Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gastric Sleeve 5 months Post Op

Well Hello again!

Here we are, almost right at 5 months after my surgery. As a reminder, before the pre-op diet I weighed in at 400 lbs. I weighed in this morning at 283 lbs. The weight loss has slowed up quite a bit, but, I haven't been exercising as often as I should.

I'm from 52x30 pants to 42x30. 5xl shirt to 2-3xl.

Loose skin is becoming apparent at this point, and it's starting to bother me a little bit. It's mostly my upper arms, thighs, and pelvic region. It's not enough to cause any discomfort, but it is definitely affecting how my clothes fit. I am working on getting some measurements so I can get some compression garments for my mid region. I'm not so sure about compression boxer briefs. I don't really see those being comfy.

Let's talk about food for those of you looking into this surgery, or you're reading out of curiosity.

Food is still a problem for me. The issue is that I still really love food. I have gotten way better about knowing when to stop ahead of time. However, just like before I had the surgery, it still requires the will and ability to just say "OK, that's enough." and put it down. If you are at home, pack it up and put it in the fridge. If you don't, you will find yourself grazing. TRUST ME ON THIS!

The BEST piece of advice I can possibly give you is to watch your portions. Measure it and only give yourself that much food. Eat it, and wait 10 minutes. If you are still hungry, consider having more. I have a TERRIBLE habit of saying "I'll make X amount, and snack on it throughout the night if it's too much"

I do this knowing damn well that it's too much, and I sit and graze and feel like an asshat for doing it.

Also Pork Rinds and Popcorn. They are your friends. They chew down to nothing, and they are very satisfying for when you feel hungry. Keep in mind that BEFORE you snack you need to drink! When I get hungry, I will make myself drink 16 oz of water first. Then, if I'm hungry I'll look for something to eat.

I'm to the point that I don't miss sodas at all. They aren't worth the pain and discomfort. AT ALL. I have gotten to the point that I simply won't drink them. Not even a sip. I drink water, tea, and 5-hour energy. 5 hour energy is very lightly carbonated, but it's small and causes no discomfort. It also doesn't bother my stomach like coffee does.

I haven't suffered from gout since the week after surgery. Allopurinol is your best friend if you are a gout sufferer. Please take my advice, and start taking this as soon BEFORE the surgery as you possibly can. It takes 3-6 weeks to fully benefit you.

Things are going pretty well for me other than that.

I do plan on giving you guys another blog post about a very interesting experience with passing a kidney stone that I had last month. That's content for another less serious post though.

Please please please, if you are considering this surgery and have any questions, send them to my facebook page, or post in the comments. All comments here are moderated, so if you want to send me your email address, I will make sure not to publish it, and I will contact you personally.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 3, 2014

RJ's Fright Night!

Many of my readers know that I suffer from debilitating social anxiety. So the idea that I could host a party was far from my mind.

I was looking for a Halloween party to attend this year when a friend of mine off offhandedly mentioned "Throw one yourself, and I'll come." We both kind of laughed it off as a joke, but a few days later I realized that if I wanted to do something for Halloween I would have to consider throwing my own party.

This is the first time in probably 4-5 years that I was dressing up for Halloween. Losing the weight meant that I had more costume options. My friend suggested that I throw my own party and she would help decorate and co-host the party for me. The next thing I knew...I had a FB event started, and I was planning a party. The amount of anxiety I had over throwing the party was insurmountable. The number of things that were bouncing around in my head that I needed for the party were driving me insane.

First of all, I had no clue what I was doing, how many people to expect, what sort of things would be entertaining to guests. In short I was over thinking it. Time rolled on, and I had like 6 people RSVP, and I was starting to get pretty upset. Living life as a hermit over the last 3 years meant that I lost a lot of friends. So, I was worried that I would only have a couple people show up. Like, my friend and sisters.

Saturday rolled around...

I made about 8 gallons of PGA Punch, bought some hot dogs and marshmallows, built a fire, and before I knew it, the party was going.

I had about 15-17 people show up, which I thought was perfect. We circled around the bonfire in lawn chairs and just talked. I saw my cousin that I hadn't seen in years. Both my sisters came. A close friend/coworker and his girlfriend. My chiropractor and her husband, and even an ex girlfriend and her new better half.

