Archive for June 28, 2017

Bariatric Surgery Update

I’m back from Ireland. It was as magical as I’d hoped. We had such a blast and I’ll always remember the trip, and also how much more mature Wolfie is than me in the context of long lines at airports, even though he’s only 8 (his words: “Of course I do get impatient, mom, but I just hold it inside and I think about positive things like that we’ll eventually be home and that we’ll be able to see our family”).

Also, after coming home yesterday, I went to a nutrition seminar for bariatric surgery with my husband. I have officially completed all the paperwork (tons of it) so right now I’m in the waiting phase, hoping that my insurance clears the surgery soon so I can get on with it. As usual, I’m impatient. I should probably try to channel Wolfie here.

I’m guessing it will be another 6 weeks before I get the surgery, so around August 9th. That’s four weeks for the insurance to clear, and then once that happens, I need to be on a very strict diet for two weeks heading into the surgery. Theoretically I could get cleared in two weeks, and I could even just start the diet early, but since it’s so intense I’m probably not going to start until I have a date.

The strict diet is essentially a protein-drink only, starvation diet meant to reduce the size of my liver in order for it to be not in the way for the actual laparoscopic surgery. It turns out that many people of my weight have “non-alcoholic fatty liver,” which just means a liver that’s bigger and contains more fat than a normal liver. It can get in the way of the surgeon’s tool, which can be a problem. The good news is that livers respond quickly to dieting, so the two week extreme diet goes pretty far in decreasing the size of the liver to a manageable obstacle.

I’ve been practicing making protein shakes lately, mostly with fruit and milk, in order to get used to them, because generally speaking they’re horrible tasting and sickly artificially sweet. I have found a pretty good one though, by which I mean it’s not too sweet, and I just tried it alone with water, and it was actually fine. The trick is: lots of ice and a really good blender. I got a “Ninja Professional Blender¬†with single serve” and it’s perfect.

Also in last night’s seminar we went over the diet for the various stages of recovery. Here’s a cheat sheet:

  1. For the week after the surgery, you’re never hungry and you only drink, but the weird thing is you have to drink tiny 1 ounce cup of water or broth every 20 minutes while you’re awake.
  2. For a few weeks after that you eat every three hours, even though you’re probably not hungry, but it has to be the pureed like baby food or applesauce. The reason is that your stomach is still healing and is swollen, and might not be larger than the size of a straw in places, so larger chunks of food could get stuck. You also drink tiny amounts very often but you can’t drink and eat at the same time.
  3. After that you start introducing slightly less pureed food into your diet. You eventually eat pretty normal food but your stomach is much smaller than before, so way less of it. They suggest you eat mainly protein, and you eat that first, followed by vegetables and fruit.
  4. They also give you the following long-term rules: never eat and drink at the same time. Never drink carbonated beverages. Try to eat on 25% of your diet in fat, and avoid refined carbohydrates forever. Also, take vitamins every day for the rest of your life.

If that all sounds like a major behavior change, you’re right. It’s intimidating. On the other hand, the people I’ve interviewed have all told me the one thing that I think makes it possible: namely, that you’re not hungry all the time, even though you’re eating way less. That small amounts of food fill you up for hours. This sounds like a miracle to me, as a person whose hunger rages at me like someone screaming in my ears on a daily basis. So I’m taking a leap of faith, knowing that I’m pretty good at following plans I’ve set for myself, and also knowing that once you’ve developed a habit, it’s not that hard to follow it.

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