One Month Check Up

Friday was my one month check up.  It went very well, including the fact that have now lost 30 pounds since the surgery.  My fitness guru, Dameon (one handsome devil, I must say) says that’s sort of unheard of.  I feel as though I am following in Valerie’s footsteps.  🙂  I had a good talk with the counselor and the nutritionist who gave me some muffin tin recipes, and gained some good insight about eating habits etc.  She also introduced me to some rather tasty snacks: edemame and pumpkin seeds.  Yummo.  Good for you and a really decent amount of protein in them.  I’m feeling even more excited about this journey.  I also saw Dr. Billing about the pain I’d been having. He did a little exam and detrmined that I do not have another hernia (GOOD) and said that he had put a stitch in the muscle and that it would most likely be another 4-6 weeks before that pain would totally heal.  Of course, like taking a car to an autoshop and the symptom not presenting itself, the pain wasn’t there when I saw Dr.Billing.   It occurred a little bit later, but it has lessened greatly.

Yesterday, Saturday, Valerie and I got our hair done and I had my nails done as well (a fun Valentine’s Minion motif 🙂 )  Then we did a little shopping because the jeans I was wearing were very baggy.  Oh darn.  What a horrible problem to have  LOL.  The fun part is now we can both shop at Macy’s and not in the “big girl” stores.  I found a pair of jeans and two really nice blouses.  Valerie found a really nice sweater.  We marvel as the sizes we are fitting into.  If I weren’t so much shorter than her, we could truly share a wardrobe at this point.  It’s fun.  I remember the first time we went shopping for Valerie at Macys and she found some dress pants that fit.  The look of sheer joy on her face was a sight to behold and I think we both were filled with so much joy in that.  On Presdient’s day we shopped and I found a pair of pants, with elastic, that were size 14p.  I was estatic but figured it was because of the elastic.  Yesterday, I tried regular, non elastic, pants in size 16p and they were too big!  Thrilled doesn’t begin to touch it.  I had an outfit on that really shows the weight loss thus far and Valerie, with a twinkle in her eye, said ” It feels really good, doesn’t?”  I said yes and she said “Losing 30 pounds is a big accomplishment….I’ve lost 100 more than you but you know….”  She’s such a bitch.  LOL.

Later we went to JC Penny and I found another pair of pants, again in the regular petitie section and a couple more blouses.  Oh, Liz Claiborn, how I’ve missed you  😀

Valerie and I are really having a lot of fun with this.  She has been such a wonderful touchstone.  She is keeping an eye on me and my “mental state” and offers gentle reminders to only sip the water.  It’s funny, before the surgery, I had a tough time getting liquid in. I just wasn’t usually thirsty.  Since the surgery, I tend to want to drink more, but I’m having to be careful.  I have to sip only, not “guzzle” and once I eat something, which is supposed to be every few hours or so, I cannot drink for at least 30 minutes.  That’s when I WANT to drink.  LOL.  I’m learning to read the “I’m full” signs, and the hunger for actual hunger’s sake.  It’s like a new awakening and it’s fun.

Tomorrow I start back to work.  There I will face a few challenges, aside from work itself, in that people often bring in lots of snacks, like donuts.  I will need to be ready to channel Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick and “Walk on by”.  😀



Getting better all the time…

It’s been a little over three weeks since the surgery.  The scale tells me I’m down about 26 pounds to 187 lbs.and I’m told the loss shows in my face, while I’m not sure I see it yet.  I have noticed the loss in my tummy – where the majority of my weight sat.  I’ll let you be the judge:


Valerie and I went shopping on MLK day and I actually found a pair of pants, with elastic, that are 14 petite.  I am hesitating to buy much yet, as I know I’m going to lose more weight and thus sizes.  I am looking through boxes of clothes I grew out of to see what I’ve shrunk back into.  I’ve found that I fit back into a couple of t-shirts I bought in Vegas in 2008!  I have actually freed up quite a few hangers in the closet…found I have shrunk back into quite a few blouses. The pants are still “ok”, but will need to be replaced soon… as will some more blouses.