We all laughed, and enjoyed some good music. Overall, I am thrilled that I decided to do it. I hope to have more parties in the future. If I have more of these, and show up to more parties, maybe in the future I can have bigger and better parties. Here are some pictures from the party that you guys might enjoy.

I hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Me and my cousin, Brett

Me and my friend

This is Jennifer and her Roommate Britney (Batman and Robin)

Tracy (Girlfriend of a coworker) as a not so scary vampire

Jennifer, Tiffany (my sister), and Britney

Jen and Tiffany

My two sisters. Brittney and Tiffany

The party was great, and I can't wait to do another one!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bungling Belt holes, Batman!!!

In a desperate attempt at being frugal I have taken to stabbing new holes in my belt. My logic behind this is that, as soon as I buy a new belt, I'll be doing it all over again.

I started at a 52" waist. I spent $150 on new work pants a month ago, and now they are falling off. I just ordered new pants with a 40" waist. That's no longer in Big & Tall territory.

So why, for love of fuzzy puppies is my gut still so huge!? I feel like it's in a state of gelatinous limbo.

I weigh less now than I have in 8 years, but I don't feel like it. Obviously, the clothes are shrinking, but when I look in the mirror, I still see a 400lb guy. It's kind of disheartening, but I'm convinced that it's just in my head. I'm down to 302 lbs

I've been "Spinning" 5 miles 3 days a week. Well, I was. I stopped for no apparent reason now that I think about it. I will start back up tonight. Oh yea, I remember why now. Destiny. The soul sucking console game that literally eats time when you play it. I go home and tell myself that I'll play after I exercise and eat. Then I look at my watch and it's midnight. I haven't eaten or exercised, and it's instant guilt. I need someone to do me like when I was a kid. Hide the Xbox Remote until my exercise and dinner is done. Then I can play games. It's a tragedy that a 31 yr old has so little discipline. I blame being a bachelor for 3 years for my bad habits. (Mainly because it's convenient)

Seriously though. I'll start back tonight.

I'm LOVING this weather. It had me out in the yard cleaning it up all day Saturday. My grandmother actually lent me her front end loader, and I *might* have had a little too much fun on it. Total destruction was at my fingertips, but I controlled it well enough to just get my yard cleaned up. No property was damaged, although I had a close call with my fence.

I still need to take down that swing set in the background. That's Tetanus waiting to happen.

I'm trying to do the diet thing, but even when I do fall off the wagon, I can't eat enough to make a huge difference, but it's a lifestyle thing. I need to get rid of those bad habits. Eventually my stomach will grow a little bit, and I need to use that real estate responsibly.

Believe it or not, the weekend before that, I braved the weekend crowd and took the kids to the park. We actually had a great time. It was a little warm, but it was nice. Something to do besides hide in my house all day. I have definitely seen a difference in myself when it comes to doing stuff. By stuff I mean anything besides sitting on my couch when I'm not working. After I get out and do these things, I feel so much more accomplished, and definitely have higher spirits. Staying in takes it's toll on your emotional health.

Update you soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gastric Sleeve 3 month Post op

Everything is still going well for me! I have started walking and spinning 20-30 min per day.

I abandoned the keto diet. I just felt too guilty shoving high fat foods in my mouth. I'm just managing the calories that I put into my body, and keeping them in the 800-1000 range. I am still losing at a steady rate. I am down about 93 lbs total (that includes the pre-op diet)

I am continuing to see a change in my face, but I don't see it in my midsection. It's strange, because I'm losing shirt sized, and people are commenting on it, but I just don't see it. Every now and then I will walk past a mirror and my face will actually surprise me. I think what I see is different than what others see. I decided on a whim this morning to yank down a shirt that I got for christmas like 2 years ago (that didn't fit when i got it), and threw it on, and it was actually a little loose. I guess I have looked like an idiot walking around in shirts that were 2 sized to big. The point I'm trying to get across is DON'T DEPEND ON YOURSELF TO BE YOUR OWN JUDGE of how much weight you have lost. It's bad news!

I have begun to regain my confidence, and I have noticed myself being more social.

I dropped to a 46 in waist last month, and I think I should be in a 42 already, but I'm not spending another $100 on work slacks until I have to. I have noticed a saving on my groceries as well, and I have seen an increase in waste which is bothersome. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of managing my portions on my plate.

My hard lumpy wounds have turned a gross looking purple and soft. The scars are definitely noticeable. I am seeing some loose skin on my arms and sides. not so much in the legs and neck yet.

