****The was written back in January but I forgot to publish it. Silly me!*****
I bet you think you know what full is. I bet you think you know what it feels like to eat so much you actually can’t swallow another bite. So full that your stomach feels like it’s gonna burst. Normal people think they know what this feels like. But Lapbandsters know better. Especially Lapbandsters whose lapband happens to be just a touch too tight.
Well, I recently found out that I’ve been living like that for over a year. Back in November 2012, I had my very first experience with an inflamed esophagus. It was extremely painful. I couldn’t eat for days. I kept trying to drink water or hot drinks (dumb!) to soothe my burning throat but nothing would put out the flames.
I called Slimband at the time and they got back to me 5 DAYS after I called them. 5 effing days of suffering whilst waiting to hear what could be causing the searing pain I felt with every swallow. Well, thank my lucky stars for a thing called Google and the support of my fellow lapbandsters cause Slimband earned a big fat FAIL for their role in finding a solution to that trauma. (Yes, I most certainly could have gone to the doctor myself, but I don’t have a family doctor here in Ottawa so I would have had to go to a clinic, get a referral, wait for the referral and blah, blah – my lack of family doctor is a rant for another day!)
When the nurse finally returned my call, she asked me to visit my local clinic for a Barium Swallow. By this point, I was no longer in pain so I didn’t bother. Not to mention my irrational fear of such a seemingly disgusting procedure.
After this, I found myself struggling to eat or drink quite a few foods that I’d heard lapbandsters can no longer consumer once they reach their “sweet spot”. I also struggled to drink water, hot soup and anything with a consistency thicker than a chilli. I never really thought much of it, just that this was where I was supposed to be. Unfortunately, I was very wrong.
This November, I called Slimband to discuss the possibility of a fill knowing full well that at 9.5 ccs in a 10 cc band they were unlikely to grant it. It was in an effort to open the lines of communication again and to attempt to revisit their after-care support system. Well, I’m very glad I did.
After a conversation with a consultant and one of the lovely nurses, I was asked again to have the Barium Swallow. So, I did this as soon as possible which turned out to be 3 weeks later by the time the Radiology clinic could fit me in.
And this is what they found:
Turns out I’ve got a dilated esophagus. Big, huge, tears streaming down my very sad face. I can’t believe I let myself get to this position without realizing something was terribly wrong with my digestive system.
Slimband got me into their clinic here in O-Town within 24hours of receiving the results. Where they performed an aspiration. This is when they withdraw all of the saline out of the band to see how much is actually in there. In my case it was 8.5 ccs and not the 9.5 ccs they had originally thought.
So, they withdrew a full 2 ccs from my band so that my esophagus has a chance to heal. They never said it would heal for sure, but this is the first step in the healing process. It’s been two months now since I had the aspiration and I can say that within 2 days I felt infinitely more comfortable. I’m still restricted but having a drink of water in the morning is no longer an issue. And I actually feel like I can eat the foods I should be eating.
The next step is to submit my 7 day food diary, complete with before and after pics to illustrate portion size. Then, I’ve gotta have another Barium Swallow so they can see if my esophagus is returning to normal. If not, I have to consider removing the lapband altogether – at MY expense. Urgh.
I’ve gone through all swirls of emotions on this one but the biggest is disappointment that I allowed myself to live in pain for over a year and didn’t even realize it. I’ve certainly learned to live with a lot of aches and pains but this one tops them all.
What I’ve realized is that all too often, those packing a little junk in the trunk avoid addressing health issues because they’re afraid to see a doctor who might once again remind them that they’re overweight. My unsolicited, non-medical professional advice is to suck it up and GO TO THE DOCTOR. There might something wrong with you that has an easy fix, or worse! But go. You’ll be glad you did because you won’t have the anxiety which so often triggers eating in some of us.
When I started this blog, it was to share my Slimband story. Well, it’s been nearly 4 years and things here at the Digital Diva Blog have evolved a bit. I do still share my Slimband stories but I find myself focusing more on how my life has changed as a former fat chick (now I’m just a bit chubby) with a greater self confidence. That means that most of my posts are frivolous and feature an assortment of topics ranging from plus size shopping/fashion to crossfit/general fitness to food choices to dating in a digital world yet still maintaining relevance to bandsters and chubby chicks. However, the frequency of my posts isn’t much to be admired.
