Monday, May 23, 2011

New Exercise Mission and Recent Food Issue

It has been almost 2 years since my surgery. I have maintained my 170 pound weight loss for more than a year now. I am about to embark on a new journey that will hopefully help in toning my body. I have not been stead fast with the exercising portion of this surgery. I have signed up for a walk in September that I will now have 4 months to train for. I will be attempting to walk the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. I am excited about doing it. I will be attempting the full marathon but will go as far as I can. Back in '05 I weighed 70 pounds more than I do now and I walked 18 miles in one day for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer walk. It was such a feeling of accomplishment. Now that I've lost all this weight, I want to put my extra stamina to work for a good cause. I will keep everyone updated on how the training is going.

Last week I had pork roast for the first time since the surgery. My body did not process it properly and it became stuck. I had eaten food afterwards, before I was aware that it was stuck. It was very painful and I felt nauseous. The pain started in my stomach and went into my chest, my throat, the base of my neck, my ear and up to the top of my head. It was all I could do to crawl into bed. After I got there my husband suggested that we go to the emergency room. I chose not to because I truthfully didn't want to move.

Morning came and my chest was still in pain as if someone had punched me the night before. I did feel somewhat better though and it didn't feel like the food was stuck anymore. I guess pork is on the "Cannot Eat" list.

I've also been having trouble with sugars lately. I'm not sure if it was whole milk that I drank today (not thinking - I was at a restaurant and they just brought it out. I had forgotten to ask for low fat milk) or if it was a bite of strawberry banana pancake that did it but it gave me a severe headache and nauseousness with dizzy spells. I need to be more careful.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

17 Months After Surgery

I would love to report all positive things in this post but the fact of the matter is that you are probably looking for the truth and that is why you are out there searching sites regarding this surgery. I want you to know, before you read further that each person is different and each surgery is different. Please take with you what you have learned and use it as an average only. Do not think that everything that each person reports will be what happens to you.

Here's the most recent in my saga. I have lost 170 pounds since I had the surgery back in August of 2009. I am ecstatic with the results. This number could be bigger and will be when I decide to stop being lazy and exercise more, which will hopefully be sooner than later. I have been at a plateau for several months now. But my weight doesn't fluctuate more than 5 pounds.

My eating habits have slipped. I eat chocolate now and I can keep down just about any type of food. I just watch my portions. My stomach has expanded and I feel I can eat more like 2-3 cups of food at a time. What I eat now is about a third or fourth of what I used to eat when I was 170 pounds larger. I now weight 230 and hope to lose another 60 pounds.

I have been having issues lately that I would like to share. It started in a month and a half ago. I was at work and started having chest pain. It was difficult to breathe deep. It wasn't extreme so I relaxed for a few minutes. It didn't go away so I ended up taking a trip to the emergency room. They drew some blood and took a chest x-ray and determined it was stress related. A week or two later I started getting pains in my stomach. I'm pretty stubborn and figured I was sick and it would go away. It continued over time off and on and became more frequent. It was in the center of my stomach above my belly button, on the left lower quadrant and on the right under my rib and occasionally it affected my back. I went to my primary physician. It was under his advisement that I make an appointment with a surgeon to have my gallbladder checked.

I saw the surgeon and he took blood work and ordered an ultrasound. I have not gotten the results yet. The surgeon that I saw said he didn't think it sounded like a gallbladder issue. He thought I may have stones but did not want to consider removing the gallbladder if that was not the true issue because it would not make the current issues improve and could actually make it worse. He referred me back to my original bariatric surgeon to review the results (which were to rule out the gallbladder and stones) and check, perhaps by upper endoscopy to see if I have a stricture in my esophagus. He stated that occasionally, after this type of surgery the valve that leads into the stomach becomes lodged open and food and stomach acid may shoot back up the esophagus causing acid reflux, ulcers and/or hernias. There could also be the narrowing that I spoke of. They would correct that by inserting a balloon and expanding it to open the narrowed area. The final thing he thinks is a possibility is food being lodged in my esophagus, although I can't imagine that would not correct itself on it's own.

So I am currently in a holding pattern due to the holidays. I will report back with the results after January 5, 2011. Until then, I have pains in my chest daily, sometimes several times a day that can range from a mild discomfort to pain that stops me in my tracks and feels like what I would relate to as a heart attack. This pain doesn't always happen just after eating. Sometimes it occurs an hour or so after eating and even when I drink water. It seems to have subsided somewhat in severity over the past few days and I'm hoping it stays this way. I still have the pains in my stomach and sometimes it is accompanied by nausea.

As I stated, this may or may not happen to you. However, you should be familiar with the symptoms of gallbladder issues and be aware that a good number of Gastric Bypass patients eventually lose their gallbladder at some point after their surgery. It is one organ that has a difficult time dealing with the rapid and extreme weight loss. Being aware of the symptoms will ensure you get the proper treatment faster. Faster is very important when dealing with pain.

If you have had the surgery and you no longer have your gallbladder, or have had the symptoms described, please feel free to comment and share your experiences.