I don't know that I have experienced any "negative" personality changes. One thing I have noticed is I have been looking back on the past few years and seeing a lot of regret. I feel like I felt miserable and was taking it out on people that didn't deserve it. I used my depression, and misery as an excuse to be selfish. It's a shame, because admittedly I have burned some bridges and left some tears in the wake of RJ's self pity tour.

If you are in the process of considering this surgery, or you are just a reader that is struggling with weight, don't let it define you. Get out and do things. Think of other people, because I promise, you have it better than you think you do. Don't take the people that love you for granted.

Here is a face shot from last month compared to this month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gastric Sleeve - 2 Months Post Op

What an interesting journey this has been. Ups, downs, cramps, headaches, and stalls.

Here I am, 2 months post op. I weighed in at 325 this morning. That's 75 lbs for those who don't want to do the math. Omeprazole is a necessity. The heartburn can get unbearable at times if I miss my pill.

I got to 335, and was stuck there for almost 3 weeks. It was quite frustrating. I think there are two factors. I wasn't drinking enough water, and I was grazing. I was mistaking my thirst for hunger. Those little snacks add up. It's very important to mentally track what you put in your body, instead of mindlessly eating a mouthful here and there.

I can tolerate milk, but cheese tends to hit me hard. It's nothing terrible, but I get some cramping.

Because of the stall, and the fact, I can eat (almost) a normal diet again, I decided to go back to the Keto Diet. Since doing that, I have dropped about 10 lbs in a week. My snacks (when I do snack) is a few dry roasted peanuts. I am trying to stay away from high fat content meats even though Keto allows it, just because I feel guilty if I know I'm putting a large amount of fat into my body. I mainly just eat protiens. A Lot of eggs, chicken, fish. I'm drinking 64 oz of water a day, but it is a STRUGGLE. It's a matter of constantly being aware that I need to drink water, even when I don't want to. I have a 32 oz water bottle on my desk at work, and I try to have it down the hatch before it's time to go home. That means constantly sipping on the water. See it, sip it...all day. There is one problem. Coffee. I have ONE cup of coffee per day. I have read mixed studies on this. It is definitely a diuretic, which means I have to drink some extra water. I honestly function like a zombie without it though. It also curbs my appetite through lunch.

I have dropped from a 52 in waist to a 46 in waist. I feel lighter on my feet, and I can tell a difference when tackling stairs. However, I am struggling with motivation. I have not been exercising like I should be. The fact is I hate to walk. I have an exercise bike that I will pick up this week and begin to get my exercise in. It's a must, or this won't work like it's meant to.

Things have been hectic. Xander moved to Paragould, which means a little less time with him. I was kind of bummed out by it, but he seems happy, so I can't complain. It's about a 25-30 min to see him, so it will really only affect our weeknight visits.

I am very happy that I finally was able to get this surgery. However, for those of you considering it, that just generally like food. It is going to be a struggle for you. Prepare yourself ahead of time. You will need to break off the relationship you have with yummy high fat foods. Especially when you like to eat it in excess for the sake of the food being delicious. If you eat too much after the surgery, you will regret it. I can promise you that.

Just eat 3-5 small meals a day, but be AWARE of your meals. Don't eat high fat/calorie foods for your meals. You need protein, and calories, but use them wisely. Cheeses, fruits, etc. Don't even THINK about drinking carbonation. I tried A SMALL SIP of diet mountain dew. I was in pain for like 30 minutes. Just DON'T.

I guess you probably want some before and after pics? They are the best way to show you!

This journey is JUST beginning. I cant wait to see where it takes me.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My gastric sleeve experience.

Well, the surgery is over and done with. I decided to tell everyone my experience before, during, and after the surgery. All the gritty details that I can muster.

During the weeks leading up to surgery I was very nervous. I knew people that had this done and they all assured me it was easy, but I didn't want to bomb them with questions every time one popped into my head. So this will be a good entry for those of you that are considering the surgery.

Before I get started, please remember that everyone is different! My experience may be different from yours.

First of all, if you are scared, stop it. They aren't kidding when they say it's not painful. Now that I got that out of the way, let's get started.