Now, I don’t often make resolutions as I believe them to be doomed from the start. So, instead I’m going to set a goal, a commitment, if you will. A commitment to keep a consistent level of communication and keep my followers better informed of my fitness and weight-loss goals (as well as my dating disasters) throughout the first quarter of 2014. I will strive to provide at least one post per week for the next three months. And since my 4 year bandiversary will be coming up shortly after said quarter ends, I’m hoping I’ll have more to say about my band than I have recently.
So, here’s to sharing too much information about my life in the most entertaining way I know how!
Well, it’s been a very long time since the last time I posted an update on my Slimband journey. I’m afraid this one’s not a good one.
I’ve almost reached the 2 year mark since I had my surgery and I honestly couldn’t regret it more. I’d like to think it does work for some people but what it doesn’t do is anything other than cost me money and sometimes make me barf. I shell out a whopping $389 per month to Slimband and all I’ve lost since the day I started solids is 10lbs. That’s right, 15 lbs in 2 years. How’s that for a disappointment? But I made a choice. It just happens to have been a bad one. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Some people may be wondering how I went from being a total band evangelist to a cautiously optimistic Slimband story-teller. It’s simple, really. I truly believe (today) that the only reason I lost any weight at all was because I’ve chosen to eat less and I’ve consciously made better food choices. The Slimband nurses would say that’s a good thing. But if I could always make the best food choices I probably wouldn’t need a Slimband in the first place, would I?
I tried though. I tried really hard for a while. Recently, I even went to the trouble of trying to photograph every meal I ate so I could see where I was eating poorly.
But, like I always do, I got bored of the whole thing. I got bored of researching band-friendly recipes, tips on how to get all the nutrients I need and looking forward to next year when I’ll fit into THAT dress again. It’s infuriating, devastating and humiliating. I literally have to consider the impacts of every morsel I put into my mouth. And every time I eat something unhealthy, I’ve made a choice to do so. Sadly, giving a tasty temptation some seriously thought does nothing to stop me from scarfing it down because disappointing myself has never been something I’ve shied away from.
I’ve barfed because I didn’t chew properly and I’ve barfed because I ate something I shouldn’t have but even when I eat a lot of the good stuff like most fruit and vegetables, I barf that up too. Aside from mixed salad, I can really only eat over-cooked vegetables which can be pretty dismal after a while. On top of that, I’m having some teeth trouble which is make it quite difficult to chew to my food. Thus, further limiting the items on the list of foods that will stop me from getting fatter.
The truth is, it’s never really been entirely about food for me when it comes to losing weight. It’s most certainly the source of consolation, celebration and joy for me but it’s not the only reason I am where I am. I’ve certainly gone through periods of time where I’ve eaten poorly but the fact of the matter is, the key to my weight loss success is physical activity AND diet. My Slimband handles the food consumption but I don’t actually move around a heck of a lot. I’ve always known this. Whenever I decide to be more physically active, I always slim down in a jiffy. Then I get bored of that too and every single sweaty pound I’ve lost goes right back on.
Sadly, I know this post might deter some people from getting a Slimband. I honestly hope it does because a Slimband is not the easy way out that people think it is. Whether it’s working or not, it’s very difficult to live with and you only get out of it what you put into it:
It all happens, it’s all real. I don’t owe a lot of success to my Slimband alone. It’s all down to me and my mental efforts. The Slimband doesn’t solve your weight problems. You have to do it for yourself. And I failed. For nearly two years, I failed.
So, now it’s time for me to create my own fat-loss Kickstart despite the limitations that come with having a Slimband. On Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 I went to Crossfit O-Town for my first WOD.
Watch this space for the rest of the story.
Well after a fairly uneventful few months, I’ve finally got something to report about my bandster journey. With less than three weeks left until my 1-year anniversary, 5 fills, 8 ccs and 30lbs later, it is with great regret that I report that I am no longer living in a barf-free zone.
That’s right ladies and gentleman, me and my lap-band managed to control my overeating for nearly a year. Although I’m pleased I lasted this long and it does seem to be a pretty clear indication that I may just be at my sweet spot, it does cause me mental (and physical) discomfort to know that what brought me over the edge was some sub-par chicken tikka masala and naan bread. Um hum. India food. And I didn’t even get to digest it before it made me sick!
