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Monday, August 19, 2013

When you Know Better, you Do Better

I really wish I would have known how my weight loss surgery journey would have gone when I started this blog three years ago.

Oh hi!  Remember me?!?!  Yes, it's T in Texas and I'm bacckkk!  It's been about 7 months since I posted, but I'm here with a little bit to say. 

I'm sleeved.  YIPPY!!!  I was revised to a sleeve on 2/19/13. 6 months to the day!  After all the band-BS, I'm in a much better place than I was and I'm SOOOO happy that ordeal is behind me.

A little history-

Being in my 30s and a mother of two, when I resolved that this weight of mine was not going to solve itself, I opted for what was best at the time.  Correction, what I THOUGHT was best for me at the time.  The lapband.  I wasn't ready to have my innards re-routed ala gastric bypass, and I didn't like the thought of having more than half of my stomach removed ala sleeve either.  I was in denial that I needed a "permanent solution."  The truth was, I did.  At that point, when I was considering drastic measures to lose weight, I should not have lied to myself thinking I didn't need a permanent solution when I did.  If anyone is considering WLS, it's already to the point when it's time to put the BS aside and get serious.  This weight of mine was NOT temporary.  I had been heavy all my life.  ALL.MY.LIFE.  I had tried "conventional" methods.  It just wasn't happening for me.  And yet, I thought the Lapband life would be the way to go.  My thinking "I'll lose the weight, have it removed, MAYBE, and then never be obese again!!"  YA RIGHT!!!  If you are reading this thinking that is going to be your happily ever after, I'm sorry.  It's not. You're wrong.  VERY, VERY wrong.

Here is how it will go down.  You will have the band.  The procedure will go well and you'll be thinking this was the best decision ever. But then at first you will doubt yourself because you will have no restriction and you can still eat whatever.  WTF, will be your first thoughts.  Then once you start getting filled, you will have restriction and you will think it IS fabulous.  You will lose.  Don't get me wrong.  You will lose some weight.  Then more of a fill you will get, you will lose.  Then you will find that certain foods get stuck.  You will long for the days when you don't have to chew your food 50 bazillion times to get it down.  You will do that, and some foods will still get stuck.  You will slime.  You might vomit.  Vomitting is bad.  You can slip your band.  So, this procedure that you thought was awesome is starting to show you the negatives.  And that's just six months out.

At six months, you will start getting to your sweet spot.  Meaning, the band will be tightened just right where you are eating small meals and everything seems dandy.  You think you can handle a few more CCs in your band, so you request a little more restriction.  And then it happens.

You leave the office and you feel great.  Then a few days go by and you start having an issue swallowing water.  WATER?!?!  WTF you're thinking.  So you go back to the dreaded shakes and you feel better, so you start to eat foods.  You get stuck.  You start having reflux.  Heartburn.  BAD heartburn.    You need to sleep upright because lying down causes you to wake up choking on your stomach acids and you think to yourself that you can't handle this.  So you make an appt with your surgeon and you go in for an unfill.  

And then it starts.

The beginning of the end. 

More than likely they will let you go a month and you will get back to normal, but the scale will stall.  You might even gain with your new found "freedom."  You will mostly stay on track for a month and then you will go back to the doctor asking for another "slight" fill.  He obliges. 

Well, guess what?  It's not the same.  You don't feel as tight as you were.  You can eat more.  You're hungrier.  So you go back in for another fill.  You find you've gained a few lbs.

You're fine for another week, and then suddenly back comes the reflux.  The getting stuck. 

Rinse and repeat.  Back into the doctor you go, and they take out more. 

This might happen 3-4 times before he will do a barium swallow and find that you've prolapsed your band and stretched your esphogus.  GREAT!  WTH does that mean? 

It means your band needs to come out.  It's failing.  It's worn out.  No longer doing its job.  Could be 6mo.  Could be 3 years from now.  So they completely unfill it and for a week or two, you will still be cautious.  Then you will see that you can eat bread again.  BREAD?!?!  SWEET!  Rice???  OH YES!!  And then you will gain back 20-80lbs while you wait to have your band removed.

