My Journey

The paragraphs that follow are the journal entries
started 10 days after that phone call.

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Yesterday 06/10/02 I had an appointment with my PCP and he is writing the letter of medical necessity that I need to get insurance approval. I am making appointments for the nutritionist consult as well as the psych consult at this time and I have my first appointment with the surgeon on Thursday 06/13/02. I am amazed at how fast things went once I made the decision to have this surgery. I expected several months to get a consult date but when I called the surgeons office it was scheduled within 2 weeks!

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06/13/02 Today I had a 4 hour appointment at Dr K's office in Delano. Dee was awesome about explaining everything to me and I was impressed by the patient handbook as well as the aftercare instructions and support. I met Dr Z, and have to admit, he is funny, brutally honest, and extremely intelligent. All went well, and I am now well on my way to the preop appointments!

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06/28/02 Jeez, I think I have figured out how they decide if we will survive surgery! If we can live through the preop scramble without passing out we just might make it! I spent my WHOLE day at TDH doing preop stuff! Did all my labs at 9:30, they couldn't find a vein and had to poke me three times! And then when I was leaving, they caught me in the hall "we need just ONE more sample, we forgot a CBC!" GRRRR! Then upstairs at 10:30 for the nutritionist appointment, spent and hour and a half talking, discussing, and finding out that I am more informed then the Nutritionist about the ds'rs post ops needs. (THANKS to the awesome postops on yahoo groups Friends of Keshishian). At 12:30 I had a chest Xray on the North side of the hosital and at 1:30 I had an EKG on the South side. I was out of there finally at 2PM and I was so tired! The good news is that ALL my preop consults and labs are DONE (psych consult was last week)!! The sad news is that my PCP's staff is notorious for losing and forgetting to fax and send paperwork to other MD's. I am going to wait a week (until ALL reports are in), and fax them to Delano myself! All is going smoothly, and quickly, just need to gather the reports together to submit for approval!

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08/06/02 I have completed all my preop labs, Xrays, PFT, EKG, nutritionist, psych consult, and last but not least the letter of Medical necessity and clearance from my PCP! WHEW!!!! That was almost as exhausting as the weeks spent doing it all! Seriously, I am feeling very blessed to be where I am right now. I called Dr K's office the 3rd of June and I had my 1st appointment 10 days later. All my preops were complete within that first month although it took me several weeks wrangling copies of everything from all those places and faxing them myself. I got a call that Dr K's office has EVERYTHING in my file and has already sent in the TAR to MediCal for approval. All in less than 2 months, LOL, now the real wait begins! How long will it take to approve and schedule? No one seems to know but we are praying for October for surgery and it seems to be a definite possibility!

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08/12/02 Have you ever tried to type and have tears rolling down your cheeks at the same time? I got a call this morning from Dr K's office and I just KNEW that it was bad news, there was just no way in hell that MediCal approved this already, so I spent 2 hours just going in circles wondering what I needed to do next! Did MediCal deny the ds? Did they need more info? But God was sure smiling on me today because less than 2 weeks after the TAR was sent in, I am APPROVED and have a date, October 15th! What can I say? I am so damn happy, relieved, nervous, excited, and freaking amazed at what is happening in my life! WHEW!! 2 months from consult to approval!

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9/12/02 I am trying really hard to prepare for surgery, just 33 days to go! I am taking a multi-vitamin, calcium supplements, and eating lots of protein already. I have not had a cigarette in 3 months and don't ever plan to start again! Ray and I are walking every night, 2 miles is perfect, 2 and a half is GREAT! (3 is pushing it!) I found that if I take my meds an hour before our walk I don't hurt and the more I walk, the less the arthritis bothers me daily. The depression has lifted along with the increased exercise and I am really feeling good. I spend a lot of time talking to post ops and well as preops of Dr's K and Z and I feel like I have finally found a place where I fit in! So many different personalities and we all have a common bond, obesity, ds, and Dr's K and Z! They have given me so much strength! The encouragement, love, support, and friendship I have found there is awesome! No question is too gross or too silly, even though we all can get that way at time ourselves! No one puts anyone down for asking "stupid" questions! I have learned so much from this bunch and I am so grateful to have found them! I am counting the days til ds I am getting more excited and nervous with each passing day!

