Tag Archives: Bariatric Sleeve

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.




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!


The “Victories” Continue

Another Sunday means yet another weight loss.  Valerie “inches” closer to her next goal of 75 pounds by only 1 pound.  The minor disappointment was tempered greatly by the fact that just the day before, we went clothes shopping at Macy’s.  Finding not one, not two, not even three but FOUR pairs of pants at the “non big girls store”   PRICELESS!!!   The smile on her face is something I will not forget anytime soon.  She is looking more and more awesome ever day… and by “awesome” I mean happy.  Additionally, Valerie walked all over the store and we actually walked around our condo neighborhood when we got home.  Things continue to look up, my friends and I couldn’t be any more proud of her.

Valerie has agreed to allow me to post some “before” and “after” pictures.   This was prompted by the fact that the sweats we bought her to wear to the surgery, which were pretty snug at the time, are totally falling off her.  The pants, the next size down are not fareing very well either as they are being held up by a diaper pin!  I had her do the stereotypical pose with the sweats.  The progression thus far is shown here:


June 2014 — “Before”


The sweats that just don’t fit anymore!

April2015Sideview April2015FrontView

The “after” picture — as of Easter Weekend and four months post surgery.

See what I mean?    The pounds are just melting off and I couldn’t be more excited for her!

Time for a New Title for the Blog?

I want to begin with a heartfelt apology for going so long without an update.  I really have no excuse other than life got in the way.  Rather than list all the things that have kept me from updating, I’ll just dive right in with the update.

The title of this update is an accurate reflection of what is currently happening with Valerie.  As her sister, Leanne, suggested…Valerie has become the “Incredible Shrinking Woman”.  I really dislike the word “literally”, but in this case it’s very appropriate.  As we approach the 4 month mark – according to our home scale- Valerie has hit……Drum roll please…….. 72lbs.  WOOT WOOT!!!  We saw Dr. Landerholm Friday and the official “medical scale” results showed 60lbs but that was the “before surgery” weight and our scale is the “after surgery” weight when they had filled her full of liquid before sending her home.  Either way this is definitely great news.   Shouting from the rafters news!!!  Jumping on the couch like Tom Cruise news!!! At this point the change is seen in her hands, shoulders, elbows and face. I told her the other day she needs to call the cops because someone stole her chins!  I do believe Valerie is looking younger every day. She is actually smiling more, which is wonderful to see.

At least two clothing sizes have gone by the wayside and a third is very close.  She has shot right by some of the clothes in the closet that were a bit too small before surgery. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of Valerie and the progress she has made.  It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but she’s also been fortunate enough to not have suffered any sort of major setback.  Her spirits are high as is her determination.  There have been a few missteps along the way as she learns what she can and cannot eat, and a few life lessons involving eating too much and / or too fast.

Of course, all this positivity is not the only side to the story, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives.  Actually, we try very hard not to use the words “negative or “difficult”.  “Challenges” is the word we focus on.  The biggest challenge thus far has been food, as you might imagine, but not for the reason you might think. The amount of food consumed at a time is a bit of a challenge to comprehend.  Each meal is about 1/3 to a half a cup of food.  At first, Valerie would look at the plate and think “Really?  Is that all there is?” But now, when we are eating at a restaurant and we see a bowl or plate of salad come by, she thinks “Really?  You’re going to eat all that?”  It has been a very interesting paradigm shift.  I struggle with the shift in terms of how much food to put on her plate.  I am afraid of giving her too much food.  One of the concepts Dr. Landerholm shared with us is, when eating at a restaurant for example, the wait staff may come by and see that the meal is only partially eaten and ask if everything was ok and maybe even note that the food doesn’t look like much has been eaten.  At this point a person may eat more to make sure the waitperson doesn’t get the wrong idea.  The consequences of those actions can be very uncomfortable.  I won’t go into details.  Weight gain could ensue, causing depression and, boom, the cycle is perpetuated.  Luckily, Valerie’s fear of becoming ill or stretching and gaining weight is strong, (“the force is strong with this one!”) which will help avoid those consequences.   MY fear is becoming that “waitperson” and dishing up too much food at a time.  While Valerie is very good about stopping when she is full, I just don’t want to provide the temptation to “clean her plate”.