And then you're back at the beginning.  Facing one more, maybe two more surgeries.  And insurance?  What if your insurance changes.  What if you had one plan when you had the band, but another when you need it out?  What if they no longer cover the bariatric surgery?  What if you need to pay out of pocket to have this device removed?  This device that was your semi-perm solution to your permanent weight loss problem???  What if your BMI is now too low to be covered for surgery, but you're still obese...just not as obese as you were?? 

You're angry.  You're scared.  You're just beyond pissed.

If it sounds familiar, it's because it's my story.

I was wrong to think the band would solve my obesity.  It's a piece of plastic.  It's failing thousands of people a day.  Call any surgical center and ask how many Revision surgeries they do a day and I bet it blows the number of new lapbands out of the water.

My surgeon, a premier bariatric surgeon in my HUGE city of Texas, no longer offers the band as an option if you're self-pay...and rarely if your insurance covers it.  The failure rate is too high and you will need another surgery, maybe two before it is all said and done.  Going under once is bad enough, but three times?? 

And then there is where I am now.

I started my sleeve journey at 206lbs.  I'm now 6mo out, to the day, and I've only lost 20lbs.  Why?  I'm sure there are a number of reasons why, but the big one is I'm a revisionista.  I was told starting this way, I would only lose 4lbs a month, if I was lucky.  Why?  Because there is already damage to my stomach and the trauma of two surgeries has left my body scrounging for every pound.  I'm holding onto it.  The body is freaking out.  But am I happy??


I finally have my permanent solution that will basically make it phsyically impossible for me to get that obese again.  My only regret is not getting sleeved first.  I was scared, but now I know my fear was unfounded. 

I'm happy that I never have to:
  • Have anxiety about eating with friends/family for fear that I will need to spit-up in my napkin, or worse run to the restroom to slime up a piece of beef that I guess chewing 50bazillion times wasn't good enough to get down.
  • Stay away from the vegetables that I love because they're too fibrous.
  • Worry that I'm going to get reflux from drinking water too early in the morning.
  • Or too late at night.
  • Or any time at all.
  • Wake up choking on my stomach acid because my band is too tight and no amount of tums, or prilosec is going to cure it.
  • Make regular appts to have the band filled, or worse unfilled.
  • worry about having a foreign object in my body that has the potential to cause permanent scarring, or worse- erosion of the stomach.
I'm thrilled that I can:
  • Eat whatever I want in moderation.
  • Not stuff myself anymore.
  • Eat like a normal person and not have the fear of getting stuck loom in my mind with every bite I take.
  • Lose at a moderate pace like a "normal" person.
  • feel my tummy and not feel my port, and know that if I need to, I can vomit without fear of dislodging my band or causing a serious medical emergency.
  • just feel normal.  Sure, I'm missing 80% of my stomach, but I feel NO different.  I feel normal. I never felt normal with the band.  I was always afraid of something happening to it.
  • Not have to deal with all that I mentioned above.

From the five people that I personally know in my little circle of banders, 4 of us have needed it removed in less than five years.  Those are HORRIBLE odds.  It shocks me how many of us there are.  Sure, the band did get me to a safer weight intitially, but with all the complications it brought, I would have much rather cut out the middleman and gotten the sleeve.  I could be TOTALLY thin by now like my virgin sleevers I know.  Being a revisionista has it drawbacks, so if you have the option to get it done first- DO IT. 

Please, please, please....if anyone is considering getting the band- DON'T.  You are only causing yourself more frustration, pain, money, and weight gain in your future.  Cut the BS- admit to yourself that your problem IS permanent and a temporary solution is NOT what you need.  I wish someone would have stopped me.  I know four other friends who wish the same thing.  Three out of the four are sleeved now, and the one had the band removed, but was told there was too much scar tissue around the stomach to safely perform the sleeve, so she is waiting.  And she is gaining.  Is she trying to maintain?  Of course she is...but she is

If only we had known then what we know now.

Seriously, if ANYONE out in Sleeve/Band/WLS land wants to chat and ask me questions- leave me a comment and I'll be in touch.  WLS is a choice.  Please make sure you are making the right choice, and by right choice, I mean NOT THE LAPBAND. 

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