Best wishes to all!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Emotional Changes

It seems as more time goes by I realize the changes I've gone through, not only in my appearance but in my personality.

It's now been 10 months since the surgery. Some people who are considering the surgery may have questions about what to expect emotionally. Although it will differ for everyone, I feel that if I share my experiences, perhaps it will give a hint of what could be.

Before the surgery, I was an outgoing person but I felt trapped. I loved talking to people but there were times I would judge myself before they got the chance to and I would shut down. I felt that people were constantly judging me. My friends at times would interrupt my conversations and talk over me like I wasn't there. It was difficult when I did leave the house to go places with the kids. I had to talk myself into everything I did. I loved the beach but it was a nightmare of humiliation for me. The amusement parks were torcher. I loved the coasters but I was too big to ride. I stayed away from friends, people who once meant the world to me because I was ashamed of what I had become on the outside. My life was boring and full of doubt and hope for the future. I felt like I had no life. I certainly didn't feel like I had any quality of life.

So much has changed. It is hard to keep up with everything at times. The loss happened so fast that I think I'm still getting used to the new me. I have a great deal more confidence which has allowed me to enjoy going places with my teen boys without feeling like an embarrassment to them. Their friends interact with me and treat me with respect. I've recently ridden the coasters and was grateful to be able to remember how much I enjoyed them. We have had spur of the moment friend gatherings that are amazing. I feel like I can finally relax in my own skin and be myself. Even family gatherings bring less anxiety. I don't have to talk myself into going somewhere, I just go. I don't have to worry about finding the nearest parking spot or how far I'll have to walk to get to where I'm going. Eliminating all those thoughts and fears have been the greatest weight lost. It frees up time and room for healthier self talk. When I'm with those same friends, they don't talk over me or cut me off. I have their respect and what I have to say seems to matter more. I know that's wrong of people to do that but it's how people are. I treat myself better and respect myself more which has made a huge difference. I feel like I am even more outgoing and I have been able to reconnect with my old friends with confidence and actually enjoy myself without judging myself or expecting others to do the same.

I feel like the person I was as a teenager. My personality is back and I look forward to each day instead of dreading it.

The physical aspects that have changed have also given me confidence. I recently ran up 3 flights of stairs and was not out of breath. These were the same 3 flights of stairs that I used to have to stop on 3/4 of the way to the top because I couldn't breathe and my chest felt like it was on fire. That is not just a physical change. Imagine the emotional high that gave me!

I am happier, I stick up for myself when I need to without feeling guilty, I love more, I play more, I respect myself more.

It has been an amazing journey and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It has given me my life back.

I still have moments where I forget that I am this renewed person. I still have anxiety and feel like people judge me but it is few and far between compared to the minute by minute feelings I used to have.

Life is good.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I was feeling nauseous the other night so I decided to lay down. The pain in my left side was so severe that I couldn't relax. After a few minutes I got sick. I was grateful at first, thinking that now I would feel better. That wasn't the case. It was not subsiding at all. It became more intense and remained constant. After about 30 minutes of being stubborn and telling myself it would go away, my husband was able to convince me to go to the emergency room.

The pain continued to worsen, which I didn't think was possible. It was difficult to breathe and I continued to vomit, but there was nothing left in me. It felt like I was waiting in the ER forever. (This is the part where I have to apologize to anyone else who was there ahead of me. Not only did I jump the line, but I was making a lot of noise. A woman and her child were even praying aloud for me.) The nurse came in immediately after I was in the room to start an IV line for pain meds and fluids. I had my husband call work and tell them I wouldn't be in the next day. My boss later confessed that she didn't know who had called out. All she could hear was someone yelling in the background. Once the pain medication kicked in I felt much better.

The CAT scan came back and they were quick to diagnose the issue as a kidney stone. That's what had me at a 10 on the pain scale? I had heard of kidney stones, but I never heard anyone talk about what it was like to have one.

They kept me over night and pumped fluid into me all night long and most of the next day. I had them stop the pain meds around 1am, 8 1/2 hours after the whole thing started. It wasn't until then that I started feeling okay without it.

The doctor stated that the stone was formed due to calcification. After doing some research, I learned that having the Gastric Bypass increases one's risk of having kidney stones. It can be prevented if the patient drinks plenty of water and does not let themselves get dehydrated and they take the calcium supplements recommended by the doctor.

After reading that I knew exactly where I went wrong. It's not always easy to get in enough water after the bypass. I'm 8 months out and I still have a tough time. I need to start forcing down more and taking my supplements more regularly.

I haven't passed the stone yet, as far as I can tell, so I'm not sure what happens from here. I actually have been feeling fine. I will probably still make an appointment to follow up with the doctor to see if anything else needs to be done. I definately don't want to go through that kind of pain again.

Here's a hint, in case this happens to you. My doctor told me that if I put my pain meds in the freezer, they would be good for life. He said if I ever run into this type of situation again, I could take a pill and would not be in such misery waiting to be seen.