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10/2/02 - 1AM.

Here I sit, bathed in the gentle light of my computer screen, the house is dark and quiet, punctuated by the clicking of my keyboard. I can hear the faint and gentle snores of the dogs and kids and the not so gentle SNORTS of my ex-husband on the couch (long story but rest assured he is such a joy and blessing to have here with us!) and Ray, the love of my life is waiting patiently in bed for me. My mind has been racing all day and I just can't seem to turn it off.

I have made lists of things to pack, things to have ready at home, things to buy, things to do, and just THINGS and more things that need done before the 15th. So many bills to pay, Dr's appointments and eye exams to schedule for the kids, appointments for the guinea pigs and dogs to get toenails clipped, get tags for the truck soon, renew drivers license, buy dog food....you know, all that IMPORTANT daily stuff that we do as superwomen do on a daily basis! We all know the world will stop spinning if we take a few days off, right? I want to have my house in order before that day arrives (even though Ray hired someone to come and deep clean, mop, scrub, and get it ready for me to come home after surgery - you do know you can't have the housekeeper seeing the house DIRTY, right?) I have taken a huge step and CLEANED out my closets! If it is a 22/24 and above, it is GONE!! By the time I can wear jeans again these will all be too damn big! Why wait til I am too tired to do it after surgery? It is DONE and there is no looking back (LOL, and on the off chance that my ds gets rescheduled, AWWWW shucks Honey, I don't have a thing to wear!....wanna shop?) I did save several comfy dresses and some loose capris and tees but the rest is history!

I cried as I packed and gave away many of the special outfits that I had, so many memories as I handled them all and packed them away to send off to new homes. But I saved a very few...the black velvet blouse that I wore on the day Ray and I first met at Chubby's diner in Visalia , the first NASL Fire Department tee shirt (size 2X) that he ever gave me, and the long, silky nightgown that makes his eyes shine when I put it on. Those will remain in my keepsake box forever! Looking back, my fat life was not all bad, in fact, I still think I am beautiful today at 236 lbs! I never felt ugly, just uncomfortable and sick at times. I used to hike in the mountains, walk the theme parks without pain, and enjoy everything that "thinner people do" until the pain began. I am just so tired of being tired and I am sick of hurting! I am ready for the ds and I am ready for the changes that are coming. Am I scared? nervous? anxious? happy? elated? joyous? terrified? thrilled? YES YES YES!!! But I know the mixed emotions are normal and to be expected. I know that as my day draws closer I will settle down and things will fall into place. Until then......I am going to pray for peace, serenity, wisdom, strength and courage. One day at a time! Just 13 days to go....... (hmmmm, shall I start on the bras,underwear, and nighty drawers now?)

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10/13/02 1:10 AM
Can it really be only 2 more days until my surgery? YES!! It HAS to be real! The cashiers check is in my purse, the bills are mailed, fridge stocked for the kids while I am gone, and the dogs have plenty of food! I have my lists made, my shopping done for postop stuff (gauze, GasX, cottonelle wipes, shower chair, etc.....) and all I have to do tomorrow is pack my bag for the hospital and start my liquid (not clear yet) diet! I think Egg Drop soup from Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant sounds about perfect I can eat that stuff by the gallon (at least preop I can!).

Last night was very special.....Ray and I left all the kids at home with my ex while we rented a wonderful king size suite at a local hotel with a spa in our room. We went out to dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant and then retired to our room for an evening of shared pleasures! OK, I admit it, I want to enjoy it while we can because I sure don't plan on holding the drains with one hand and the headboard with the other next week! It wasn't all fun and games though! We did do some "research" during the evening and can you believe that we DID find some amazing variations and alternatives to the old "missionary position"? I was worried that postop the pressure of someone above me in that position could be uncomfortable, so we experimented and found several VERY good ones that seem to be great for no tummy pressure as well as little effort on "HER" part. (You know how fatigued we get after surgery -THAT'S my story and I am sticking to iit!!) It really was a special and wonderful evening and it helped Ray and I both to have that time away from kids, home, phones, computers, and all that goes along with life and families.

