Thursday, December 24, 2009

Back from Mexico!

This morning I returned from 10 day trip to Mexico. I went sightseeing old pyramids of Monte Alban, enjoyed the sights of Oaxaca, tropical beeches of Huatulco, and the warmth of Cuernavaca. And of course the food! I knew this will be the challenge. I do not want to live a crippled life, which is not why I underwent the surgery. I wanted NEW life. It turned out just fine. At the fancy restaurants the food of choice was Ceviche, which is raw seafood marinated in lemon juice, and served various styles, but usually as an appetizer or cocktail. It is a perfect combination of low fat good protein, veggies, and no starches. Only once my little pouch rebelled when I decided to have a Fillet-Mignon medallion, but it lasted not too long. The end result – I lost 4 lbs on the trip and I reached a new low of 104.2. 
Tomorrow it will be 6 months since the surgery. I am in the totally new world.  Even though I have not achieved my weigh goal yet (I will) I’m facing different challenges. As I can eat more foods, tolerate more variety, there is a danger of getting back to old habits.  Like a recovering alcoholic, I pray to be strong and resist the temptations. The stomach surgery took couple of hours; the resulting brain ‘surgery’ will be a lifelong process.

To Lisa:

You wrote:
“I have to ask you...did you have a fear of dying during the surgery? This is what scares me the most. I'm not afraid of the diet afterwords, or what I'll have to endure pain wise...I'm afraid of dying during the surgery.”
I know what you mean – especially since you are a mom to two little girls and have no other medical problems. I did not have your dilemma; other than my two cats I have nobody who depends on me, and my diabetes was out of control. I knew that diabetes will cripple or kill me, and for me the probability of dying from the surgery was significantly lower that dying from the diabetic complications.
I think it is VERY WISE to be afraid. This should NOT BE a cosmetic surgery or something that should be considered frivolously. Only you can weight all pros and cons. If you decide on the surgery, please consider also other less invasive options like a gastric sleeve.
For me my surgery worked fabulously, but that does not make it a universal rule.
Good luck!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Change in record keeping

I stopped the daily checking of my weight and blood sugar. I will check weight weekly, and sugar at random. BTW, today I was still at 210.4 - matching my previous low - but not breaking it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Long Wait

After 15 days of waiting my weight finally went down, but only .6 lb from the previous low on 11/19/09...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I have reached another plateau, as for the last 13 days I have not lost a single pound. I suspect it has to do something with my thyroid function. After I started to take pills, I experienced HUNGER, but that lasted only few days and was replaced by lack of hunger and almost aversion to food. I also started to ride bicycle daily. I see no reason to have that weight loss freeze (other than waiting for thyroid to get to normal). I am not worried, but slightly disappointed. I still have most of the hypothyroid symptoms: cold intolerance, fatigue, weight loss problem, dry skin, etc...
Somehow I started to believe that the surgery was a miracle cure for ALL, but it turned out to be a miracle cure for MOST. If thyroid will remain my only problem, I can live with that.
To be continued.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

TSH at 17.5

This afternoon when I got back from my bike ride I received lab report in the mail (I was expecting it on Monday). As I suspected my TSH was at 17.5 - very high. I am glad I listened what my body was telling me.

Abnormal normalcy

After 5 months the changes are still happening, but not on the daily basis. Since I got rid of almost all major problems, I was sure that I could get rid of them all. My thyroid is bad, and for the last 10 years I have been taking supplements. I tried all, even homeopathic sulphur. The synthetic replacement did not really work, as I had to increase the dose every few months. Homeopathy worked (!) but not for long. The one consistently good product was Armour Thyroid. It combines T3 and T4 and generally is not favored by doctors (my doctor laughed that this is throwback to 50s and Elvis lives) but he could not argue with success – my TSH went down from mid teens to under 1. I have been taking it ever since. Unfortunately, the supply of Armour was greatly affected by production problems and I was not able to get it. I thought that this is a good blessing and I will try to see how I am doing without it. After four weeks I knew something is wrong. I was constantly cold, my skin was dry, and all old hypothyroid symptoms were there. Before Thanksgiving I had lab work done but I did not get results yet. Nevertheless, I dug out the 5 stashed pills and started to take them. The results are instant – chills are gone. In two days I will get lab work back, but I felt like I could not wait.
Other observations: after of 5 months the hunger came back. I am analyzing it. Is it real? The fact is I did not lose a single pound in 9 days now. I did not overeat for sure, but I think I need to have more exercise. Today a bike ride is planned.
So things are getting back to normal, but they are far from normal yet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

5 Months

Tomorrow will be 5 months since the surgery. 92 lbs lost, 74 since the surgery. My system is getting used to my new stomach and digestive tract; pouch is no longer as angry as before. I remember when I was applying for the surgery and there was a very good chance that it would have to be postponed until December. In my conversation with the B.C. manager, I said “By December I already could have been 100 lbs lighter”. Well, almost there.
I am still 46 lbs to my goal, but I am beginning to see the horror of loose skin. I am sure that the next 46 lbs will create more dramatic change. I will deal with it later, when my weight stabilizes.
Diabetes and apnea are gone FOREVER!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Am I Losing My Mind?

Since the previous weekend proved that I could handle salad, I decided on my way home to stop at the store and take some home. I went to the salad bar, and carefully picked what would seem like sensible choices. I was ready to leave, when I glanced at the miniature watermelons and thought – why not. As I was walking to pickup watermelon, I remembered that I am out of milk. On my way to the dairy cooler, I walked past the meat counter, and they had these little NY steaks (about 6 oz each) at greatly reduced price. Last weekend I also successfully had piece of prime rib, so I decided to buy few and stack them in the freezer. After I loaded gallon of milk, I also recalled that I am out of yogurt. Getting yogurt, I also got some frozen cherries and blueberries. My basket was full and my little salad trip was $50.
Because of the terrible parking situation I usually ride to the university on my very large scooter. I have side bags and very spacious trunk. I had to remove all stuff and distribute it in my scooter luggage. In my garage I had to move everything again into a cart and finally I made it home. Since it was cold and rainy, I changed into my comfortable warm robe, and unpacked the grocery. But I could not find my salad. I left it in the store. There was no way I would dress again and ride there, so I just decided to forget about it, and prepared one of the steaks. The grilled steak turned out absolutely perfect, I had only half of it, with some beans, and I started to feel ‘funny’ (unfortunate word as I was not laughing). Within no more than 5 minutes the steak ended up in the toilet in sort of unusual violent vomiting.
So I went to get a salad, which I left in the store, purchased all kinds of stuff I was not planning. The punishment was instant. Is there a lesson here, or just coincidence?

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Stella:

I am not sure if there is a real difference in soy based and whey based protein powder. There are also organic health food alternatives, based on rice, hemp, and nopales (cactus). Of course they claim that whey protein will kill you 8^).
Since I switched to unflavored protein, I found that soy changes the food taste more than whey or rice. Also, there is a link on thyroid deficiency and soy based products, but I am not sure how serious this is.
Yogurts are great, but plain yogurt (which I like) is eventually getting to be too boring. Fruit flavored yogurts, on the other hand, are full of sugar. I started to buy frozen berries and cherries, and blend some plain (preferably organic) yogurt with frozen fruits and a little bit of Splenda. This creates very good tasting 'smoothie'.
Good luck to you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Normal Life Returns

I am able to return to almost normal food. I had piece of Prime Rib, salad, spinach salad without any adverse reaction. (Still, some fruits, like grapes, feel like I am swallowing acid.) That return to normalcy is welcome, but scary event. I fear old habits. I hope that that fear will be my guardian.
My energy levels are constantly going up and definitely I know that the worse is behind me. I am determined to have that past suffering not go in vane. I will reach my goal and will stay there. And I pray that I will never lose my fear.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Weekend out of Town Survived

Last weekend I went out of town and for three days I was depended on eating out. Well - I survived without any problems. Of course, I had to be careful, and light string cheese save me couple of times.

The more I think about the surgery, the more I consider this to be a miracle. Now my sleep apnea is gone. I was sleeping with CPAP ( a noisy 'breathing machine') since 1997. This time I could travel without it and sleep without it.
I was nervous about the surgery, I was worried about possible complications, threat of depression, etc. As it turns out, the surgery was a blessing, a gift. That gift was absolutely worth the discomfort, pain, nausea, and other side effect. They almost all had disappeared, but the weight loss, end of diabetes, end of apnea is here to stay.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Melanie

I am not sure if you received my response. Just in case, here is 'public' version:

Hi Melanie,
Congratulations on your surgery - big step!
To answer your question, try to get unflavored protein mix and add it to chicken broth. Greek yogurt (which has a lot of live cultures and is thicker) is good easy start. Also try Kefir - not many people know about it - but it is not just pro-biotic but PRE-biotic, in other words it has nutrients to feed pro-biotic bacteria.
I live only a block from Trader Joe - and the books are:

Cooking with all things Trader Joe

The I Love Trader Joe ( )

Good luck to you - and do not get discouraged. The first three months could be unpleasant, but every time I test my blood sugar and step on the scale - I and incredibly happy.