I went to the oncologist today.  During my procedure they found a small tumor, called a GIST, which stands for Gastrointestinal Stomol Tumor.  It was found on the part of the stomach that they removed for the sleeve procedure.  Dr. Billing and an associate Dr. told me that it was not abnormal, but these are not seen that often.  They are almost always benign, but they wanted to do pathology just in case.  They also said they wanted me to  to an oncologist for a follow up.  In 2010 I had seen Dr. Liao in Puyallup because I was severely anemic.  An infusion fixed me right up.  Today I saw Dr. Liao and he said that this GIST tumor was really very small, only 2 mm.  He said that they will sometimes give a pill to make sure the tumor doesn’t come back but in this case, there isn’t a need for that.  It was on the part of the stomach that was removed, but he referred me to a GI doctor to have an endoscopy (which will be my 5th or 6th I think) to see if there’s any sign it is in the rest of my stomach.  Then I will return to see Dr. Liao in 6 months and once a year thereafter for awhile to monitor me.

The discovery of this tumor, no matter how small, is yet another benefit of the surgery.  I know some have thought, or may even want to ask: Why did you have this surgery?  You don’t seem to need to lose all that much weight.  Was it because Valerie had it and had such great results?

These are not hard questions to answer.  First and foremost, I went into this not with the express reason of getting the surgery.  While Valerie and I had joked last year about doing it together — I’m really glad we didn’t! — I went to the clinic to talk about an incision-less treatment for acid reflux.  Dr. Kaufmann had said that I could do that, but because they discovered the hiatal hernia during my endoscopy, and because my BMI was right at the cusp and because I had other issues: sleep apnea, acid reflux, overweight, and type 2 diabetic, I qualified for the surgery.  At first we talked about the full Rouen Y surgery, but later, when Dr. Kaufmann described the pros and cons of both and that one of the cons with Rouen Y was that the intestines could twist and that would be bad…. I decided on the sleeve instead.  There is a possibility that the acid reflux could return at some time, maybe a few years, but repairing the hiatal hernia would be a big step towards reducing that.  So far so good… knock on wood.

Also since the surgery my blood glucose readings have been way down.  Where they should be.  I am really looking forward to the blood tests (yes I said that) in April to see where my A1C is.  I suspect it’s in the “normal” range.  I haven’t taken my metformin for a long time and I’m really doing great.

But one of the biggest benefits is finding that tumor.   Left to grow it *could* have become rather large and then turned malignant.  So, I am grateful to have had this surgery now.

Every day is a new step in the adventure.  I’m getting stronger and stronger.   I had developed a bit of an issue with a stitch, but am told it’s “normal” and will heal on its own.  I will see Dr. Billing again on Friday — along with my other follow up appointments — just to be on the safe side.

Valerie and I are looking forward to later this week when I resume a “normal” food diet.  At that point we can start to really plan our meals for work and home.  Valerie is doing great.  She has been at a bit of a plateau, but she hasn’t gained any weight, which is a good thing.  Together we are going to make this lifestyle change happen.  We are hoping that once we get on the same page, she will start to lose again.  She wants to be with me in “one-derland” (in the 100’s).  She’ll get there.   She looks absolutely stunning, if you ask me and even if you don’t.    It’s really getting to be fun to clothes shop again.  She says I’m inspiring her to follow along with me and once I get the ok to exercise (crossing my fingers for the good word Friday) we will  start taking more walks together.   We signed up for a “glow run/walk” at the Puyallup Fairgrounds (Western Washington Fair — it’s still Puyallup Fairgrounds to me) in May.  A bunch of people who are weight loss surgery patients at the Puget Sound Surgery Center are on a team and will all walk together.  It’ll be fun.   I was hoping to do the Seahawk fun run/walk in March, but I don’t know that I’ll be up to it by then.  We’ll play that one by ear.

That’s all for now.   Thanks for reading, and sharing our incredible journey with us.



