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Weight Loss Surgery Journal

Oct. 30, 1999
     Weight loss surgery was recommended to me a year ago by a nutritionist that I was going to, but at the time I was just not ready. I wanted to try one more diet combined with Meridia. So here I am a year later and ready to go forward. I have researched and selected Dr. Schauer in Pittsburgh to do lap gastric bypass. I have received the forms and will be faxing them in on Monday. I am concerned that I will not be approved by my insurance co. My BMI is 40 and I am 100 lbs overweight but I have no co-morbidity. I have a very bad back that is almost to the point that I can't work. My doctor at the pain center has said that my weight is a contributing factor, but that isn't really a co-morbidity. My blood pressure is fine and I am not diabetic. But my father had a heart attack at my age. I am looking for a better life. Will keep everyone posted.

Nov. 19, 1999
     I had my first appointment with Dr. Schauer and was very impressed. I arrived with a list of questions which he answered carefully and completely. Both my husband and I feel very confident that this is the right decision and that he is an excellent surgeon. Dr. Schauer felt that I am an excellent candidate for weight loss surgery and because my BMI is on the lower end, I should have no trouble reaching my goal weight. He also felt that insurance approval would be no problem. We will see!

Dec. 1, 1999
     Because my appointment was on Friday, Dr. Schauer's surgical nurse said that she would send the information in to the insurance company on Monday. One week later, I called the insurance company and inquired. They could not find my information. I called the nurse back and she confirmed that she had gotten all the information together and had given it to the office insurance person. I called him the next day and left a message for him. He returned my call the following day and told me that he had called my insurance company, gave them all the information and that I was approved. Just like that!! I burst into tears. I was expecting that I would have one of those horror story experiences, but it was so easy! Tonight we went to the first support group meeting. My surgeon has them once a month and it gives everyone an opportunity to talk to people who have had the operation as well as ask Dr. Schauer and his staff questions. I am so excited!!!

Dec. 3, 1999
     I got my date for surgery today. It is Jan. 25th. Because January can be so unpredictable here in Pittsburgh, I immediately reserved a room at a hotel 3 blocks from the hospital so my husband and I can be there the day before just in case we have a snow storm warning. We live 20 miles away and I don't want to take the chance of being snowed out for this surgery! I am starting to schedule all of the pre op tests and consider how and when to tell the rest of my family and my work!

Dec. 22, 1999
     I am working hard to complete my pre-op testing. The only pulmonary testing that I needed was an oximeter study. I picked up a machine from Montefiore Hospital. I had to wear a sensor under by nostrils and a clip on my index finger overnight. I then returned the machine and they read the results. My results were normal and I required no further follow-up. I then had my psych evaluation. The psychologist offered to hypnotize me just prior to surgery so that might be an option. Next was an appt. with a nutritionist. This was for the most part a waste of time. With all of the research I have done, I didn't learn anything new. Tomorrow I have my cardiology appt. Just about half way there!

Feb. 12, 2000
     I had my surgery on Jan. 25th, 2000. The surgery went well. The morphine for pain was not enough so they added Toradol which did the trick. The day after surgery I had my swallow test (upper GI) and they detected a leak. The following day they repeated the test and the leak had seemingly sealed itself. They did not want to administer a 3rd confirming swallow test for another week, however because they didn't want the stress of a 3rd test to aggravate the leak. So they sent me home from the hospital on IV fluids and nothing by mouth for a week. When the 3rd test showed no leaks also, I was able to start clear liquids, then full liquids 3 days later. I am now on pureed foods. Although I don't have much energy, I do try to get out somewhere every day, even if for just a drive. I am also exercising - 12 minutes on the bicycle every day. I have also lost 21 pounds in 19 days!

March 24, 2000
     I had my 2-month appointment yesterday.  Fortunately they did blood work and discovered that my iron levels are low.  That is why I have been having such a problem with my energy level. I will be taking Nifrex forte.  I have lost 37 pounds and am just thrilled!!!

     I still have absolutely no appetite and worry that I am not eating enough.  My calorie level per day is about 400-500.  But food just does not appeal to me.  It is so hard to believe.  I have always had such a HUGE appetite.  Now I just eat to live no longer live to eat.

May 26, 2000
     I had my first major problem last week.  It was so awful, but turned out to be nothing serious.  At work on Tuesday I was eating some soup when I had horrible stomach spasms.  They were so bad that I had to close my office door and lie on the floor.  I called my husband and he wanted to come to get me, but frankly I was so sick that I didnt want to wait for him to get there.  I left work and he met me on the road.  The stomach spasms continued.  Finally that evening I called Dr. Schauer. He was scrubbing for surgery, but he took my call in the operating room. I was scared.  I had no idea what could be causing these severe spasms.  He thought that it might have been something that I ate that was stuck in my stoma.  He suggested that if it was not better by midnight, to call him again.  Just before midnight I started to retch.  Nothing came up, but the retching seemed to dislodge something.  At least I was then able to sleep.  The spasms continued for the next day but to a lesser degree.  Every 15 minutes or so, my stomach would spasm.  I was exhausted.  I called the office and spoke with Dr. Schauers bariatric nurse.  Here is what we figured out happened.  On Monday I ate some whole leaf cooked spinach.  The spinach formed a clump that really didnt bother me until I ate lunch on Tuesday.  The pressure of the food at lunch pushed the spinach in the stoma where it wasnt able to move causing the spasms.  For the next three days, I stayed on liquids to give my tummy a rest.  I have begun to add solid foods gradually and carefully.