Best wishes!



Sunday, October 25, 2009

4 Months

Today is 4 months since the surgery.
I started with BMI above 40 as 'severely obese', at the day of my surgery I was in the top of 'obese' category. Only yesterday I crossed from 'obese'  into  'overweight' range below 30.
So I am just 'overweight' now. Sweet.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

100 Kg Milestone Smashed

This morning, after few days of reverse direction, my weight dropped to 218.8 lbs, well below 100Kg mark.
The bad news: my belly button is now 2 inches lower than it used to be. 8^)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zombie Attack

Yesterday I had another zombie attack. I slept most of the day and night, and today I am just fine. I guess that was what I needed and the rest helped. I know that out of over 1600 (!) people who read this blog, many are either expecting surgery, or already had it and I am just few steps ahead. Of course nobody states that my experiences are 'typical' but generally you might expect similar situations. Just like nausea and puking in the beginning, tiredness later. I am trying to listen to my body and follow its requests. No time to be macho...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Practical Tips (2)

After bypass surgery there is unbalance in fiber consumption. I solved it in a very simple way. I use two kinds of Benefiber. One, unflavored, purchased in large 1.6 lb containers, dissolves almost instantly and does not change (significantly) the flavor of drink. I add it to coffee substitutes, etc. Another kind, flavored, comes in little convenient tubes, each suppose to be dissolved in 16 oz. of water. I use one for my 32 oz bottle. Makes a pleasing drink, and two bottles like this satisfy the 64oz water consumption requirement. Since I started doing this about month ago, I have no problems where I used to get 'stuck' before.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Practical Tips

I would like to share some of the practical 'survival' tips that I use.
  1. Fortify the protein:
    I use unflavored protein mix (many varieties).  For example: one container of Nile Organic Potato and Leak soup, just add boiling water and wait 5 minutes, has 110 calories and only 4 grams of protein. That means only 16 calories are from the protein - less than 15%. I try to keep my daily ratio of protein calories to total calories above 35%. By adding half scoop of protein mix (60 calories, 12 grams of protein, 80% ratio), my soup meal becomes 170 calories, 16 grams of protein, 37.6% ratio. I am still not dealing well with meat, so this 'trick' is sure way to boost protein intake and still create easily digestible meal.
  2. Eat soups:
    I work a lot, live by myself and cooking is not really what I want to do. Soups (fortified with protein mix) solved my problem. Some of my favorites:
  3. - Trader Joe Beef and Barley (200 cal, 14g protein - serves two meals) - a small carton. 
    - Nile Organic few varieties - single meal, a cup with dry soup - add boiling water.
    - Health Valley Organic - microwavable.. - meal and a half. 
    • Other foods - quick, convenient, and tolerable:
    • - Light string cheese 
      - Cooked shrimp 
      - Fish (sashimi or broiled) 
      - Cottage cheese (organic with live cultures - many store brands are 'dead') 
      - Organic yogurt and kefir (again, live cultures!) 
      - Canned tuna - go for better ones. 
      - Trader's Joe reduced fat smoked Gouda. 
        • Grain beverage as a coffee substitution and use DAIRY dry non-fat milk based creamer.

        Tuesday, October 6, 2009

        Energy is Back

        I cannot explain and I wish I knew. Yesterday I had a heavy day of lectures in front of 450 students, Bariatric Center Support group meeting, etc. I was expecting my lately usual crash, but as of 11PM I was still full of juice. Today - same thing. I will go to the gym, just returned from nice one hour walk, had my Office Hours with number of students, life is great!
        I am puzzled, but also relieved as I suspected that something might be going wrong...
        I am glad I did not call my doc for an appointment.

        Saturday, October 3, 2009

        To Billy in N.C.

        Billy, I responded to you but the email bounces back. Good luck to you and thank you for the email.


        The fourth month after the surgery starts with two major themes.

        • I can eat more different foods, however still stay away from solid dry textures. I have to eat slowly, or face the punishment. I have to chew, chew, which somehow I forget as old habits die hard.  
        • Second prevailing motif is my tiredness. I feel great, but tired, tired, tired. I sleep 12 hours per day, and that's not enough. I was told that it's normal, but doesn't feel normal to me. Even though I signed up for the gym membership, I am just too tired to go there. Sounds like an excuse, I know, but it is not. I go home instead, to bed, and in 5 minutes I am sleeping like I was on drugs. I am wondering if this is a symptom of some deficiency and I am planning to see my doctor. However at the Bariatric Center last week they told me that any deficiencies will not show up on the tests until 6 month after surgery. At the same time they said that being tired is normal at this stage. My system went through a major surgery, rearranged digestive system, lost 75 lbs, all this puts a stress on me. May be the sleep is what I need more than exercise at this juncture. I am planning to take an easy day today - go for a walk, watch the Ducks game on TV, sleep. Tomorrow I will be mostly in my office working.

        Tuesday, September 29, 2009

        Misguided Search

        On July 17 I made post entitled Adventures in Vomiting - gross - but what a relief! - I wrote about how this disgusting activity spells abatement to some of the early post-surgery problems.
        Recently I was looking at the visitors lists, looking where people came ‘from’. One person from Germany used Google to find this blog. I looked up that keywords (s)he used was: “Relief from Vomiting”
        Poor person, I probably nauseated her even more. I was going to say ‘sorry’ but I am sure that (s)he will never be back. 8^)

        Saturday, September 26, 2009

        3 Months

        Yesterday passed 3 months since the surgery. I also had my 3-months checkup at the clinic. Good news! My high blood pressure was caused by a faulty automatic machine, and nothing else. At the office my BP was perfectly normal!
        I am still a fraction under 230 lbs.
        If someone would offer me a surgery to get rid of diabetes, with all the consequences like this surgery, I would take it in no time. If the weight loss would be a side effect - I would take it in no time.
        The last 3 months were not easy and there are still many adjustments left, but my conviction that this was THE RIGHT decision is unshakable.
        By strange coincident my surgery was moved ahead by 8 weeks. At first I did not like it, since it interfered with my summer class teaching. Now I'm extremely thankful that it was moved. I'm starting new school year in much better shape as compared to the state I was 8 weeks ago.
        I did not like the nausea, pain, vomiting, tiredness, but in the final analysis, I feel blessed to have this surgery. This is a lease on new life, different life, new life full of the advantages to be harvested.

        Thursday, September 24, 2009

        Under 230 lbs!

        Today I went under 230 lbs. Writing this is one of the rewards 8^)
        I also finished my shrimps/lime/cilantro - but this time carefully chewing and focused. No problem!

        Wednesday, September 23, 2009


        Yesterday I purchased cooked shrimp with cilantro. Shrimp (cooked) is a great source of protein, low fat, and something I could tolerate very well. After few shrimps I realized that I ignored warning about fully focusing on eating and the first 3 or 4 shrimps went down with only slight effort to chew. I knew I made a mistake right away, but was hoping that it will pass (or shrimp will pass). The opening between new pouch and attached intestine is very small and 'the chew, chew' recommendation is incredibly important. I ate them around 8 PM, and until 2:30 AM it was in constant agony. What a lesson to learn. Now I wonder if my previous experience with beef was really caused by beef or just inadequate chewing...

        Sunday, September 20, 2009

        Kawa Zbożowa

        I stopped at the health food store, looking for coffee substitutions. I found few grain beverages from Switzerland and Poland. Ironically, when I was growing up in Poland, the grain based 'kawa zbożowa' was a symbol of the hated communism. It was a cheap substitute for real coffee that was either not available or too expensive. It was generally despised and ridiculed, usually in the same sentence. Interesting that I find it now, many years later, in USA, as a health food alternative, costing twice as much as coffee. No wonder we were so healthy growing up.
        I had my first slice of pizza  and it was no problem. It is almost three months, and number of foods I tolerate is increasing. But the next day I had some roast-beef, that caused 5 hours of misery. I still cannot tolerate meat very well.
        My weight dropped down again, and finally I was able to eat some fruits.
        Another new development is higher than normal blood pressure. Average 160/88. Next week I'll have checkup and will consult about it. I used to drink mass quantity of coffee, tea, and I was adding food to my salt. Now - none of that, and pressure's up.
        I still oscillate between being tired, sleepy, or full of pep. Higher blood pressure might have something to do with it. I sleep like a proverbial rock. I used to take melatonin - otherwise falling asleep was difficult and I needed only few hours of sleep. Now I sleep without melatonin, takes me 30 seconds to be in the vivid dream zone, from which I will not awake until 10-12 hours later...  What a waste of time!

