Weight loss surgery…. #1
After struggling with my weight for so long and being on an up and down roller-coaster ride, I decided in 2007 to have Lap Band Surgery. I had tons of support from my family, friends and co workers and I was ready to make a change. I had tried many diets, diet fads, diet pills, laxatives and even going to a dietitian but nothing worked. Sound familiar to any of you reading this? You have tried everything, every pill, every exercise plan, only to fail again and again! In the years past when I had lost over 100 lbs and trained daily I could not seem to get the “old” driven me back! Even my dietitian asked me once, “why are you here, you know how to do this”? And she was right! But I just didn’t know how to do that anymore. NOT!! I was lazy, in denial and I wanted a quick fix. That was the truth of it all!! I became so addicted to food and my lifestyle living in the city with all it’s conveniences, I lost all control of myself. And any and all excuses came into play. I always thought since I lost all the weight before I could just do it again. But it never came. I struggled and lost the battle over and over. I’d try for a little while and get some results but I could never stick with it. And the more obese I became, the easier it was to not make changes. I ballooned to over 330 lbs and this was just in a couple of years! When I moved to the city I weighed about 250 lbs, that was in 2006… that year I also had a hysterectomy which did not help with the massive weight gain. My body was out of control along with my emotions.
By November 2007 I had packed on 80 lbs! In the summer of 2007 I decided I wanted to do the Lap Band surgery and because my health insurance didn’t cover it I had to take out personal loans. Totaling almost $13,000! As some of you know… if you have had weight loss surgery, whether you have insurance or not there are many many different hoops you have to jump through. For those of you that don’t know what you have to do before having surgery or having a consultation with a bariatric surgeon… the hurdles are crazy but for good cause. The surgery center that I went too required me to have certain criteria met BEFORE I could have a consultation with the surgeon. Those requirements were, we had to attend a mandatory seminar about the different types of weight loss surgery offered by the surgeons. Each surgery was explained in great detail what they entailed. At the end of the seminar, (you had to complete the entire thing, no leaving early or showing up late or it didn’t count)… at the end of it we received a big packet to fill out and with more criteria to complete. In the packet given we had to meet with a dietitian, (which I had already tried this and failed but it was required for documentation), my regular Dr had to submit a letter to the bariatric surgeon agreeing that he thought it was a good idea that I have the weight loss surgery. I also needed to see my regular Dr for 6 months, he had to submit documentation on my weight and the things we discussed during the visit. I had to see a sleep therapist and go through a sleep apnea study. I thought this was a total waste of time or so I thought. We had to drive 3 hours for the closest one to us at the time. Come to find out I have severe sleep apnea. So lucky me I got set up with a machine and all that fun stuff. Then last thing other than having all the financial stuff in line was… I also had to see a psychologist to make sure I was of sound, mind and body to handle the surgery and the outcome. Once all the things were done they scheduled me for a consultation. I was beyond excited about my new adventure! I met with my surgeon and we discussed the procedure and what to expect.
I got scheduled for surgery November 26 2007. I tried to educate myself as much as possible before surgery mostly all the pros of surgery and not so much the cons. For 15 days before surgery I had to go on a strict liquid only diet, no solid food whatsoever. It was totally brutal! A food addict having to go cold turkey… and speaking of turkey… I was on the liquid diet during Thanksgiving! It was tough but I was determined! I remember right after Thanksgiving my mom and I went Black Friday shopping and because I was over 300 lbs no regular clothing fit me, and I remember her saying, “just think sis next year at this time we will be buying you new clothing”. I couldn’t wait!
