It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canadia which is always a challenging time for this luscious lapband patient. It’s a weekend of alcohol overindulgence and too much turkey.
For the past 3+ years since I had my surgery, any kind of turkey day has always been the source of some dismay. I can never quite get through a Thanksgiving (or Christmas) dinner featuring the famous foul without finding myself sharing half my harvest-celebration dinner with the porcelain gods.
Well, I’m happy to report that not one bite of my fancy feast with fabulous friends yesterday, or my family today, was sacrificed in the satisfying of this appetite. What was the source of my success in holding down the dinner I hold so dear? Chewing. Lots of chewing. Very, very slowly. I was also very conservative in the quantity of turkey that was piled on my plate.
The secret for me this year really is that I kept my limits in mind and stopped when I felt even slightly full. Granted, I’m a touch on the hungry side right now but I’d much rather be hungry before bed than suffering from the dreaded gastric reflux! Score one PB-Free feast for this lapbandster!
This Mixed Mushroom Pasta looks amazeballs. I’m not supposed to eat much pasta what with my lap-band and the tiny tummy but when I do want pasta, I want it to look/taste like this!
Small servings recommended.
Whilst scrolling through my StalkBook timeline yesterday, I stumbled across an article featured in Oprah Magazine that I thought I should share. The article is a feature written about self-portrait photog Jen Davis who has spent the last 10 years of her life taking perfect pictures of her 269-pound self and has recently undergone lap-band surgery. I so admire her courage and creativity that I wanted to share it with some of my Bandster followers.
The article spells out Davis’s journey from the refuge of life behind the lens to the full disclosure of the physical attributes that she felt kept her there. She did this by turning the camera on herself in an effort to overcome the insecurities she felt were her obstacle to having a healthy romantic relationship. Man, can I relate to that!!
Like Davis, I too found a creative outlet for my insecurities at an early age. As an adolescent I’d wile away the hours writing in black leather bound journals I’d stuff in my drawers filled with tales of a fitter, more desirable me. I wanted to be so much less so I could be so much more. Only I could never share my stories for fear of someone seeing into my soul and realising that the fat popular chick is a wannabe just like the rest of us. Reading this should tell you, I’ve moved from an intense fear of sharing my feelings, to displaying them proudly on my sleeve.
Like Davis, I too have spent my romantic life on the periphery because of my own personal issues with my fatter form. At 33, I’ve only really had two ‘healthy, loving relationships’. I’ve had other (mis)adventures but I often found solace in their lack of commitment and potential for a future. I honestly didn’t think I deserved it and truly believed I didn’t want it. Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure I’m as evolved there as I’d like to be.
Like Davis, I too have a lap-band. Although my rate of success isn’t quite as significant and Davis’, my band has helped me in various ways – including shrinking my stature by a fairly sizeable 45ish pounds. It’s certainly boosted my confidence. I’ve even shared a few sexy snaps of myself recently which I previously wouldn’t, no could’t, have even considered 2 years ago. The romantic side of things may indeed remain a work-in-progress but I’m working through it in my own way, just like Davis.
So, I’m curious to know how lap-band weight loss has affected some of my readers’ romantic relationships. Please leave your comments below.
I’ve baked for most of my life. To pass the time, to find something to focus on, to calm my creative urges or simply because it was the fastest way to score something sweet for myself without having to leave the comfort of my home.
Last summer, before I started at my current job, I went through a phase of baking and decorating cupcakes. I’d follow every recipe to the letter and spend hours trying new ways to make them pretty. I loved it. It felt good to be creative. But it was like waving a liquor bottle under the nose of an alcoholic because I couldn’t actually eat them (at that point I was still adjusting to life after lap-band and could only manage to eat just one of my pretty presents in a day without a huge sugar rush and a very full tummy.)
So, instead of eating them or throwing them in the bin, I started baking batches of cupcakes and giving them away to friends and family instead. And I found that it felt great. I was happy baking, they were happy eating and I had no guilt whatsoever.
Yesterday was a hard day. One of the hardest I’ve had since I’ve been in Ottawa. To say I felt hopeless would be an understatement. And all I wanted to do was numb the pain. Normally I would eat or drink and I really didn’t want to do to much of either of those things because a) I was on my own and b) the guilt would simply add to the situation and I’d just end up in some kind of food-fueled self-destructive slump the next day.
So, in a strong effort to not allow myself to numb my pain with food, I decided to sip the recommended ‘one glass’ of red wine whilst baking my project team a pumpkin cheesecake. It kept me busy and shifted my focus away from eating and towards creating something special for some people I care about. And I felt a whole lot better.
It wasn’t until a friend asked me if I considered baking to be a coping mechanism that I actually realised it is. And it occurred to me that it always has been. Funny what a few things from a pantry can do for a heavy heart. Even if I don’t eat them myself.
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’ve been a bit busy lately and have been keeping my written rants and raves tucked neatly away in my lollipop. Although I’ve had loads to say I just haven’t really had the chance to type it all out. For my own self indulgence I feel the need to do a little brain dump so in the interests of keeping my blog brief yet informative, my musings will follow here in point form today.