        Tuesday, September 15, 2009

        Half-Way #1

        Today I reached the half-way mark for my total weight loss. 69 lbs down, 69 to go. 51 lbs since the surgery. Piece of cake! (No, I can't have one...)
        Since I had to 'prove' the weight loss to qualify for the procedure, I lost 18 lbs before the surgery. Therefore I'm only 9 lbs away from my next step - half-way goal since the surgery - at 225 lbs.

        No More Zombie!

        Just as the tiredness suddenly came over and grabbed me for more than one week, as unexpectedly it disappeared. Since the weekend I am in great shape, great mood, not tired, not sleepy, not a zombie.
        I have no explanation, and no understanding. I just went with the flow. I feel the energy coming back, my mind could stay sharp for the whole day. Fabulous.
        I signed up for a gym membership in the Downtown Athletic Club (to actually start next week). The lectures preparation is going great, and I am so upbeat about all of this.

        Friday, September 11, 2009


        I mentioned this before - but somehow this is another annoying aspect of recovery. Almost daily I go back home in the middle of the day - and sleep for couple of hours. Makes no difference if I walk, bike, drive, the mid-day tiredness comes up - and I sleep very, very hard. Like on sleeping pills. I checked my sugar to see if it is the cause, but the blood sugar levels are perfect - around 100. I feel great otherwise, great spirit, great mood, but at 2 PM I am a zombie. I don't like it... I am lucky, it is summer, no classes to teach, next year preparation on track (with the help of two VERY capable Teaching Assistants - thank you D. and J. - if you read this!).

        Mixed Feelings

        I definitely see the change happening. Not the weight or sugar, but changes in my reaction to food. Some of these changes are very surprising. First - I seem to be able to eat almost anything. But by saying that, I do not mean to say that I can eat almost all. I used to love fruits, now they taste like an acid. One plum, one grape, is all it takes to make me look the other way. Meat, my favorite, is no longer something I can stand. I prefer veggie-burger patty any time. I use to have some cravings for specific foods. I don't. No food is tempting, but also surprisingly, I am experiencing hunger more and more. This is another new experience to me, when I am hungry and no food looks appealing. Natural cottage cheese comes to my rescue. 4 oz, half a cup, that is all I need.

        Wednesday, September 9, 2009

        Quiet Life

        I was very quiet in the last few days. There was really nothing drastic to report. We had a long Labor Day weekend, the weather was lousy, and I ended up sleeping most of the time. The tiredness came back, but not in the annoying zombie form. The sleep was very rejuvenating and I feel relatively very good. The only concern is that now it seems like I am able to consume more and different foods and I feel like my hunger (or something similar) has returned. I am trying to evaluate it before I eat. Is it real? Is it emotional? Is it social? My caloric intake went up slightly, to around 900-1000 calories per day with 90-100 g. of protein. My weight dropped to a new low two days ago, and this morning was only .2 lb above.
        People start to notice the change, I definitely feel it.

        Wednesday, September 2, 2009

        New Territory!

        Today my weight went below 240 lbs! 
        This is a place I have not been in over 20 years!
        Feels great.
        One common thread, while listening to other WLS patients, is their unpredictable experiences in the first few months. Same here...
        BTW, my blood sugar level is fabulous - 97 today. This is the one war won, and for that reason alone the surgery was worth it. 
        The ups and downs of the recovery are relatively small price to pay.

        Tuesday, September 1, 2009

        Drop, Again

        Yesterday was a good day! What a yo-yo! The weight started dropping again, and today looks very good.

        Sunday, August 30, 2009

        Wasted Day

        Today the upset pouch continued to punish me - but in sort of tricky way. Morning I was OK - had small breakfast, had a piece of salmon for lunch, so far so good. By early afternoon - I am stuck - feel awful, things are sitting under my throat. The whole evening's like this. I am not going into details, but it is not pleasant.

        Sort of Remarkable Date

        OK - today marks the TENTH day my weight did not change, 242.2 lbs this morning.
        Ten days!
        I would have been seriously worried about it had I not have the surgery, now I just see it as annoying oddity with the absolute certainty that weight loss will continue. Others went through similar experiences, but somehow these 10 days defy the laws of physics.

        Saturday, August 29, 2009

        Predictable Unpredictability

        At the last support group meeting on Tuesday we talked about the post-bariatric surgery nutrition. One of the recommended foods was quinoa. Friday I visited friends and they had quinoa with their dinner. I tried some, and it was great. OK - new discovery. On my way home I stopped at the store and picked up organic quinoa in bulk and in the package. Today I made some for diner. That was 3 hours ago, have been puking since....

        Stalled Ride

        Today is the 9th day I have not lost any weight!. Oh well, it will happen, but this is unnerving. My body is pulling the same trick it always did, holding on to the extra weight as it's most precious possession. This time I will win, stupid body!
        Two days ago I spent most of the day on the coast, looking at some real estate. When it came time for a dinner, we (my Realtor and I) went to a local seafood place. I had a small cup of clam chowder, ate half, talked for 15 minutes, and finished it. That officially marked my first time since the surgery I ate something at the restaurant. Chowder is not the best diet food, but being able to eat only few ounces, no bread, no butter, nothing else, is not bad for the dinner 8^)

        Tuesday, August 25, 2009

        Two Months!

        When I woke up from the surgery and turned on TV I found out that Charlie's Angel had died. A little bit later Michael Jackson. From now on I do not need to remember my surgery day as every month and every year I will be reminded about it.
        After two months the success in fighting off diabetes is obvious. Since 8/8/09 I have not had a single BS reading above 120! The weight loss is significant, but it is somehow stalled again. Five days ago I had 241.6 and for the last 5 days I am within .5 lb every morning, but I am not dropping. But I was warned that this is how it will be. Weigh loss is not linear. I am still not comfortable eating solid foods like steak, but cheese and fish is OK. My emotional condition is great, very upbeat spirit, and I am slowly reaching my previous mental stamina. I am mentioning this as many WLS patients experience depression, and that was one of my pre-op concerns. So far the concern unfounded...

        Monday, August 24, 2009

        Good Weekend, Bad Grapes!

        Finally I broke through my 'mental distractions' and made a real good progress on my next academic year preparation. I had to throw away some self-imposed restrictions and now I think I have great workable plan. This is important!
        The cherry season ended - and few cherries I tried (with caution) did not cause any problems. Now I tried grapes. After no more than a small handful I started to feel 'not right'. 15 - 20 minutes later the 'dumping' happened. What an unpleasant experience. I am still puzzled why cherries were OK but grapes are no-no.
        Every new food is a potential trap and unpredictable surprise.

        Sunday, August 23, 2009

        Obesity Discussion Forum

        I discovered the Obesity Discussion forum, and I feel that it will be a great resource for support and exchange of ideas. Please check if interested in the topic. I was surprised to see how much negative feedback is made regarding weight loss surgeries, but I actually understand it. The surgery carries a large risk, and by no means guarantees success. However I am also glad that I went through it. My diabetes is gone - and that has nothing to do with diet. The doctor stated that they really do not know how it works, but the surgery makes one very sensitive to insulin, where insensitivity was before. I have been overweight for the last 25 years. Up, down, but the trend was up. Every year I promised myself to end that! And every year I failed. The decision for the surgery is a simple acknowledgment that I am not going to fool myself any more. This is my new chance, new opportunity. I will not waste that.
        As they say - it is a tool, not a solution. I embraced that tool.

        Saturday, August 22, 2009

        Not Ready to Eat Out!

        Today is Saturday, and as usual it is a day for a Saturday Market in Eugene, as well as Farmer's market. Among the stands there was local coastal fish place, and they were grilling samples of their tuna. I purchased two pieces on a stick, each about 1 oz.. Tuna was excellent, but now I am in my office deliberating if I should keep it in captivity or release it into the wild. It is sitting right under my throat, and totally undecided if it should go down or up.