Today I went out to the Fire Department early (about 1pm) and just spent a quiet day and evening with Ray (he has to work a 24 hour shift as Battalion Chief). I had to come home at 10pm but for once I wasn't sad to leave him there, I left smiling because when he comes home at 7:30am tomorrow he will be all mine for the next 3 weeks! I am so blessed and I thank God for the kindness and love he gives me everyday!

So here I sit, finally at peace, feeling a sense of calm and of "rightness" with the world. I know the liquid diet, mag citrate, and sore butt routine will make me a cranky witch the next 2 days, but at this moment, I am just thanking God for the wonderful gifts He has given me! 2 more days........

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10/15/02
   Well, 3 AM is finally here! The before pictures were taken, the bags are packed and loaded in the truck, and I have shit (gotta LOVE that mag citrate), showered (as per pre-op orders), and shaved (EWWWWW....who wants hairy legs?) My jewelry is off and my bottom is a bit sore (even Charmin with Aloe can't cure the "mag citrate blues"!) I feel a little nervous but more sleepy! Well, it is 3AM darn it! But I am ready. I am more sure about this than ever before!

I just wanted to thank everyone for all the love, support and information you have given me over these past few months. I am so lucky and so blessed to be surrounded with love and encouragement like I have found with Dr K's bunch! I thank God that I was able to make it to this point so fast and with so few problems (just 4 short months from my first consult to surgery!) OK everyone....it is time to go now.....my date with destiny and that adorable Dr Z awaits!!

See you all on the switched side!

Cindee
(who will soon be fat, naked and unconscious!)

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Surgery Day - October 15, 2002

I walked into the surgical center of DRMC at 5am, was whisked back to a room where they took away my clothes, gave me a gown and these really sexy white leg stockings (not!) and an IV was started. Ray took pictures of my sexy outfit as well as the nurse starting the IV (Thanks Yolanda!), when no one was looking we put a large piece of paper tape across my belly that said "Go Giants" for my wonderful Doc who is also a Giants fan! And since they won the game last night and are headed to the World Series, that must be a good sign!

At 6:15AM The anesthesiologist came and talked to us and asked if I was ready to go…I was…and we did…….At 6:25Am they wheeled me into the OR. I remember being told to use my inhalers and I did, and I said "puff, puff, blow, blow, but I ain't gonna swallow!" and I remember seeing saw Dr Z, Dr K. and the anesthesiologist's very red faces and heard giggles as I fell asleep……I remember nothing at all of the recovery room (I was out of the OR by 9:30), but I was informed that I did ask Ray if he "wanted to have sex with me" as I was wheeled into my room that morning.

Other than that I remember very little but drugs, walking, pain, drugs, walking, pain…….

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10/16/02

Today was a very busy day they tell me, I had lots of phone calls, lots of visitors, and I actually laughed, walked, talked, and held conversations with them all! Do I remember any of it? NOPE…….I do remember sipping blue water to test for leaks and more walking, more drugs, more pain…….

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10/17/02

OK, I think this day was the worst of all, I actually remember it. The walks hurt, I can't straighten up, and I am so damn thirsty! Ice chips just ain't cutting it here! It is really hard to move, I started my period and Ray has to change my tampax as well as wipe my butt for me, now THAT'S real love!!! His many years of firefighting experience has paid off though as he can lift and carry and shift me into so many positions that I don't have to try and strain myself to get in and out of bed or the chair. My tummy is swollen almost double from the surgery and I feel HUGE! It really is hard to move around.

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10/18/02

Well, the day I was supposed to go home, just isn't. My one lung has decided to act up and I am short of breath, my legs and ankles are swelling, and I generally feel like hell. They have me on oxygen and Lasix and things are going well, it just looks like a bit of a longer stay for me. Today I got to go on the Bariatric I diet! If I never see another Jello again it will be too soon! YUCK! But it sure felt good to have something more than ice chips!

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10/19/02

Another day, another few feet walked. It hurts. I can't straighten up. I am not sure if it is the tightness of the stitches, or these damn 44DD's, or just the tummy swollen double, but I am carrying a lot of weight leaning forward and it really hurts! Still on the PCA for pain, and still on oxygen, breathing treatments and Lasix. Still drinking water, eating jello, and drinking broth as ordered (sure isn't because I LIKE IT!). Snuck a bit of Rays mashed potatoes from KFC and it was heaven! I can't wait for REAL food!

