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.