        Thursday, August 20, 2009

        Eight Weeks

        This is the last time I am counting weeks. 8/25/2009 will mark two months since the surgery and from now on months it is!
        This morning I was greated by a pleasant surprise, I lost 2.4 lb since yesterday!
        I am now at 241.6 lbs (109.6 Kg). Goodie, goodie.
        Someow after almost two months I still have problems concentrating on my work for more than few hours. Is it the reaction on the reduced caloric intake? Still healing? Brain preoccupied with the new life? I don't know - but I am forcing myself to overcome that 'attention deficit annoyance'. I really don't like it, since I am preparing for the next year teaching and I feel like I am falling behind.
        I developed some Pavlovian conditioning reflexes. Chewing food, over and over, that was something I could never learn - but after unpleasant consequences, I am finding myself now chewing, chewing, and chewing automatically. Another instict developing is to stop after each bite and evaluate if there is room for one more... Now I rather stop instead of facing the wrath of the pouch.

        Monday, August 17, 2009


        I see that there is an interest in my blog. Today I checked the map again (statcounter only keeps last 500 visits for free, and that is what I have). I am so glad to have so many visitors from so many places. Please write to me or comment.
        Thanks for visits.

        Friday, August 14, 2009

        Goal Milestones

        I am looking forward to the few milestones that should happen not too far in the future.
        First will be 100Kg (220.5lbs). Nice round number.
        Next will be 215lbs (97.5Kg) - the weight at which I will cease to be 'obese' and will become just 'overweight'.
        Finally another round number - 200lbs (90.7KG).
        All these three goals should be accomplished within one month, and the first one (220lbs) I estimate will happen around the end of September, while end of October should see me getting under 200lbs.
        At around middle of December I should reach 'normal' body weight ( 179lbs).
        I should be able to achieve my final goal of 165 lbs in the middle of January.

        Nothing gives me more pleasure than thinking and writing about it.

        Thursday, August 13, 2009


        During the previous weeks my biggest complain was my tiredness. About one week ago all this ended and if anything I have an excess of energy. Today I was giving the final exam to my students and found myself pacing from one end of the classroom to another all the time. I just could not sit down. And all this was possible after eating a single hard boiled egg. I am getting to be more and more happy about the surgery.

        Seven Weeks!

        Today is seven weeks since the surgery, and after unexpected spike in weight in the middle of the week, the weight came down to 247. Blood sugar remains in 100-110 range throughout the day.
        I had gorgeous day on the canoe yesterday, without getting tired.
        Life is wonderful, even if the piece of an apple in the evening did not agree with my pouch.

        Wednesday, August 12, 2009

        Back on track

        Today the weight reached new low of 248.8. lbs. I do not know how to explain these fluctuations. Blood sugar stays in the normal range, and I am off for a canoe excursion. First time this year.

        Tuesday, August 11, 2009

        Disheartening Direction

        While my blood sugar continues to be in the normal range, which is fabulous, my weight for the last two days went up and today it was 2.4 lbs higher than lowest three days ago. This is so disheartening on so many levels. I keep track of all my food. Saturday I had only 588 calories, Sunday 526, and yesterday 779. I feel exactly as I felt in my previous attempts to lose weight, where my system just refused to shed pounds. I am not cheating, not snacking, and on top of this, I exercise. I ride bicycle to school, walk, and generally I feel surplus of energy as in stark contrast to the previous few weeks. All I can say is that I will stay on track, and reach my second goal, even if it will not be a downhill ramp but a staircase.

        Monday, August 10, 2009

        I modified the chart by changing the scale for the BS (it used to start at 100, now it starts at 80) and the scale for weight minimum from 160 to 150. I created the Goal Zone, where BS ranges between 80-120 and weight will be below 179Lbs, which is not my final goal, but at that weight my BMI will be considered normal. As you can see I am already in the zone for blood sugar levels.!
        To my surprise my weight went UP this morning. Oh well, it will come down. I had a big bike ride yesterday and my energy level is great.

        Saturday, August 8, 2009

        Interesting Statistic

        Since I came back from the hospital on 6/27/09, 43 days passed. Out of these 43 days, 31 times my morning weight was at the new low.

        Dumping? What the &^%$#?

        Few great days were met with a temporary and very unpleasant setback. I stopped at friends house, had a bite of fish, slice of baked potato, some tomatoes. I felt like the potato got stuck, but few bites of watermelon seem to wash it down. At home I decided to supplement my protein and had few bites of beef liver. So far so good. One hour later the misery started. Pain, gagging, for the next 5 hours I puked probably 10 times. I was exhausted. Finally I took one Metoclopramide tablet. I am not sure if after 5 hours there was nothing left, or the pill worked, but things calmed out and I was able to get to sleep. Today I feel exhausted and afraid of touching any food. They warned me of similar episodes, called delayed dumping, but they should be caused by sweets or starchy carbs. I am not sure if one slice of potato qualifies.
        Overall, that was a big minus for the pretty much great last few days. Oh, well, just take in what is coming and try to avoid the same mistake (if I only knew exactly what the mistake was).
        It could have been the potato, but also the liver, or mustard I put on the liver...

        Thursday, August 6, 2009

        Six Weeks!

        Today is six weeks since the surgery. My blood sugar level this morning was 110! My weight is 251 lbs. 34 lbs loss since the surgery, 52 lbs loss since applying for the surgery. I am finally getting handle on my 'angry' pouch, but most importantly, my energy levels are increasing from day to day. The tiredness was my biggest complaint, but this is OVER! Nausea was my #2 problem, but this one is ALSO over.
        Let the chart say the rest.

        Monday, August 3, 2009

        I am no longer a diabetic!

        From the blood sugar guidelines:
        Upon waking up (and before breakfast), your levels should be between 80 and 120.
        This morning my BS was at 118!
        And WITHOUT any medications, insulin, etc.

        Since I declared that diabetes was my #1 reason for the surgery - this is beyond expectations. It's only been 5 1/2 weeks.
        On the other hand, my weight is coming down slowly lately.
        In the last 7 days I only lost 2 lbs.

        Sunday, August 2, 2009

        Back to the baby steps

        I was worried that with all my problems I am not getting enough nutrition. I tried again the protein mix - and it worked. Almost instantly the energy came back and I went for one hour bike ride. What was amazing was this: so far today I ate around 800 calories, but one hour bike ride consumed about 500.
        Let's see what the weight scale shows tomorrow.

        Life is Interesting

        Life is interesting, specially when it is full of surprises and traps. Last two days are just like that. A single soft boiled egg in the morning causes 30 minutes of 'plugness' (I coined this word - combination of being plugged and stuffed). Instead of going out - 30 minutes in the easy chair. There were at least five unpredictable episodes during the last two days. According to the others - this will pass. The problem is that there is no repeat pattern, or may be there is - but I don't see it.

        Friday, July 31, 2009

        Changes, changes

        Things are changing day to day, and even every few hours. The pain associated with eating is GONE! I think it was some scar tissue being torn. What a relief! I had some soup - no pain. Cherries. No pain. Cooked shrimps. No pain. So it was just something very temporary.
        Surprise at every corner.
        Now I am scared that I will be able to eat WITHOUT penalty! Haha, not true, today I am still below 650 calories. And if I will have something, it will be a glass of milk.
        I feel generally MUCH better today. I am still looking for the day when I could put whole day of intensive effort at work. I am lucky, I am preparing next year's program, and I still have a lot of time, so it is way too early to panic. But I do not feel good about days going by without seeing real progress in my output.
        I have to quote one of my favorite poems from Laurie Anderson:

        The one-armed man walks into a flower shop and says:
        What flower expresses days go by
        and they just keep going by endlessly
        pulling you into the future.
        Days go by
        Endlessly pulling you into the future.
        And the florist says:
        White Lily.

        New Stage - penalty for eating

        I guess I entered new stage - of pain after eating ANYTHING. I am not sure if this is normal or not. I know that some of the readers had previously similar experience, please share with me. Before the soft food like cottage cheese would just go through the pouch. Now everything stops there. After few bites there is a lot of pressure and discomfort. I suppose to have three meals - but that would mean totally inadequate nutrition. So I munch. A bit of cheese, sip of milk, etc. One low-fat string cheese stick (60 cal, 6g protein) is a major effort to consume. I tried the soup again, but I could only have may be 2 oz. The strange thing is that in the last 3 days my weight remained virtually unchanged, even though I ate only about 700 cal per day. It just shows how my system is resistant to weight loss. It was happening before, except this time instead of starving at 700 calories I have to force myself to eat 700 calories.

        Thursday, July 30, 2009

        Week 5

        Today is week 5!
        I feel the energy is increasing. I still worry that my food intake is too low, but nothing looked good. I was thinking about possibility of soup. I stopped at the Trader Joe and got myself a small carton of Beef-Barley soup. That was what was needed. I ate only half of it (100 cal, 7g protein). I will look around for other soupy choices. If you have suggestions - please let me know.
        Last three weeks I am losing on average 4 lb per week. I think that is good rate.
        That's all, folks.

