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Open wide…or How I’m Dealing with a Dilated Esophagus

****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:

Dilated-esophagus

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.

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Gone so long or How Boredom Makes Me Barf

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.

SadI’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:

  1. You have to watch what you eat. No matter what. If you think you can’t do it without a Slimband, it’ll be even harder with one because the bad stuff is the easiest to eat.
  2. You have to exercise. If you think you go to food for endorphins now, just wait til you feel the disappointment and frustration that comes when you barf halfway through the nutrient-rich chicken stir-fry you made for dinner.
  3. You have to take multi-vitamins. If you think you don’t get enough nutrients now, wait til you barf up the aforementioned stir-fry (or any other healthy meal with a thicker consistency than the mushies we’re prescribed for 24-48 hrs after a fill) and it happens consistently for days/weeks and you notice your hair is starting to fall out, you’re tired, and your skin is flaking off all around you.

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.

Object of Your Rejection or How Sometimes A Girls Gonna Cry

OMFG if I hear one more positive effing message come from one more well-meaning but completely patronizing person I’m going to lose my shit!  No joke. I’ve got no positivity left people.

Tear dropAfter finally making a decision to commit to a life in Ottawa, I was told today that the organisation I’ve most recently been interviewing with has decided after 4 interviews (including a marketing plan and accompanying social media contest) that even though they’d ‘really like’ to hire me, they’re going to go with a reorg instead. And that I’m welcome to apply for the junior roles they’ve just added to their website.

What’s worse, is that this is actually the second major organisation I’ve interviewed with to make the same decision. On top of that, I went through 4 other interviews with another organisation only to hear I that I’m too senior for the job. I’ll wait while you take that in.

I’d hoped that after making at least one major decision, things would do what all the positive people say and start to finally come together. I’m doing literally everything I can to continue with a marketing career here in Ottawa. I’m applying for lower level jobs but they just don’t want me.

And ya know what I know? I know that something great is NOT right around the corner right now because I haven’t done anything to make anything else appear right around the corner ie. until last night I hadn’t applied for a single job in Ottawa since the one I just got rejected for.

So today, I would like to wallow for a change instead of pretending to be strong and smile my way through it and hold everyone else up through MY pain. I’m mad and frustrated and I’m allowed to feel this way.

I’ll get my groove back and I’ll be back on the affirmation train tomorrow – next stop right around the corner – but not today. Today, I’m going to sit in my swanky apartment and stare out the window while distractedly watching some cheesy chick flick and sipping the biggest bowl of red wine I can wrap my hands around. Just one. And I’m not gonna eat and maybe I’ll cry but I’m just gonna feel what I need to feel today.

Beautiful Day

I do love the fellas. I especially love the hot fellas that happen to be my friends from back home. And when I say hot, I mean smokin’ hot guys that have abs for days and guns I just want wrapped around me for the rest of my life. They would most certainly give The Situation and his ab-tastic physique a run for his money. And unlike The Situation, they’re not meatheads and they’re super nice guys so of course its always been a pleasure to be one of their friends.

Some of these little lovelies came to O-Town this week for BluesFest and we hit it. Hard. It was awesome!

It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in quite some time. Over the course of a couple days I did a lot of thinking. I thought a lot about how much fun it is to hang with a group of male friends. I’ve always had lots of ‘em (junior high, high school, university, Munich and London). Some of my best friends have been/are guys. It’s been great. Sadly, I’m lacking a pack here in O-Town.

For the better part of my life, I’ve had purely platonic but fairly intimate friendships with quite a few attractive guys. They’ve inadvertently acted as a boyfriend substitute and allowed me to avoid taking A LOT of relationship risks. They filled the void and didn’t even know it.

Substitutes like this make it oh so easy to be single. Why, when I’m surrounded by super hot, super nice guys would I want to take any risks and ruin it by hitting on one of them? I mean, I’ve always wanted a relationship but I wasn’t ever really willing to give up anything to get one. Be that friendship, time, space or pride.

And I guess I’m lying a little. Some of my platonic relationships with men have started off with me having a crush on them. And instead of going for it, I take us to the friend-zone and bury any chance of a romantic relationship. I do this because this way, they can’t reject me on the basis of my over-sized lady lumps, I won’t get hurt and I still get to have them in my life.

Despite my physical and mental transformation over the last 14 months, I’m still repeating the same mistakes I did before. I’m getting what seems like a bit more attention from the fellas (or maybe I’m just more aware of it?) but I’d still rather be just friends with lots of hot guys, rather than let any of them know I might actually be a bit more attracted to or care a bit more about them than I let on.

