After surgery thoughts…

I figured I’d write this blog about the other stuff I had to do after my surgery, the things that I didn’t think about as important post surgery, and they slow become more relevant to me as I move through the process.

First things, first.  I wrote a few months back that my next ‘milestone’ was to be in the 270’s – and, as of today, I’m there.  279 lbs. Sure, it’s the top end of the 270’s, but – to celebrate my successes – I have to allow myself the pleasure of knowing I am still moving where I want to go.

So, the totals thus far are as follows:

Highest Weight:  365 lbs

Pre-surgery weight:  352 lbs

Current Weight:  279 lbs

Total loss to date:  73 lbs

The next goal, by the way, will be to get to 265 lbs.  That will mean 100lbs lost from my highest recorded weight.  It will take me a couple months to get there at the rate that I am going, but I hope to be there by my big family reunion in August.

So, my post surgery care…

When I left surgery, there were several things the surgeon recommended that I do. Those things included:

  • Getting more exercise
  • Meeting with a nutritionist
  • Dietary Changes
  • Following up with a therapist/Counselor
  • Ongoing medical follow up.

So, here is what I have been doing to meet those recommendation.

Getting More Exercise:  I joined the YMCA – which is expensive as hell, by the way.  I don’t get to go as often as I would like or as often as I should.  Right now, I am focusing on doing Saturday and Sundays (unless something comes up) and since Wednesdays are  my late day, I am going to try to start hitting there then as well.  My ‘workout’ (I hesitate to call it a workout because…it isn’t really one) is 45 minutes on the treadmill, followed by swimming for 30-60 minutes in the pool with Emmi and Evelynn (My daughters, in case you didn’t know).  45 minutes on the treadmill computes to about 2.3-2.5 miles of walking, which is good.  Makes my legs tired.  Makes me want a nap.

Meeting with a nutritionist:  This is one of the things that has frustrated me the most in the follow up process.  After my surgery, my surgeon recommended that I follow up with the nutritionist/dieticians in their office.  Problem is, their office is in Federal Way, and being in Bremerton, it makes for a hellish commute.  So, since I am Native American – and my tribal clinic in Poulsbo has a dietician – it made sense for me to try to make that work.  The problem there lies with the fact that the dietician doesn’t really understand what I have gone through.  She is certainly trying, and this isn’t a knock on her at all, but I am the first gastric bypass patient that she has dealt with.  The first couple meetings, she was amazed at how little food I was eating and wanted me to eat more.  What she didn’t understand is, I CAN NOT eat more, so I have to be deliberate about what I eat.

Lately, she has been getting on me about my vegetable intake – which is totally understandable, since I don’t have enough.  She is just very slow on coming up to speed with where I have been, and most visits I think I know more about what to do than she does.  I have a follow up with my surgeon in August, so I will most likely set an appointment with his dietician on that same day to see what they have to tell me.

Dietary Changes:  I will write a post later explaining my normal diet plan, but one of the things that I have had to do is totally change how I eat and what I eat.  Anything I buy now requires a thorough review of the nutritional facts on the package.  Right now, my main thing to check is sugar.  You’d be amazed what has sugar in it. Seriously, it’s in almost everything.  Processed meats.  Prepared sauces.  Pizza (yes, seriously, it is in pizza sauce).  It isn’t as simple to tell anyone to avoid sugar.

So, the decisions for me have been determining what sugar I can have and how much bad sugar I can allow.  My working number is 6 grams of sugar.  Now, that sounds like a lot, until you look at those nutritional facts.  Then, I realized that I can’t have most snacks and treats I normally would have liked to have.  Cake.  Ice Cream.  Chocolate.  Sure, there are sugar free or no-sugar-added versions, but they are extremely high in carbs (which I am not supposed to be counting yet) so I try to avoid them anyway.

There actually aren’t many foods I have to completely stay away from – obviously soda, but also I can’t do rice (it swells up too much), soft bread (I can do toast, but anything soft like that will ball up and cause me issues).  Everything else is just about monitoring sugar.

Follow up with a counselor:  This is the other annoying part of the process.  I have met with two different counselors since my surgery.  The first one was the same one I saw before the surgery to get my clearance for surgery.  She was nice enough, but she didn’t really talk about anything.  We spent an hour chatting, laughing, but…I felt like, if I was going to invest in counseling, it better be meaningful and we did NOTHING meaningful.  So, I didn’t see her again after two wasted meetings.

So, I followed up with another meeting today with a different counselor – and that was a tremendous waste of time.  He just asked a bunch of questions, printed off a few pages about being mindful about what I was eating and asked me to come back and see him again in 2 ½ months.   I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I was expecting to delve into stuff – what stuff?  Who knows.  But still, maybe body image stuff, maybe why I ate what I ate, maybe why when I look in the mirror I don’t think I look any different than I did before surgery  Seriously, something.  I could print paper off the internet and read it – and frankly, the Facebook Post-Surgery pages I follow gave me far more information than this guy did.

And, it isn’t like my life is just about the surgery – I told him I wanted to touch on all aspects of my life – a daughter I didn’t know until last summer, another daughter I don’t see because her mom is…well, bitter.  Relationship issues.  All of it.  But he was disinterested at best.

And lastly – 2 ½ months?  How the hell does that help at all?

Ongoing Medical Follow Up – This breaks into two parts for me.  Part 1 is following up on my current medication/treatment to make sure it is adjusted correctly based on how my weight is changing.  I am on Thyroid medication, which has been reduced due to me losing weight, and I have to stay on it as I continue to lose weight.  Plus, I am using a CPAP device (the breathing machine that they give you when you have sleep apnea) and there is a good chance I won’t need it anymore, so I have to follow up with my sleep doctor for that.

Part 2 is my back.  Good God, it hurts.  Turns out, while the rest of me is really happy with losing this weight, my back isn’t quite so happy.  Losing the weight threw off my center of gravity, and my back has been acting up ever since.  So, that means follow up with a chiropractor and a massage therapist.  The Chirpractor visits have been fine.  The massage therapist, however, has been a little rough.  I had my second visit today with the massage therapist, and I was so relaxed I fell asleep during the visit. When it was over, I went to get up and my whole lower back locked up.  I haven’t had that much pain in a while.  And, it is still bugging me tonight, so I am hoping when I wake up tomorrow it has passed.

Gosh, it sounds like I am complaining, doesn’t it.  I’m really not – I just figured at some point, I may share this blog with someone else who is considering the surgery, and I want them to know everything that I know how.

I’m also open to answering any questions, so if anyone reading this blog ever has any, write them in the comments and I will reply later.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the whole process.  The weight is slowly coming off, I can still enjoy chicken wings and other favorite foods and there have been no negative side effects.

My next blog post will be more about my meal plans and how I prioritize my food intake.  For now, I plan to go rest my back with some heat (or is it ice?  I don’t know) and get a good night’s sleep.

Thanks for following the journey.  Life is good and God is Great.

KDawg

Comments

  1. Holly

    It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Too bad about the therapists. To me they are a waste of time and why did they spend so much money getting this degree and not help people? I know it’s procedure to go to them but unless you are mentally unstable, I think they are a big waste of time. You do sound stable, by the way. I’ll be happy to hear your diet menus. Sorry about your back not cooperating with your body. Make sure your mattress isn’t too old. We changed out our twenty year old mattress and my back is good now. And it is frustrating when you need to go to these doctors/therapist and whatever medical help you need and you get nothing. That is frustrating and it doesn’t make them look any good either. So, keep up the good work, Kevin and keep posting this blog.

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