Jacqui (jacqui) wrote,

Three Weeks Post Weight Loss Surgery

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to respond or catch up, gals, (and a couple of guys?), thank you so much for your comments, I enjoy them so much and they mean the world to me.

I've just barely been holding my head up, literally. I have this pinched nerve in my neck and have been wearing one of those silly looking collars -- the kind that make you look like you're faking whiplash, but I don't think I'm going to wear it anymore since it's dangerous to drive with, and I totally wiped out at AHHHs, (A popular Halloween store where we get a lot of our stuff), when a mean little Demon Seed child stuck out his foot on purpose and tripped me, and I really banged myself up -- bloody bruised knees, landed on my incisions, not fun. I'm getting better though, even though Beau brought home a virus and now I'm sick as well, bleh.

I'm seeing a wonderful new chiropractor and am going to see a pain specialist this Friday, and a neurologist to get an MRI, to make my more Western doctor doctor's happy.

This cold and flu thing usually happens to us around this time of year every year, darn it -- cool thing about home schooling is we don't have to deal with the stress of all that missed school due to Beau's lack of sleep, seasonal allergies, and assorted illnesses.

The point being that I'm still feeling pretty crappy, am still recovering from surgery, and am losing weight really quickly so I'm weak. Then if you add a new and super weird and painful nerve condition to my neck arm and hand to all the rest of the stuff I have going on health-wise you can see why it's hard to balance my life life with my on-line life. But I do love all of your and think of you often. As usual, it's all I can do to try and check in from time to time and keep my story moving along here as best I can.

The best news is that after three weeks of occasional kissing and cuddling Scott and I were finally able to get it together to make love, (for a while there when we were going through that super rocky patch he preferred that I say, "Have Sex," but I'm really feeling the love right now so, making love feels right, plus he is much better balanced with regard to us and our relationship in general now), it is amazing to me how important this is and how someone who thinks she's relatively intelligent can semi-miss how totally vital sexual intimacy is. Anyway, we screwed, and it was great and I (Oh God one of my cats just did a sudden fast lap around the room and used my chest and part of my belly as a spring board -- You should have heard me shout, cats, what do they think we're made of, hay?), am feeling so tenderly towards him today, and missing him.

Scott just started a new job, which means I wasted an entire year where I could have gone over to his house, and spent as much time as I wanted with him, or to be fair, as much time as he could handle, because he needs a lot of time to withdraw and be by himself. And he overindulges in things that comfort him and alienate me. Nevertheless it's a big change and a serious adjustment for both of us. But I am so grateful that he has work again. I'm praying that he can make this transition from freedom to the working world as painlessly and comfortably as possible.

Nothing new to report on the Mom front other than that we have a lot of doctor's appointments lined up for next week. As long as she's feeling well I'm feeling well. Although she keeps telling me that she doesn't have much of an appetite and then she went an ate a huge lobster dinner, with a big salad and ice cream, and then felt sick to her stomach for hours afterwards. Which reminds me of the most moving documentary I saw on HBO last night about anorexia and eating disorders called, "Thin." It was heartbreaking.

I am so television dependent when I don't feel well, and once I develop a habit, it's a struggle for me to break it. I'm forcing myself to go downstairs and go outside, do a little work on our Halloween yard haunt every day, get some exercise, and do errands. But when you really don't feel well, and you're already a tad agoraphobic, the television can become a potent anesthetizing draw, unless of course you watch the news and sad documentaries.

I am loving Mo'Nique. She did a two part special where she visited a women's prison where she interviewed these poor women and then put on a show for them that was soooo moving. I cried. I feel so sorry for victims of theft and violence, especially because we've had a series of burglaries in our neighborhood, two on my own street in the last couple of weeks, and someone swiped a pretty decoration I bought on ETSY that I had put on my front gate, but I still feel very sorry for these women. When you really listen to their stories with an open heart you can understand how they got to the point where they made the choices they did.

Atra and I are speaking again, thank God. I missed her and her family and I was really feeling lonely and estranged. I just kind of forced her to take me back and now we seem to be okay again. While visiting her, seeing how hard things have been with her having to be the primary caregiver for her Mother who has been almost totally bedridden, I could understand why she felt hurt that I hadn't come around more often and offered more help. I felt and continue to feel guilty but I only have so much energy and have been going through so much myself.

These photos are from my first follow up, two weeks post surgery, with Dr. Liu and his staff.

Me Before Surgery

This is the first shot of myself in what is going to be a series of parking lot self portraits documenting my weight loss. You can tell when I'm stressed and feeling crappy by my hair. If my hair is pulled back and unwashed, which it often is, (But for me my hair needs to be washed every other day or it looks like this), and my bangs are messed up and brushed to the side, chances are pretty good that I didn't feel well enough to wash it and blow it dry.

Me Two Weeks Out

I thought it would be helpful for me to see how my face changes from week to week. I'm also taking full length body shots but I don't want to share them until I'm thinner because they're upsetting to look at, at this point. And I cheated because I edited the hell out of this one.

Stomach and Band Model

So this is what I now have inside of me, and I feel weird and guilty and then kind of relieved and resigned at the same time. This is a model of a typical stomach with the O-Band or Lap Band installed.

