It’s been a hot minute since I posted here but it felt like time to do a long-overdue update. I’ll provide the Cliffs Notes version (remember those?).
My sleeve worked until it didn’t. I was successful in losing over 200 pounds from my heaviest adult weight but unsuccessful in keeping it off.
A battle with depression and her pal anxiety helped me put back on 100 pounds. This was compounded by dealing with my mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer.
After being Mom’s caretaker for almost 2 years and living with the stress that comes with assuming that role, my health was worse than it was pre-sleeve. After she passed in the spring of 2019, I decided it was long past time to regain control of my health and began losing weight again using an old tool–Weight Watchers.
I was pretty successful and lost 80 pounds but couldn’t get past a certain point and maintained that through most of the early days of the pandemic. The regain came slowly over the following year.
In the spring of 2022 after learning I would need double knee replacement surgery to fix my shot knees, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and go forward with duodenal switch surgery. This would require a change in insurance plans as my insurance policy at the time did not have bariatric surgery coverage AT ALL.
I had my first appointment with my surgeon that April. The surgeon I used actually worked in the office of the surgeon who did my sleeve surgery back in 2013 and was performing DS procedures then, but at the time I did not feel ready to make the commitment required and I felt that a sleeve alone would be a tool I could manage. Little did I know how wrong I was!
I was originally scheduled to have surgery in December, but because my insurance company dragged its feet on the pre-authorization, it was delayed two months. This was infuriating for multiple reasons: I’d just done an excruciating pre-op diet (all liquids + protein shakes), and had plenty of time off from work at the time. Delaying my surgery forced me to take FMLA which I did not want to do but alas…
After jumping through all the hoops my insurance made me jump through, I had my DS procedure done last Thursday. I went home Friday afternoon and am recovering well. I feel like I’m tolerating this recovery better than I did when I had my sleeve surgery done in 2013. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve done this before, because I knew what to expect, because of how I was medicated during and after surgery, or because I weighed 60 pounds less than I did when I had my sleeve done. Whatever combination of factors came together to make this recovery smoother I am grateful for because every day I have been able to drink more liquid and be more mobile.
I am hopeful that this tool will get me to where I want to be healthwise: free of my diabetes and better able to be more active. While I will never be a runner (according to my orthopedic surgeon), I do still want to be able to ride a bike (a trike, really; I never learned to ride a two-wheeler), swim, and walk long distances. Looking good is secondary at this point; I just want to FEEL good and be healthy so that I can live a long life. There is still so much I want to do in this life, and I want to be as healthy as I can so that I can enjoy whatever time I do have left.
I’ll try to update more than every 7 years, especially now that the journey has a different feel and path to health.
This post is going to be fairly brief, as things around these parts are crazy busy these days. But the crazy busy is in a good way. So I’ll do a quick drive-by update with bullet points, because it’s about all I have time for right now.
Gallbladder surgery went well. My recovery was smooth and uneventful. I did learn at my follow-up appointment that my gallbladder had stopped ejecting bile properly, and as a result, cholesterol and bile had accumulated on the inside walls of the sac. As my surgeon said, “It was definitely time for it to come out.” So it’s good that I had the surgery when I did.
I also learned that I no longer have a fatty liver. When I had my gallbladder removed, my surgeon did a liver biopsy, as the lab work I had done on my trip to the ER in June gave him cause to want to poke around there. The path report revealed that I no longer had evidence of fatty liver disease. This is huge, given that on the day of my sleeve surgery a little over 2 years ago, my liver had 60% fatty infiltration. My surgeon was thrilled to learn that my fatty liver had been resolved by my WLS.
Looks like I’ll be having more surgery this year. UGH. My right knee has decided it’s had enough of being patched together with a neoprene brace. I’m looking at getting it scoped over Christmas so that I can have 2 weeks off my feet, and more importantly, 2 weeks with someone around who can help me! And depending on what happens with my shoulder, there may be yet another surgery in the cards for me this year. My left shoulder has decided it’s had enough and can’t even. So I will be heading BACK to the ortho to find out what the hell is going on with my shoulder once I get back from being out of town this week.
Regain is real, y’all. So for those of you who are early on in the process of having WLS, or who have just had it, please don’t delude yourselves into thinking, “I’m going to lose this weight FOREVER!!!!” or say stuff like “That’s ______ pounds gone FOREVER!!!!” Or at the very least, don’t say those things without realizing that while yes, losing the weight as a result of surgical intervention is fast and seemingly easy, keeping it off is much, much more difficult. I’ll be real with y’all–I’ve gained back about 35 pounds this past year (scary, huh?). I know exactly why and how, and I’ve decided to go back to a devil I know to lose it. I’ll be starting Weight Watchers online next week in an attempt to get back down to the weight I was at this time last year. I felt good, I looked good, I slept better, and I moved around better. I need the structure that the WW program provides because clearly I can’t provide it for myself right now. Also? All I have ever tried to do in my life is lose weight. I’ve never known how to maintain it. Losing weight is something I am good at; maintenance is not. I’m scared I’ll never learn how to maintain a weight I can live with. So in the meantime, I’ll be back to weight loss mode so that I can at least have a shot at feeling good about how I look and feel again.
Well, that’s all I’ve got time for…work and meal prep are calling.
Slow and steady wins the race, right? This week I went veggie heavy and it seems to have paid off. So I’ll be doing that again this week too. I really like how I feel when I eat veggies, so this will be something that I continue to do.
It’s almost insulting that the very last photo of this yearlong series shows me posting a gain. But I have several things working against me this week: vacation eating and all its sodium; all the sitting done in the car yesterday in our vain attempt to make it to Gulf Shores (we did NOT); Ma Nature is due any day now, and my scale needs new batteries (it is weighing inconsistently–I weighed four different amounts in 4 different trips to the scale this morning). For all that I gained this week (which wasn’t much, all things considered), weight was the thing that was the least important.
This week’s progress is good, considering I was traveling the last three days of the week. I am away from home so this week’s series of photos is at my mother-in-law’s, which made it challenging to know where to stand and all that. So there’s no good comparison between this week’s photo and last week’s. The stubborn pound and some that I’ve been struggling to get off finally took its leave, and the scale has headed down again.
I am neither a medical professional nor am I a mental health professional. I am a bariatric surgery patient sharing what I have learned through my personal experience with the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). I am also a biology educator with a keen interest in obesity research. If you have medical questions or a medical emergency, please contact your doctor or other qualified health professional.