        Wednesday, July 29, 2009

        No food is good, just milk and cherries

        I am developing a real distaste to food. I eat minuscule amounts, but I am not hungry. However the ONLY food I crave is fruit. I had a cupful of cherries, and I even reached out to pick a wild plum, but did not eat it. The other food is low fat milk. Everything else just turns my stomach or pouch - not sure which one since I have them both.
        Eating so slowly is such new experience, and sometimes I just drift away from 100% concentration, and receive instant punishment. I am afraid of eating fruits (sugar), and milk (sugar as lactose). I believe that the higher proportion of these is contributing to my blood sugar staying above 130 (of course, one month ago even 150 was an unobtainable goal).
        I ordered few books with recipes specifically for the diet after Bariatric Surgery. Also, at the support group, someone mentioned the book specifically for Trader Joe. Since I live one block from TJ, and the variety and package sizes are more suitable than Costco, I ordered this book.
        I feel more energy today, went for a little bike ride, slept couple of hours during the day. Eugene is experiencing record heat with tempertures over 100F. Being outdoors is not very pleasant, riding motorcycle feels like having a hair drier blowing in your face. The formerly infected incission, which was still swalen, hard, and painful, opened up today and drained. That relived pain and swelling, but still gets me worried.
        Otherwise - not much to report, tomorrow will be 5 weeks since the surgery.

        Tuesday, July 28, 2009

        Happy Birthday to me.

        Today is my birthday. I had no clue how to celebrate it, so I did not. I attended the Support Group at the Oregon Bariatric Center instead. Good meeting. Topic: emotions, and their relationship to our relationship to food. A lot of things to digest... 8^)
        My sleepiness/tiredness is slightly alleviating, but the 'pouch' is still unpredictably angry. They should have a Pouch Support Group! Yesterday it was lettuce, today it was meat. Bummer, but according to the 'masters' at the support meeting - they all went through period like this. Eventually the tiredness was replaced by the surge of energy - and I cannot wait.
        I reached new low today - so far I am close to 48 lbs since I started this process, 30 since the surgery.

        Monday, July 27, 2009

        Unexpected expected

        I am still very careful what I eat, but I also try to increase the range and ingredients. I tried butter lettuce as a addition to my high protein boring food (I'm still afraid of trying less boring protein). However the lettuce turned out to be too much and my pouch expelled it. Lettuce! I was OK with meat, fish, but not with lettuce. I cannot figure it out, it is strictly trial and error.
        I am still tired - and it is for sure related not only to the healing process, but also on living on under 1000 calories per day. More like 500... I sleep at least two times during the day.
        Slowly I need to increase it to about 1200. But I will skip on lettuce for now.

        Sunday, July 26, 2009

        Improvement Continues

        I see the nice path of uneven, but steady, improvement. No more nausea, that one week was enough. I am almost back to 'normal' - with one exception. I get tired and sleepy very easily. I am not fighting it - but I know it will also pass.

        I decided to keep strict log of all my food. My motivation is to make sure that I get enough protein (min 60-70g) daily
        with as little calories as possible.

        All food I eat I enter into my spreadsheet with a standard portion size, calories and grams of protein. For each food I get the ratio of the calories from protein to the total calories.

        On another sheet I keep daily log with food, portion, and the look-up of calories, protein, and ratio.

        Today I had so far 368 calories and 38g of protein. That means the ratio is 41.57%

        I'm ready for dinner.

        (After dinner addition: 613 calories, 75g protein. Ratio: 48.8%)

        Saturday, July 25, 2009

        Nutritional Database Web Site

        I my search for the nutritional analysis I came across very good site:
        They break down foods not only into a basic 'Nutrition Facts', but also into many graphical interpretations. Please check it out.

        One month

        Today is one month since the surgery.
        Last two days were pretty good - no nausea, no puking for 48 hours! I eat different foods, no adverse reaction.
        My blood sugar this morning was down to 127! This is phenomenal! I am getting VERY close to normal. For one month I have not had any insulin, Byetta, Metformin! It looks that (as promised) my diabetes is gone! And that was my goal #1. My weight today was 257.8, new low. The infected incision is finally healing.
        I am still feeling physically tired - I still sleep a lot, but the spirit is high.

        Thursday, July 23, 2009

        4 Weeks!

        Today is 4 weeks since the surgery. It seems so long ago. I read my previous posts and I am so glad I kept them current. I already forgot half of the stuff that happened.
        Yesterday I had weird day. I felt OK, but after two, three hours I was crashing. I went to work, came back home, slept, went back to work, came back home, slept.
        This morning I decided to have 'easy' breakfast, one that will not interfere with my 10:30 lecture. I made scrambled egg whites. I figured - egg whites - pure protein. I puked them 5 minutes later. OK - not a good start. I was able to drink milk, and I grabbed a banana with me. That banana took me few hours to finish. Lecture went fine, but the still-not-healed incision was bothering me. I called Oregon Bariatric Center, and they told me to come in.
        The doctor's last day is tomorrow - so the timing was good. Soon I was laying on my back, with him poking and slicing (after injection of numbing stuff) and opening the wound. After 10 minutes it was suppose to be 'clean'.
        On my way home I added supplies of gauze pads and tape. Coming home I felt hungry. I felt hungry in my 'lower' stomach. This was the new sensation.
        I ate soft boiled egg. So far, 10 minutes later, no reaction.

        I know it must be boring to read about the pukes, and infections, and pokes, and etc, etc...
        However - that is the way it is. This train just left the station short time ago. I feel it is important that I document it all.
        If I do not write it - I forget it.

        The chart shows 4 weeks before the surgery and 4 weeks after.

        Tuesday, July 21, 2009


        That 3 oz of tasteless tofu did wonders. My nausea is gone, and by the evening a dose of energy propelled me to take 30 minutes hike in the neighborhood. Obviously it doesn't take a lot to regenerate. I feel great.

        No taste, no texture, heaven!

        By late afternoon I started to worry that unless I will eat something - I will not help myself. Riding home I was thinking what I could swallow. I needed protein, but no texture, no taste...
        Eureka, on my way home I stopped at Trader Joe and got myself tofu!
        No taste, no texture, heaven!
        I could eat and keep!
        I'm healed! 8^)

        Got milk?

        After yesterday's episodes no food looks eatable. I should have at least 60g of protein, but almost everything I look at turns my stomach (sorry, pouch) inside out. The only food I could eat (sorry, drink) is milk. It works great, I took a thermos with cold milk to work.
        I tried liquid protein mix again, tried to taste some turkey breast, cottage cheese... everything makes me nauseated just by looking at it.

        After today's lecture I went home and again I fell asleep in my chair for one hour. Now I am back at work. I feel mentally great, however that lack of nutrition is affecting my stamina.

        The infected incision is almost healed, but still it is painful and bothering me when wearing shirt.
        OK - back to work.

        Roller Coaster

        So if you will have the same procedure - this is one of the possibilities you can expect. Day started great - full of energy. I went to work but at around 2:30 decided to go home, felt tired. After I got home, instantly I fell asleep in my chair. Normally I sleep only 5-7 hours daily - lately that is how many hours I stay awake. I tried something nutritious and bland - a small salmon patty. No salt, no spices. I could only eat a little more than half, when things started to go south. I have been puking whole evening and it is almost 1AM - and I still feel like I am ready for couple of more trips. What a bummer!

        Monday, July 20, 2009

        Wasted day

        Sunday again was one of these wasted days. I woke up early, the breakfast was met with the internal resistance and ended up in the toilet with me on my knees. I had major case of nausea. I wanted to go to work and I knew I should eat SOMETHING! I waited one hour, and ate one soft-boiled egg. The result was the same, worshiping the toilet. I felt really bad and around 11AM I decided to go back to bed. I slept until 4PM. When I woke up the nausea disappeared, I was able to eat an egg without repercussion. I took my motorcycle for a little ride, stopped to see some friends, came home and that was it. Nothing that was planned was accomplished.
        Good news - today's breakfast (cottage cheese) was just fine. No reaction. Off I go to work.
        Last 4 days my weight remained practically the same (261), however the blood sugar dropped to 140!

        Saturday, July 18, 2009

        Trading puking for walking

        I became worried about constant puking. First time, it was nasty. Second time it was funny. But 20th(?) time - it is scary.
        I eat today and of course - and was met with a serious internal resistance. Instead of running to the bathroom, I decided to walk it off and quickly started to hike trough the neighborhood streets. About 4 times I was just ready to stop and embarrass myself like some drunken bum on somebody's front yard, but I just started to walk faster. After about 30 minutes I was sort of fine, and I kept the food. All 4 ounces!