The band fits around a small portion of the stomach close to the top. There is a tube attached to this that allows saline solution to be injected through a resealing port that lies just beneath the skin. This filling inflates this band tightening the pressure and narrowing this area around the stomach. It creates a feeling of fullness as it takes time for the food that fills this smaller portion of the stomach to empty out into the larger remaining part.

My surgery was much more complicated in that I have already had weight loss surgery, so imagine that this model has already been split into two sections, a smaller section like the one you see enveloped by the band, and a totally separate stomach, each closed off at the incised end by a row of staples. A branch that forms a sort of Y shape is created from my intestines to allow both stomachs to continue to empty into my intestines. The larger stomach, that is no longer attached to my esophagus and no longer fills with food, is still necessary as it produces gastric juices that empty into the intestines.

Many patients who have had the first surgery that I had will experience a dramatic weight loss, one-hundred-and-fifty something pounds, I think, in my case, but after several years, if all that is keeping you from eating more is the restriction of having a smaller stomach, once that stomach stretches, you will naturally be able to accommodate more food. Also once a compulsive overeater always a compulsive overeater so subconsciously I found ways to eat around my surgery and regained about a fourth of the weight I lost, maybe a little more.

Dr. Liu just happens to be a fabulous, meticulous, steady and ingenious surgeon and was therefore able to add the lap band to my already operated on smaller stomach, and hopefully this will work as a further tool to aid me in losing the weight I've gained plus the rest of the weight I so badly need to lose.

O-Band Port

This is what the port that is now semi-permanently installed in my belly -- just beneath the skin, above and slightly to the right of my navel -- looks like. Do you honestly think that if I thought I could do this any other way I would go through all of this to lose and maintain weight loss?

Lap Band and Syringe For Fills

This is the syringe that is used to shoot the saline solution into the port. I'm looking at that wide needle thinking, "Oh my God, how many times am I going to have to do this, and will it be painful?" While simultaneously looking forward to my first fill because so far I've lost about twelve or more pounds and have hardly been eating anything by white knuckling it. The weird thing is that once you get past the first few days of living on protein shakes it becomes easier and easier to give up food, weird.

Dr Liu and Gedi

This is my wonderful surgeon and his irreplaceable assistant Geddion. This is the second time they've come to my aid in terms of medical weight loss intervention. They're also pretty nice normal guys too, super funny while at the same time being very professional and caring.

Okay, these next three shots I'm shy about sharing because I look so Fab, not, but I want you to see how cute Dr. Liu is when you do things to embarrass him. Actually I want you or anyone who is considering having surgery with him to see how loveable he is beneath the uber professional veneer.

Dr Liu and Me

Hee hee hee. I love Doctor Liu. First of all I obviously trust him with my life. But he's also a great guy. He's truly brilliant but he's also reserved and shy so you wouldn't know that he has a great sense of humour and is a terrific husband and father who adores his family if you didn't just haul off and cuddle up to the guy. Despite appearances this tends to bring out the best in him and he actually broke out his laptop and showed me dozens and dozens of pictures of his unbelievably beautiful, (And we're talking a ten plus on the scale of loveliness here), family. No barriers for me.

Dr. Liu and Me Two

Terrible shots of me, but hey, I wouldn't be undergoing another surgical procedure if I were thin and glammy looking, right? I don't know why I slouched over so badly when I took these pictures. Maybe I was feeling shy. (Funny how no one knows that about me, I'm so good at faking it, plus I was feeling soooo crappy that day, I'm also good at faking feeling well, it's sort of entrained in me -- maybe a vestigial Marymount thing -- be nice, be friendly, be considerate at all times, etc.), I think he was too. Afterwards he looked at the pictures on my digital camera and said, "Oh, I'm leaning away." I'm guessing he doesn't get snuggled too much by his patients.

Okay here comes the last and probably the most shocking and revealing shot of my body, a close up of the part of my belly where I've had all the work done so that anyone considering the surgery can see what it looks like. For size purposes -- wish I'd taped a quarter to myself -- the largest incision, where the port is, is only just a bit larger than an inch, maybe an inch and a half wide. I'm going to put it behind the cut in case you can't handle this, but honestly it's not that bad and I think you can.

The Map of My Belly

So here it is, a brave revealing glimpse of the belly of a woman who has had a child, gained and lost hundreds of pounds, and had weight loss surgery, twice. I couldn't bear to show you what my belly button and the lower part of my belly looks like so I shortened up the shot a bit. Maybe later I'll be braver. I am absolutely going to need a total abdominoplasty or panelectomy, which I dread because it is a very serious, painful, and super expensive surgery.

The one drawback to losing a lot of weight is that your body deflates like a balloon. I'm trying to think of a better analogy and can't come up with one right now, but basically, if your skin had to stretch to accommodate tremendous growth, when that weight goes away, the skin and the flesh beneath it, just hangs in folds. It's so upsetting and shocking to some patients that they purposely gain the weight back because they preferred the way they looked when they were fat.

Okay, that's it for today. I need to rest up this cold thing. Blech. Darn it, I had so many plans for today and all I feel like doing is lying in bed and having some warm soup and tea. Grrrrr, Beau's friend for giving this to him.

Next up are some shots of my day at the park with Scott including the geese who adopted us, and then on to Halloween.

Great Big Ever Appreciative Hugs,

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