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10/20/02

THRILLS, I made it to the Bariatric II diet today, hospital cream of chicken soup and applesauce wasn't bad, but sure left a lot to be desired! Nauseated all the time and hate it! They took me off the PCA today, continued my oxygen, Lasix, and breathing treatments, and I am still walking, slow but as often as possible. I am still sore, my back more so than the incision, but doing it anyway!

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10/21/02

OK, I am sprung! Dr Zahriya decided that I am ready to face the real world! Headed home to my kids, the ex, and 5 dogs. Cruised through KFC on the way home for a chicken breast - only ate part of it, but it was juicy, tender, and solid! I need real food! Ate part of it, no nausea! What a wonderful surprise when I got home my house was SPOTLESS! The ex had not only taken awesome care of the kids all week, he cleaned the toilets, swept, and generally cleaned the whole house as well as doing all out laundry! I LOVE having 2 husbands! One to take care of me, one to take care of the kids!

I am really worn out, very sore, and headed straight to my recliner.

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10/23/02

My incision is healing great! Drains are still there but barely draining, all is clear. I slept a lot yesterday and today I am having those nasty BM's I was told about and Ray is my cheering section. He rates them by smell factor as well as eye burning abilities. I am still having severe back pain and Dr Z is helping me deal with that with medications and Ray is holding my shoulder pulled back with one hand while pushing my lower back forward with the other. It helps! I am able to eat small amounts of scrambled eggs, yogurt, soup, mashed potatoes and gravy, and drinking diet Snapple, water, and Aquafina Vitamin enriched water. Nauseated all the time, vomiting, and dry heaves, miserable, but trying to get through it! I started my supplements today, protein, calcium and vitamins as well.

Tomorrow I get my drains pulled, and I am NOT looking forward to that at all!

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11/15/02

1 month ago today I had my surgery. I have lost 28 pounds and I feel great! I was a 22/24 a month ago and today I wore 18/20 Capris and a 14/16 blouse! WOW!!! I am shrinking too fast to even wear some of the things in my closet!

The duodenal switch is an amazing procedure but I have to admit, it was honestly the HARDEST and most painfully uncomfortable thing I have ever done in my life. And I will admit, I have had a few regrets, but those seem to come when I am having a bout of esophageal spasms or am loaded in the back of an ambulance with a nitro patch on, or when I am hugging the wastebasket vomiting yet again. BUT both of those conditions have been dealt with and life is slowly getting back to normal! I started taking Phenergan last night for nausea and life improved drastically overnight! I can finally hold down liquids!

I actually slept the whole night in bed with Ray and other than a little tightness and soreness around my incision I can move pretty well! I am healing wonderfully!! NO bowel issues at all, unless LACK of bowel issues is an issue in itself! I rarely pass gas, and rarely have loose BM's, so I "go" once maybe twice a day, the smell reeks a bit, but is livable! I am pretty much on a regular diet. I eat chicken breast filets, mini ravioli's, taco bell tacos, and chicken and bacon pizza with white garlic sauce much of the time (and STILL lose a pound a day!) Now that the nausea is better I may be able to add a few things to my diet like eggs, and yogurt, both of which I adore but made me GAG these last few weeks! I love and miss soups of all kinds but again, the nausea wouldn't allow me to eat anything "wet"! I have GOT to work on getting in more protein but the nausea has been so bad that I couldn't even begin to keep down a shake! Hopefully that will improve with the meds and with time as well.

My favorite nibble and much foods are Handi-Snaks Cheese and breadsticks, they seem to stop the nausea quickly, and believe it or not, I guzzle about 40 ounces of water every night in my sleep! I wake up, drink, and go right back to sleep! Whatever works I suppose! Dr Z told me that I "just have to be different"…….how right he is! God created me this way, so it is in God I have to trust to help me get through the months and years to come!

