Tag Archives: Post Op

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.

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First Post Op Check Up

1st Post Op Check up

Yesterday marked one week and one day since surgery and the first day Valerie has left the house during that time. Every day is a little bit easier. Getting up, showered, dressed and “beautified” is still a bit physically draining, but Valerie is taking it all in stride. She’s been very good at listening to her body and resting when the little voices inside say “hey… we’re tired over here!!” To be clear… that was just this writer taking creative license. Valerie does NOT have little voices in her head. At least not any that I can hear! 😉 But I digress. Daily acts of living are getting easier and easier despite the fact that it takes a bit longer. We celebrate each success and continue to have a positive outlook.
It doesn’t hurt that the scale continues to make its downnward spiral.

The drive to Edmonds was pretty uneventful save for me trying to make up time we lost with stopping for gas, but I managed to get us there on the dot! We didn’t wait too long for Jillian, Dr. Landerholm’s assistant, to invite us in. First stop: The Scale. What had once been the appartus that struck fear on each visit was now a welcome friend. Eager to find out what their scale said, Valerie kicked off her shoes, handed me her purse and stepped right up. Down 26 pounds. Weight loss is to be expected with a weeks worth of a liquid diet, but this is great.

As we waited for Dr. Landerholm Valerie told me that she has noticed the weight loss in her face. The double chin is gone. THE DOUBLE CHIN IS GONE!! Unfortunately when you are with a person every day, you don’t always immediately see the differeces in their physical appearance right away. Ok, yes, that’s a bit of a cop out and an excuse for not noticing right away, but it’s partially true. I think if I sat and stared at her for a period of time as I tried to asses the change in her appearance she’d think I was being a creeper. To my credit I DID notice that her arms feel a bit skinnier. I even told her that. Her reply: “I’m not trying to lose weight in my arms”. We both laughed for a bit on that one!

Dr. Landerholm was pleased with the progress thus far. He reassured her that the learning process is just that, and he was impressed with her restraint while eating the cream of mushroom soup — strained so no mushroom pieces were ingested. Rather than take a spoonful at a time, she just dipped the spoon into the soup and then licked the spoon. It provides just enough to get the taste without taking too big of a “gulp” and risking the uncomfortable feeling of it being stuck, or taking extra long to get down. The Dr. asked about different things — pain level (little to none internal, a bit of pain around the incision where they removed the stomach), bodily functions (she is normal at this stage though if the loose stool continues into week three or if the frequency increases we are to call him), whether or not she has thrown up (no, thankfully), and her energy level. He looked at the incisions and they all look pretty good. One has a bit of reddness, but we will keep an eye on that and get some lotrimin or use Neosporin if necessary. Dr. Landerholm declared Valerie to be right on schedule and doing very well and he gave her a green light to start the pureed part of the diet last night.

All in all this journey is progressing as scheduled and that included stopping to smell the roses!