Up Up and Away

Yesterday was my first outing since the surgery; the first post op appointment with Dr. Billing.  The event was filled with anticipation, a bit of anxiety, and excitement.  I was eager to get the tube removed.  That little grenade became just an annoyance.

We left home and I realized I forgot my water which would be needed to take the last of my pain pills in anticipation of the removal of the tube.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain.  I guess the truth is that I sometimes build things up to be much bigger than they really are.  I have been assured by many that this is human nature.  But, in the moment the anxiety began to build as we drove from Puyallup to Shoreline.  The GPS initially had us arriving almost 30 minutes late for the appointment due to traffic mishaps in Seattle.  Surprising right?  I hear the laugher build as I write this.  LOL  Valerie did a valiant job of playing the “beat the GPS ETA” game and despite a misstep with the GPS that led us astray and told us the express lanes were open when they weren’t, we made it to the clinic being only 3 minutes late for the appointment.  For this reason, I officially dub her “Valerie Andretti”.  🙂

Though we were 3 minutes late, we ended up waiting about 15 minutes for the doctor, which actually provided time for the pain pill to start to work after taking it upon my arrivial.  After the preliminaries of weighing in and going over the details, the Dr. came in and dispensed with removing the tube.  As Shakespeare said “Much Ado About Nothing”.  I am almost embarrassed about how much I built it up in my head.  We chatted with Dr. Billing about the surgery and my weight loss.  We also talked about the tumor they found during the surgery.  He checked and the pathology hasn’t come back yet, but he said they have seen quite a few of these tumors and they are usually benign.  Left unchecked, they do grow and can turn into cancer.  He wanted me to be aware of this because it’s possible that I may be getting at call from a Onocologist and they may want to do some blood tests etc.  He didn’t appear to be worried in any way.

As I said, the scale at the clinic matches the scale at home.  That’s good to know.   At the time of the surgery I weighed 204.  After returning home, and having extra fluids in me to keep from getting dehydrated, my weight was 213. As of yesterday morning, the scale read 191.  22 pounds.  I am ecstatic.  I would expect as much with an all liquid diet, but I am overjoyed nevertheless.

Last night I started the next level of the diet…. pureed foods.  That means a little more substance and a little more flavor.  In my excitement I had some cottage cheese, which I ate a tad too fast and learned my first lesson.  You have to skin your knees a little when you learn how to walk.

I owe a humongous thank you to Valerie for her support.  She has not only helped me get in and out of bed; set the pillows so I can rest comfortably and deal with the pain in my sciatica.   She has helped me in more ways than I can til you and that she knows and I want to thank her for her continued support and love.

The New Journey Begins

Today is day 6 since the surgery.  I have spent quite a bit of time sleeping.  Before today I would look at sleep as somewhat of a luxury and somewhat lazy.  I now realize that sleep has its healing effects.

The surgery was successful.  Dr. Billing of the Puget Sound Surgery Center, said the hiatal hernia was 5cm instead of 2cm.  Due to the hernia repair I have a drain in, which his the biggest source of pain right now, but that too is getting better.  The tenderness is getting better each day and I am able to sit in my chair or get into bed much easier.  I can tell you that my arms are getting stronger.  Unfortunately my sciatica on the right has totally flared up.  I didn’t notice it when I was at the clinic, but they had me on a pretty consistent “cocktail” of pain meds.  Now that I’m down to only one pain med, it’s coming back with a vengence.  This too shall pass.  I keep trying to think of the future with this, but sometimes I admit to not being able to foresee that.  I try to walk around quite a bit and am actually navigating the stairs really well.

In a few days, on Thursday, I will go back for my first post op appointment and to get the drain removed.  I am looking forward to that.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on keepin on and working to get all of my protein and liquids in each day.








New Adventure!

