I’m excited to share that I’m exactly two weeks out from having “the sleeve”, which is a type of weight loss surgery called “vertical sleeve gastrectomy”. It’s called “the sleeve” because the stomach is reduced from the size of a pineapple to a banana, in a “sleeve” shape (think long shirt sleeve). Yeah yeah, it’s a weird name because there’s no actual sleeve or anything that goes on the stomach, but apparently surgeons are not copywriters (and that’s ok — I’d rather them know how to rearrange my guts than give something a cute name).
So… how am I feeling? I feel great. I feel lighter, I feel relieved, I feel grateful, I feel excited. I’m down nearly 25 pounds in just under a month (10 post-op, 10 pre-op), and the tiny bits that I can eat now fill me up beautifully. I am VERY fortunate to have had no surgical complications. (Pre-Op Tip: If you’re a barfy person, ask for “Scopalmine”, a behind the ear nausea patch.) The surgery itself was simple, and honestly, the hardest part of this whole adventure so far has been 1) the pre and post-op liquid diets (I am SO SICK of protein shakes and soup), and 2) the cough I have from the anesthesia tube. Here’s a few answers to common questions I’ve been getting that I wanted to share.
- How painful was it immediately after surgery?
Honestly, not too bad. Giving birth was far worse. I have a very high pain tolerance, but I definitely took the pain meds whenever the nurses offered. It more felt like I woke up and did 10,000 crunches. At two weeks out I have some soreness at the incision that had the drain in it, but honestly, I feel good.
- How long were you in the hospital?
Exactly one night. They make you walk 30 laps (1 mile) around the hospital floor to help you get the preoperative gas out of your stomach. I was pleasantly surprised that the gas wasn’t that bad for me. Once I finished walking, I was given tiny medicine cups to start hydrating, and thankfully, I had no problem getting down my protein drinks or water. I hate being hooked up to all the IVs so once I was sprung free I felt a lot better.
- How painful was it immediately after surgery?
- How many incisions do you have?
I have six small incisions. Most are about 75% healed, with the exception of the one that had the drain in it, which is still a little… weepy, but is on its way. (Yuck!)
- How much weight do you want to lose? I’ll be thrilled with 130 pounds, which is about 30 pounds less than my surgeon wants me to lose. My surgeon wants me to lose 160 pounds — and when I joked with him that I hadn’t been that weight since the day I was born, he didn’t think it was that funny 😉 I’ll do my best. I don’t mind a little extra junk in the trunk as long as I feel good, am healthy, and am happy.
- Are you hungry?
I have some fleeting moments of hunger where I can tell I need to hydrate and get in some protein, but it’s nothing at all like the type of hunger a “normal” stomach experiences during the day. Part of the appeal of this surgical procedure is that it removes the portion of the stomach that produces the hunger hormone, so appetite reduction greatly assists weight loss.
- How much can you eat?
Now that I’m back on soft/normal foods, I can get down about two tablespoons of egg salad. I am able to eat a whole scrambled egg which freaked me out at first, but a quick email to my dietitian confirmed that’s totally fine and to remember that everybody is different. My dietitian has advised that the “maximum” for soft foods is four tablespoons at a time, half of which needs to be lean protein. This amount will increase gradually after a few months, but in general, I will never again be able to throw down on a pizza and eat half of it with no regrets.
- Are you off work?
I go back on Tuesday, and have been grateful for the time to rest. I’ve mostly just been tired and have been taking some epic three hour naps. This is normal as the body adjusts to reduced calorie intake.
- What has happened that you didn’t expect?
My first week home from surgery, I only lost two pounds and started to panic that the surgery didn’t work, etc. As much as I love social media, I was comparing myself to other people who had surgery the same day and had lost ten pounds in one week. Sure enough, the second week has had weight melting off of me — I’ve lost 8 pounds this week, which is mind blowing to me. I need to remember that COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY and that my adventure is MINE, nobody else’s. Secondly, I went to the bariatric support group at my hospital and I really enjoyed it. This was a big deal for me, because historically, I’ve hated support groups of any kind, including Weight Watchers. I think what made the difference was that the group was lead by a psychologist — and she was an excellent moderator, cutting people off when they went long, encouraging everyone to talk, and “correcting” harmful or assumptive statements as people said them. As somebody who spent a few years in therapy tackling an anxiety disorder, I really appreciated the structure and genuinely supportive style of this group. I’ll go back as often as I can.
So, in summary — I am so glad I did this surgery. I wish I would have done it ten years ago, but honestly, the timing is perfect for me as I had my beautiful babies and was able to indulge freely in street tacos (pregnancy with Holly) and Oreos (pregnancy with Haddie). I know that I may be in a Honeymoon period right now and things won’t always be easy . Yes, there are hard moments — like smelling freshly baked bread and knowing I’ve said goodbye to bread for a long while, but in general, I think this surgery is just the tool I needed to help me reach my goals. Surgery isn’t a cure for obesity, but it’s a great tool. With exercise, clean eating, and good mental health practice, I feel confident. I’m on my way! Thank you all for your support. I’m so grateful for all the texts, the emails, the flowers, the gifts, the comments, and the phone calls. One beautiful thing about social media is that it often has amazing power of connection and camaraderie, and I’m feelin’ it. If you’d like more frequent updates on my weight loss adventure, follow me on Instagram @DoubleChinDiary.
Any questions? Have at it!
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