The day of surgery everything was in place. We drove the hour and a half to meet my surgeon at the surgery center. Plan was to have the surgery and after 2 hours in recovery, since we lived over an hour away, we had to book a room at the hotel across the street from the surgery center. This was all prearranged and done by surgery center. We called the day before to make sure everything was in place, it was confirmed that all was a green light. Almost immediately after surgery I was not handling the anesthesia very well. It had made me very sick and nauseous. They took a chest x ray to make sure the band placement was correct and all was well. The surgery center released me to go over to the hotel. We got over to the hotel and come to find out our room was never booked! Here I am feeling so awful and now I don’t have a room to go lay down in! It was all supposed to be included in the fees that we already had paid for. So we had to get a room in a different hotel because the hotel the surgery center used was booked! We finally got in a room and laying down in a bed was not going to happen. I had no idea it was going to hurt so bad. I had been through major surgeries in the past that didn’t hurt this bad. Then the fever began. Next morning my mom called over to the surgery center to tell them of my fever. They said it was okay for me to go on home and keep an eye on it…
For the next 3 days I ran a high grade fever. I could not sleep in bed. The only way I could sleep was a recliner. They finally agreed to see me, so back to the surgery center an hour and a half away we went. I had an infection. My port site was badly infected. I took antibiotics but it didn’t seem to be taking care of it. Two weeks after surgery I was unable to eat or drink. Back to surgery center again and again and again. My living hell! I was placed in the hospital and had an IV since I was so dehydrated. My surgeon wanted a barium swallow done. I warned the tech that nothing would go down without becoming stuck and he soon learned I was not lying. I got to see the x ray and the band had completely closed around my stomach. So my surgeon put me on steroids for the swelling to go down. 3 days in the hospital and I could finally eat and drink a little bit. But soon after the band closed off my stomach again. By this time I had no saline left in the band, it had been completely drained. My surgeon wasn’t much help after this. I was missing a lot of work and having to travel once a week to see him. My Dr here was a little fit to be tied with my surgeons behavior. He ended up sending me over to the hospital as an outpatient to get IV treatments to keep me hydrated. This went on until April. I had lost over 100 lbs by this time. I had an appointment with my surgeon after my regular Dr here intervened and called him. My family and I had decided enough was enough and it was time to take out the band. My surgeon did not agree. He wanted me to wait another six months and get the swelling back down. I had made up my mind that I was done though. Even his head nurse agreed and even came in the room with my mom and I while meeting with him. Per his agreement that we signed before surgery if for any reason I needed the band removed his pay would be waived but I would still have to pay for the hospital, anesthesia, etc. He sent me down to set this all up with his staff. They called over to the hospital since now I would not have this surgery done at the surgery center. The hospital advised they needed $10,000 down before they could schedule me!!! Yep, I just have that kind of cash lying around!
I left the surgery center devastated! I had no idea what to do next. The following week things only got worse, so my surgeon decided to back door me into the hospital. Which meant I needed to drive back to the surgery center and because it was his day to be on call at the hospital he would admit me as an emergency and I would have surgery the following day. I was told not to say anything to the nurses or anyone at the hospital. He warned me that they would fish for details and he wasn’t wrong about that! The following day which was a Thursday, I was to have the removal at noon. He was running behind so I didn’t have surgery until about 4:30. That day was a rough day for sure. Just trying to get the IV alone was hell. My veins were almost non existent due to being dehydrated. I remember crying as the nurses were sticking me over and over trying to get a vein.
I had the removal surgery. And I thought that would be the end of it. But instead I woke up with a drain tube hanging out of me and I had a severe infection! So severe I was in the hospital for a week! I actually flat lined on Saturday because my oxygen went so low. I woke up to all these Dr and nurses in my room and hovering over me. And when I woke up… one of the Dr’s said, “welcome back” I said, “uh where did I go”? They proceeded to tell me that I had basically died. I was like, “well crap what does that mean” the Dr’s looked at me puzzled. And I said, “well if I died then why didn’t I see the white light, all I seen or remember was darkness” we all laughed and life went on after that.
I never seen my surgeon while I was in the hospital but while I was there one of his colleges came in to check on me. She was doing rounds and came to check my wounds. My surgeon didn’t even write in his notes that I had a drain tube or infection. So when she looked at my wound where they removed the port she saw the drain tube and was very surprised and even stated that this wasn’t in the notes anywhere. Hmmmmm… Months later after this experience I spoke with a lawyer and we requested my medical records, half of what happen to me was not in any of my notes and it looked like things had been removed. My lawyer advised me it would be very difficult to prove negligence or if the infection happen before or after surgery. It was a mess and now in hindsight I wish I had found a different lawyer and pursued this more. But I didn’t, I let it go just so I could move on with my life.