        My recent visitors...

        Thank you for your visits!
        (Map from

        Friday, July 17, 2009

        Adventures in Vomiting - gross - but what a relief!

        In my adult life I do not remember that I ever vomited. It was just plain impossible.
        Last few days - I am getting to be a master in this once impossible activity. I am experimenting with different tastes, and really I cannot predict what will trigger the attack. I was at the friends house today and tried few tiny pieces of various spicy fish. I expected the worse - but noting happened. Later at home I had some yogurt, and almost instant explosion. One day I will make sense out of this, but now actually this happening is a relief - since right before I suffer in pain and pressure on my chest. I am worried about nutritional situation after more than 3 weeks. Tomorrow I am planning to go back to liquid protein for a day or two. Let the things calm down.

        Otherwise I feel great, the tiredness is being replaced by new energy, I worked (means being able to concentrate) 4-5 hours daily, rest of the day is still a zombie time. But the ratio of zombie/productive time is getting smaller every day. Tomorrow I will ride my bike to work and spend there 5 hours. I am still behind my project, but I am back on the track.

        Thursday, July 16, 2009

        Fish did not jump

        Two and 1/2 hour lecture went fine - fish did not jump.

        Experiments, everything is an experiment...

        Today is three weeks since the surgery. Overall, life is good.
        During these three weeks my food intake was very minuscule, and I decided to add few things today.
        Since I felt so well, I decided to add some of the supplements I was taking before the surgery, mainly fish oil tabs.
        That fish oil is constantly attacking me from inside as it was alive...
        I have a lecture in 25 minutes.
        Fish - stay down!!

        Wednesday, July 15, 2009

        No Pain!

        This is fantastic. I am not sure if this is because I stopped finally taking antibiotics or because tomorrow will be 3 weeks after the surgery, but today finally I could have a small meal without pain. I prepared 5 small Belgian endive leaves, filled them with small amount of tuna paste and alfalfa. Yesterday that would hurt, today it just felt like I am getting some food.
        I guess soon I will graduate to 'any' food - as long as quantity will be small, I will eat very slowly, and chew, chew, chew...
        I mentioned this before - I am learning to eat again.

        On the mend - again!

        After couple of hiccups I am back on the track to full recovery. This morning my weight was 261.8 lbs. I mentioned before that I was attempting to lose weight many, many times before. Two years ago was the last and probably most serious try. I was able to get down to 247 lbs ( I just looked at the old file with daily records). That was the lowest I was ever able to get down in more than 20 years. It is amazing that I am only 15 lbs from that minimum. I achieved that 247 after about of 4 months of pretty much starvation. For the following three months no matter what I did - the weight stayed the same. After that my motivation declined and the weight slowly crept up. Now it looks like within one month I will be lighter than I was in my 40s.
        I am down to the last antibiotic pill - due at early afternoon. Again, I am so glad this is happening!

        Tuesday, July 14, 2009


        What a difference few hours makes.
        I went outside, took my bike for a short - only 5 miles - ride and it felt wonderful.
        I ate my supper made out of 2 teaspoons of cottage cheese, one teaspoon of yogurt, and about a teaspoon of alfalfa sprouts.
        I also bought small (6 oz) container of organic blueberries, and slowly ate 3(!) fruits and could eat no more. BTW, I did not finish my cottage cheese / alfalfa mix.... I was definitely afraid to push my luck. At this rate this container will last me a week.

        Under control

        After miserable day, night, and morning, things calmed out.
        I was going to cancel my class today, but after I threw-up early I felt better and class was just fine. After the lecture I went home and to bed. Now it is 7 PM and things are getting under control.

        The infection is
        finally going away, I did not react in any bad fashion to my next antibiotic pill, and I feel reasonably fine. I will go for a walk...

        As I felt before - it was just a temporary setback.

        I am planning to spend all day tomorrow at work. I am well behind in preparation for the next year. The good news is - I still have plenty of time.

        Adventures in eating, pills, and pain

        Yesterday was one weird day. I think antibiotics are hurting my stomach. I was in pain yesterday, during the night, and this morning after eating something I felt like I have to call university and cancel my class. Withing 5 minutes after taking antibiotic I violently threw up, and that just does not happen to me. Fortunately 20 minutes after this incident I started to feel much, much better. I am at work - lecture in 30 minutes.
        Now I am not sure if this was caused by breakfast or the pill. Seems like I am learning to eat again.

        Monday, July 13, 2009

        At work...

        I forced myself to get out of bed where I ended up again. I will spend here couple of hours. Somehow comparing to last Thursday - I feel worse. But I also know that this is temporary setback.

        Another weekend lost

        I spent most of Saturday and all Sunday at home. Today it looks like infection is getting better, but still this was a setback. Well, I just have to take what comes in. I will try to make it to work for few hours. This morning my weight was down to 264, and BS at 147. That is a good news. Few more days of antibiotics...

        Sunday, July 12, 2009


        The infection looks bad, oozing puss, etc.
        Yesterday I decided to try solid food - a skinless chicken breast. For the second time, a piece just got stuck in my chest, a lot of pain, discomfort, lasted about 3 hours.

        Saturday, July 11, 2009

        Energy gone

        Saturday afternoon. I went to work for few hours, but I am back home due to the lack of energy similar to the early part of last week. I believe my infection is taking it's toll on my system. I started antibiotics yesterday and at least it is not getting worse, but it is painful, and fighting it takes some effort from my weakened stamina.
        On my way home I stopped at the Saturday Market hoping that the Hippie vibes will help, but had to go home. I am off to bed, to sleep. So far sleeping was the best medicine - no reason to believe that it will not work again.

        Blood Sugar - goal #1

        This morning my BS was at 144. I have not taken anything for the diabetes, no insulin, no Byetta, no Metformin. The trend is unmistakable. About one month before the surgery I started to keep daily log of morning weight and BS. During that time before surgery I was dieting to meet my pre-op required 15 lbs weight loss. I think the chart tells the whole story. I am getting very excited about the results so far. Diabetes were my #1 reason for the surgery, and so far it looks like results are just fantastic, and it is only 16 days...

        Friday, July 10, 2009

        15 steps forward - small step backward

        Today I saw the doctor for 2 weeks post - op checkup. Everything is just fine, except one of the incision holes got infected. I will be on antibiotics for one week. The infection is topical and it does not look like the origins are internal. All things considered, the problem is minor.

        Thursday, July 9, 2009

        Two weeks!

        Today is exactly two weeks after surgery. I feel great, even the sleepiness is gone. This morning my weight was 266.4 lbs (303 lbs in March, 285 lbs two weeks ago at the time of the surgery). Finally my head is clear and I can think and concentrate on my work.
        Tomorrow is my post-op doctor's visit.

        Wednesday, July 8, 2009

        Day 13 - overfill by an ounce

        I have never slept so much in my life. This morning I got up, ate small yogurt, and went to bed to sleep again. When I woke up, I sit down to have my dinner with paste #2. I had one teaspoon, two, three, and after fourth suddenly I almost exploded. I felt like I ate the whole buffalo, The food just stayed like a chunk in my chest. They warned me about it - but being warned is not the same as experience it. I went for a mile long walk and things calmed out. Lesson - measure food BEFORE eating, eat very slowly, and be 100% concentrated on it. That's new.

        Tuesday, July 7, 2009

        Culinary adventures one teaspoon at the time

        Today I feel rather good. Lecture went smoothly, went home, had a little nap, and overall this is a very good day. I am tired of the protein mixes, I decided to experiment. I grilled two small chicken skinless breasts, cut them in little pieces, added little Philadelphia cream cheese and plain yogurt. Run it in the mixer until I had nice smooth paste. I sit down and slowly ate one small spoon of this mixture. Tasted great. I was not sure about the reaction as this was the first time I had some meat. After about 5 minutes and two more teaspoons, I was completely FULL. It looks like these two breasts will last few days. No adverse reaction, nothing.
        So now I have two winning recipes, #1 - tuna paste, #2 - chicken paste. It reminds me the restaurant scene in the movie 'Brazil'
        I do not feel tired anymore. Life is wonderful.