In the meantime I have discovered that I cannot become a contestant on “Worst Cooks In America”.  I really thought I had a good chance too, but whaddya know?! Turns out I know my way around a kitchen.  AND I’ve actually created different ways to prepare fish and chicken.  I don’t know that I will make it to “Chopped” or “Iron Chef”, but I am feeling better about my abilities.

April 1st marks four months since the surgery.  At times it feels like just last week and other times it’s like the surgery was a lifetime ago.  In many ways, we are in a new lifetime.  A parallel universe of sorts.  Everything is the same yet everything is different. Valerie’s counselor, Mimi Rubenstein (a fantastic help in this whole process) has coined a new term “the new norm”.  The life before surgery will heretofore be known as “Before Surgery” or B.S.   This is particularly appropriate because the factors that led to the need for this procedures can be categorized as B.S. The factors, the reasons why food became an issue that contributed to the “condition” of obesity, shouldn’t have happened.  Yet it did.  The surgery is but a tool to help shift the paradigm to a more positive life.  It’s a circle.  We’ve all heard it.  If you feel better, you do better.  Once you begin to see the results you are motivated to do more.  Continued progress leads to empowerment.

First week out

Today marks one week since the surgery. Valerie is getting better and better as each day passes. She has only taken pain meds one more time since we stopped after the initial 24 hours and that was a half a pill that night.

Valerie continues to watch her favorite cooking shows, much to my chagrin, but she pointed out that it really doesn’t matter which shows she watches, there are ads for food, restaurants etc. EVERYWHERE. ‘Tis true. I compare it to the break up of a relationship. As soon as it happens, you hear every flipping love song ever written on the radio, even on the Muzak systems in stores, back to back. They’ve been playing all along but you don’t notice them until you experience their meaning. With this type of operation and permanent change in a life, there is a certain amount of mourning that transpires and I think perhaps Valerie is practicing “immersion” therapy.

Every day means more movement and that’s good. She’s able to sip more liquids at a time, but isn’t getting all 60 ounces per day that they recommend. She says it doesn’t appear that she is dehydrated from the color of the urine, but I’d like her to get more in. We were able to change-up the liquid intake to add some chicken broth and some cream of mushroom soup – strained so there are no mushroom pieces – and some thinned pudding. She is starting to get a bit frustrated by the diet, though she understands the process and the need for the progression. She just wants to be a the stage where she can have something more “substantial”. She has said that she just wants to chew something. Her mother said she should take a bite of chicken, chew and then spit it out, but that’s a whole other eating disorder! 🙂

For the two weeks prior to the surgery I followed along with her on the 40g a day carb diet and lost 8 lbs myself. Since the surgery I haven’t been eating normally. I can’t seem to pinpoint the exact cause. I do not want to eat in front of her at this point. She tells me its ok but I just don’t want to be THAT person and eat the things she can’t. I know I need to eat but it seems like my mind isn’t quite following along. When I had to go out for appointments of my own and/or shopping expeditions, I found myself hitting the drive thru’s of McDonalds and Wendy’s. Hostess should never have come back, ’nuff said. Since the Sunday prior to the surgery I’ve had daily bouts of IBS and while it’s partly due to the diet, I am sure it is also due to my nerves about Valerie, the surgery and the aftermath. I have always had my nerves manifest themselves in different ways. Even when I have eaten relatively healthy items, the effects have been the same. I guess it’s something I just need to work through. A friend, and neighbor, who has been through this surgery told me that I will lose weight too — which I’m ok with — but I don’t think it’s meant to happen this way.

Today marks the first day she is on her own. I have to return to work. I left her with some of the things she can eat and drink, but beyond that I won’t be there to take care of her. She has done very well and honestly I haven’t done too much except be there for her. Valerie is very independent and while I am glad, I get frustrated with her when she tries to do too much. I know she’ll be fine, but I worry just the same.

Tomorrow we go see Dr. Landerholm for a follow-up. As of yesterday,. Valerie has lost 13 pounds. Despite the fact that a liquid diet will cause that effect, she is thrilled. We both are.

**CORRECTION** Valerie has lost 19 pounds to date, not 13. ☺