I’m consistently aloof and internally continue to focus on the Curse of Curves. Frankly, I still believe it to be true. Why would guys like them, ever consider someone like me…Even if I did sacrifice my pride and crawl out on that limb to reach for the relationship I really want, I still can’t believe it’s worth the risk of them rejecting me and disappearing from my life.

It’s so frustrating and absolutely paralyzing to know full well that I’m the reason I’m in this position – single, lonely and wishing I had more male friends to act as crutches in my life. I know how pathetic it is to wish for a crutch rather than wish for a relationship. But to get myself to the point where I could even consider that I’m worthy has been and will continue to be my biggest challenge in my weight loss journey.

At this point, I feel it’s very important to note that I have a beautiful group of girlfriends here in Ottawa that love me and try to change my mind about my aversion to dating on a fairly regular basis. But I just need some boy time now and then and if friendship is how I’m gonna get it, I’ll take what I can get.

See, I’m a girls’ girl and a guy’s best friend. And it has its pros and cons. But really, I deserve more than that. I deserve to be more than just a really great friend. I deserve to have someone love me for me and I deserve to have them treat me as well as I treat my friends. I just need to get out of my own way to have it and be confident enough to put myself out there. So, I’m working on it. I’m going to try to be a bit more clear about my intentions. I’ll keep you posted.

Bite Me

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!bite me embroidery

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:

  1. Almonds are your friend. Well, as long as you don’t have a death-inducing nut allergy they are. Buy a big bag of plain roasted almonds and those snazzy 100 cal size Ziploc bags and make up a bag for each day of the week. Make sure you don’t fill the bag – almonds are a very healthy but high-cal treat. Use about 8-10 almonds per bag and keep them in your pocket.
  2. Peel and slice small apples and put them in one of the Ziploc bags with a squeeze of lemon and cinnamon. Add some Splenda if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
  3. Keep some Kashi ‘chewy’ granola bars in your bag for munching in the elevator. Give yourself a few minutes to chew these bad boys though cause they’re quite stiff on the ol’ chompers and most certainly a pain to push through the tummy if not chewed properly. My personal fave is the Dark Chocolate Cherry. (Relax! It’s much better for you than it sounds!)
  4. Prepacked cheese sticks are handy too. Armstrong makes a mean herbed one that I think I might love. Team them with some low fat Triscuits or some of those great whole grain and seed bread crisps from the good people at Lesley Stowe’s. Check out their website for some ‘crispy combinations’.
  5. Yogurt is high in protein and terrific for the tummy too. Try to stay away from the low fat and premixed fruit flavours though cause they’re often high in calories and sweeteners. Go for Greek yogurt if you can find it and add your own fresh peeled fruit or field berries.

What about you? What are your helpful hints for home-made snacks?

The Curse of Curves

I had a conversation with my aunt today about a boy I knew in high school. She said something that really struck a nerve and I have to get it off my chest.
Curvy WomanWe’d had a somewhat special relationship and I was filling her in. She was curious about why we’d never dated and she asked me how I thought he felt about my weight. It never seemed to be an issue. Then she said the one thing I always fear when it comes to guys I care about:

“Well, he would care if you were dating. It doesn’t matter how big you are when you’re friends but when you’re dating it always matters,” she said.

Ouch. Straight to the jugular. I sat in stunned silence thinking about what she’d just said. It’s quite possibly my biggest insecurity knowing that there’s plenty of potential partners in my world who fancy the pants of me but wish I was a more socially acceptable size…the Curse of Curves I call it.

See, this friend and I were great friends when we were young, quite close and spent a whole lot of time together. We’d go to parties and sporting events and hang out on school nights ‘watching movies’. We were pretty great at ‘watching movies’ together and frequently did so until he moved away. We never officially dated and our real relationship wasn’t public. (Although I was the victim of the odd cougar joke since we spent so much time together at school.)

At the time, I would have said the secrecy was down to the fact that I was a senior and he was a freshman and I didn’t want anyone to know I was a cradle robber. He was my ‘fun friend’ and it was just between us.

But, I’m not entirely sure he would have wanted many people to know either. I mean, I wasn’t special, he had movie nights with other girls (and I hasten to add that it certainly never seemed to bother him what size any of his other girls were). I knew about them and it never bothered me. I had other ‘movie nights’ myself. So, I never drew any boundaries or put any pressure on him for anything other than fun. Neither did he. We were young. We never even talked about it.

