Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big News

I recently made a scary decision. Some of you already know, but some of you don't.

I'm having Lap-Band surgery on December 23rd.

I've been thinking about it since March, when my dad and stepmother kindly offered to help me pay for it. At that time, I looked into it and totally freaked out. I was not ready! Since then, I've researched it more, contemplated it off and on, talked to people who have had Lap-Band or gastric bypass surgery (or who have family that had either), thought about how my life would change, decided against it, gained lots of weight, reconsidered my decision, and researched it some more. I attended a seminar a couple weeks ago and afterward spoke to Paula about it. She said their offer was still good, so I thought some more and prayed a lot. I pretty much decided to go ahead but wanted to wait 'til I had talked to my doctor. I saw him today and he gave me a big thumbs up.

For those of you who don't know much about Lap-Band, here's a quick run-down. They put a band around the top part of my stomach, laparoscopically, creating a small pouch that doesn't hold very much food. When it's full, it creates a sense of fullness that triggers the brain to tell the body that it isn't hungry any more. The band also controls how quickly the food goes down to the stomach. The inner part of the band has a bunch of small sacks that the doctor can fill with saline to make the band tighter or that can be depleted to make the band looser.

Here are the things I like about Lap-Band (LB from here on out because I'm lazy):

1) As opposed to gastric bypass (GB), it's reversible. (Not that I hope to ever reverse it, because then the weight loss would probably reverse.) There's no cutting or rearranging my insides.

2) It's less invasive than GB. Even with the new laparoscopic GB, LB is much easier to recover from. Probably because nothing is getting cut and rearranged. (Laparoscopic means that there will only be 6 tiny incisions through which the doctors will do everything instead of a big incision that opens up the chest.)

3) It's adjustable. If I'm not losing weight "fast enough", the doctor tightens the band. If I'm losing weight too fast, he loosens it. I like that these adjustments mean I have to meet with my doctor regularly. It feels more hands-on and personal. He'll get to know me and can monitor my progress. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd never go see him because that's how I am.

4) LB is slower than GB. From what I hear, the weight just falls off GB patients. Not so with LB patients. I guess I like this because I feel like it's healthier (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for me. I want my body, brain, emotions to gradually adjust to the weight loss. I want the weight loss to be permanent and I think slower is better - for me, at least. The surgeon says that an average of 2 lbs a week is normal. That seems reasonable.

5) LB is out-patient surgery. I'll go in on the 23rd and come out the 23rd. Because of this, it's also less expensive than GB. I'll only need a week off of work and the surgeon's staff told me I should be feeling okay for Christmas Day - some discomfort but able to move around and participate in the festivities. Oh good. :)

I'm not really scared of the surgery. I'll be asleep, so if I die, I'll just wake up dead. Not a bad way to go, I figure. Plus, if I don't lose weight, I'll probably die sooner than later anyway. I'm a little nervous about the pain, but mostly because I'm not big on pain pills. Nothing personal against them, I'm just not good about remembering to take them (there is one exception). I guess, if the pain's bad enough, I'll remember to take the pill. That simple.

Here's why this is a scary decision:

1) Pre- and post-surgery liquid diet. I have to be on a slim fast diet for 10 days before the surgery and a clear liquid diet for a week after. The second week after the surgery I can start consuming non-clear liquids, but nothing solid 'til the third week. Not really looking forward to almost a month of liquid. No wonder people lose weight!

2) Once I resume eating solids again, my meals will consist of 4 oz. of food. That's it. Do you know how little 4 oz is? It's about 1/4 cup. The next time you eat, try to imagine fitting what you're eating into 1/4 cup. It's not a lot! I'm sure that physically, 4 oz won't be too hard to manage once I get used to portioning out my food. I worry about emotional eating. Eating even though I'm not hungry. I'll totally need to change how I look at food and eating. And, I'll need to come up with alternatives to eating when I'm bored, sad, stressed, etc.

3) I worry about doing something this drastic to lose weight then failing. It happens. I don't want it to happen to me. I want to be fully committed to doing what I have to in order to make this work. I worry that I'll give up, that I'll get tired of trying, that I'll do stupid things, that I'll...fail.

That last one made me want to keep this surgery a secret. If only a few people knew about it, then only a few people would be disappointed in me if I fail. As I thought about it, though, I realized that I'll need as much support and encouragement as I can get. I have no illusions of this being easy. I'll need help. Besides, after the surgery, if you ever eat with me, I'm sure I'll have to explain why I'm eating so little. Did I mention that 1/4 cup is all I'll be able to manage? Yeah. Wow.

Sigh. That's only 1 piece of sushi. Maybe 2.

This is going to be interesting. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!!!


Anonymous said...

You're already in my prayers. I know you'll succeed. I'm already proud of you.

Hey, maybe you could be an emotional gum-chewer now. :)

Melissa said...

You will do great Julie. Anything that you put your mind to, you do it! I too would worry about the 4 oz. portions, but once you get used to it, they will be the norm for you. I know that my mom's portions are about normal or a little less than, and she has been able to keep the weight off now for 4 years. I am happy for you. You will have to keep us all posted, but I of course will see you every now and then, to see you in person!

Framed said...

I think you will do wonderfully. I have a co-worker who has had this procedure. I'm always amazed when she goes off for an adjustment that it is so easy to do.

Cyndi said...

I have a good friend who is getting the band too. She has a blog about it:

Good Luck!

julie said...

Thanks, Sarah, your prayers will come in handy! I think I could handle being an emotional gum-chewer! Good suggestion.

Melissa, thanks for your faith in me. Also, it was helpful to talk with you about your mom's experience. I was told that eventually my portion sizes can return to close to normal, it's good to hear that about your mom!

Framed, I didn't really explain the full story behind the adjustment process, for the sake of brevity and because it's hard to describe. Adjustments are easy, but a little weird, too.

Cyndi, thanks for the website. I'll have to check it out and maybe she and I can help support each other! Thanks!

Booklogged said...

I understand what a big decision this is. I haven't been as brave as you though I've considered it many times. This is a good time in your life to do this, I think. You'll save yourself from weight-related diseases, not to mention increased wear and tear on your joints. My knees have been killing me lately.

My thoughts, prayers and encouragement have been sent out to wrap around you and give you a big hug.

Anonymous said...

Hey keep it up and keep going strong, but remember always be on top of your nutritional supplements. here is a website that could help you they send out free samples as well. Take care.

Cardine said...

I'm scared for you (two pieces of sushi!?), but I know you can do it! Let's play volleyball or tennis soon.

tearese said...

Oh, I hope everything goes okay! A girl I knew in Seattle had one of those surgeries (I'm not sure which one.) I saw pictures of her from before I knew her, and I was shocked at how skinny she was now in comparison.
I'm glad you chose this option over the other one where they cut stuff up; that can't be good for you. And I'm glad you're not taking Alli or something...that definitely can't be good for you. I hope you'll be okay!
(Thats a kiss. On the cheek of course.)

julie said...

Book, thanks for your support. Weight-related problems are things I worry about and are part of the reason I've decided to have the surgery. Thanks for the big hug! I felt it! I hope your knees stop hurting soon!

Anon, thanks for the tip about the supplements. I'll remember. And thanks for the website - I'll check it out!

Cardine, I know, eating sushi may not be an option for awhile. If it ever is again, it'll be a totally different experience, I imagine!

Tearese, I know, the idea of getting cut up and rearranged totally doesn't appeal to me. I mean, lots of people do it all the time and it works great for them. It's just not for me. *shudder* Oh, and I loved the kiss on the cheek! Right back atcha! :)