        I feel like there is a stigma associated with the bariatric (weight loss) surgeries. There is a stigma associated with being overweight. It is mostly attributed to laziness, lack of self control, being a glutton, and basically all fat folks are guilty of eating as much as alcoholics are guilty of drinking. I will be the first to agree that that stereotype applies to some. I have seen fat folks consuming huge amounts of junk. At the same time some people no matter what – will gravitate towards being fat – like some people no matter how much they eat will stay thin. Since the prevailing attitude is ‘it is your own fault’ the bariatric surgery is looked upon as a drastic, self-mutilating step, to become normal. In critics eyes, same could be accomplished with just a little bit of discipline.
        Well, the decision to get such radical surgery is not easy one and not taken in vain. After 20 years of doing ‘other’ things I knew I lost the battle. I could always lose weight, but I could not keep it off. I lost probably 1000 lbs in those 20 years, while getting heavier and heavier. A lot of people I knew were hiding the fact that they had surgery. Just like this would have been something to be ashamed of. And deep down, there is some shame in my consciousness. I feel that what I did was self-mutilation. At the same time I know that this was the ONLY way for me.
        Since coming back from the hospital I stopped injecting myself with insulin, Byetta, stopped taking Metformin. My morning blood sugar that used to be all over the scale – from 190 to 350 is now at the steady and narrow range of 150-160. Not perfect, but much, much better. I believe that it will stabilize at below 110 as it should, and without any medications. That is the victory I could not achieve before.
        This morning my weight was 270, 15 lbs since the surgery, 33 since I applied for the surgery.
        Stigma or not – so far it works and there are no regrets.

        Monday, July 6, 2009

        Day 12 - powered by eggs

        After taking a nap, I woke up again very light-headed. I started to suspect the lack of food as a culprit and decided to break one more guideline. I soft-boiled couple of eggs and withing one hour my energy was restored. At 6 PM I rode for the support group meeting for 'novices' - folks before or withing 3 months after surgery. The talk was given by a local plastic surgeon about body contouring procedures. Fun.
        It is evening now - I feel great, and preparing for my tomorrow's lecture.

        Day 12 - energy gone

        I packed to go to work, but had to stop in the pharmacy to pick up medicine. After that I rode my scooter to the store to get some ripe bananas. After that I was exhausted and went home. I will work from home...
        But first - a little nap.
        It is funny how drained of energy I am now. I hope the banana will help.

        Day 12 - New energy

        I guess 4 days of sleeping was needed to speed up the healing process. I woke up this morning with a lot of energy that was missing in the last few days. It is Monday - I am going to school for few hours.

        Sunday, July 5, 2009

        Day 11 - Broken rule

        I spent another day mostly sleeping. I decided to ignore the guidelines and make myself something different. I took two spoons of Tuna in Water (I opened a can to feed my cats), added two spoons of plain yogurt, and a dash of mustard. I mixed it into a very moist paste - and eat it. Two hours later - no adverse reaction!
        Back to sleep!

        Day 11 – Tired and sleepy

        The allergic reaction got under control, ointment and antihistamine kept it in check. At the same time I feel like this bout took a lot of my energy. After 10 days of liquid diet I feel light-headed, sleepy, and tired. I noticed that after surgery I kept my AC at 70F, but every day it seemed like I was getting chills and AC thermostat was gradually raised to the present 78F.

        Friday, July 3, 2009

        Day 9 - Allergic Reaction continues.

        Yesterday I took max doses of antihistamine and it knocked me out cold. The allergic reaction continues, but so far is not getting worse. The problem is that when I take antihistamine I am dizzy, and I would rather not put a shirt on as it aggravates the rash. That means not going out – and it is 4th of July weekend and weather is spectacular. So many things are happening in Eugene in the next three days, First Friday Art Walk, Maude Kern’s Art & the Vineyards, etc., but I will have to stay home half naked and on drugs… 8^)

        I was told that my reaction is to the glue they used to keep the skin together. Stitches underneath, glue on top. They told me that this reaction is rare, but they have seen it before.

        Thursday, July 2, 2009

        Day 8 - Allergic Reaction

        Afternoon - slight step backwards. I developed allergic reaction to something. Big, bad rash around 2 inches around all 6 incision holes. I was able to see the surgeon and I should take some Benadryl and some prescription topical cream. I just hope it will not get any worse. Two years ago I had small procedure and I developed really bad allergic reaction with rash, sores, itching, etc. I hope I can avoid this. So this is the first unexpected negative happening. Hope it will stop right here.

        Day 8 - Second Week

        Today is one week after surgery. I had my second lecture, it went great. This week’s physical stamina was a big question mark before the surgery, but in reality all turned out to be just a speed bump. Back to cruising. From now on I will concentrate this blog on Bariatric Trip, not on teaching.

        Sleeping is still the most bothersome part, but every night it gets better. One more week of liquid diet, and I am not bothered by it. So far
        I have yet to experience hunger. I was warned that my taste will change, and it really did. Everything is much more intense. I had some milk and I had to check the carton if it is the same stuff. It tasted incredibly aromatic, with some hints of smoke, all hard to describe.

        Wednesday, July 1, 2009

        Day 7

        Six days after surgery.
        I am amazed how well I tolerate all what happened. I mix protein powders with milk, pieces of banana, or peach, or apple. The mixture that I tried before surgery was not so good – now tastes great. I was warned that I will have nausea, or vomiting. So far nothing like that.
        Here are the first stats:
        In March when I
        officially filed all papers I was weighted at the doctor’s office and my weight was 303 lbs. By the time of pre-op my weight was 285. I lost 18 lbs before surgery (the condition was at least 15 lbs loss – or no go!). This morning I was at 273.4. Almost 30 lbs from the trip's start, and almost 12 lbs in six days since the surgery.
        I hope that I can continue at the 30-15 lbs / month pace that would get me to my goal at around December / January.
        I woke up today with some discomfort and I decided to work from home and get some pain med. Unfortunately, after taking it I will not take a chance on driving car or scooter.
        Sleeping is still a problem – sleeping on left side is tolerable, right side is very painful. Unfortunately I woke up on my right side. But this is such a minor complaint.
        This week is a week of reduced expectations. As long as I can stay on top of the lectures, students’ requests, and emails, I met my goal. Reduced expectations always make it easy.

        Tuesday, June 30, 2009

        Day 6 - First Lecture

        First lecture after surgery went very well. I am so glad - I was very much worried about it.

        Day 6 - early morning.

        Five days after surgery. I woke up at 4AM. Yesterday I got exhausted in the afternoon, took some pain medication and went to bed. I am still out of the normal rhythm.
        Sleeping in bed continues to be a problem, laying on the side is painful, I am trying to get used to sleeping on my back and discovered that it works if I remove the pillows with my head flat on the mattress. Unfortunately that up-pointed belly gives extra sleeping room for my cats, who never had much compassion for anything anyway.
        So these are my new adventures in the bedroom. I don't think that is enough for a novel, might
        not be enough even for the blog...

        Monday, June 29, 2009

        First day at work

        I am at work - few hours. I rode my scooter (slowly). I was going to take a bus or car, but scooter is the most convenient. Lucky for me, this is maxi-scooter  500CC Piaggio, plenty of legroom and power.
        I will be going home soon, I am ready for my tomorrow lecture. I will be a zombie for the rest of the day.


        We are lucky in Eugene to have such modern new facility. Here was the view from my bed on McKenzie River and Coburg Hills. If environment heals, that is it. Private rooms for all. Wonderful staff. Totally different hospital experience.
        Thank you all at Sacred Heart.


        One on my friends sent me an email with her expectations of outcomes for losing weight.

        I am scared to have so many.

        It is easy for me to blame failure in the relationship on my weight. But I also know I lot of fat people in great relationships. So I do not want to state a goal of having relationship – because it is possible that I have to change much more than weight.

        Improving looks might not work very well for 62 year old. I might look like 100 after losing weight. Again – that is not my goal.

        Etc, etc.

        For me the fear of mental disappointment is great – so I keep my expectations simple. Everything else is in the wind.

        Day 5

        Four days after surgery. The ONLY complaint I have is discomfort sleeping on the side. I usually do not sleep on my back, in the hospital the bad was raised and facilitated laying on the back. I feel better taking naps in my recliner. Overall - if this is all - it is not too bad.

        Rosemary from the Oregon Bariatric Center called me to check my progress. I am so impressed with them. Thanks to you Rosemary for facilitating that last minute insurance approvals, thanks to you Karlyn for offering advice, preparation, and being such patients' advocate, and big thanks to Dr. Yarbrough for his masterful work.

        I have no problems eating protein mixes, I added some bananas and apple into a blender with mix, actually it tasted very good. I am walking with a small 18oz water bottle, sipping all the time.
        In couple of hours I am planning to get to work. I think I will take a bus.