I had lost over 100 lbs and felt good once the band was removed. Life went back to normal… somewhat… about a month later I went through a break up and decided to stay here in the city and make a life for myself and my son. I loved my job and the money I was making. But as life does, it crept up on me. I started to gain the weight back slowly at first. In 2010 I learned that my beloved plant where I worked would be closing down and moving most of the jobs to Mexico. I had no idea what to do then. The eating was becoming more out of hand as I became depressed not knowing the next step to take. I enrolled in college classes. I wanted to try to have things in place before the plant closed and I didn’t want to live off unemployment. October 2010 was my last month at that job I that I loved.
My weight was on the rise. I went from taking night classes to going to school full time during the day. I studied it seemed like 24/7. I didn’t just want good grades but I had to be the best. I had to be on the Dean’s list and have a 4.0. I was living off unemployment and I hated it!! I was afraid of my future and future of my son. I began to look for jobs. In December I applied for a job in law enforcement as a dispatcher. It was a 6 month hiring process which they informed us that it takes that long to research your background, lie detector test, among other things. In May of 2011 I was hired and began my training. It was the hardest training I had ever been through in my life! I used to build jets and planes for a living and this was by far the most challenging thing I had ever done!
As a dispatcher I learned you are literally chained to your desk and a phone all day. And sometimes you can’t just get up and walk around when there is something going on. I had never had a sedentary job before. And the constant sitting, not moving and stress level of the job really helped pack on the pounds! I worked 2-10 pm so a lot of late night eating and fast food. I ended up having a TIA stroke but that didn’t seem to stop me from eating. A few months before this happen I had to make the hardest decision of my life and let my son go live with my parents. It was like losing my heart letting him go but it was best for him since he wanted to play sports in a much smaller school. He had the chance to excel and go after what he wanted and we both were very fortunate that my parents wanted this for him too. I went back every week to see him and watch him play but it definitely took its toll on me. Depression set in hard. I was good at hiding it from everyone but hardly a day went by that I didn’t cry. I was a mess without him! He was my life. Now you say, why didn’t you just move back? It wasn’t that easy, I tried to find a job closer to him, but back then we were in a depression, I was a single mom, and I just started a new job. Back then jobs were very hard to come by especially good paying jobs with benefits! Sounds like an excuse but I assure you it was not! I did the best I could… it will always be something I wish I had changed. But he turned out damn good and I’m beyond proud of all his accomplishments!
All of this pushed me further and further to food. Food was my best friend and enemy. I let it consume me! You don’t realize what your doing to your body by abusing it with all the wrong foods. I was eating constantly. I would swear to you my Charger knew it’s way to McDonald’s before work and after. Every now and then I’d throw in Taco Bell just to change it up. I’d eat cookies, cake anything with sugar… I wasn’t happy unless I had some type of junk food. Then of course my Dr Pepper addiction. I would drink mostly water at work but before and after you’d always find me with a Dr Pepper in hand. And on my days off… never water always Dr Pepper sometimes a 24 pack in 2 days. I worked a very long schedule. I worked 8 days straight followed by 2 days off in the middle of the week then 7 days straight of work and 4 day weekend which was amazing! But when you work that crazy schedule the first day off all you want to do is sleep. Mentally I was drained. I got myself into terrible habits… yeah ya think? Before I knew it I was almost 500 lbs!!! A girl that knew how to train and workout and eat right… mentally I checked out! I no longer knew myself, I banned all mirrors and my clothes were nothing short of wearing a tent. I looked hideous. And I began to hide out. I became a hermit. I used to enjoy going out with friends and dancing but once you get that obese, moving was a whole challenge! No more dancing, no more hanging out with friends, my whole demeanor changed. I just wanted to hide. I also used to love to perform as a singer, music meant so much to me, but at this point there was no way I would sing in public. I always sang in the house but wouldn’t go back on stage anymore.
This was all my plummet and spiral straight into hell as a bottomless pit!!
The story continues… Next blog will be about my second weight loss surgery…. oh yes there is more! Thank you for reading! Please follow me and have a good day!