     This was my first real problem and I must say that Dr. Schauer really came through for me.  He was there when I needed him.  By the way, I am now down 64 pounds! I also have had no hair loss.

July 18, 2000
     I am now almost 6 months post op. Wow the time has flown. I have lost 80 pounds and am feeling fantastic. I have had very few problems during this time. My iron levels were low, so I am on a prescription iron medication. This has made a big difference in my energy level. I have very little hunger and still have to remind myself to eat. I have almost no cravings and if I do, just one bite satisfies me. I also have been one of the very lucky ones who has had no hair loss. I have thrown up quite a few times - all because I have eaten too fast. That is my biggest downfall. I'm still working on that. There are still a lot of foods that I can't eat. They just don't sit well with me. I don't eat chicken or beef. I eat a lot of shrimp and cheese. That seems to do it for me. I would do this all again in a minute. Looking forward to losing more weight. Definitely not finished yet.

October 25, 2000
     Today I am nine months post-op.  I find I am able to eat larger quantities, which may be the reason that my weight loss has slowed.  I am now 21 pounds from my goal, and have lost 83% of my excess weight.  You are considered successful if you lose 50% of your excess weight, although most people lose 80% of their weight.  I am very encouraged that in 10 months I have done so well, and expect to reach my goal.  I have gone back to exercising, knowing that this is such an important key to reaching my goal.  But this is about so much more than numbers.  Today I took my daughter shopping after playing a round of golf with my husband.  Life is so much better than it was 10 months ago.  I am blessed!

October 21, 2001
It has been over 1 years since my surgery.  It is amazing how memory makes the experience fade.  When I read someone complaining that right after surgery everything tastes different, I remember that coppery taste that seemed to be on everything, but it seems so long ago.  Things taste just great now.  I remember sitting at the dinner table being full after 2 bites and wondering if I would ever be able to eat anything like a normal meal again, but I have to force myself to remember, because life is so normal now.  It is not normal like it was before because life is not normal when you are morbidly obese. But it is normal like it is for normal weight people.  I eat small healthy delicious meals now, just like normal weight people do.  I eat snacks and sweets, just like normal weight people do well, I probably eat fewer sweets than normal because I do dump a little bit.  But people who dont know I have had surgery would never guess by the way I eat.  It all seems so normal.  And they look at me and think I must have wonderful genes and have never known what it is to struggle with a weight problem.  That struggle I will never forget.  I have had no trouble maintaining my weight.  I am active and participate in life fully.  This surgery has truly been a miracle for me.  I will give you an update in about 6 months. 

April 16, 2002
It is almost 2 years since my surgery.  It is hard to believe that it was that long ago.  I have truly found the Thin Person Hiding Inside Me, but the morbidly obese person is there also.  I live life with pride now.  I am proud of what I have accomplished and proud of how I look.  I feel that I am taking advantage of life now in a way that was not possible before.  I am physically able to participate in life now, but I am also socially able to participate.  Before my surgery, I would hold myself back from doing things.  Even if I was physically able to do some things, I might not have for fear of appearing grotesque.  You can here the comments; even if they arent spoken out loud, Look at that fat woman.  Doesnt she look ridiculous? I still remember.  And in some ways that is why I say that the morbidly obese person is in there also.  I feel like a recovering alcoholic must feel.  I remember my food obsession and what got me to my highest weight and I still deal with those issues and know I always will. I still want to reach for food for no reason at all. I still have the urge to take a bite here, a nibble there, knowing that each bite counts and those calories add up. There are 2 things that keep me from regaining weight.  The first is my wonderful pouch.  This is truly a fantastic tool.  I get that urge to nibble, but I am not hungry or I am full. It is so much easier to control the nibbles than to be totally out of control with the feeling that no food will ever satisfy you.  I believe the binge eating of the past is gone forever.  What a relief! 

The other thing that helps me to maintain my weight is exercise. This is a reality that has been very difficult for me to accept.  I cannot maintain my weight unless I exercise regularly.  I dont have to exercise vigorously or everyday.  But if I exercise for 30 minutes 3 times per week, then I am fine.  If I dont, my weight has a tendency to creep up.  This is a small price to pay to maintain my health and figure. I still have hope that the exercise bug will bite me and I will eventually love it.  Or perhaps it will become so much a part of my existence (like brushing my teeth) that I will feel that I am missing something if I dont do it.  I have not reached that point yet.

I have been very privileged to be speaking all over the country on the topic of weight loss surgery.  This is by far the most rewarding thing I have done in my life.  I love meeting all of you and hearing your stories.  I love giving hope to those of you who have trouble believing that you can be just as successful as I have been.  I love educating people of normal weight that morbid obesity is a disease and this surgery is a sophisticated and relatively safe cure.  Maybe I will meet you some time soon.  It would be my pleasure! 


 My Weight Loss Progress Chart
Date Weight Pounds Lost
1/25/2000 264 0
2/25/2000 240 24
3/25/2000 226 38
4/25/2000 211 53
5/25/2000 200 64
6/25/2000 191 73
7/25/2000 181 83
8/25/2000 172 92
9/25/2000 164 100
10/25/2000 160 104
11/25/2000 154 110
12/25/2000 152 112
1/25/2001 148 116
2/28/01 139 125
10/21/01 139 125


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