So, in the interests of science and in education for fellow bandsters, I’m going to describe what it was like to yack as a result of my lap-band. I feel I must include a disclaimer before I proceed with the gory details though… It’s not for the feint of heart – so be warned!!!
Okay, first things first. I did not overeat. I ate too fast. I ate less than a cup of food. I’ve been able to eat far more than that on average even since my 5th fill a little over two weeks ago, so I’m certain it was a matter of distraction.
It started off with a bit of discomfort. I’ve experienced this before when I’m out and about with friends and I eat without thinking. Sometimes I don’t chew my food well enough and I have to stop eating and have a rest. But the discomfort persisted. I felt a bit of tightness in the chest like the feeling you get when you swallow to avoid choking when someone makes you laugh during dinner. It’s painful but with a normal stomach, the pain will subside when the food moves down toward your esophagus. With a lap-band, not so much.
On the rare occassion I’ve eaten a bit quickly, I tend to stop, take a break and sometimes get up and walk around. I tried that approach and it didn’t work. The food was still stuck. It felt like it was getting worse instead of better…
I then found myself standing in my bathroom taking deep breaths waiting to be sick. The next thing that happened is what I understand to be called ‘sliming’ (not to be confused with slimming!). It’s where your body pushes out the excess saliva you produce to try to push food down your esophagus but it doesn’t go down. Since the food is actually blocking the passage way, you’re esophagus fills with the liquid and overflows. It’s not quite barfing, but you do have to spit it out quickly.
Then came the vomiting. LOOK AWAY NOW if you’re of a weak disposition!!!! What a strange sensation! It didn’t hurt one bit, it was very easy. Just a slight urge which is nothing like what vomiting was like before. The strangest part is what it looked like. I can only liken it to one thing: a lava lamp. It didn’t come up in tiny pieces with liquid. It came out in one weird slimy glop. It almost oozed. I know, I can here your revulsion now. Well, imagine mine!!
Anyway, the important thing is I’m totally fine. I survived and so will you if you find yourself in a similar position. I get a lot of questions about my progress since my updates have slowed significantly and most of them involve this part of the process. Nobody wants to hear that they might be sick if they eat too much. But it’s a fact of life after lap-band surgery. So, do keep that in mind. You CAN avoid it, but you’ve got to chew your food and make good choices. Let’s be honest: the last thing I should be eating is an Indian curry. But next time I do, I’ll definitely chew, chew, chew!!
Well, party season is indeed around the corner. I do love this time of year. When all the girls get their glitz on and the guys get gorgeous. But as a larger lady I do also have a tough time finding something suitably fabulous to get me party-perfect.
I tend to end up with a slinky little black dress or something equally monochrome and style it up with some fierce jewelry. Lucky for me, this year the jewelry will be the easy part. As of this past weekend, I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. I’m so excited for this new venture! My official launch party is November 25th so if you’re in the Ottawa area, send me an email for an invite to my little soiree. The more the merrier!
Stella & Dot also have a great selection of bracelets in multiple and adjustable sizes so you never have to squeeze your hand through a too-small opening. A fierce fashion find!
In other news, I’m booked for my fourth fill for next Wednesday. I’m a little nervous about this one since I’m not so sure I really NEED the fill. I WANT another fill because I’m just a tad too comfortable with the restriction I’ve got and I don’t think I’ve quite hit my ‘sweet spot’. I think my lap-band was just a bit tighter, the pounds might fall off just a little faster…
See, I’ve managed to learn the tricks of the trade with my current tightness and have found a way to eat the stuff I really shouldn’t. I’m still losing but I’m only slowing myself down. But I’m not doing myself any favours. So, I’m going to use the tools at my disposal tighten up the cable tie wrapped around my belly.
There’s never a good time for a fill. There’s always an event around the corner. So, I’m just gonna get ‘er done. Watch this space…I may just post a progress pic.
So, I took a little time to settle in to my new job/apartment/downtown O-Town life. And despite my best efforts to explore the coolness of Canada’s most conservative city, I’m still coming up wanting. Which is fairly frustrating since I’m pretty much wanting most of the time with this band in my belly!
