At 46 years old, I cannot even begin to tell you how many diets I have tried: The Cabbage diet, the Green bean soup diet, the Grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, Body by Vi, and so many more. Sure, I would lose a few pounds and I would be all excited about it and then I would watch in horror as the scale eventually climbed upward. It was always a yoyo experience of ups and downs and ups again. I hated it. No, I despised it.
Many years ago, when my kids were babies and my weight was bouncing, I wore t-shirts and leggings, a lot. Not only were they comfy, but they forgave my ever expanding self and just went with the flow. It was easy to not care about my weight when my pants weren’t getting tighter.
Through high school I was a big girl. I remember in 9th grade, I weighed 125 pounds. Now, at 5′ 8″ tall, that is pretty slender, but I was still big boned. We had just been weighed in gym class and one of the popular girls asked me what I weighed. Even then I could not see a slender and beautiful girl in the mirror. I saw a fatty. I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want others to know. Finally she talked me into it (God I am weak sometimes as I try to always see the good in others and believe what they tell me). She promised it was just between us, and I gave in and told her. To my horror, she turned and walked back toward her skinny and popular friends and yelled across the gym, “She weighs 125 pounds. What a fatty.” I was mortified and devastated.
By the time I graduated high school in 1987 I was 198 pounds and did not even have a clue that I might be pretty, and while not skinny, I was a thick girl with hourglass curves, beautiful blonde hair and piercing blue eyes.
I married my first husband and we had our son. I started out pre-pregnancy at 200 pounds and only went up to 226 and then back down to 205. I never could get those last five pounds off. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and I ballooned up to 285. After I had her I struggled to get the weight off. I got down to 240 and that became my new normal.
I divorced, I remarried. I went on the Atkins diet and lost about 20 pounds and then my gallbladder became full of gallstones and I had that removed. Before I knew it, the weight skyrocketed upward, 240, 260, 280, 300, to my highest weight of 316 pounds on about April 15th, 2016.
My husband and I had been considering weight loss surgery for about four years and I had looked into it and our insurance would cover it, and then the insurance changed and they wouldn’t cover it, so I left that dream of weight loss surgery behind. In 2015 we started talking seriously about it again and we went to some appointments and classes and learned more about it and we talked about the cost and decided to go for it. A lot of money later we jump to April 15th, 2016 and I began my Phase 1 diet which was a protein and a fiber food at every meal and then a yogurt in the evening and two glasses of milk. I had to cut out all starches including beans, corn, peas, and all that white stuff like bread, potatoes, and rice. That wasn’t so bad. I was surprised that I wasn’t actually hungry. Then came the ten days on a liquid diet. Do you have any idea how protein shakes taste by the end of those ten days? I started despising the flavor, but I drank them anyway. Fortunately the liquid diet allowed a half cup of salad mid-day and a yogurt in the evening so I looked forward to those moments in the day.
Then came the surgery date, May 9th, 2016. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. I woke up at 4 am, got dressed and took pre-op pics and was off and running to the hospital. Surgery went well. They fixed a hiatal hernia while they were in there and when I came out of surgery I was wheeled into my room (I don’t actually remember that part) and my hubby and my daughter were there with me.
I had a rough two days. While the surgery went well, I was doing a lot of dry heaving that evening and the next day. This was causing my heart rate to drop to 39 which they were watching closely. I found out I was allergic to Zofran so they gave me something else, but that one made me sleepy. I was supposed to be up and walking around the “loop” and there was just no way. I recall being in pain, feeling awful, just wanting to sleep, and wanting the blinds closed and no noise. My nurse, Jessica, was amazing. She really took care of me and was very proactive with everything. I appreciated that greatly.
Day 3 was a mix of good and bad. I felt horrible in the morning and started feeling better in the afternoon, but I was on anti-nausea meds all day so when they wanted me to go home I was worried that I would get off the meds and be heading home and have to come right back. They had me stay one more night and what a difference it made. By noon or 1 pm, I was itching to get out of there and go home.