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!
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.
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.
Woke up with a bit of port-site pain today. Made me flinch a bit so I had to hunch over and roll a little to get out of bed. It flared up again a few times throughout the day. It was a pretty active day though and I also drank a lot of liquids. Perhaps it’s my puffed out tummy causing the irritation…
It just feels so funny. It’s really hard to describe…it’s like there’s a cat between my skin and my stomach muscles that happens to be using said stomach muscles as a scratching post. But very inconsistently. There’s no movement that prompts the sensation more frequently than any other movement. The pain just…is. And it’s not there the whole time. It’s totally intermittent. I imagine it’s still healing as there are still hints of the bruise on my hand from my surgery IV.
I keep poking my protrusion a little hoping I’ll get used to how it feels but I’m not sure I ever really will. It sorta feels like a button on my belly without a hole leading to it. At the very least I hope to build up some scar tissue in the process of my prodding. We’ll see though. Perhaps I’ll check with Slimband about it…
I had a pretty fun-filled Friday this week. Babysat my little cuz when he was home sick from school. That kid’s always a delight even when he’s barfing. The day was a bit of a challenge though because my auntie’s house is quite rarely the home of healthy food. So, I did myself a favour and packed a can of Baxter’s Lentil & Bacon, some Mott’s Peach Medley and a tiny bit of the good stuff and went on my way.
I did quite well with the food and had no trouble at all getting any of it down. In fact the Peach Medley was an absolutely delight. I’m really not a big fan of applesauce or apple flavoured things so I pleasantly surprised to find such a tasty treat that was actually good for me and pretty-much Slimband approved (it’s applesauce so it’s approved right??).
Went out in the evening with some lovely ladies from back East.
Normally, it would have been quite a challenge for me to pace myself to ensure I didn’t eat myself out of my pants but we decided to go out AFTER dinner which worked out great for me. I had some green puree and headed down town.
I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with the consumption of alcohol what with my new tiny tummy and my complete lack of a carbohydrate cushion to absorb the copious amounts of alcohol I would normally consume on such an evening. But I did just fine. I opted for martinis (which I LOVE) to keep the volume low and since I don’t want encourage the vomiting I should be experiencing at this point in my lap-band journey, I took things very slow.
I was thoroughly enjoying my evening with my chums with it dawned on me that I’d actually eaten the cherries in the bottom of my cocktails. I honestly couldn’t believe I’d done it. It was so automatic to finish my drink and chomp down the cherry. I was pretty scared I’d be sick until I realised I’d eaten them more than a half an hour before.
So, for the first time in 14 days I ate something. And it felt pretty normal. Granted, I chewed it pretty thoroughly, I didn’t choke and I didn’t have any tummy trouble. What a relief! I guess I can add cherries to the list of foods I’m allowed to eat when I’m actually supposed to be eating! Until then, it’s back to mushy meals.
It’s been 14 days since my lap-band surgery. It’s also been 14 days since I chewed anything. Everything I’ve put in my mouth since the day before surgery has been liquid, puree or mush. None of which requires the use of my teeth or my jaw to get it down my gob.
When I put a piece of my favourite gum in my mouth while rushing to catch my chariot I’m pretty sure I had a taste of trismus. More commonly known as lockjaw, the muscles just weren’t prepared for any kind of movement. There was pain and cracking and lots of things that just shouldn’t happen when I’m chewing.
So, I had to slow things down. I had to teach myself to chew without causing myself any pain. Needless to say, I couldn’t chew it long and got rid of it in minutes. Considering I’m not even supposed to be chewing gum (or anything else), I pretty much got off easy.
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.
I never did receive the ‘pre-op binder’ they mentioned…
I’ve been using LapBandTalk.com as a resource for gathering information on LAP-BAND® surgery. A member of the forum asked for information on Slimband in Toronto. Since this is the clinic I’ve been dealing with, I wanted to add my post to this blog.
This is my reply to wanpangtang’s query:
I’m in the process of booking my surgery with Slimband right now.My surgery is scheduled for April 16th and I’m really looking forward to it. So far my experience has been a bit of a roller coaster. It went like this:
1. First point of contact was with someone called Tara (I think). I’m not entirely sure what her name was but I’ll tell you now she was super pushy and VERY rude to me. I was debating between having my surgery in the UK (where I’d been living for the last 7 years) and having it done in Canada. She was so rude to me about choosing some ‘foreign’ doctor to do my surgery and tried to scare me into believing that NO canadian doctor would take care of me after I’d had surgery abroad. I explained to her that I already had a doctor lined up as a family member had their LAP-BAND® done abroad in January. She still didn’t believe me. She told me she’d never heard of any doctor willing to clean up some other doctor’s mess. VERY rude, very pushy and a complete liar. I was not impressed. BUT I wanted to know the cost and she wouldn’t tell me so I asked to speak to a ‘consultant’.