My biggest challenge at work is finding time to top up my tummy between the endless and sometimes unnecessary meetings I’m forced to focus on before the kick-off of my ‘real responsibilities’. It’s certainly been a struggle holding back the hunger. You see, despite dropping nearly 30lbs and at least a dress size, I still don’t want to be the fat girl stuffing her face in a meeting. But I’m booked up most of my mornings and to keep myself focused fuel is a must!
I’ve done my best to (sometimes not-so-subtly) announce my augmentation but I can’t go ’round telling the entire team of more than 1200 peeps that I’ve resorted to surgery to drop a few dress sizes. As such, I’m starving most of the time to the point that I’ve actually felt faint on more than one occasion.
So, what I’d like to focus on here is my top five favourite snacks for the busy bandster:
What about you? What are your helpful hints for home-made snacks?
So, summer in O-Town tends to sit at the super sweltering mark for the majority of season. Personally, I love the sun but the heat gets to me so cooling down is essential.
Although I’m not much of a beach babe, I do like to take a dip now and then. And since I’m nearing the 3-month mark, I can soon swim again!!
Well, I found this fantastic little number by the good people at Alwaysforme.com. I’m a HUGE fan. It’s super flattering with the cinching on the sides, the twist keeps The Girls in place and it’s modest enough to cover some of my flaws. I’m thinking pink this year…and perhaps picking up a black one to mix and match. LOVE it.
Feeling okay lately band-wise. Since the second fill a week ago, I’m not at all afflicted with the ravenous hunger I’ve felt in the past. I simply get hungry when it’s time to eat which is around the 2-3 hour mark. Still able to eat things I shouldn’t and a bit more than I thought I would by now, so thinking I’ll need fill numero trois in a couple weeks. We’ll see though. Gotta wait the specified 2 weeks after fills to see if it works.
Having a bit of port pain lately though. Sleeping on a new mattress now that I’m living with family so gotta get used to the way my body lies on the bed. All part of the process I guess!
Well, it’s Canada Day in the nation’s capital which makes it officially the best possible day of the year to live in O-Town. I’m super excited to head up to the Hill to see Hey Rosetta! and several other Canadian treasures entertain the masses decked out in their Canadian pride.
It’s been 3 days since my 2nd fill so I’m hoping I’ll be able to participate in all of the fantastic festivities without losing my lunch throughout the day. Haven’t had too much trouble getting down the grub since Monday. Been waking up feeling pretty tight and I can most certainly feel it when I’m stressed or anxious but other than that, it feels okay. I’m pretty pleased.
We’ll see what happens today. Looks like a fun one! Off to spend the day with some uni friends and can’t wait to see them! Then on to a big a Deadmau5 show thrown by none other than my coolest cuz. Guest list an’ all. Guess this town anit so bad sometimes! ;o)
Phew! What an eventful day! Had my 2nd fill with Dr Bishop this morning. Total band contents is now a whopping 5ccs and I can definitely feel it now.
Seriously, I love that guy. He’s super knowledgeable and actually speaks to me like I’m a person. All too often in my past doctors have dismissed my comments and concerns out of hand and oversimplified my situation. But Dr Bishop actually seems to want to help me to achieve my goals. It’s monstrously motivating!
Especially when he gets as enlivened by my losses as I do. Since the last time I saw him (May 26th) I’ve lost nearly 5lbs. This brings my total losses to 18.2lbs in a little over 11 weeks. I’m pretty pleased with my progress since it’s right at the expected rate of 1-2lbs per week.
To top it all off, things are feeling pretty tight in the tummy. I can most certainly feel the restriction in my stomach. I’m on clear liquids/full liquids for the next 24-48hrs (thank goodness Canada Day is 3 day away!). Last time, I could chow down on the day of my fill but this time, I’m terrified to try! It’s tight and I know it.
It makes me a little nervous cause I really don’t want to get too restricted. I’d like to get to the point where it’s tight enough that I’ll get a subtle hint to stop stuffing my face but not enough to make me barf. I mentioned as much to Dr Bishop and he shared my sentiments. He told me about some fantastic research from the very same conference he attended at Harvard Medical School in May.