I’d like to say that if I’d wanted more I would have asked for it but sadly, that’s not entirely true. I’d recently been burned by a boyfriend that seemed to be ashamed to date me in public so I really would never have pushed it if I’d thought it meant I wouldn’t get to spend time with him anymore. But I also had an issue with his age that I couldn’t get over. Then he moved away. Thinking about it now, I know our relationship was never any more or less than either of us wanted but that doesn’t mean it was all that healthy.

I still see him occasionally. We’re still great friends and I feel safe and happy when we’re together. I wish I had the courage to talk to him about it but since he’d never intentionally hurt me, I couldn’t be sure he’d tell me the truth anyway.

So, the curse remains intact. For now…

It’s Oh So Quiet

It’s been a week since I went dark. I guess I haven’t really had anything I felt was worth sharing. I haven’t really been feeling all that much about my band or my weight loss or anything else for that matter… except finding a job. It’s all I can think about!

Never Say Anything Which Doesn't Improve on Silence

I also haven’t been learning all that much about myself of my band either. And since my last two major posts involved bashing my new home town I thought keeping quiet til the shit-storm passes and calm my criticisms because bitching sorta perpetuates bitching, I find.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending a lot of time with The Team and doing my best to stay busy between job apps. Unfortunately, up until yesterday that meant I wasn’t eating all that well since I’m not preparing my own food. (I literally haven’t purchased my own food products in nearly a month).

Not that I really want to eat all that well anyway. I would normally chew my way through the stress but since I’ve got a band it’s not possible to actually binge or I’ll actually barf. But it’s possible to eat small amounts of lots of things I’m not supposed to be eating. So I have been. Which is probably why I haven’t lost any weight in nearly a month. (It’s been two months and one day since my surgery and I’ve lost 15 lbs.)

But I’ve also been slacking on the posts quite a bit so perhaps I’m forgetting the therapeutic nature of this part of the process. Mental health most certainly affects physical health so I guess I better get my ass in gear – here AND at the gym. Fingers crossed I get there this week…hrough the stress but since I’ve got a band it’s not possible to actually binge or I’ll actually barf. But it’s possible to eat small amounts of lots of things I’m not supposed to be eating. So I have been. Which is probably why I haven’t lost any weight in nearly a month. (It’s been two months and one day since my surgery and I’ve lost 15 lbs.)

Finding My Way

So, I pondered my little predicament over the last couple of days and I really am truely tired of this city. At first I thought it might be simply my lack of employment and general purpose in this imperfect society or perhaps my inability to chew away the pain, but the more I think about living my life in this small town city, the more I realise that ultimately, it’s not what I want.

Even if by some stroke of good fortune I find myself in the job of my Ottawa dreams I’m not sure it will be enough. A lack of consistent income has meant a steady increase in my debt-load which, quite frankly, I’m already struggling to cart around. So, any money I might make certainly won’t be the solution to my sorrows.

I’ve already got my family here and I’ve got some lovely friends. It’s just that I’m so BORED I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. And my priorities are simply NOT the same as most of O-town’s residents. It’s a LOVELY city if you want to own a house or you’ve got a family and plan to raise kiddies. But as everyone knows, little Baby Mac’s are NOT in my future.

Consider me the Carrie of my friends only a little less promiscuous and considerably less fashionable (and currently Mr Big-less). Speaking of which, I saw SATC2 and despite the critics’ condemnation, I quite loved it. It was a pretty simple story and a lot of the attire was ridiculous at best but it was a fun film nonetheless. And it made me miss London. A lot.


I don’t want to go backwards so I’m not going back to The Big Smoke (unless I’m visiting) but I really gotta get the hells outta Dodge. Where’s a bad man with a horse and a big sack of bills when you need one?

Sugar & Stress

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.

trappedTo 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.

Covert Operation

I recently got an email from a Random Reader that struck a chord with me. She was asking my advice on how to cope with a food-focused family event no more than two, count ’em, two days after surgery without actually spilling the beans on getting the band.

Shh

Naturally, I was surprised that one wouldn’t tell one’s family about their lap-band journey especially since I find it so easy to dish all the dirty details for the public to see. I actually received an email from an old university friend complimenting me on that very thing that makes blogging about my band work for me – my openness. But there are people who simply don’t want anyone else involved in their journey and this Random Reader is one of them.

