My Gastric Sleeve

September of 2016, I walked into the hospital in the wee morning hours, with my boyfriend holding my hand and I knew my life was about to change forever! I was terrified…I mean I prayed on the way to the hospital and prayed as I changed into my hospital gown, and prayed until I was knocked out! I honestly almost backed out, but I didn’t and here’s why.

As I have shared before, my weight has always been something that i’ve struggled with most of my life. I wrote an entire blog about it here, so check it out when you’re done reading this! When I met my husband I was at a good weight for myself, I was happy with how I looked and felt. We had the BEST courtship!!! We lived 4 hours away, and that was hard but it forced us to have that old school communication and when we saw each other it was the most exciting and adventurous times together filled with the best foods Baltimore and Virginia had to offer!. Over the course of a few years, I put on that relationship weight but it was so hard to see because he made me feel like I was perfect. Unfortunately I started to feel the weight. Then Brian and I suffered a devastating miscarriage. It rocked my world. I was so angry with my body that I gave up on myself. I turned to food and became lethargic and before I knew it I had gained almost 30 lbs in the matter of a few months!!!

So that was my motivation. I woke up one day and knew I had to make a change. When I was still pregnant I woke up from a dream and our baby’s name came to me…Arrow. Brian loved it and there was a lot of symbolism at the time that made us both know that we would name our child that. Once we lost the baby the name Arrow became even more symbolic and I used Arrow as my source of strength to get me through my journey. I contacted a local dr that a few of my friends had used for bariatric surgery and I started the journey. Now the time frame from the first appt to the actual surgery can vary depending on the kind of insurance you have. I was blessed that I only had to wait 4 months for my surgery. In that time I had multiple classes to attend, I had to speak to a psychologist, and I had to see my family practitioner to clear it. It was a lot to prepare for but I was excited to make strides towards a healthier lifestyle. Now a lot of people have asked me why the gastric sleeve and not the bypass. Well that was a personal choice for me. The bypass is very invasive and it scared me. That’s not to say it’s not the best choice for you, but for myself it wasn’t the right fit. I wanted something to help me, to give me a jumpstart with my weight loss and the sleeve did just that. Now I will be completely honest and tell you that if you don’t do the work over time you WILL gain the weight back..but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

The morning of my surgery I had my vitals taken, asked to clean my stomach with this iodine looking antibacterial wash and after that I slipped into my gown and awaited as my anesthesiologist and surgeon came in and gave me a run down of how the surgery would go. I was still so nervous, but right before I was wheeled back, I got to see Brian and he was wearing an Arrow necklace I made him. I stared at that Arrow and knew that our baby was the reason for all of this. After losing our baby I had to find something good to come from it. I knew this was it, our baby was a huge part of me getting my life back! So off I went, and once in the operating room I would be transferred from my bed to the operating bed and before I knew it, I was out. I came to hours later, confused and so thirsty! I was told before the surgery that I would not be able to have anything to drink for 24 hours, but I was so confused that I just kept begging for a drink. The nurse came over and told me I couldn’t have anything to drink until they tested my pouch, the part of my stomach that was left over after the surgery. I will. not lie, the first day after my surgery was bad. I was in pain, I was uncomfortable, I was disoriented, I just remember feeling a bit regretful, but that would definitely pass. Later that night my friends, Jennifer and Lisa (who also had this surgery) came to visit me and stressed the importance of getting up and walking a bit. I DID NOT want to do that, but I knew it was important for not only possible clogs but to start getting your body moving to recover faster. It took forever but I got out of bed and walked to the end of my room and back. It was hard, painful and exhausting but it was important. The next morning I had my pouch test. It consists of drinking a substance and then having an x-ray done to make sure there is no leakage. Well let me tell you after this surgery you are lucky to get a tiny vial of liquid in your stomach, let alone a little cup. It was painful and I knew like most people who have to do this test that I would end up throwing it up! Sadly if you do throw up before they get the x-ray they make you drink it again, so I was determined to keep mine down! They make you drink 2 different substances, and I was able to drink them get the x-rays done and after they put me in back in my bed, I threw up everywhere!! That second day in the hospital consisted of drinking water as often as I could because chances of you becoming dehydrated are great due to the small amount you can ingest at a time. It also consisted of getting out of bed more, walking around and using the restroom on your own. My time in the hospital was not fun, but again I knew this was all for a good reason so I pushed past my doubts, pushed past the pain and focused on the day to day. After the third day I was released to go home and continue to heal.