One day at a time, life is getting better and easier, I can't wait to get back to walking 3 miles a day, but right now that seems like a pipe dream! I CAN make it to the corner and back though so for that I am grateful! One month down, 28 pounds gone, and I am just healing, resting, walking, and sipping, AND looking forward to whatever God send my way!
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01/15/03

Three months ago today I underwent a surgery that transformed my life and although it was a rough haul the first month or so afterwards, it HAS gotten better and I know that having the duodenal switch was the best decision I could have made. I was 238 pounds at the time of surgery and today I weigh 198 lbs, a loss of 40 lbs in just 12 weeks and I am FINALLY below 200 lbs! I admit, I do have my moments when I bemoan my “slow” loss, and the fact that I have “only” lost 40 lbs, and at those times I have to remind myself that I was a “lightweight” to start with and that making it halfway to my goal weight in just 3 months is awesome! I have tossed out all those size 24 pants and 2X shirts and bought a closet full of 18’s and a bunch of 14/16’s as well! I look good, I feel great, and my life and health have improved drastically in this short time! I don’t take any high blood pressure medications! I don’t take any arthritis medications! I have stopped using my inhalers 8 times a day and now use it every other day if even that often! My reflux is gone and the GERD medications went along with it! I can walk without stopping to rest, I can take a bath and be surrounded with water, and I can sit in a booth and have room to spare! So much has changed and so much has been regained that I can’t even begin to explain the sense of awe and wonder I feel at the way this surgery has transformed my life. My diet is more normal now and it is wonderful to be able to EAT again!

A normal day for me is this;

Breakfast – 2 eggs with cheese, one piece of wheat toast, 1 slice of bacon,

Lunch- 1/2 of a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread, one hard-boiled egg

Dinner- One piece of chicken and bacon pizza with white garlic sauce

Snacks – celery/peanut butter, apple slices, cheese/crackers, nuts, chicken strips

Drinks – Chocolate soy milk, water, mint tea with splenda

I am losing at a steady rate, slow but sure and my skin is bouncing back wonderfully! I know that in a year or so I might consider a breast reconstruction (after the rug burn on my nipples it is a definite possibility!) but for now, a good bra, and firm support panties are more than enough to keep the tummy and TaTa’s in place! I am happy, and I am feeling healthy for the first time in years! Ray and I are walking again, we are not walking as far s we did pre-op (3 miles a day) but walking 1 mile each evening is stimulating, refreshing, and feels so good! I am still fighting with those esophageal spasms, but we are working with the GI doc to get them under control and hopefully by my next posted update I will have good news about that issue! For now, let me close by saying that I am blessed to belong to a wonderful support group….a wonderful, special, caring, and loving group of people both pre and post-op who are more than just “Dr K’s Friends”, they are Family, and I am blessed to be a part of it!

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01/23/03

I had my 3 month follow up with Dr Z today and I am 196 pounds with a BMI of just 32! I feel wonderful! Ray and I are back to walking 2 miles a day! We have been walking a mile or a mile and a half for a while now, but tonight we actually walked 2 solid miles at a brisk pace! YIPPEE! I never thought I would see the day that I could walk 2 miles again (without stopping to rest or even using my inhaler!!) I thank God for these wonderful blessings in my life, and I also know that the skills of Dr K and Dr Z and the wonderful gift of the duodenal switch has added many, many, more years to my life!

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03/15/03

My loss is slowing, but I am still losing at a steady rate. I have to keep reminding myself that I am OVER HALFWAY to my goal already! I am now at 183 pounds and at a BMI of 30!!! I wear a size 14/16 and the 16's are baggy! I am at -55 pounds and just another 10 pounds would get me to my realistic goal of 173 pounds, but another 20 pounds will put me at my hearts desire goal of 163 pounds! Life is great, I can LIVE again! I can walk, I can play, I can run, I can dance! My ex-husband told me I "had a nice ass" and my 13 year old daughter told me I look "totally cool". BOTH are extreme compliments, but the biggest thrill of all is having the man I love be able to stand behind me, put both arms around my waist and his arms can reach with room to spare! I could stay in that position forever!