For 1-3 weeks leading up the surgery, the surgeon will put you on a diet. Every surgeon has a different diet. Some do all liquids, some do a super low calorie diet with shakes, protein bars, and 1 pre packaged "meal" per day, and rarely, the surgeon may not put you on one at all. This is literally the most miserable part of the entire surgery. I'm serious! It is very important that you follow the diet and don't cheat. The diet helps to shrink your liver and makes the surgery easier. Some surgeons will actually cancel the surgery if you don't stick to the diet! You will only be miserable for about 4 days. Then the diet gets easier.

A couple of weeks before the surgery, they will do a host of tests. Bloodwork, EKG, Endoscopy, Chest X-ray, ETC. If anything comes back as "not ok", then the surgery may be postponed so the other items can be treated. For instance, they found 5 ulcers and H. Pylori in my stomach during the endoscopy. Luckily they didn't postpone the surgery. He just gave me a prevpac, and told me to take them. If you have an abnormal EKG, they will make you see a cardiologist to get a release that you're safe for surgery.

Then, typically a few days before your surgery they will do one more blood test to check your blood type. That's it!

So, I rolled into the hospital at 5:30 AM on 6/23/2014. My mom brought me. I went into a room and changed into a gown, and laid there for about 30 minutes before a nurse came in and started my IV and put an anti nausea patch behind my ear. About 30 minutes later, they wheeled me back to some type of triage. My parents were still able to hang out. The anesthesiologist came in and explained to me what type of meds I'd have and asked a few questions. A few minutes later the Dr. came by and said hi, and checked my chart. Then about 15 agonizingly anxiety filled minutes later, the nurse came and wheeled me into a freezing cold OR. Seriously, it must have been 55 degrees. They moved me onto the OR table and strapped my arms and ankles down. My arms were stretched WAY out to my side. The anesthesiologist told me I was going night night. He put the oxygen mask on me, and I suddenly felt not nervous, and then went to sleep.

I came to, and I couldn't breathe. The anesthesiologist was telling me he needed me to breathe, and I suddenly realized that I still had a tube down my throat. I was trying to gasp for air, but I was panicky, and suddenly, I vomited. He sucked it out with a little wand and pulled the tube out of my throat. I still don't understand what happened there, but it was pretty terrifying.

From there, they wheeled me to recovery, which I have ZERO recollection of. From there, I was in my room. I awoke and saw my entire family in the room with me. At this point, the ONLY pain I felt was a sore throat, and an INSANELY dry mouth. I remember the next hour or so in bits and pieces. I was really stoned. When I finally came to, the nurse was giving me 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice. That's it! I could have 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice per hour, and it felt like the Sahara desert in my mouth, and all I could have was crushed ice!

It was shortly after this, that I realized I had a catheter in, and I also had a small amount of pain in my side. When I looked, I saw a drain hose sticking out my tummy that led to a bulb. This drain would be the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE for the next 10 days.

I had a pain pump on the side of my bed that only made me sleepy. I had a small amount of pain from the drainsite, but mostly it was my intense thirst that was bothering me. The nurse came around about bedtime, and checked on me. I explained that I wanted my CPAP, and she said I couldn't have one. This was my first surprise. I asked to see the Dr. He came in and told me NO CPAP for 6 weeks. I was instantly pissed, because I need it to sleep, and I wasn't expecting to not be able to use it. Apparently, it promotes the swallowing of air, therefore, had the chance of ripping my stitches.

They kept coming in to do my vitals and complaining of my oxygen saturation. NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Because I can't breathe without my CPAP. They finally put me on oxygen, and sat me up to sleep. I stayed in the hospital for two nights.

Gas pains came to me on the second day. Not the type of gas pains you think. You see, they inflate your abdomen with air for this surgery. Some of this air gets trapped in your body cavity and causes a lot of pain. Mainly when you breathe in. It was manageable pain though. Kind of like when you are out of breath and you have a catch in your side when you breathe in. That's what it felt like. These can last up to a couple weeks. Mine lasted about 5 days.

When I got home, they brought oxygen supplies to my house, since I couldn't have a CPAP. Here is where things get reallllly crappy.

Fun Fact. IF you have gout, as I do, you will have a flare up. I promise. It's common for post op patients, and I promise, it will be INTENSE. After 2 days at home, my gout flared up in BOTH ANKLES at once. I was absolutely completely immobilized. Here's the worst part. They can't treat it. No anti-inflammatories as they eat your stomach lining, no pills yet, No steroids because they prolong the healing period of the surgery. Nothing except for pain meds. For anyone who doesn't know how painful gout is, a female podiatrist said that it is more painful than when she went into labor. So, don't dismiss me. Gout is no laughing matter.