The surgery is laparoscopic so I ended up with 5 little scars, and one large scar that was used to pull out the part of the stomach that they removed. Now everyone responds differently to this surgery. Those closest to me told me they were fine within days, or up to a week with little pain. So I was optimistic that I would be fine, but my pain was higher and lasted longer. I’m not sure if it was because I have had 4 kids and maybe my stomach muscles weren’t very strong, but my large incision scar was very painful. A simple trip to the grocery store turned into me needing to use a wheelchair. I couldn’t stand for long, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach whenever I tried to exert myself and it was very difficult. I went back to work after a few weeks and I had a very hard time. I found myself in so much pain I was unable to sleep in my bed, having to sleep on my couch for almost 3 weeks. For myself this surgery was painful and I was in a lot of pain for exactly a month. Once again, it is different for everyone, but I need to be honest because I had a vision of what I thought it might be, and the reality was different. And for some perspective, I have, like I mentioned, carried and birthed 4 kids, one being a c-section and another doing it with no epidural. So I have a decent pain tolerance and can normally soldier through. As hard as it was though, I would do it again in a heartbeat!!

The day after my surgery vs. 7 months later

The day after my surgery vs. 7 months later

So as far as the journey goes, allow me to be blunt with you. If you don’t put the damn work in, the results won’t last. The sleeve surgery requires the surgeon to go in and remove a large piece of your stomach before stapling it back up. The results cause you to only consume a small amount of food, therefore resulting in loss of weight. But what you eat is very important because over time your stomach will expand and cause you to be able to eat more. So if you go into this thinking it’s a quick fix then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. It is not a fast fix nor is it the easy way out. It is simply a tool to help you and without you putting the work in, you will not get the results you want. Before getting this surgery you need to do some soul searching. You need to recognize your relationship with food and try to see food as fuel and not what you normally see it as. I was dedicated but I still failed at parts of this. I followed rules, but over time I allowed myself to fall victim of the foods that helped get me to where I started. After a year I lost 70lbs, but since have put back on 20 of those pounds. It came from being careless, from thinking a meal here and there that I know was not good for me would be ok, and before I knew it I found myself having to have that talk and knowing that I needed to get back in control of my eating. After your surgery you will be encouraged to eat a high protein low carb diet, mostly because you will not be able to eat as much and because you can’t take in as much nutrients and you’ll need the protein to make sure your body doesn’t eat away at your muscles. It is also because carbs turn into sugar which is a huge no no with this surgery. You can and will most likely deal with what they call “dumping” which is when you eat something that your body does not want and it does whatever it can to get rid of it and quickly! This means you start to sweat, your heart races, and you end up either throwing up or having diarrhea or BOTH at the same time!!!! It’s pretty bad and painful and a quick reminder what you can no longer eat carelessly! So once again if you don’t get ahold of your emotional tie to food, then you will have a hard time dealing with the after effects of this surgery.

I will end with this note. This surgery can be amazing and if you are considering it, please do your homework. Take your classes seriously, read as much as you can on this topic, join support groups and know that you are doing this to better your life!! Do not listen to the negativity that is out there, and do not take this lightly. This is your health, your body, your life and you should not make this decision lightly. As I stated above, I have slipped and the one thing I have decided to get myself back on track is the keto diet. I plan on tracking my journey both here and on my instagram so if you want to join along then make sure you subscribe to my blog and follow me here! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them all. Remember to love yourself, no matter what your outside looks like. Weight-loss will not fix what you have going on inside so don’t think that your problems will be solved once you lose weight. It will not, and you will find yourself back to square one if you have that mentality. This journey has been more about my mental than my physical and it' took me awhile to admit that. Since coming to that conclusion I have become more successful and that is the journey I can’t wait to show you!!

As I always say, live your best life and have a blessed day!

love,

Lissa

the morning of my surgery vs. a year out

the morning of my surgery vs. a year out