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04/24/03

OK, I saw Dr Z today and I am doing GREAT! No hernias (knock on wood) as of yet, I have very little saggy belly or arms or legs, and my skin seems to be bouncing back wondefully! Believe it or not he thinks I may be one of those who MAY NOT LOSE THE BOOBS! I am still a DD although a 38 now as opposed to a 44 but they are still there! (Might actually have to think about a reduction if they don't start shrinking soon!)I have lost 70 pounds in 6 months and I am still in total shock.......I am only 5 pounds from my goal of 165 pounds and he thinks I will not only beat that goal but surpass it in the next 3 months. Honestly, I am almost ready to have the weight loss stop, I LOVE the way I look, I love the way I feel, and I am scared to get any smaller. He told me to relax and we will see if the weight loss stablizes over the next 3 months and decide what to do from there. WOW! I am still going wow...in a daze....

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10/15/03

One year ago today I made the switch to the other side. I have gone from a size 3X and 252 at my highest weight, to 147 pounds, and a size 10 today! I can walk to the mailbox again, I can breathe again, I can walk again, I can live again! I CAN GET ON TOP AND STAY THERE!!!! My skin is shrinking back wonderully and although I went from a 44DD to a 36DD I am thinking a lift and reduction to a D would be more in proportion. I feel wonderful.....I feel blessed.....I feel as though God has given me a wonderful gift and I try to pass it on to everyone I know!

I can eat real food again! In a typical day I eat this way....

Breakfast - toast with honey and two eggs with bacon

Lunch - chili verde over a cheese and egg omelet with flour tortillas

Dinner - chicken or beef fajitas, bell pepper strips, spanish rice and flour tortillas

Snacks - beef jerkey, celery and peanut butter, watermelon (I am addicted),yogurt, cheese and crackers, (OK I cheat, I LOVE little Debbies Oatmeal cakes!), nuts, nuts, nuts, and raisins and dried fruits as well!

Life is just amazing, the change in the mirror is incredible, but the change in myself is beyond belief! I look like a new woman and I feel 10 years younger! My realistic goal was 173 pounds and a size 14/16 - my hearts desire was 163 and a size 12, but to reach 147 and a size 10 is a miracle I never thought I would see! God is good, life is great, and I am doing awesome!

I am 105 lbs less than my heaviest weight in 2002...and 91 lbs less since surgery!

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10/21/03

Saw Dr Z today - I am a size 10, 153 today (have PMS - retaining water!) My BMI is 25 - and I am NORMAL!!! NO LONGER OBESE or even overweight! My labwork is beautiful, I am healthy and happy, and doing great except for this teeny, tiny hernia next to my belly button that only hurts when I strain or orgasm! If it is still hurting in 3 months, I just may get that tummy tuck and hernia repair after all!

GREAT APPOINTMENT! I AM AMAZED! IN SHOCK! But thrilled!!!

I was 252 pounds in February 2002 and I am 153 today! Size 26 to size 10.....WOW!!! What a miracle!!

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12/21/03 Official weight is now 142 pounds. Hernia repair and tummy tuck are scheduled for January 8th 2004 (barring unforseen insurance snafus!), and I am still in shock! After losing over 100 pounds in a year, my tummy is just kinda a blob, not even a roll. It's just like that squishy feeling you have right after you have your babies.......not to mention the darn hernia! I can't wait to have it all taken off! But at the same time I am scared witless! I have never been below a size 14/16 in my adult life, in fact much of it was at at a size 20-22 and above and here I am at the age of 36, in a size 8/10 now and looking at wearing size 6/8's in the next month...WOW!!!

I know it is going to be painful......but I honestly think the mental adjustment is harder then the physical pain! I heard someone the other night ask "where did that cute LITTLE redhead go?" and they were talking about ME ME ME!!!! I can't even comprehend being seen as "little" . Ray can pick me up and swing me over his shoulders easily, my son can lift me with one hand, and I still look in the mirror and wonder who that woman is looking back at me!

