Well after a fairly uneventful few months, I’ve finally got something to report about my bandster journey. With less than three weeks left until my 1-year anniversary, 5 fills, 8 ccs and 30lbs later, it is with great regret that I report that I am no longer living in a barf-free zone.
That’s right ladies and gentleman, me and my lap-band managed to control my overeating for nearly a year. Although I’m pleased I lasted this long and it does seem to be a pretty clear indication that I may just be at my sweet spot, it does cause me mental (and physical) discomfort to know that what brought me over the edge was some sub-par chicken tikka masala and naan bread. Um hum. India food. And I didn’t even get to digest it before it made me sick!
So, in the interests of science and in education for fellow bandsters, I’m going to describe what it was like to yack as a result of my lap-band. I feel I must include a disclaimer before I proceed with the gory details though… It’s not for the feint of heart – so be warned!!!
Okay, first things first. I did not overeat. I ate too fast. I ate less than a cup of food. I’ve been able to eat far more than that on average even since my 5th fill a little over two weeks ago, so I’m certain it was a matter of distraction.
It started off with a bit of discomfort. I’ve experienced this before when I’m out and about with friends and I eat without thinking. Sometimes I don’t chew my food well enough and I have to stop eating and have a rest. But the discomfort persisted. I felt a bit of tightness in the chest like the feeling you get when you swallow to avoid choking when someone makes you laugh during dinner. It’s painful but with a normal stomach, the pain will subside when the food moves down toward your esophagus. With a lap-band, not so much.
On the rare occassion I’ve eaten a bit quickly, I tend to stop, take a break and sometimes get up and walk around. I tried that approach and it didn’t work. The food was still stuck. It felt like it was getting worse instead of better…
I then found myself standing in my bathroom taking deep breaths waiting to be sick. The next thing that happened is what I understand to be called ‘sliming’ (not to be confused with slimming!). It’s where your body pushes out the excess saliva you produce to try to push food down your esophagus but it doesn’t go down. Since the food is actually blocking the passage way, you’re esophagus fills with the liquid and overflows. It’s not quite barfing, but you do have to spit it out quickly.
Then came the vomiting. LOOK AWAY NOW if you’re of a weak disposition!!!! What a strange sensation! It didn’t hurt one bit, it was very easy. Just a slight urge which is nothing like what vomiting was like before. The strangest part is what it looked like. I can only liken it to one thing: a lava lamp. It didn’t come up in tiny pieces with liquid. It came out in one weird slimy glop. It almost oozed. I know, I can here your revulsion now. Well, imagine mine!!
Anyway, the important thing is I’m totally fine. I survived and so will you if you find yourself in a similar position. I get a lot of questions about my progress since my updates have slowed significantly and most of them involve this part of the process. Nobody wants to hear that they might be sick if they eat too much. But it’s a fact of life after lap-band surgery. So, do keep that in mind. You CAN avoid it, but you’ve got to chew your food and make good choices. Let’s be honest: the last thing I should be eating is an Indian curry. But next time I do, I’ll definitely chew, chew, chew!!
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.
Went without pain meds again last night only this time without the hot water bottle. Not a great idea. Not only is it still chilly in O-Town, I had some mildly annoying gas pain in the neck when I laid down. To top it off, I thought it might be a good time to stop staring at the ceiling and try sleeping on my side again. Yet another BAD IDEA!
I was comfortable and relatively pain free so I thought I’d give a rotation a try. I slowly rolled over to my left side and initially felt fine. Then, seconds later, out of nowhere I felt the familiar tearing sensation of Days 1-5 on the muscle near my port site. It’s painful in such an annoying way that when it happens I just freeze up for fear of making it worse. The only way to stop it is to place my hand flat over my port site and press against my stomach. It’s like when you bump your knee and instead of just walking it off you bend down and rub the pain away. Only NO rubbing.
So, I could just barely roll onto my back without screaming my head off.
But I was being stubborn so I still went without the pain meds. This meant I had to lay there wishing the burning sensation away for some time before I fell asleep. The pain didn’t subside until well into this morning either. I shan’t be rolling over again anytime soon!
On the plus side, today is the last day of the ‘full liquids’ stage of Slimband’s post-op plan so I spent it finishing up some of the great soups I’ve been eating for the last 5 days and ensuring I’ve got all the ingredients I’m going to need for Stage 3: Mushies ie puréed soups and stews, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, applesauce etc.
The full liquids stage hasn’t really been all that much of a challenge since the Slimband recipes have been pretty tasty and easy to swallow. I’ve been sticking to their meal plan quite strictly and I’m really pleased with my progress. I’ve only had a few instances where it was difficult to get things down the hatch and they were way back around Day 6. It’s only been easier since then. I even managed to eat out with my family once this week which really helped with my morale. It gets pretty lonely having to eat only the foods that I’ve prepared every 2-3 hours for days!
That being said, I’m told moving on to mushies can be a bit of a challenge what with the immanency of yacking around every corner. Apparently, it’s quite difficult to get these foodstuffs down to the old tum via the little one. It’s okay for me to eat just about anything again but it’s got to be puréed. I’m not entirely sure how many blended meals I could tolerate but if I don’t blend them well enough, I could quite literally blow chunks!
I’m thinking it won’t be so bad. I’m hoping it will be a little like Days 1-5. There were times where I couldn’t swallow water without first tipping my head back as far as it would go to ease the liquids down my esophagus. But I got through that just fine.
I picked up some of Mom’s homemade chicken stew to purée for tomorrow’s lunch and I honestly can’t wait. Another nutritious and delicious dish to get down my gob. I feel like instead of hating food like I thought I would, I’ve simply solidified my undying love for new kinds of nourishment. Then again, I suppose I’ll see how I feel if I have to bolt to the bathroom every time I try a new kind of sludge. Which, I gotta say, is another thing -albeit unhealthy- I could have done to lose weight WITHOUT spending $16K!
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.
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.