I felt NO pain other than gout pain for the next week. I couldn't even feel my surgery wounds. So, I'm sure it would have been easy without that issue.

Now let's talk about this drain. It sucks. Not because it hurts. It honestly doesn't. Until you are laying on it and try to roll over, or get up and forget it's attached and let it fall to the end of your hose and yank on the suture. Showers sucked too, you have to hold it in your hand or pocket constantly for a week or more depending on your surgeon.

I finally got the release to take colchicine and percocet for my gout. It is still flared up at this moment, and has made my recovery lengthy because I am unable to walk. It's important to be able to walk after surgery to relieve gas pain and promote drainage. I finally got release on Wednesday to work from home next week, but I am still not even released to drive yet. They don't know it, but I was working from home last week as well. Daddy has to pay the bills.

In 10 days, i have lost 35 lbs. That's right. 35 freaking lbs! I weighed in at 349 yesterday.

I'm not that hungry, I feel good (except the gout). The most important thing I can tell you is to SIP WATER. Constantly. Sip all day to stay hydrated. You will be miserable otherwise.

If you guys have questions, post them here. I'll be blogging my progress as it happens!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Truly Scary Part of Bariatric Surgery

Since I announced the surgery, I have had a lot of people ask me if I'm nervous or excited about the surgery. Obviously, it's a mixture of emotions. While the surgery is a large commitment, I am not really nervous about the procedure itself. Dr. Jones does more of these surgeries than I care to think about, and at this point I'm sure he could perform it with his eyes closed (although, I'm not volunteering for that). The hospital where I am getting the procedure is brand new, and high tech. I don't expect any problems.

However, I am scared of what comes after the surgery. I know what to expect in terms of my body and my health. I know what I need to do to ensure a successful surgery and recovery. What is NOT predictable is how the surgery will change me as a person. What do I mean when I say that? Well, I have known several people that have had bariatric surgery done, and it completely changed them. It transformed them into self entitled monsters. Granted, it doesn't affect everyone this way. I haven't noticed any changes in my family member that has had it done. However, out of the 5 people I know that got it done, only 2 of them have remained similar to their old selves.

Let me tell you story of my (former) best friend. He had a Gastric Bypass done. Before the bypass he was truly my brother. I spent every waking moment of my life with him from age 16 until he moved away to Houston. Amanda and I went and visited him about a year or so after his surgery, and he looked fantastic! My initial thought was how confident he was. I could tell he was happy in his skin. The longer I spent there, the quicker I realized that it wasn't only his confidence. He seemed a little different. He spoke of his friends there in Houston, and they were not the type of people we would normally hang out with. These people weren't good people. They dabbled in things and activities that he would NEVER have participated in before. He explained that he had "come out of his shell". He had the confidence now to meet new people and get out of the house. I dismissed it, because after all, he had always been overweight, and maybe it was time for him to sow his wild oats.

Fast forward to about 5 years in the future. I got a phone call one day from him. He was back in town, and wanted to visit. So, without hesitation I invited him over. We had some drinks, and I offered to let him crash at my place.

To cut a long story short, and because it's a little painful to talk about, it ends like this.

He hacked into my PC, he stole my credit card numbers, and he talked ALL night about people that were out to get him. Like some type of weird paranoid tweaker. He said filthy things about my ex wife, and was incredibly vain. Insisting I feel his arms because he was "ripped", and this went on all night.

I later learned that this surgery can change you. It can transform you into a different person. With confidence comes great risks. Especially if you have lived as a fat guy for most of your life. You get attention that you normally would not get. This can result in pretty nasty personality changes.

I am FAR from perfect. I have some issues with being selfish, and I can be a bit of a cynical asshole. However, I pride myself on my manners, and try to have respect for others. I like me. I like my personality. Moreso before I started suffering with depression. However, I remember how I use to be, and I want to be that way again. I am terrified to let this surgery change me into someone that my friends don't like to be around.

I tell myself that the fact that I even acknowledge that this could be an issue may be a good sign. Being aware of my actions and behavior is the first step of  preventing negative personality changes.

I learned from my psych eval, that as much as I would like to avoid it, Anti-depressants are going to be in my near future. With my past struggle with depression and anxiety, I simply can't afford to take any unnecessary risks.