I know it is gonna take time.......but sooner or later my brain just might catch up with my body!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1/27/04

On Jan 8th I went into preop and they got me all ready for my tummy tuck and hernia repair.....4 hours later I was asked (very nicely) if we could reschedule for the following day as the Docs had a difficult case. I arrived at daylight Jan 9th, was prepped, and dressed (or undressed) and wheeled into surgery right on time. I did not want preop meds so I talked to the nurses. taked to the Dr's, talked to anyone who walked by while I was in the OR. I woke up to a dull ache in my lower abdomen, but no pain at all! All I could think of was "get this damn catheter out NOW!!!" I was up and walking the minute the cath came out.....I have had very very little pain, my incision goes from hip to hip and looks like a smiley face (or a big ol' cowboys mustache) and I only had 2 small drains. I stayed an extra day due to a fever but came home and was doing fantastic until the drains came out. Once my drains were removed I developed a seroma, a pocket of serous fluid and it was filling my abdomen and not only was the pressure unbearable, I was running a fever as well. So we took another trip to DRMC, Dr K stuck a large needle in my tummy and drained 300 CC of fluid from the pocket and 2 days later Dr Z drained 200cc of fluid. By the 23rd I was miserable, my incision is and was healing GREAT, no leakage, no drainage, just wonderful! But the fluid pocket was making me retain lots of fluid and I gained 15 pounds in 3 days. Dr K admitted me on the 23rd, I spent the night and in the AM got to watch as he inserted a new drain into my tummy - not recommended for the faint of heart! - and the fluid poured out!!! I am home now, the weight is gone, the drain SHOULD come out tomorrow, and we shall see what my new tummy looks like!!! By the way - I lost my belly button!!! Wonder what I should tattoo there?

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3/14/04

Tomorrow will be I will be 17 months out from my ds! I have completely recovered from my hernia repair and tummy tuck. It was very smooth, easy and almost completely pain free! The only "complication I had was the serous fluid pocket that had to be drained 7 times in 7 weeks. I am at a size 6/8 and I am about 136 pounds depending on my salt intake and time of the month! I have stayed at this weight ever since my TT so I suppose this is where my body has decided to stay and I am thrilled with it! Hell, I was thrilled at size 14 and 170 pounds! This surgery has been such a blessing....fitting into the bathtub, into booths and small chairs, being able to sit on my honey's lap....all are the little things that make this so special! I can eat almost normal meals, I still get full quickly on some things, and I make an effort to keep up the protein and I have addded lots of fresh fruits to my diet as well. I know that I still have a small window of weight loss left, and if I get any smaller I would feel out of proportion, so I am content to eat my fruits, enjoy my juices, and maintain at the weight I am at! God bless Dr's Z and K! I have a new life!

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04/15/04

I wonder if I have developed a new hernia? Darn it! I just had my tummy tuck and was healing perfectly! I have an appointment with Dr Z on the 21st....will let you know the results then!! Still at 137 and holding, size 6/8...and I have about 5 pounds that I bounce up and down and I am happy though I feel a bit scrawny and my bones are sticking out a bit too much for my comfort. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
6/10/04

No hernia! LOL, of all things Dr Z told me that the bulge I feel is ROCK HARD ABS, not a hernia! WOW, I never expected to hear that! I am STILL about 136 pounds and a size 6/8. It is wonderful to fit in chairs again, to run, jump, play, walk, and just live life without feeling like an elephant on stilts on the dance floor! We spend 3-4 hours a week out dancing at a local club til we are sweating, hearts pounding, and smiling from ear to ear! For 14 years I didn't dance, and now I am dancing every dance like it might be my last! My tummy tuck scar has feeling again! The numbness is GONE and I feel normal in every way! I feel so blessed! I do have a bit of anemia and am taking iron supplements, but otherwise all my labs are great! I feel great! Life is wonderful! The ds gave me a NEW LIFE!!

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12/27/04

I had my 2 year follow up in November. My labs look great. No anemia, no vitamin deficiencies, nothing abnormal at all. I am at 145 pounds and a size 8. I decided this summer that a size 6 was just too small for me, and I was tired of the drawn cheeks, jutting bones, and bruises on my legs from my knees hitting in my sleep. I ate fresh fruit and bagels all summer and fall until I regained 10 pounds and I feel much more comfortable here. Those pounds went to my cheeks, butt, hips, and boobs, so I feel a bit softer and rounder and I like the way I look and feel. I do have to force myself to eat more often to keep the weight on. Some days I think the ds worked too well for me. If I eat fatty foods I tend to drop a few pounds again, and some days trying to maintain where I am is a pain when I am not hungry and I have to eat anyway. But all in all, I am doing wonderfully. I am healthier than I have been in years. I can walk, dance, skip, run, and jump! I can get on top and stay there! I no longer need the massive doses of steroids because I have fewer illnesses and much less pain. My blood pressure is normal, my apnea is gone, my arthritis pain is history - I will always have to deal with having Scimitar Syndrome, but carrying 145 pounds with one lung is a lot easier than carring 252 pounds! I have no regrets. The ds literally saved my life. I feel blessed.