2. I spoke with a consultant called Niki. She’s actually the woman from the TV ads and on the website. She was completely different to my first point of contact. She was pleasant and listened to all of my questions and answered them to my satisfaction. She explained that even though I’m based in Ottawa, they have ‘outreach programs’ and a doctor in Ottawa that does fills/defills for Slimband. Well, it seems it’s the same doctor I was going to go to when I was thinking of getting my surgery in the UK. Anyway, Niki gave me plenty of information and helped me through the application process. That being said, when there was a delay with a fax I should have sent the sales person pressure came out of Niki as well. She pulled out classic sales tactics 101 and tried threats, fear, implying she did me a favour, and strict deadlines. I ended up sending her the information she was after and literally haven’t heard from her since.
3. Now, the thing that’s weird for me is that throughout Niki’s sales pitch I was told that Dr Patrick Yau had completed over 3500 surgeries and that the rest of the staff had completed nearly another 1500. I made it clear from the start that if I was going to go with Slimband I wanted Dr Yau. I’ve tried on multiple occasions to get confirmation that Dr Yau will be performing my surgery and even suggested that if he’s not available I’m prepared to wait and all communication has gone cold. No response.
4. I received the ‘services agreement’ and in the agreement it says that any member of their surgical staff that they deem suitable may perform my surgery. I wasn’t told THAT during the whole sales pitch!
5. The services agreement also outlines an ‘explanatory binder’ and a ‘surgery DVD’ that I should receive but I haven’t yet and when I’ve asked about it twice none of the contacts have provided an explanation.
6. I tried to join Myslimband.com and post questions and comments but for some reason I can’t post anywhere. I sent a message to Amy the administrator a couple of days ago and haven’t heard anything back. It seems pretty silly to me to have a ‘forum’ when only SOME people are allowed to be involved in the discussion.
So, here I am living in Ottawa awaiting a surgery from a COMPANY I’m not entirely sure I want to work with. All of their staff have told me to email them with questions or concerns and their website promotes their ‘support’ for their clients but since I’ve signed the $16,000 away, I haven’t really had ANY real answers to my questions.
I’m trying to be balanced here so I will say that I’ve had my blood work done and it has Dr Yau’s name on it but I wonder if any other Slimband patients have had his name on their forms and had their surgery done by another doctor. I’ve also got the pre-op diet information sheet which is easy to understand and follow. I’ve started today but I’ve got some questions and since non of the Slimband staff are replying to my emails and I don’t have any permissions in the Slimband forum I came here.
Not only am I nervous about this life-changing surgery and the $16,000 debt I’ve just agreed to I’m totally confused because I’ve got plenty more questions AND I don’t even know who my surgeon is going to be.
I’ve found some answers here so this forum has been a pretty big help. Keep looking around and you’ll find more answers yourself.
I don’t mean for this to discourage you or anyone else considering Slimband because when the contact silence finally ends I’m sure I’ll end up happier but I guess I just feel a bit trapped now when I should be feeling anticipation and some relief for the life change ahead of me.
Since I’m going to be writing a lot about my journey I thought I’d give a bit more detail about what kind of weight-loss surgery (WLS) I’m doing, exactly. There are two major types of WLS for one to choose from: Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding (or LAP-BAND®). I’ve opted for Gastric Band surgery.
WLS has been popularized in recent years by celebrities such as Carnie Wilson. She had the more invasive gastric bypass surgery back in 1999, which complete rearranged her gastrointestinal tract. There are a number of pros and cons for each surgical path but I’ve opted for the less invasive (and completely reversible) gastric band.
Gastric banding surgery is done laproscopically and the entire surgery takes a little over an hour. The picture above provides a very clear illustration of what my stomach will look like internally after the surgery is completed. The port will be hidden under the skin and a doctor will use this as the entry point to fill and de-fill the hallow band around my stomach to increase or decrease the restriction on my stomach.
What this means is I’ll no longer be able to overeat for fear of choking or being physically sick. It doesn’t affect my digestion or the absorption of nutrients in my body, it simply restricts the amount of food I can eat in one sitting. Since it’s adjustable I have control of how restricted my eating will be. It’s also possible to remove the band entirely without any permanent damage to my stomach.
Although typically bandsters (those who’ve had the surgery) lose an average of 1-2 lbs per week, it’s by no means an EASY solution to weight loss. My diet will definitely change as there are a number of things bandsters physically can’t eat at first. But once I get used to eating with the band in place, I should be able to eat most foods again.
So, I’m still going to have to focus on a eating healthy diet for the rest of my life like I would if I didn’t have WLS. The surgery is just going to FORCE me to do it.
I did a lot of research on WLS to arrive at my decision. I checked all over Canada and the UK and even considered Mexico at one point (my uncle had his done there in January 2010). But when I spoke to the good people (thanks Niki!) at Slimband I was sure their program was exactly what I was looking for. Slimband offers not only offers a highly skilled surgical team (Dr Patrick Yau is doing mine), they offer an intensive 4-year aftercare program to help their patients along their journey.