In the last post I noted that Valerie has been quite the inspiration for me in this journey she has taken.  So inspiring that I am following in her footsteps.   Tuesday December 29th, 2015 I will officially become a member of the Small Puffy Chicadees.  There really was only one member as the other who had started this journey at the same time as Valerie has changed her allegience and has never really been a part of this blog anyway.  So…now the Small Puffy Chicadees is, again, back at the total of two.

Choosing this path has been a decision not taken lightly.  I know that having weight loss surgery, or any surgery that is life changing, is not something you enter into without thinking it through very carefully.  I know that this is NOT the be all solution to the physical issues in my life.  I know the surgery is but a tool.   I have chosen to take this path for a number of reasons.

When Valerie decided to have the surgery last year, we joked, halfheartedly, that I should have it too and maybe we should do it together.  In the end, it was decided that Valerie would go first and forge the way.  The initial thought was that I would try to mirror her diet as much as I could, with larger portions as my stomach was not as small as hers.  It was a lovely idea and would have done well, but I instead gained a new persona, “The Finisher”.  I don’t have a picture of a woman with a cape and a big red F on her chest, but you get the idea.  I would dish up Valerie’s meals and mine.  When I got the portion size wrong, I would finish what she couldn’t eat.  This would have been fine, except I dished up a regular portion for myself.  But this isn’t the only reason for my decision.  I have had acid re flux for years.  I have had 4 endoscopies and only the last one showed that I have a 2cm hiatal herina.  I don’t know if this has grown over the years or if no once prior had seen it.  In any event, the procedure I will undergo on Tuesday will include removal of the hiatal hernnia.  The icing on the cake is that the surgery is very likely to reverse my type 2 diabetes.  That’s quite the cherry on top of the sundae, which I will not be having after this procedure. 😦

I am looking forward to this new journey.  I have a perfect support system with Valerie.  Having someone who has been through this experience will be helpful.  Truth be told, Valerie has said that meeting with the nutritionist during my pre-op visit proved to be a bit of a re-start for her.  While she hasn’t gained, she hasn’t lost in a bit, so the reminder of what we need to be eating prior to the surgery and what my process will be afterwards has been beneficial to her too.

I will post a better “before” picture, but for now these will have to suffice:

Ugly Sweater





I want to apologize for the very long delay since my last post.  Life intruded and I succumbed to it.  There is still quite a bit going on, and now it dovetails.  More on that in a bit.

December 1, 2015 was Valerie’s “Surgiversary”.  One year later and she has lost 126 lbs!!!!  She looks, and feels FABULOUS (well, right now she’s fighting a cold).

Valerie Surgiversary

I have watched her work through this process.  I would be lying if I said there weren’t any struggles, but as I think about it, this process has gone particularly well for her.  We joke that she is the poster child for the Sleeve surgery.  Right now she is at a plateau, but she has not –knock on wood – gained at all.

I have known Valerie for over 40 years, and have very often been inspired by her.  This process, this life changing process, has confirmed how strong this woman is and continues to be.  Over the course of the year we have done two 3 k’s and 1 – 1 mile work.  We did make the mistake of doing the two 5 k’s back to back weekends and that was rough, but the idea of doing more has not fled from our vocabulary.  🙂


As we enter the New Year, more success is anticipated for Valerie.

Up next…. a new member of the Small Puffy Chicadees is revealed!

Drum Roll Please!


Your attention please!

It is my supreme pleasure to tell each and every one of you the biggest news to date:


Not only has Valerie been given the green light to stop taking her blood pressure medication, and her cholesterol has returned to better than normal levels, the big news of the day is:



Yes indeedy, ladies and gentlemen! 100 lbs have melted off this lovely lady and she is excited as ever! While her weight is decreasing, Valerie’s health is increasing. The arrows are going in the right directions. The energy level has increased twofold and continues to grow. Valerie has even signed us up for a 5k in July! Most likely we will just walk it, but it’s progress that even a year ago would not have been in our vocabulary.

New and fun adventures are on the horizon. Hot air balloon rides, bicycle rides around Alki and yes… even skydiving are all adventures in our future… the very near future!