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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!

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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…

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.

Let Me Clear My Throat

Hmph. Woke up feeling pretty tight this morning. Was difficult to get even water down at first. Not so difficult that I couldn’t swallow it and keep it down but it felt quite similar to the way I felt around Day 4 or 5.

hmph

Since I’d had some real food last night (tried BBQ’d pork tenderloin souvlaki chewed literally hundreds of times and a tiny salad), I figured it’s just all part of the process. I must admit though, that moving on to real food, although super exciting, also makes me live in fear of band slippage due to eating too much or too solid too soon. I’m feeling a lot better now but it’s still a bit more difficult to swallow today than it was two days ago.

I’ve also got that irritating port-site pain again. It’s not as strong as it has been in the past. It’s more like a niggling now but still annoying nonetheless. I guess it’s going to take some getting used to having it near my bra line.

I didn’t have near as much water or eat as often as I should have today either…It’s late in the evening and I’m only now starting to really hydrate again. On top of all that, my (ahem!) monthly visitor came nearly a week late (at 41 days and has definitely overstayed its welcome by nearly an extra week. Apparently, irregularities such as this are directly linked to hormonal imbalances caused by rapid weight loss, poor nutrition and trauma such as surgery.

In other news, I’ve decided to follow the Clean Eating meal plan in their May/June 2010 issue. I went for a shop and found pretty much everything on the list at Costco and Superstore. The only things I couldn’t find were Silken Tofu (Sobey’s carries it though) and dried figs. The whole list for Week 1 cost somewhere in the region of $225 so it really wasn’t cheap. But I’m hoping it will all pay off.

I’m Off To See The Wizard!

Well, today’s the day. I’m leaving in approximately 10 minutes for the 4.5 hour drive to TO. I’m really a bit overwhelmed with it all and am struggling to feel anything. I’ve got a twirling feeling in the pit of my stomach but I’m not entirely sure if that’s my concern of starvation due to my prohibition from food or drink (not even water) for the entire day. I’m certainly hungry but it’s the no drinking that really concerns me…well, not really. It’s not like I’ve got nothing for my body to live on! No food or drink allowed

The really shocking thing about this whole process so far is I’ve actually lost a whopping 7 lbs on the pre-op diet.

I feel a bit like a contestant on The Biggest Loser. It’s funny because most of the images I found whilst Googling “no food or drink” had images of burgers and fries in them. Not only am I not allowed to have those TODAY, I won’t be able to even consider eating them for about 3 months. Shock, horror!!

I guess what surprises me most about the image is that burgers and fries are such a part of North American culture that a strike through them  both is the clearest way to tell our people not to eat something. It’s like they’re the most recognizable food in our culture. Things that make you go hmm, eh?

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…

Real Slim Shady or Why Slimband Should Change Their Customer Service

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:

****Begins****

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.

***ENDS***

Bandying About or What Lap-Band Surgery Looks Like

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.

Gastric Band - Lap 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.

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