my sleep. But eventually it stopped. But, along the way I picked up another bad food habit -- pretzels.

Pretzels aren't bad for you, if you eat the recommended serving amount and scrap off all the salt. But eating half a bag of pretzels is not a good thing. So, I had to give up pretzels too.

Then I started switching over to a more plant based diet. I ate more beans and legumes, discovered a soy meat substitute, started finding plant based proteins. I still ate chicken, eggs, cheese, yogurt, fish, pork and beef, just less and less of them. Eventually I took pork out of my diet all together, simply because is wreaked havoc with my digestive system. Red meat eventually sort of disappeared also, I think I probably was eating it maybe twice a month at most.

By mid-June 2013 I had lost 67 pounds and couldn't move the scale any further. My doctor would not clear me for any exercise other than walking a little bit because of a slight enlargement in the lower tricuspid of my heart and a slightly abnormal stress test. I got my blood pressure down with medication and diet and barely squeaked by with another stress test. EKG and carotid dopplers were clear too. But I still couldn't budge that scale. It was time to take more action. I had also brought my A1c (an indicator for diabetes) down to 4.9 with diet, no medication.

I went to my first weight loss surgery seminar on September 5, 2013 and heard about the gastric sleeve. I did my first intake and got my base weight. I followed the diet but as plant-based as I could. There was a lot of arguing along the way until the assigned a WLS nutritionist who understood my concerns and needs to have a plant-based diet. Before my surgery I had dropped a total of 72 pounds.

Finally on December 17, 2013 I was given a date for my surgery. I started drinking one protein drink a day to get myself into the habit. I stuck to a strict plant-based South Beach phase one diet. I had blood work done, an EKG and a chest x-ray and they all came back clear. I breezed through my medical clearance and my final weigh in and had my surgery on February 10, 2014. I lost 14.1 pounds in one week.

And I feel amazing! By the fifth day post-op I was up and all over the place. I did (and still do) tire easily, but that is getting better. Plus, I am finding that I CAN eat foods already that are further down the line. I eat very very very slowly. Sometimes it takes me 1 to 2 hours to finish a meal. But that's okay. I'm eating healthy, the same way I did before surgery. There some foods I ate post-op that I do not ever wish to reintroduce into my diet because I do not think they are worth the calories or carbohydrates. I may eat them from time to time, but they are not something I will incorporate on a regular basis.

I do know I have to go slow and I am, but I am also going at *my* pace and what feels right for *me*. I have one or two instances where I felt I pushed it a wee bit and I could feel myself getting to the limit, but not quite there and definitely not over it. A tiny bit of discomfort now and then, but nothing that does not go away fairly quickly.

You need to know that if you decide to go ahead with weight loss surgery you have to change your life BEFORE you have it. If you do not you will have a much more difficult time adjusting to our post-op life. No two patients are alike and you need to listen to your doctor AND your body. Go to support group meetings and here all the different stories. You can go to support group meetings pre-op, not just after you have gone through weight loss surgery.

As always...CHEERS!
Rachael Monaco