The Fill was…
Not easy, but then what’s been easy about my Lap-Band journey? 12 months on a liquid diet, a delayed surgery due to a gall-bladder removal, a failed Lap-Band surgery to going into the second one afraid that if it did fail I would have no earthly idea of how to go on.
People tell me they’ve fought long and hard to lose weight. I believe ‘em and believe you me, I’ve put up with a lot of crap to get here, too.
Thankfully, none of it was insurance headaches, or financing issues. In that, I’ve been lucky. I am not self-pay and my insurance was happy to put me under the knife. (Though, I did change insurance companies because the first one, Kaiser, was making things far too difficult.)
So, how did it go? I want to tell you it went fine and I guess I can. I want to tell you that it went smoothly and maybe I should since I got the fill without any major issue. What did happen though?
Well, I had a normal day. I didn’t fast like some people told me I would have to do. I had yogurt for breakfast and a small Nutri-system microwave bucket thingy for lunch. I had about 35 ounces of water and 8 ounces of decaf coffee. For a Lap-Bander I would say I had a ton o’ food before my fill.
So, I go into the office, do the pee thing before the weigh-in thing. Gotta pee because you never know how many ounces you can shed just before the weigh-in!!! Apparently, I didn’t shed enough. I weighed in at an official 306 lbs.
Yeah, I know I went into surgery at 304. I gained. But I’m cool with it because I always gain a few pounds before my period, I had just had tons of liquid before the weigh-in and the TMI part? I hadn’t got potty in a few days. (Lap-Banders don’t do that as much as the rest of the world.) When you think about it 306 ain’t too bad. It’s not perfect, but I’m not aiming for perfect anymore. I’m aiming for sustainable.
I thought that the fill would take place in a special room, one with tons of lights and gadgets, maybe even a few cameras to note this historic occasion. Screw the headlines!!! Bad economy? Bah!!! Historical election? Whatever!!! This is me, I’m getting my FIRST FILL!!! I’m about to start the true weight-loss part of my Lap-Band journey!!!!!!!
Ego’s aside, the room was like any other room. In fact, I’d been in it several times. The soft green paint, the spiffy clean white tiled floors, Dr. M’s diploma’s and certifications hanging neatly on the wall were all familiar to me.
I think that was a good thing. Familiarity breeds comfort.
Dr. M. didn’t take to long to come in the exam room. She asked me a few questions: How much can you eat? 1 cup? 2 Cups? More? Are you exercising? You getting your water in?
Basically, she was gauging my weight loss/gain against my habits and determining how much saline she was going to fill the Band with. She decided to start of with 4cc.
I got onto the table, laid down, she got the needle, a rather long one, felt around for the port, had difficulty finding it, found it, told me to hold me breath then suck in my muscles, then she said “ A little poke” and blam the needle was in!!!!!!!
She couldn’t find the soft portion of the port. She nuzzled around, pressing into me. It got a little uncomfortable. She pulled the needle out, tried again, still nothing!!! She asked for assistance from Nurse S. Nurse S came in (with a new hairstyle, was kind of cute) and we started over, this time with a longer needle and far more pressing into my body to find the port.
Dr. M, according to Nurse S had found it. She could feel it. I certainly could! I can’t say that it was excruciating. It wasn’t. It was simply uncomfortable and the port site was still tender form the initial surgery. With a lot of pushing and prodding they finally got the needle into the port site and injected the saline into the Band.
To tell you the truth, it didn’t feel like much. I thought there would be more of a sensation, but there wasn’t. All I noticed was the gurgling sound as the needle was pulled out of my port. (That was kind of neat.)
I sat up. Dr. M. had me drink some water. ( They do that to make sure you can swallow.) That’s when I noticed that sensation they call “restriction”. It’s an odd feeling. It feels tight, tangible, like there is no mistaking that there is something there. I can’t say that I had that feeling prior. In fact, the only thing I ever really felt was the port itself, but even that stopped being an issue as I healed up.
I bet you’re wondering why the difficulty? Or if it’s always a struggle to fill a Band? From what I understand, I’m a special case. I carry my fat in such a way that the bulk of it is right where the doctors need to work.
So, it’s not that hard for most people. If you happen to be an apple on stilts, carrying the majority of your weight in your lower belly region then you may have trouble like me. If not, then it’ll probably be a breeze for you. I know many of Dr. M’s patients haven’t had the same level of difficulties I’ve had.
After the fill, Dr. M had me finish the little cup of water she gave me. It took me a while to do it. In fact, I was kind of surprised because up until the fill I ate and drank almost at the pace I did before surgery. Of course I didn’t do it exactly the same because the Band does place some limitations on digestion, but not like it does when filled!
I have a friend who had been considering the Band, but decided against it because of the way my first month or so has gone. I wonder if she’ll see things differently now that I have my fill? I don’t know. I don’t know if she is saying no to the surgery because she’s not ready to actually lose the weight or if she is determined to lose the weight on her own?
It’s so hard to tell because we, the overweight, tell ourselves so many things, give ourselves so many excuses not to succeed that it’s hard to say when we are bullshitting or when we have finally turned the corner.
Either way, if she’s not ready for the surgery she shouldn’t have it. It’s too big a life change to do have weight loss surgery on a whim and with a lot of doubt. And people do lose weight without surgery. They do it all of the time!!
I left the office feeling like I was embarking on a new leg of the journey. For the third time, I will have to relearn to eat.
The first time was kind of easy. Yeah, I actually think the liquid diet was the easiest part. Here, eat this, not that, simple guidelines, no questions, just me learning to overcome the mental cravings of my body.
The second phase, the post-op healing diet was initially easy as well. I just ate things that went down. It got difficult though, when I got to regular foods.
Having the ability and the choice to eat practically anything makes it hard for the obese to make good food choices. I mean, we still have to deal with media, social eating, comfort food, and just plain liking to eat.
I found it difficult to eat healthy the whole time, so I didn’t. I ate a lot of things I shouldn’t have. (Pizza, burgers, fries). I didn’t eat those things from troughs. Had I, I’d be 10 to 20 pounds heavier, not just 2.
That’s the magic of the band!!!
That magic isn’t enough though. Here I am on my first full day of the fill. I have a lot of choices in front of me. I have a lot of physical needs to be met. I have a nutritional pyramid to get into my body in three 2 ounce meals.
What am I supposed to do?
1 serving of fruit.
2-3 servings of vegetables.
1 to 2 ounces of meat.
1 serving of dairy.
6 to 8 glasses of calorie-free liquids.
That’s easy!!! *rolls eyes*
I’ve been told to take it easy though. Yesterday, post-fills was just liquid only. Today, I can introduce soft foods and tomorrow I can eat whatever I can swallow.
I don’t think I’ll be able to get all of the different types of foods in every day, unless I get creative. I know I’m going to have to really pay attention to what I eat and since I have to chew it so slowly, I’ll want it to be high quality, great tasting food. Plus, it has to be healthy!
Oh yeah, and I have to exercise….and sometimes the first fill doesn’t work. More often than not it takes a few fills to find “the sweet spot” the fill amount that enables patients to lose weight and a healthy, even pace.
You know, one day at a time. One meal at a time. I have to focus on the now, be able to refer to the big picture and understand that I am still unlearning bad habits, trying to learn new ones and creating not only a new relationship with food, but a new relationship with myself and life.
That’s not daunting at all, is it?
You know, fuck it if it is. I want this. I want to exchange the freedom to eat whatever, whenever for fluidity of movement, stability of mind and joy of living. I think I’ll be getting more out that I’ll be putting in. In the end, I will be a happier, healthier me. Hell, I think I already am! J