I can totally understand why she wouldn’t want to tell the whole tale to her family members…

I didn’t dare tell anyone other than my family (but only because they helped me pay for it) that I was getting a band until the night before my surgery. I announced this blog on my Facebook page and let the whole world know hours before the main event. I kept it quiet for the very same reasons as my random reader: I didn’t want to hear all the reasons why I shouldn’t do it.

Sadly, I’ve heard too many tales of loved ones lecturing overweight family members about losing weight but only doing so on their terms and when it’s convenient for them, not when it’s convenient for the overweight person. OR they only want them to lose the weight in a way they approve of. It’s usually covert and unconscious sabotage but it’s sabotage nonetheless.

And everyone seems to become an expert on these things. All of a sudden, they think they know the best way for you to do it. I have friends that are doctors, lawyers, med students, nurses etc and they all would have had something to say about my choice. It may not have been negative but I couldn’t take the risk because some people even consider it an easy way out. It AIN’T easy let me tell you!!!!

But I AM glad they know. It helps in a lot of ways. In my family, if they didn’t know, everyone around me would be overeating or eating unhealthy foods and the temptation would be raging right in front of me.

The band doesn’t make it impossible to eat unhealthy foods, it makes it impossible to overeat unhealthy foods. There are ways around eating with the band and if I don’t address the issues, I could end up overeating again. And if you’re a pleaser, one might try to eat unhealthy foods or over eat simply because it’s easier than listening to the comments from the peanut gallery.

If everyone knows, they won’t question my small portions either. Otherwise, they’d notice my all of a sudden eating portions that are far smaller than my smaller family members’ and also what they’re used to seeing me chow down on a regular basis. When the overweight family member eats less than the average weight family member, the average weight family member will most certainly have something to say about it.

This is as much about families making a change as it is about us. What Bandsters need is support, not criticism. Positive influence around as often as possible. One doesn’t need food triggers to make them want to eat poorly.

So, to me, it’s not really about whether or not you’re open about these things. I can sort of understand how Random Reader feels. I don’t want ANYONE to comment on what I’m eating EVER – good or bad. They have no right to get involved. It’s my body, my process, my results. And that’s how I felt when Dr Yau told me I would need my family’s support. I thought, I can handle this myself. I got here, I’ll get myself out of here. But it’s not really about that. It’s about realizing that my friends and family love me and they’re there to support me – whether I want it or not.

Personally, I sat them down and told them what I needed from them and asked if they could it. In my case, they’re all full of opinions and believe themselves to be better than doctors but it’s better having them know. That way, when I say I can’t eat somewhere or eat something, they understand I’m not just being snobby or picky (which I kind of am sometimes). It’s that I actually can’t eat food from the establishment they wish to frequent.

The things is, our minds will change because they have to adapt to what’s happening to our bodies. Their (ie family, friends) minds will take longer to adjust to the new us: The one that doesn’t eat all the goodies. The one that’s not always up for a tasty snack or a drink or whatever got us to where we are. We’ve lived our lives the same way for years and the change will be sudden and obvious to others because they haven’t had the chance to adjust and to think it over like we have.

But basically, they’ll figure it out eventually. Postponing the inevitable may lead to some hurt feelings from friends and family but we’ve got to do what works best for our recovery. If that means keeping things under our hats, then so be it. But my experience has been full of love and support and very little criticism and I’m grateful for that. I wish the same to any potential bandster.

Don’t Tell Me or How Sometimes You Just Eat The Cookies

It’s certainly been an adjustment to ‘just say no’ the past couple of weeks. But it’s also been nice. I’ve had an excuse to say no to a lot of the things that helped get me here. I’m not a yes person by any means but when it comes to food I want to at least TRY everything.

Say no to no

It’s all part of the seduction I’ve succumbed to my entire life. Food just FEELS good. I would most certainly classify myself as an emotional eater but more than that, food is something I associate with socializing more than anything else. ALL socializing. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve EVER been to a social event and not had to put SOMETHING in my mouth.

See, at parties where I only know a few people, bonding over a bowl of Bits n Bites made talking to someone new that much easier.

I’m certainly not shy but for some reason sharing a taste for treats often leads to a chat with a nearby naughty nibbler.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s me that needs the bowl-buffer or if eating together makes it easier for others. Like, they talk to me cause I’m the fat girl and skinny girls know that fat girls are definitely going to eat what they’re not supposed to. They’re fat for a reason, right? And their guilt turns into an opportunity to confess their discomfort with their dietary discretions. Or perhaps I validate them in some strange way.

