CGWALKER2012 - This blog is dedicated to you my friend. Good luck on your upcoming surgery and my prayers that you will recover quickly and achieve all that you hope for.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR, JUST A PATIENT THAT LIKES TO SHARE HIS STORY - ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DR BEFORE ALTERING FROM HIS PRESCRIBED DIET AND POST SURGERY NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS.
Hi there CG and I am very glad to have you as my Spark Friend. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns about your upcoming Vertical Gastric Sleeve Surgery. Asking me for one piece of advice means something different to my Bipolar/ADD mental factory, so I am making you one list of things I have learned since my VSG Surgery on May 30th, 2012. What appears below is detailed in even more depth in my blogs, which I encourage you to browse through, especially the ones about dehydration and crazy blood pressure swings - all of which are avoidable if you follow your Dr and Nutritionists orders and learn from how other’s have succeeded.
1: The Vertical Gastric Sleeve Surgery is normally laparoscopic, and unless they find a hiatal hernia to repair while they are fiddling around your inner-bits - it won't hurt as much as you think by the time you leave the hospital. I think I had four holes in my belly total (pictures in blogs); the only one that continued to hurt was the largest one where they took out the 85% of my stomach during the procedure. My Dr prescribed Lortab Elixir (which is a liquid blend of acetaminophen and hydrocodone-same drug as in Vicodin) for pain relief post surgery. It’s easier to stay ahead of the pain than catch up if it gets bad, so I took it regularly for the first three days I was home and then tapered off of it.
2: Be mentally ready for this total lifestyle change beforehand - stock your pantry with everything your Nutrition Team Says, and don't forget Protein Powders or Drinks - I love CytoSport 100% Whey Chocolate Protein Powder and Premier Nutrition's Chocolate Protein Drinks (great for on the go). I find they are cheapest at Costco. It is VITAL that you get the Dr’s recommended amount of protein EVERY DAY – my Dr said minimum of 60 grams per day – most of which I get from drinks, yogurt, cottage cheese and protein bars.
3: During the initial phase of your weight loss and as you progress from clear liquids to soft liquids, blended foods, and "real foods" the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to consume the amount of water your Dr recommends (each one is different). My Dr said drink 64 oz minimum (8 cups) although I now consume nearly twice that most days. This was a huge adjustment for me, since prior to surgery I consumed 12 cans or more of Diet Pepsi per day. I beat that addiction by using Crystal Light Grape (with Energy) powders you mix into your water. The “with Energy” part means they included a small amount of caffeine which helped me wean off of caffeine completely. Now days I am drinking Crystal Light Iced Tea Powders (jumbo pack from Costco), water, or I do allow myself a couple two liters of Diet Pepsi which I pour over ice and allow going flat before drinking one. It literally takes a day to drink that one flat Diet Pepsi then I switch back to Crystal Light or Water.
4: Your entire body is going through a transformation here, so it is also VITAL that you take any vitamins or supplements that your Dr recommends. I currently take two Costco’s Kirkland Brand Children’s Chewable, plus 5000u of Vitamin D and Fish Oil Capsules to help regulate my cholesterol.
5: While the Dr may tell you that your Fundus gland (which secretes hormones to make you feel hungry) is removed during the procedure, they cannot tell you what that feels like. My biggest mistake was making food the enemy before surgery – and before I knew it, because I moved too quickly through the food timeline, I started to throw up, and had a brief return of my childhood bulimia. But once I came clean with my Dr and Nutritionist about what I had done – the Bulimia left, and I started to eat and drink to live properly for the rest of my life.
If all of the above sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t – you just have to re-learn a new routine. Make out a daily schedule or use the one on SparkPeople to plan out your meals and medicines and the times you need to take them. Keeping a steady stream of nutrition and hydration will keep your metabolism up and accelerate your weight loss.
The hardest part for me to realize was how quickly the emotions and trauma that caused my overeating came to the surface once the pounds came off. Immediately after surgery I was very happy and energetic but the rest of my body (skeletal structure) wasn’t ready for the extra activity. Somewhere around the second month I really stopped moving around or getting out of the house, and my mood switched from happy to moody as I processed 47 years of emotions that surfaced now that their shield was gone. This “personal re-discovery” phase of your journey, while difficult, should not be seen as a bad thing. Armed with the right mindset, tools, and support system, you can do as I did when I coined the term “Brain-Farming” where I worked through my issues by weeding out the old bad memories to make room for happier days to come. It works.
Blogging really helped me grow too, it was so cathartic to write about my journey and even more rewarding when I saw hoe people reacted and commented on my blogs and posts. When LaVell ( MIDNIGHTER1 ) called me his hero in a comment he left me , my life’s journey and purpose changed forever. I learned to treat each day as a gift from above and all I had to do was be the best me, in thoughts, words, actions, deeds, and who I shared my life with. Once the Joy of Spark settles into your heart, life becomes a whole lot more manageable, at least it did for me.
I will say this – your journey that you are about to embark on requires you to be selfish enough to take care of your needs first, and sharing as much as you feel comfy with to your SparkFriends, Teams, and Blogs. What we do every day, how we speak or look at someone affects more people than we will ever realize. But the moment you see firsthand how your Sparking has helped change someone’s view or themselves or has inspired them to get healthy – that my friend is one powerful motivator.
Because my mobility was limited by years of overweight damaged knees and lower back I was lucky enough to have my left knee replacement 20 days ago. I’ve waited for years and am now blessed with mobility – it will take time, but just being able to get out of the recliner without someone’s help is a milestone!!!
VSG surgery does have some very important things you will need to do for the rest of your life in addition to eating and hydrating well. You can NEVER take any aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen or any “NSAID” pain relievers. They could cause a leak or hole in your sleeve which will have catastrophic effects. Your Dr likely prescribe Protonix or Prilosec twice a day (for rest of your life) to prevent stomach acid eating away at sleeve. I was also prescribed Carafate Liquid to take before meals and at bedtime during the first month or two – it is a preventative coating for the sleeve while you heal.
I could go on for hours here, so I want to leave you with this honest request from me as your friend and supporter of your journey. I DID MANY THINGS THE WRONG WAY, you can read in my blogs what happened when I got dehydrated, and settled into a diet of twizzlers and frozen yogurt that nearly killed me. You don’t have to make these same mistakes – just learn from mine. There really isn’t anything I have left out of my blogs regarding my physical or mental health and recovery – so if you have time, read the long blogs – they are packed with information from my perspective.
Then and Now Picture:
Dec. 2011, 245 lbs / Nov 2012, 228 lbs
Here's A Link To My Blogs:
May God bless you today and always -
Your Friend, "Sprink"
If you'd like to meet more personally I can be found on Skype as SprinkleChez or you can SparkMail me privately with your contact for ANY messenger/chat service and we'll get connected that way. Ciao for now!