I'm interested in hearing from other Gastric Bypass patients. Have any of you struggled with stones? What was your experience?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Since My Last Post

I am very close to losing that 150 pound total. As exciting as it is, I haven't had the motivation to leap over the hurtle. Everyone says they can see a recent difference. I can not. I see the number on the scale and freak out. I've stopped weighing myself as often because I can't stand the disapointment. I have been the same weight, maybe minus 2 pounds for about 3 weeks now. It's not so much that I am upset about that, it's that I am upset with myself. I have gotten very lenient with myself and what I've been doing.

I've decided that I will become accountable to my readers, right here and right now. I feel that if I outline my intentions, it will be easier to follow them. I will blog again soon to let you know how I've done with these goals.

I. I will start taking my vitamins again, daily. I have not been taking them faithfully. I noticed that the weight moves more quickly when I take them on a regualr basis. Maybe that's all in my head.

II. I will drink more water. Now that my stomach has stretched I eat more than I used to if I'm not drinking enough water.

III. I will join Curves(c) tomorrow to jump start my metabolism and build strength and muscle in order to burn more fat and weight. I must confess that I have not been sucessful at keeping the motivation to exercise. I've been to Curves(c) before and I have had great success. I could really use some toning right about now too. (I'm considering also getting a beginners Yoga DVD for that.)

I'm going to start there and then move on to the next phase when I'm ready.

Please share. Is there something you're struggling with after the surgery or do you have questions? You can either share here or send me an e-mail on Facebook to Missy Cantlin Bell.

Thanks for following!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Struggle Begins

Watching what I eat is becoming increasingly difficult. I do not get the dumping syndrome that a lot of people who have this surgery talk about. Let me rephrase, I do not get it as severely as others. I am able to eat chocolate and some fried foods, which I have deemed a curse.

I am now responsible for the rest of the weight I have to lose. The surgery has helped me this far and my appetite is not what it used to be but from here forward I really have to watch what I eat and make the best choices for myself. It is becoming more difficult.

I have found that when extreme stress takes over, I still have to watch for my old bad habits. I crave the wrong foods and on occasion have a "who cares" attitude. I know I can't do that. I've come too far. I do have to say, in my own defense, that compared to what I used to do, I am able to catch this type of behavior immediately. If I have acted on a bad habit or craving, I am able to turn it around quickly by making healthier choices for the next meal or snack. It has been easier to "forgive myself" during these times as well. My cravings aren't leading to an entire pizza or 3 scoop ice cream sundaes with the works. For example, today, the family wanted Burger King for dinner. I feel like I "blew it," because I had 3/4 of a $1 Spicy Sandwich with just cheese and 1/2 of a small fry. That wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't add one of their cookies and eat it later when I got home. I used to get the Double Burger with cheese and bacon with a Large fry and Super huge Diet Coke. That only held me for a couple of hours.

On the other hand, I have started losing again. I don't think I eat enough yet to make a 1200 calorie diet most days, so my weight loss stalls on occasion, sometimes for a month or so. My body acts as if it is in starvation mode. My total loss since June is 143 pounds, 113 of that being since the surgery in August 2009.

I wanted to make this post because I know some of you are considering the surgery. I don't want you to think that Gastric Bypass is a quick fix. You will still have struggles. Even naturally thin people struggle with food choices. It's natural. And keep in mind that not everyone gets severe dumping syndrome. I had it in the beginning but I am now able to have a piece of pizza, 1/2 of a small cheeseburger, a small dose of chocolate on occasion without getting sick. If I go outside of my small portion range though, it's all over. My body rebels.

This mission I'm on to lose weight, keep it off and make healthy choices from here forward will be a lifetime struggle. I feel that I am up for the challenge but may need help on occasion. One of the most important things I have learned to do is strategize. If I am at the table and I know I have eaten enough food, but also feel the urge to pick, I ask for my family to remove the food from the table. I realize that if I do it, I will steal another bite, lick or taste. If it is out of the way and someone else removes it, the temptation is gone. Another thing I've done is remind people that I cannot eat certain things. People seem to forget after a while for whatever reason and they start offering sweets to you. If you feel you are vulnerable, remind people that you would rather that they didn't offer those types of foods. You can simply explain that you'd rather not be aware they are even around. Simply removing the temptation can be very helpful. "Out of site, out of mind."

The above can help whether you have had surgery or not. The struggle will always be there but you can make it easier on yourself. Removing temptation or removing yourself from it's vicinity is the best option for success. Drink plenty of water and limit the carbs.

Something to thing about is that Easter is right around the corner. Most people who celebrate Easter do so with a basket of candy. If candy is a major downfall for you and your children, why not change things up a bit and fill the basket with 1 chocolate Easter Bunny and the rest with toys. My boys are older and absolutely love finding gift cards to buy a new video game or Xbox points. Think of how much happier they would be. You would be happier too. They wouldn't be loaded with sugar for a week and have to deal with the misbehaving that goes along with that. For yourself, what about a gift certificate to a spa, a new outfit, or if funds are tight, how about treating you and a friend to a movie? The possibilities are endless. In my house, we have even resorted to fruit baskets. That's always a great treat too.

I raise my glass of water to yours as a toast to our continued success.

Happy Easter and Best Wishes,
Missy Cantlin Bell