I can’t really say for sure but I do know that I can’t count the number of conversations women have started with me beside a table by saying, “Oh, I’ll just have one…” or “I really shouldn’t but they look so good…” followed by a smile in my direction and a mouthful of the morsel they’ve just berated. And it almost always happens with skinny girls that most certainly survive solely on salads. Seriously ladies, don’t look to ME to validate it when YOU have a lapse in self control! I’ve got over 100 of my own regrets to carry around and I don’t need yours too.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate skinny girls (I want to BE one, remember?) and eating healthy is indeed a good thing. But I do get irritated with I have to hear about how bad something is for someone then watch them shovel a second serving down their gob. I know they probably worked for it with a pretty strict diet and a healthy portion of exercise but it still bugs me when they bark about eating something sweet once in a while.

Gimme More

I’m mad. I mean, grinding my teeth, scream at the top of my lungs, throwing myself down and pounding my fists on the floor mad. I’m mad because I let myself get to the point where the only way I can drop the extra person I’ve been carrying around my whole life is to get a band wrapped around my stomach. I mean, seriously! WTF! Who effing does that, right?!

I’m sure it seems drastic to some…like the kind of thing an addict would do. Well, I’ve never felt more like an addict than I do today. Nothing could have prepared me for the impact of realizing the extent of my disordered eating. I literally can’t stop thinking about food. I’m fidgety, I’m clenching my teeth, I’m cold, I’m irritable and I want to scream and cry about everything. I feel pathetic.

Everywhere I look there’s a food ad, or a drive-thru or a major supermarket, or a cupboard full of goodies. It’s unbearable. And I literally CAN’T eat any of it. I’m on a clear liquid diet and I can BARELY get that down. I’m eating what I’m supposed to and I’m full and I’m nourished. So I really shouldn’t want to eat. But I do. More than I’ve ever wanted to eat in my life.

I guess most of all I feel defeated. Like the war that’s been waging in my body has finally ended and I’ve lost. Miserably. And the casualty has been any joy I ever found in food because I’ll probably never feel that same joy again.

Yes, I’ll be able to eat real food again (in about a month apparently) but it’s always going to be a struggle. I’m always going to have to kinda force it down and hope I’ve chewed it properly because if I haven’t, I’ll barf. Oh, and I must never eat more than a cup at a time because if I do, I’ll barf. And I’d better stay away from white bread, pasta and rice because if I don’t, I’ll barf. To top if off I’ve got to make sure it’s correctly proportioned or I won’t get all the nutrients I need. Because if I don’t, then my hair might fall out!!!

But the real kicker in all this is that the Slimband food plan is nothing more than a smaller-portioned version of The Bodydoctor food plan or The Low GI diet. I could and have done both without spending $16,000 on a cable tie!

Hmph. Well, I’m frustrated and I’m exhausted. I guess that’s the mental side of the journey taken care of then.

Ring Around the Rosy

So, my gastric band surgery went well. All things considered the whole process was pretty fantastic. I arrived at Slimband promptly at 2pm and was outta there by 6:30pm that evening. It was pretty amazing and an incredibly smooth process.

Shortly after I arrived at the incredibly posh Yorkville Prince Arthur Clinic that houses Slimband, I met my consultant Niki very briefly. She helped me through this process from the beginning so it was great to meet her in the flesh. She’s had this surgery before and it was pretty amazing to see how great she looked.

Then a lovely woman named Michelle took some pictures to go in my Slimband folder and mark this very special occasion. I opted for the clothes-on option instead of the top-off Biggest-Loser-style pics. I thought it was best for all of us.

When it was time to prep for surgery a nurse (the lovely Stephanie) came and took me inside to check my stats and to brief me about the process of the day. I met my anesthesiologist (Dr ….) and Dr Yau came to say hello and impart some of his wisdom upon me. After having completed 3500+ gastric band surgeries he’s certainly got information I want to hear!

He told me about the surgery and mentioned the possibility of having to repair a hiatus hernia.  Apparently this is quite common for patients that suffer from GERD. It is often what makes GERD symptoms so severe in some patients. Having suffered from some pretty painful heartburn for most of my adult life, I had to wonder why previous doctors had never considered this before.

Hiatal Hernia

After our chat I was lead into the operating theatre where I hopped up on a pretty squishy table, got comfortable (they put massagers on my legs to help with circulation), Dr…got my IV in one try and he knocked me out. I’ve never been unconscious before so it was a pretty cool experience to be awake one minute then asleep the next.