        Sunday, June 28, 2009

        476 lbs Teenager

        As I was flipping channels today I run across this: 476 lbs teenager (

        It is about the 19 year old girl who underwent the same surgery. Her obesity was significantly higher than mine, and her food addiction was without comparison greater. I watched with interest how her initial enthusiasm was met with the new reality and how the therapy was instrumental in reversing her mental state. I was thinking if this is something I can expect?

        There are some major differences. First and most obvious is that I am not a 19 year old girl. Her life was threatened by weight; my life was threatened by diabetes.

        I love food; I am not addicted to it. I love food for its social and ‘feel good’ aspects. Mostly I am not addicted to ‘wrong’ food. I was not a health food nut, but I can spend the rest of my life without chips, and junk like that. I love some stuff that is NOT a diet heaven – my epicurean paradise is Charcuterie - not a Patisserie. Love good (not supermarket) Polish sausages, Prosciutto di Parma, etc. Love good (translation: high-fat) cheese, and will not live without Époisses de Bourgogne once in a while. They are high in fat (bad) but relatively low in carbs. With the stomach reduction, this will be more acceptable (occasionally) than doughnuts. So I feel OK about not being left feeling deprived.

        Ban on coffee and alcohol also is not a problem. Eventually I will be able to have some – but very small amounts – and that is fine with me.

        Watching this documentary made me evaluate my goals again.

        1. Get rid of diabetes. I could not control it without insulin which caused weight gain. That was one maddening circle.

        2. Lose 130 lbs.

        That is it. That order.

        Day 4

        Three days after surgery. The recovery is absolutely remarkable. But I started to believe that it will be a disaster. The first two days were just total misery. Somehow I expected less and my spirit sort of collapsed. Especially on the second day where I had so much pressure in my chest that I thought I am having a heart attack. The nurse forced me to walk, walk, walk, and it did help. By the afternoon of the second day I was off the pain medication and I welcomed day 3 in rather cheerful mood.
        Here are my words of wisdom to anyone going through this:
        1. Your waistline will increase substantially after two days of IV and internal swelling. The loose shirt I brought with me was too tight and hurt the incisions. I could not wear it. Bring something very soft and very loose.
        2. Don’t get discouraged after first 36 hours discomfort, but be prepared for it.
        3. After surgery – walk. Force yourself to walk.
        4. Don’t be shy asking for a pain medication. At first I was. Later it not only made my life more bearable, but it knocked me out so time went by much faster with much less memories.
        5. Don’t try to read – just ask for the pain medication.
        I went for a nice walk today and I am planning to spend few hours at work tomorrow. I have a lecture to give Tuesday morning; should be ready.
        I was suspecting a lot of back-questioning myself about doing this, creating such irreversible procedure that sort of handicaps me for the rest of my life. So far - nothing like that. I feel very euphoric about the whole thing.

        Saturday, June 27, 2009

        Back Home

        I am back home. The recovery is remarkably fast. Big, big difference between yesterday and today. I am going to take it easy for the rest of the day

        Friday, June 26, 2009

        Second day after surgery

        The surgery went very well according to my doctor, however I am in a lot of discomfort. Yesterday it was just plain miserable. Today is better.

        Wednesday, June 24, 2009

        Last Supper

        Time for the last supper. I debated what to have.
        No more food after 5PM, no more water after midnight.
        I could not think of anything special.
        I was never a big fan of junk food, but my last meal turned out to be:
        - 2 Famous Star hamburgers from Carl's Jr. - wrapped in lettuce - no bun. Special for $3.
        - Diet Dr. Pepper.
        How boring and how exciting.

        Tuesday, June 23, 2009

        Path of no return

        Pre-Op - check!
        Co-Pay - check!
        Pre-surgery mandatory weight loss - check!

        Ready, ready, ready, ready...
        I think I am.
        I think I am.
        Definitely I am.
        Ready, ready, ready, ready...
        Put me to sleep now.

        Anesthesiologist, lab, last minute shopping, laundry, cat litter, food, and water, no food after 6PM, no water after midnight.
        Thursday: be there at 5AM.

        Home Friday or Saturday.

        Monday, June 22, 2009

        New Life

        Who needs all,
        5% is fine.
        Snip, snip, staple, staple…
        Plumbing rearranged,
        Welcome to new life.

        Saturday, June 20, 2009

        The Fears

        The fear I’m experiencing is not the fear of the surgery. That’s peanuts. I am not worried about possible complications, odds are slim. The fear of going through such drastic change afterwords, that is scary.
        The fear of gaining back the weight after few years that would make this whole effort dangerously worthless.
        The fear of looking like a shriveled prune. I better start saving now for some skin removal procedure next year.
        The fear of mental adjustment. I have this stupid (or may be not) theory that by burning fat one also burns the accumulated toxins. That is why they do not advise to eat fish with the skin from the Great Lakes… Fish accumulate garbage in their fat tissue, so do us. Burning fat means burning toxins. But of course I am not sure if this is true, even if it sounds plausible.
        The fear of handling my job after surgery. I am 100% confident that I will do fine, which of course is in denial of the fear.

        I would like to believe that the weight loss will solve EVERYTHING in my life, but I also know that the only thing changed will be my weight. My normal other struggles will remain the same. And I have to keep repeating this to myself. ONLY MY WEIGHT WILL CHANGE!
        I stockpiled on liquid whey protein supplements that suppose to be my main diet for the first 3 weeks. I bought my multivitamins, B12, Calcium Citrate; all suppose to be my supplements for the rest of my life. I have to say good bye to coffee (BIG loss), sweets (occasional loss), and carbonated drinks (substantial loss- I will miss you Pellegrino). The requirement to chew each bite at least 30 times is very difficult to practice.
        I hope that former (and prospective) patients can find this blog and share their experiences and thoughts.

        Friday, June 19, 2009

        Surgery approved and scheduled.

        Suddenly everything is clear! At least the dates are. Today the insurance authorization came through. Pre-Op will be next Tuesday, labs Wednesday morning and surgery on Thursday 6/25. Even though the wait is over and decision made, my anxiety is still there. This is going to be one of the most important decisions of my life, a truly life changing event.

        The waiting was unnerving. Originally I was hoping for the middle of the August date. This would allow me to use my summer break as a recovery time. Unfortunately, the only doctor in Eugene decided to move to Corvallis on Aug 1, and the last day for the Gastric Bypass surgery was July 8. The Oregon Bariatric Center is actively hiring two surgeons, however realistically surgeries would not start until late fall. I teach at the University of Oregon business school, and I have very large classes, around 400 students in two sections per quarter, and that makes having surgery during the academic year virtually impossible. I will also teach Summer Term – but the class will be very small, I will cancel my Thursday lecture, but be back for my Tuesday lecture. According to the Bariatric Center, I should be able to that after 5 days. I am disappointed that I have to have that surgery during the class in session, however I am very glad I do not have to wait until December. By December I could be 100 lbs lighter…

        I am 62 years old male. My weight is around 300 lb – and it was fluctuating between 250 – 320 lbs during the last 20 years. I am always able to lose 30-50 lbs, but then I will plateau and that was it. No more. Eventually the weight would slowly creep up. Two years ago I had my last and most serious attempt. I went from 305 to 245, and for 3 months I could not lose a single ounce. Frustrated eventually I gave up. Two years later I am back and I wished I would not have given away my ‘Fat’ clothes.

        What I am looking forward:

        • Of course weight lost.
        • Get rid of my diabetes that I could not control without Insulin, but with insulin I gain weight. Bayetta did not affect my weight – but blood sugar stayed high (mornings on the average 200). Actually diabetes is bigger motivation than just weight loss. Gastric bypass suppose to eliminate 90% of diabetes and I hope I will be among that number.
        • Increased energy level. At work I could be full of energy – but at home I collapse. Instead of doing some physical activities I use to love to do, biking, walking, etc, I prefer to go to bed. A lot of times I am just incredibly exhausted…
        • I have become very conscious about my weight and for sure decided that I would not date any woman who is so overweight, and therefore I feel like a hypocrite when I expect women to ignore my looks.
        What I am afraid:

        • Changes in all food related activities, which really mean almost all social interaction.
        • Replacing one disease (or handicap) with self-inflicted another.
        • Lose skin and looking like 100 years old.
        • I understand that many people who underwent this surgery develop depression. I guess this is my fear number 1.
        • I am not sure how this procedure will affect my work. Teaching is not an easy job.

        To be continued…

        Saturday, June 13, 2009


        I am not sure yet about this blog yet. I am waiting for an authorization for the surgery which might happen any day, but also might be postponed until December. I set up the sails, but I can not control the weather.