This is part two of my weight loss journey. You can find part one here.
My big caveat that goes with this series is that, like any medical decision, this is a highly individual one. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone or that will be “right” for everyone. This is my journey, and I want to share it, both the good and the hard parts, for a few reasons.
One of the biggest reasons I want to share my journey is to help end the stigma against weight loss surgery. So many people are afraid to share that they’ve had surgery, or are planning to, due to the backlash that often happens. Comments like “surgery is the easy way out” (spoiler: it’s not!) or “I knew someone that did that and they DIED” are just two of many unhelpful, fearmongering, and rude things people considering weight loss surgery hear.
I hope by putting my story out there, more people feel able to be open, if they choose to, about what they are going through. And likewise, if you hear of a friend or loved one considering weight loss surgery, maybe my story will help you keep those thoughts in your head.
I share my story also as a real-life way to open up these conversations and give better insight into why people choose surgery, and what to expect.
The little caveat that goes with this series is that I am sharing my doctor’s plan for me. Different doctors, different patients, will have different plans to follow and different expectations.
Caveats out of the way, let’s dive in.
My Weight Loss Surgery
Once I had the final step in my work-up complete (the EGD to look inside my stomach and identify any potential problems that may arise prior to the actual surgery), I was ready to schedule my weight loss surgery. My doctor pulled out a typed list on a piece of paper, offered me a choice of February 27 or February 28. I went with the earlier date, as it was a Monday, and I fully intended to only take a week off following surgery, so that I could be back at my desk job on the following Monday, March 6.
(This was an ambitious plan, I admit, from the outside. Usually at least two weeks are recommended following laparoscopic surgery. However, I know my body’s recovery rate from surgery, and better still, I know my job. While I have a desk job, there is the flexibility needed to get in water, food, and movement breaks which are imperative to an excellent recovery.)
The next piece of the puzzle is what’s often called a Liver Reduction or Liver Shrinking Diet. If you google this, there are dozens of varieties of this plan available. My physician’s plan involved 13 days of primarily liquids with a few protein focused meals scattered throughout that time frame. No carbs, no sodas, no caffeine allowed.
I will admit that I did not follow this plan perfectly. However, I did follow it closely enough that I managed to lose 14 lbs. prior to surgery. The day before surgery was clear liquids only. I really thought this would be much more challenging than it was, but while I did certainly enjoy the meals I could eat, I did not feel all that deprived – I made the most of those meals!
The day of surgery itself, I was anxious, as anyone is going into surgery, but I had no doubt it was the right decision for me. The surgery itself took about an hour. I was in recovery longer than the surgery just waiting for a room to open up.
After surgery, I was allowed liquids and encouraged to sip, sip, sip on water, broth, and sugar free drinks, as much as possible. Walking is also incredibly important, and I spent a great deal of time walking the halls, feeling like I was wearing a track into the linoleum floors of the hallway.
I knew I would need to stay one night in the hospital, but when the nurse practitioner checked on me in the morning, and suggested they might recommend two nights – I told her, no way! I planned on going home that day, and would do what it took to accomplish that, and I did. When the surgeon came by that afternoon, he confirmed I was cleared to go home, and I was so glad. I made the call to my husband, who was picked up the kids from school and headed to the hospital to bring me home.
Once home, I made it a priority to meet my liquid and protein goals, which basically means sipping on something constantly, all day. Chugging is not allowed, and really not possible anyway. When I wasn’t sipping, I was taking advantage of the sunshine and warmer weather to walk the neighborhood as much as possible. I was in almost no pain, outside of when I tried to get out of the recliner or out of bed, so I didn’t really need the heavy duty pain medicine.
I managed to return to driving, and even managed a lunch out with friends during my week of recovery. I had miso soup, which was very much on plan. Come the Monday following surgery, I returned to work as planned without incident.
The days since my recovery period have felt incredibly normal. The main difference is that I can eat so much less than I used to. Five to six bites is usually enough to fill me up. The focus is still on protein first, and will continue to be, forever.
That is something you realize really quickly choosing this surgery; unlike every other diet or medication out there, this is a lifetime affecting decision. I won’t ever get that other piece of my stomach back. This is in no way reversible.
In a way, that’s a little scary. I miss being able to eat a whole plate of food, or even something as simple as a whole taco. I also know that, in time, as the inflammation dies down and my stomach heals, I will be able to eat more. Not a lot more, but enough to where I will feel pretty normal.
So far the only complication I have is one of my laparoscopic incisions did not completely close, or came open, so that has to be watched closely for infection, and I’m on antibiotics in the meantime.
Many people have regrets the first month or two after surgery, as this is when the biggest adjustment period really hits. So far, I have zero regrets, and am really excited to see where things go from here.
If you are considering surgical weight loss, or are on a similar path, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to take it one day, one step at a time. Take pictures of yourself for comparison, because the scale is only part of the larger picture of your improved health and lifestyle.
Likewise, if you are further on this journey, I welcome advice and positive tips about maintaining weight loss once you reach your goals!