I woke up in the recovery room and felt pretty good. Coming out of the anesthetic was such a nice feeling! It was kind of euphoric.  I didn’t really feel much pain, just a bit of stiffness all over. Dr Yau was there and explained that I did indeed have a “medium sized hiatus hernia” and he’d repaired it.  I was barely conscious but I was definitely grateful!

My recovery nurse was one of the sweetest nurses ever. I don’t remember her name but she was from Argentina and was just lovely. She stayed with me from the time I came out until the time I was allowed to leave about 1.5 hours after the surgery was over. She helped me right out to the car.

The whole process took about 4.5 hours but the surgery itself only took about 20-30 mins. Amazing what can be accomplished in that short timespan!

I felt okay for most of the evening. I still wasn’t allowed to eat but I could drink lots of water so I did. I’d been warned of ‘gas pain’ in my chest, neck and shoulders from the gas they used to fill up my abdominal cavity. I’d started to feel it a bit so had a demerol and enjoyed that for a couple hours before hitting the hay.

Had a rough first night. Woke up half way through in quite a bit of pain in my neck and abdomen and needed help to get up to take more drugs. Had a few tears from pain and frustration. Wasn’t pretty but I survived through the rest of the night.

I’m only allowed clear liquids like herbal tea, apple, grape or cranberry juice and any clear broths for the next 5 days. I’m still pretty weak from the pre-op diet and the surgery so I’m also drinking Pediatric Electrolyte to get my electrolytes up.  I was ready to eat just about anything that would fit in my stomach when we travelled back to Ottawa Mom got me some Tim Horton’s chicken soup broth and it never tasted so good!

I took some more drugs and slept a little on the drive back to O-Town. Been resting in bed with a movie for the evening with the occasional Slow Melt Mighty Mini Popsicle. And here I am. Only had medium level gas pain so far.

When I met Dr Yau he spoke about the importance of having a strong support system of family, friends and fellow bandsters. Well, I certainly have that taken care of! I’ve had so many well wishes I’ve lost count (thanks guys!), I’ve got a fellow bandster in the family and I’m already a member of some super helpful forums, so I think I’m on the right track!

He also mentioned one thing that really struck a nerve with me. He said its important to realise that there are two organs involved with this procedure: the brain and the stomach. I think it’s crucial to one’s success to be aware of this when considering gastric band surgery because, as I said, it’s not a cure-all. It’s just another tool to help me along the way. I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get me where I want to be but I’ve got a pretty amazing support system so I’m sure it’ll be great!

This Is The Thing…

This is the resolution from Real Slim Shady and Dazed and Confused. These two posts involved a discussion I had on LapBandTalk regarding the process of booking with Slimband.

*****BEGINS*****

Okay, so I spoke with Niki and all my questions have been put to rest.

I’ve been told that ‘Tara’ the girl I spoke to at the first stage of the process no longer works at Slimband. Thank goodness! It certainly doesn’t help their image any to have people like that on the other end! But it also confirms my suspicions that the Slimband team keeps their eyes on the prize and watch these forums for any problems with current and potential clients. So keep that in mind when you’re posting!

I’ve also been made aware of a few internal changes happing with Slimband in terms of their information packages and the schedule for receiving this information. Apparently, I will receive one binder by FedEx before surgery and one binder with post-op info after surgery. That’s great news!!

Finally, Niki also said she would do her best to make sure Dr Yau is there for me on Friday. That being said, I’m not sure how that can be guaranteed but I’m taking her word for it and I’m confident in her so I think it will be fine.

One thing I’d also like to add is that Niki is a fountain of information. And like most consultants she prefers to express herself over the phone. And she’s great at it! As soon as I spoke to her I had all the answers I needed and I felt pretty relieved. She comes across as a VERY warm person and even did so under the pressure of my big mouth so kudos to her for that.

I guess this is a lesson for me in patience. I’m super excited about my surgery on Friday and can’t wait to meet the team.

Wangpangtang, I would recommend you do go with Slimband but only if it works for you. Do your own research (as it appears you are right now) and I’m sure you’ll find the best solution for you. That being said, you’re almost always going to find someone who isn’t happy with the clinic you’re considering. Don’t let that stop you from considering them because perhaps that person just didn’t have a Niki. And perhaps that person doesn’t post the good stuff as well as the bad, like me. Most people don’t.

Good luck with your journey! And I hope things work out. Feel free to PM me if you’d like more updates on my progress.

*****ENDS*****

I never did receive the ‘pre-op binder’ they mentioned…

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