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09/01/05

Almost 3 years post-op and doing well. I look back at days like today and realize I could have NEVER done this obese! This is a typical day - 7:00 get kids up, 7:45 take them to school, come home and clean til 12:15, run to pharmacy or store then to school again at 12:25 to take kids to lunch. Home from 1pm until 1:40 when I pick up Bubba from school, home to clean the spa, pulled weeds in my flower beds, and then back to school at 2:55 to pick up Emma and take Steven Gatoraide for football practice. I actually got to rest from 4 until 6, then I picked Steven up from practice and came home to finish laundry (practice jerseys and pants need washed NOW, Mom!), feed the kids, and pass out by midnight. If I am lucky I can squeeze in a good book before I fall asleep! WHEW! 3 years ago I would schedule ONE trip a month to the grocery store because it literally exhausted me to walk to and from the truck, much less through the store! Now I am going non-stop morning til night seven days a week and loving it! I bounce between 148 and 154 pounds (depending on time of the month and amount of salty foods I eat!) and I am thrilled! I am able to eat pretty much anything I like and maintain the weight I am at. I love the way I look and feel and my energy level just gets better and better! The DS was the best decision I ever made and three years later it just gets better and better! It is strange to have friends now who never knew me "fat", and I can finally look in the mirror and see the reality of the new me. I love it!

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2/28/07 It has been a long, hard road, full of valleys, hills, speedbumps, twists, and turns. I am in a size 8 at 138 pounds, and pretty much stay there no matter what I eat, but when I slacked off on my supplements and thought I could eat and act like a "normal" person could - I paid dearly. I now have osteoporosis and my bones feel as if they are filled with battery acid, I ache constantly! I take 5000 mg of calcium a day plus triple doses of iron and Vitamins to fight the anemia and malnutrition I got after getting lazy about supplements. I spent a week in the hospital in September getting transfusion, Iron, and too many supplements to list! I am back in a wheelchair for long trips (mall or sports events especially) because the low calcium makes my bones hurt too badly to stand or walk for long. I can still eat anything I want, but I am MORE diligent about LOTS more protein than before and more supplements than i EVER thouht I would take! I bruise easily, fatigue, easier, and I ruptured a disk in my back falling in the bathroom when I was weak several weeks ago. Life is not perfect and I feel as if I traded many health problems for others, but I AM alive, and I do have a brighter future than I did 5 years ago! At least now I CAN walk to my mailbox and attend my sons football games, 5 years ago I was lucky if I had the strength to walk to the end of the driveway! The Dr's said it could take 2 years or more to rebuild the lost calcium and the Iron never seems to go up, I am always anemic, but as tough as it gets, i just remember hearing the Dr say "lose weight or you will never see your kids grow up". and I thank God that am where I am today! Slowly I am improving, I was diagnosed with Emphysema and COPD a few months ago, and if I had it 115 plus pounds ago I know I could never have survived, this surgery gave ne the chance the live, the breathe, to fight another day. It was not an overnight miracle weight loss, and I will forever be on supplements and fighting dehydration and malnutrition, and my lung will of course never grow back and the scoliosis will always be a bother - but at 138 pounds at least I know I HAVE that chance to fight to live and improve my health. Much has changed, my appearance has, drastically, but my state of mind even more so. I thank God for sending me to just the right Docs, and for making things work, and I will keep trusting HIM as I fight to regain my strangth and stay strong! Most of all I thank my special, caring, compassionate Ray and my beautiful, loving kids for the love, understanding, and support that never wavered even once through this journey! It ain't over yet! HUGS and blessings to all! Cindee

Life is too short....Dance naked!"



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