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 (http://www.bbcamerica.com/content/284/index.jsp)

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.