He said that by keeping my lap-band ever so slightly under restricted and concentrating on stopping when I’m supposed to, I’m actually working at training my brain to react the way it should without actually needing the physical response triggered by the band. This is where I want to be when all of this is said and done – Dr Bishop agrees.
I do so wish I could read these reports but I’m also happy to take his word for it. I quite like that he actually has these tales to tell me. I really hope the Slimband nurse is as informed as Dr B!! We’ll have to see next time…if there is one!
Well, it’s high time for a turn for the better!! I’ve just weighed myself and much to my delight I’ve found that I’ve lost another 2.6 lbs. That certainly doesn’t sound like much but I’ve been stuck at the same weight for an entire month and boy does every little help!
Things seem to be taking a turn for the better right now. I’m socialising a bit more with friends, I’ve got a few very promising job prospects and now the scales start to shift. It’s about effing time, I’ll tell ya! It just goes to show that mental health most certainly does = physical health. So, I’ve really got to stay positive.
That being said, I’m struggling to eat as frequently as I’m supposed to. Every 2-3 hours just doesn’t seem to fit with my fun and fabulous lifestyle of job applications every morning followed by afternoons of shopping and carrying my aunt’s bags and driving her around in her pretty pink Escalade. We’re running around so much we don’t have time to eat!
But I do get the calories…and nearly none of them are good ones! Shame on me, I know. What’s the point of spending all this money on surgery if I don’t eat well, right? Well, I can’t eat as much as I used to so it’s still an improvement if only a small one.
And I do get the regular walking in every day. I’m even hoping to start light jogging in my lovely neighbourhood very soon. It’s a dream of mine to someday be one of those fit-tastic people that rises every morning and runs a couple miles. I shall henceforth be attempting to make that dream a reality.
Now, little job fairies, work your magic while I work mine and most certainly our positive vibes will send me the job of my Ottawa dreams.
Since I had my first fill three weeks ago and not all that much has changed. I certainly don’t have the bottomless belly I had before my surgery but it’s not the tight tummy I’d been hoping for. As such I can eat most of the foods I could eat before the first fill…and a whole lot more.
So, I spoke to the lovely Nancy at Slimband on Tuesday and now I’ve got to play phone tag with the good people at Dr Bishop’s office to try to get myself a fill appointment (yay.). They certainly take their time getting back to me!
BUT I won’t have to wait much longer because apparently there’s going to be a Slimband fill nurse here in Ottawa very shortly…um, yay? I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this.
One the one hand I’m pleased as punch I won’t have to set up camp outside Dr Bishop’s office to get an appointment.
On the other hand, Dr Bishop provides A LOT of information on nutrition, diet and exercise that the fill nurse may or may not and this is of significant concern to me.
See, if I was going into the Slimband clinic, I’d schedule appointments to see everyone I need to each time I went in. I may not meet with Dr Yau each and every time but I would invariably chat with Arlene (Slimband’s resident dietician) and Niki (my consultant) to ensure I’m taking advantage of the nutrition and counseling Slimband has to offer.
On that note, I do have to say that since my last fill, I haven’t heard a peep from anyone at Slimband except Niki and that was a personal email. No email or fill follow-up call whatsoever. I had to call them to tell them I could pretty much eat a whole bucket of popcorn if I so desired. So, they could do with a little work on their CRM strategy and processes. But I’ve said that before…
Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting with Dr Bishop one last time. I just need to get them to answer the effing phone once in a while! And it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the new fill nurse. She’s in training now apparently but I’m sure she’ll knock our Ottawa Slimbandster socks off!
Saw SATC2 this weekend with my Auntie. Loved it but the clothes were simply stupid most of the time. There were a few really great giggles but the accessories certainly stole the show thanks to what I’m guessing is a pretty big chunk of the $10M wardrobe budget. Yes, the clothes were gorgeous but the bags were better and I’m not even gonna get into the shoes. But I’m fairly certain there won’t be a repeat performance from the oh-so-fabulous foursome.
I did enjoy a tasty treat during my entertaining evening: a Diet Coke. I haven’t had a sip of the sweet stuff since before my surgery. I didn’t drink much but I also didn’t suffer from my sips and combined it with a little popcorn.
Much to my delight there were no gas pains or any tummy trouble. I don’t think I’ll be sipping some again anytime soon just in case. But it was a nice surprise to not get sick.