It took a few days for the gas pains to subside (They fill you with gas when doing the surgery and it is very painful until it all dissipates). By day six I was up and around, though slow, and then there were things that had to get done, so I just worked through the pain that remained.
Fast forward about a month out and I was having some vision issues and everything was getting blurry in both eyes. I called my regular doctor and made an appointment with him as well as the eye doctor. I asked my doctor to do a full heart check up because of the heart rate dropping to 39 at least three times while dry heaving in the hospital. He did an ekg immediately and later that day they called me and said that my heart rate was at 49 and they wanted to get an echocardiogram and a Holter Monitor scheduled. I did the echocardiogram and that came back fine and then on Thursday, June 16th, 2016 I was hooked up to the Holter Monitor. They place sticky pads on your chest and they hook wires to it that go to a monitor that you clip on your waistline. I wore it for 24 hours and during that time I had an episode where I felt like I was going to pass out. I had been eating cheese and deli chicken and it felt like the food got stuck and I became lightheaded and weak. I was sitting in my truck in a parking lot and for about a half hour I had the worst feeling. I didn’t move until I felt really normal again and then I called my hubby and one of his co-workers who had the surgery four years ago. They were very concerned, but both felt that what I had experienced was “Dumping syndrome” which happens if you have weight loss surgery and you eat sugary foods. Who knows what was in the coating on the chicken. Either way, it was very scary. I stopped at one more store and was there for quite some time just waiting to make sure I was fine.
Around 8 am the next morning I brought the Holter Monitor back. They told me it would be a few days and they would check it and then let my doctor know the results and in about 5 days or so I would either hear from my doctor or get a letter in the mail with the results.
Ha! Nope! Two hours later I got a call from the cardiologist who read my Holter Monitor. He introduced himself, explained that he had seen some issues where my heart had paused a few times and that he would like for me to gather a bag from home and come on down to the hospital and be admitted for observation. He sounded like it was no big deal. He said that I should plan on three to four days, but I would probably go home in two. I was on my way home with groceries, so I went home, put them away, gathered a bag and headed back to the hospital which is only a couple of miles from my house.
I was about a half mile from the hospital when the doctor’s office called me and asked if I had gotten the message to come to the hospital admission area, and I said that I had and that I was on my way. They asked if I had a driver and freaked out when I said I was driving myself. That was the first moment when I realized that something might actually be really wrong. I let them know how close I was and that I would be careful. Then I hung up and two minutes later I pulled up to the hospital.
I had more episodes while I was in the hospital. Food would get stuck and my heart rate would drop. It was so predictable. My husband would watch as I would grimace with pain and sure enough down would go the heart rate number on the monitor they had on me.
I was in the hospital from June 17th to June 19th. The cardiologist let me know that we were probably looking at me getting a pacemaker to make sure that the heart rate did not drop out like it had been doing. When I had the episode in the truck he told me that my heart paused for two to three seconds a bunch of times and at least one time for five seconds, probably at that moment when I thought I was going to pass out. We also spoke about a possible stricture in either the esophagus or the newly formed pouch and he suggested that I see my weight loss doctor to get that fixed and we would talk after that.
I saw my weight loss surgeon the next Wednesday (June 22nd), the GI doctor on Thursday the 23rd, and on Friday the 25th I was back at the hospital getting an upper enteroscopy done. Basically that is where they put a scope down my throat and look to see if anything has closed up where it shouldn’t. They were looking for possible strictures in the esophagus, the pouch, and down where the pouch and the stomach meet after the small intestines. Sure enough, there was a stricture and they fixed it.
The following Sunday I was extremely weak and dizzy and thought I was going to pass out. The cardiologist had asked me to call him if this happened after the stricture was fixed so, on Monday morning I gave him a call and I was told that I would get a pacemaker two days later.
I came back to the hospital and upon weigh in I was down to 269 pounds (June 29, 2016, Day 56 post-op weight loss surgery). I got the pacemaker put in and I was impressed by how clean cut the incision looked. I went home the next day and I felt great. By the following day I was already walking downtown and feeling fabulous.
