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That ain’t classy or How I Survived a Sliming

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!Curry Chicken Masala

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!!

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Time of the (Party) Season

Kiyonna plus size dressWell, 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!

I’ll be wearing this sexy little number from Kiyonna Klothing and the Nolita necklace from Stella & Dot’s Fall 2010 collection.

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!

Stella & Dot Nolita NecklaceIn 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.

Oh, Canada!

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.

Parliament Hill Canada DayIt’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)

Fill My Little World

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!

A Nurse’s Life is Full of Woe

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.

Nurse with needleSo, 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!

So Much to Say

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.

Dr BishopWhen 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.

Shepherd's PieSince 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!

Fill ‘er Up!

Needle TipWell, today’s the day. I get to have my very first fill! After bombarding Dr Bishop’s office with phone calls I finally got through to a person and scheduled my appointment for today at 2pm.

I’m super excited but I’m totally nervous. I’ve gotten pretty used to how to eat with this thing and I really don’t want to learn how to eat all over again. But I’ve gotta do it. It’s all part of the process. I’ll be one clear liquids for the first 24 hours and full liquids/mushies for the next 24 hrs.

This is certainly going to make the DMB gig a bit of a challenge. I’m off to TO tomorrow morning until Wednesday. Can’t wait!! I’m a little sad I won’t be drinking a beer in one of those shiny red plastic cups but I’m sure they’ll have SOMETHING I can eat at the Amphitheatre. I hope…

Can I Kick It? or What’s the Skinny of Bandster Friendly Serving Sizes

I’ve been super busy lately and I realised I hadn’t posted about my ‘Nutrition Kickstart‘ with Slimband’s resident dietician Arlene. This was an essential discussion regarding my progress from mushies to solid food.

Nutrition

Granted, it was some time ago (8 days to be exact), it’s important to me to document my journey as best as I can. I scheduled my chat with Arlene for just after mid-day in the hopes that if I was finally working again, I’d be able to chat with her over lunch.

Well, it was indeed lunch time but since I’m not yet working, I was running around town with my family (AKA The Team). Unfortunately, they decided on our way to Winner’s that a basket fried flesh from Wild Wings would be a suitable eating place for a recently-banded bambina. Imagine my shame when I saw Slimband’s number show up on my phone just after I placed my order…

The chat was scheduled for 30 minutes and since I’d been warned by members of the MySlimband community to come prepared with specific questions for Arlene, it went quite well.

I started off by telling her I was feeling quite fine. Almost back to normal, in fact. I am able to eat nearly all things I’d been able to eat before my surgery. I was slightly concerned but she was very happy to hear it. She assured me that this was okay and that I need not live in constant fear of band slippage as I’ve mentioned before. I’m simply a fast healer and my body is adjusting nicely. Well, that’s GREAT news!!

I also mentioned I’d been reading the Clean Eating Magazine as per her suggestion in MySlimband. As I mentioned before, Arlene promotes the Clean Eating*** principles and often provides bandster-friendly versions of snacks and meals including modified serving suggestions.

Since I’d been following the monthly meal plan in the magazine I was feeling good but also concerned I was eating too much. Despite the well-balanced, low calorie nature of the meal plan, I just couldn’t eat every 2-3 hours without feeling stuffed. So, I mentioned I felt the meal portion sizes were surprisingly large but the snacks were perfect. I was certainly surprised by this as it seemed I was able to eat a bit more than some of my bandster friends at the same stage as me (7 days into solid foods).

She reassured me again and suggested I try to reduce the portion sizes in the Clean Eating meal plan in preparation for my first fill in the coming weeks. As an exampled I’ll use my favourite Clean Eating breakfast:Kashi Go-Lean and Strawberries

Clean Eating breakfast serving suggestion:

1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup skimmed, soy, or almond milk

Arlene’s bandster-friendly serving suggestion:

1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal

1/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup skimmed, soy, or almond milk

So, it looks like halving the servings is a good start. Simple enough, eh? Arlene also mentioned that bandsters can indeed snack on popcorn…IF they are able to without any trouble BUT we must take it SLOW to ensure we don’t choke. Woo hoo! I love popcorn and it doesn’t have to be drenched in butter for me to enjoy it. So, that’s another healthy snack (about 3 cups) I can enjoy along with all of the other snack suggestions in the Clean Eating meal plan.

I also chatted with Arlene about the prospect of revisiting my Body Doctor fitness regime in the coming weeks. She recommended that if I’m going to be working out that strenuously, I’m going to need to add another meal to the Slimband program of 3 meals and 2 snacks every 2-3 hours and ensure that if I’m exercising in the evenings, that my post-workout meal contains 30g protein and 20g of carbs.

Since Arlene knew I was out and about (but didn’t know WHERE), she sent me a reference sheet with lots of helpful information about serving sizes and tips and tricks for eating out (I did mentioned I do that A LOT in my life). This was a big help.

From what I gather though, the Nutrition Kickstart seemed to be largely a rehearsed ‘personal’ information session that if one comes unprepared, they may or may not come away with much more information than what is written in the Slimband Post-Op Binder.

That being said, I’ve also messaged Arlene several times from within the MySlimband community and she actively participates in the discussion. She’s provided some very useful advice there and here so the combination of the three support systems is really great overall. As usual with the band, they’re providing the tools and it’s really up to me how I use them.

***Loosely speaking, Clean Eating principles are based on eating foods in as natural a state as possible, EVERY 2-3 hours (no exceptions people!!!), some savvy food pairing and ensuring each meal or snack is a perfectly balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates. By following this, carbs are digested in 2-3 hours allowing us to feel fuller longer. Otherwise, carbs are digested immediately making us feel hungry early.

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