My Gastric Sleeve Journey

My Gastric Sleeve Journey

A New Stomach –A New Way of Eating – Reality Sometimes Sucks

I am almost 3 weeks post surgery and the reality of what I have done is hitting me hard. This weekend is Superbowl Sunday and yummy, fat-filled, tasty finger food is everywhere. This would be fine except I cannot make smoothies out of buffalo wings or pizza. Dips are not possible.  I tried to take chili and blend the crap out of it, but what makes chili delicious is the chunks of meat and veggies. Yes, I know. I am feeling sorry for myself. I am finishing 3 weeks away from work and friends and family and I am feeling lonely. The weather has been terrible, so visitors cannot come. The weight loss has stalled after my doctor took me off one of the blood pressure meds (a diuretic).

I am not a sweet food lover, and all these smoothies and Boost and yogurt and apple sauce etc, etc is starting to drive me crazy. I am bored and trying to create new flavours is an on-going challenge. I get to move to soft mashed foods on 02/12 and it cannot come fast enough. I already have my meals planned out. I know that protein powder will be a part of my life for a very long time, but if I can add unflavored powder to meatloaf and sweet mashed potatoes and casseroles, it will be none too soon.

I have never had a problem with odour in my life. However, since the surgery, no matter how often I shower and use deodorant, my armpits stink. My breath is bad, even though I floss and brush my teeth.  As well, my left hand smells different than my right hand (not unpleasant, just different).  Finally other parts of my body smell different from what I am used to. I did some research and all of this is a direct result of ketosis. Anyone who has been on a high protein, low carb diet will understand. It was widely believed (especially Atkins-diet followers) that once your body is in the state, fat burning is accelerated.

Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones. Ketones are molecules generated during fat metabolism. Some of those ketones are used for energy; the heart muscle and kidneys, for example, prefer ketones to glucose. Most cells, including the brain cells, are able to use ketones for at least part of their energy. But there is one type of ketone molecule, called acetone that cannot be used and is excreted as waste, mostly in the urine and breath. But it can be excreted anywhere and effectively change the smell or taste of your body.  This should be temporary as the body is good at balancing itself and more healthy carbs will be introduced into my diet as I progress to Stage 4 and 5. There is some amazing information out there regarding ketosis. I recommend the following paper, called Ketosis 101. It explain nicely the biological and chemical breakdown, when the cells can use it and why is can be a desired state. Enjoy!

I wish to apologize. At first, I was not going to talk about being low, but I promised to be honest with my progress. Physically, I have healed very well. I still cannot believe that it is not quite three weeks since most of my stomach was removed.  But I seem to not enjoy eating anymore.  It has become a chore, a job – a tally of protein and vitamins and minerals. A balance sheet of whether I am taking in enough to live or not. I can feel the liquids I drink going into my tummy and moving and I get so full so quickly. I can feel when it is too much and when I might get sick. It is uncomfortable and just a bit demoralizing. And this is just at home. Once I start working again (tomorrow), it needs to be a full prep schedule the night before and in the morning, lest I don’t take in enough nutrients. It is indeed a brand new undertaking in the battle to be healthy and happy.

Okay. Enough of the pity party. I am sure that once I get back to work and have other things to deal with and think about, it will all be fine.  Once I again feel useful, I can get over myself. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I took a picture of the large incision after it had gotten to a state that I felt no one would be particularly grossed out. It is right under my ribs on the left side. It is fairly healed, but it still shows some of the marks, scarring and reactions of the skin to my surgery. This was taken about 12 days after my surgery.

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A – Petechial hemorrhaging – This happened due to the trauma the tissues received throughout the surgery. I get this whenever they repeatedly take my blood pressure or I cough really hard. No surprise then it showed up here.

B – The actual incision – The length of this is just under 2 inches. Think about 85% of your stomach being removed from that. I did not give birth or anything, but it was not pleasant. Right above the incision is a lot of bruising that is left. It is now yellow and green and almost gone.

C – Staple holes – You can see the five staples holes below and above the insicion. No wonder it was uncomfortable with them in.  The staples were not that long, but there is about ¾ of an inch between them. This means the skin was folded in to hold the incision in place while it healed.

D – One of the marker lines they drew on me that refuses to go away. They outlined where my diaphragm, stomach and sternum were with marker before they began the surgery, Made me laugh when I saw that I was marked on. 🙂

E – Stretchmarks – Oh yes. I was going to ignore them but I am trying to be honest! Those stretch marks are not the result of a human baby, but the baby that is donairs, and pizza and chips and dip and all those lovely wonderful foods that were all delicious and devoid of nutrients. Those stretch marks will be there forever and I hope that in not ignoring them, I remember why this journey is important.

F – My hand. It was hard to hold up my shirt and take a picture. But mostly because I am a terrible photographer. 🙂

It is actually pretty cool seeing the progress from just a week ago. All the scabs have fallen off and alot of the hemmorages have healed.  All the marker is gone (finally!!).  It is getting better every day.

So, the beginning of this blog was kind of a downer. However, I did find things that could counteract the blues:

  1. WALK!!! – The weather is crappy, but I try to get out and do a bit of a walk, even if it is just around the building. Find some form of gentle exercise that keeps you moving and that you really enjoy.
  2. Get yourself some popsicles – I have found that at those times I just could not suffer another go at trying to force a smoothie into me, a popsicle helped. Find some suger-free ones of you can and try to get them kiddie-sized. I found that Chapman’s has a great option – . They are ‘no sugar added’ and are sweetened with maltritol and sucralose, so have them sparingly. They were just the thing to make my tummy feel better.
  3. Join a support Group – I was added to a closed group called the NS Weightloss Program Group. I also joined a group called Bariatric Pal. Regardless of your reasons, don’t go it alone. Having people to talk to that have experienced the same things you will is really important, especially when you are feeling low or scared. They will be your surrogate family – support you when you need it and kick you in the ass when you need it more.
  4. Take pictures of you – This piece of advice is one I have not followed yet. I hate taking pictures of myself. It has always bothered me. Thank God I did not grow up in this selfie generation!! But I will soon, if for no other reason that to track my physical progress.
  5. Regardless of how repeatative it gets, keep track of food intake. I like to write everything down lately rather than use My Fitness Pal. Just keep it up, so you know where you are.
  6. Find something you love to eat. I just happen to love cottage cheese. It is power packed with protein and is not sweet. It helps bridge the gap with everything is too sickly sweet for me.
  7. Get a fun tracker for your weight loss. I found all kinds of cool ones at Mine is below and yes, it has my weight. Deal with it. I have come a long way and have a longer way to go. However, I am proud of my progress and now with the growths out of my stomach, I should be able to succeed:

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Thanks for letting me vent. I was hoping I could bypass this stage, but I think it eventually comes to everyone. There is a grieving process in saying goodbye to your former life. This is a death. However, once you mourn, you need tyo realize that in this death, a rebirth has occurred, like the pheonix rising from the ashes.  It is okay, even expected to wallow for a short time, as long as you pull yourself up and get moving forward. My favourite quote of all time is from The Shawshank Redemption. Ellis Redding said it best – ‘Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.’ I am done dying. Living is the only choice left. Correction; living well is the only choice left.

Thanks again. Until next time!