Of course fabulous cannot last and I started experiencing these odd pains that spread across just the top of my chest and my shoulders and back, but my arms felt oddly heavy or numb or something. I don’t know how to explain it.
I called the doctor’s office and they had me call the pacemaker clinic. When they heard my symptoms, they immediately told me to go to the ER. Ugh, here we go again. This time I did not drive myself. A friend was at my house and I asked if she could drop me off which she did.
Now, let me tell you about walking into the ER with any form of chest pain! Holy schmoly, I didn’t even finish with check in and they were walking me over to the ekg area. Then I was wheeled to the back where they did a chest xray, blood work, and wheeled me off to do a Cat Scan all within the first hour of being there.
They admitted me for observation. They had been worried about a blood clot as well as pneumonia, and fluid in the chest cavity. I was sent to the third floor and they continued to poke, prod, and observe. The blood work came back fine all three times they tested for some enzyme that is only made in the heart when there is a heart attack. The chest xray showed no fluid in the lungs or chest cavity. The Cat Scan showed no blood clots. They thought I had Pleurisy the first day which is an inflammation in the Pleura-something-or-other. I think it is the lining of the heart or lungs. They did a chemical stress test and that came back fine too. Ultimately they decided that I did not have Pleurisy, and they said that I had Costochondritis which is inflammation in the upper chest that is noted specifically when breathing in deep breaths. They gave me a gout medicine (Colchicine) which normally helps with this as well and sent me on my way home.
As I write this part, it is July 18th, 2016 and I am mostly feeling okay, but I had to use muscle relaxers this weekend to get the muscles in my shoulders to relax a bit.
I do feel like I am getting another stricture however and I am set to go see the gastroenterologist this week to discuss possibly doing another enteroscopy. Pills get stuck and the other day it felt like even water was having a hard time going down. They told me that the stricture thing may happen a few times so I was prepared for that.
I went back to my eye doctor again as I am having some fuzzy vision issues. My eyes are fine, but the fuzzy vision comes from something going on in the brain, so now I have to find a neurologist, or hopefully an ophthalmic neurologist that can help explain why I have blurry vision in both eyes.
So, my life is a bit busy with doctor appointments, but I have been blessed with doctors that care and that are actually attempting to figure out what is happening as I go through this journey.
Went back to the doctor for followups, checkups, new stuff, etc. Three appointments today and then stopped by to see another of the nurses just to say hello.
First appointment was with the Gastroenterologist and they have scheduled me for another procedure on Friday. It seems that I have another stricture. The procedure is not until 3 pm and I cannot eat or drink anything past midnight on Thursday night. Yipes. That will not be fun. I was told before the last procedure that it might happen again, and usually does. Some people have it come back even more times so we will just take it as it comes.
They spoke about doing a stent if it did not work, but my Weight Loss surgeon does not want me to have a stent. I have been told they are awful. It is like having a six inch long pipe shoved down your throat and it is not a pretty thing with vomiting afterwards being a typical thing. OK, so no stent! 🙂
The weight loss surgeon appointment went great. I now weight 260 officially, so I have lost a total of 56 pounds since April 15th, 2016, and 35 pounds post surgery. We spoke about my pacemaker and my strictures, etc. Overall, I seem very healthy and happy and that is a good thing.
Next I saw the physical therapist there and my numbers are looking better than before. My BMI has gone down from over 45 to under 40 now. Since I have the pacemaker I could not go on the machine that does bioelectrical feedback which tells you how much fat versus muscle that I have lost, but we also did a breathing thing which shows that my metabolism has risen which is good.
Next I went over to say hello to one of the nurses and in talking to her I found out that I have to stop the medicine that I was given during my last hospital stay in Lakeland, because it can cause bleeding in the pouch. From now on, all new meds will be run by her! 🙂 I can’t have NSAIDS, and they told me it wasn’t one of those, but I guess there are other things to look out for as well. This is all such a learning experience.
So that is my news for the day. I hope everyone is having a fantabulous day.
To be continued…