That being said, like the SATC girls, I guess I’ll continue to test the boundaries of my lifestyle until someone pans my performance!
Okay, it’s really been one hell of a week. In the past 7 days I’ve driven back and forth from Lindsay to Ottawa in 24 hours to move my brother and sister-in-law to town, had my first fill, realised I’m not at all restricted, drove to Toronto and back in 24 hours to see DMB, and now I’ve just found out that I’ve no longer got the financial safety net I’ve enjoyed since my surgery.
To say I’m stressed would be an understatement. I’m overwhelmed with a frustration I haven’t felt since Tantrum Tuesday. I was discussing my dismay with my Aunt this evening and her suggestion was to get drunk. Oh, how I’d love to be drowning my sorrows sipping on a super sized glass of my favourite vino rosa. But since I’ve got no money, I can’t drink.
And since I’ve got this effing band, I can’t resort to what I’d normally do when I find myself in a stressful situation such as this: stuff my face til I’m so full, the only pain I feel is my waistband digging into my big fat belly!
Well, I could go for the binge and test another boundary but only if I want to end up barfing which will neither solve my financial problems (food wastage is not smart when you don’t know where you’re next dime is coming from…and what if my band slipped??) nor numb the heartache and suffering my endless job hunting is causing. It’s just pointless to even try. But I want to, and bad.
And to be completely honest, I actually HATE living in Ottawa so that really doesn’t help the situation. Yeah, it’s a pretty city and my family lives here but it’s boring as EFF for a single woman such as myself that happens to be used to living life to the fullest in one of the world’s greatest cities. There’s really NOTHING cool about living here when you’re a chic city girl like moi. I’ve tried to keep an open mind but it just doesn’t measure up to what I’ve seen and done and the tradeoffs are starting to lose their lustre.
I don’t care if it makes me sound like a snob but I don’t actually know how people LIVE like this. I honestly feel like Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama only I’m absolutely certain I’m not going to experience the awakening she feels where she remembers where she came from and decides Hicktown, USA ain’t so bad. Ottawa certainly isn’t a hick town but I want way too much more for myself, my life and my career than what Ottawa currently has to offer.
And the worst part is, I can’t get out of here until I get a job. I just feel so trapped!! I can see where I want to go but I just can’t get there. I want out of this box.
Well, the internet has been down in my humble abode since just after my fill so I’ve got a bit of updating to do. I’ve been trying to shorten the length of my posts lately so I’ll try and keep it brief.
When I arrived at Dr Bishop‘s clinic, I was greeted by their super friendly staff. I provided my driver’s licence and health card info. Since it was my first visit to the clinic, I then met with a very nice nurse called Wendy who took my patient history information. I was a little surprised that Slimband hadn’t provided this information to them in advance of my visit as the information Wendy requested was basically the information contained in Slimband’s pre-op questionnaire. But, no biggie. I then returned to the waiting room and waited to see the doc.
Dr Bishop really has exceptional beside manner. He comes across as a very nice man, well-informed and thoughtful. He spent about 30 mins chatting with me about my history and getting a feel for my level of knowledge on my Slimband journey. He had recently returned from a conference at Harvard so had plenty to share with me on suggested methods to assist me with my weight loss while respecting that I would have some of this knowledge myself already for which I was very grateful.
My fill itself went very well. Quick and painless. On Slimband’s instruction, he injected 3ccs into my band but informed me that he would have recommended 4 ccs ‘since it’s the recommended first fill level in Australia’ at the moment…He gave me some water to drink to ensure I hadn’t had an ‘overfill’ and sent me on my way. The whole appointment lasted about an hour and I felt very relaxed throughout.
Since the fill, I don’t really feel all that restricted. Shamefully, I didn’t stick to the clear/full liquids mix for the first 48 hrs as instructed. I drank mostly water throughout the day but by around 8pm that night I ate about 3/4 cup of Mom’s homemade Shepherd’s Pie.
Since Tuesday was the DMB concert and I was travelling to Toronto, I went back to Clean Eating but took things very slowly. I had more to drink than I did to eat so I guess that was good. I’ve been told it takes about 2 weeks to feel the full effects of restriction so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I’m thinking I’ll be fillin’ ‘er up again in a month though!