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Diary Health Ponderings

Ready to go

All my pre-op tests and clearances are out of the way, and my weight loss surgery date is set. Due to various privacy concerns, I won’t get into exactly when and where I’m having it done, but I at least wanted to let you know things were moving along quickly.

Now that I’m to this stage, the excitement has been shifting to nervousness. I’m thinking about all the arrangements I need to make beforehand and all the immediate changes there will be to my lifestyle. Last night I dreamed I went to the surgery location only to discover I was completely unprepared, and while I was considering going back home to prep, my car was stolen out from under my nose. Pretty obvious dream symbolism, eh?

But despite my nervousness, “cold feet” or whatever you might want to call the feeling you get before a major life change, I know this is the best thing I can do for myself and my family. I’ll live longer. I’ll be able to do more. I’ll have more energy. It’s going to be awesome.

So I’ll allow myself to be a little scared, for now, as I say goodbye to my former self. Very soon I’ll have the help I need to become even better than I already am. ;)

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Diary Health

Plans

All that’s left for my prescreening for weight loss surgery is an echocardiogram (a stress echo was deemed unnecessary), which I’ll have on Monday. Then, once all test results are in to the surgeon, the date will be set and I’ll be off to change my life!

I’ve been thinking about plans, both short term and long. In the long term, I’m looking forward to all the things I’ll be able to do, or do more easily, once I’m no longer obese. I can’t assume I’ll ever get down to an ideal weight; I’ll probably still be a little overweight once I’m done losing. But I should get close, like to 140 or so. That will give me the freedom to wear more clothes styles, to feel better about myself in a swimsuit, and to do things like go horseback riding and on zipline adventures. I expect I’ll have even better endurance for hiking, which will be awesome, because I love exploring the outdoors. And without all the extra weight to stress my joints, I should be able to run again, and hopefully faster and for a longer period of time than an hour. Maybe I’ll even break a half an hour 5K, which back at the peak of my running seemed like an impossible dream.

I’m sure people judge me, consciously or subconsciously, for being obese. Once I’m down to a more reasonable weight, I expect I’ll do better in face-to-face interviews. I’ll also have more self-confidence…but I haven’t been sitting around waiting for weight loss to give me that. I’ve learned a lot in the past several years about personal interactions, and I think I’ve done pretty well. Losing the weight will just give me an extra advantage.

One of my dreams is to travel more, and once I’ve lost weight, I’ll be more physically able to handle a lot of travel. My back and knees won’t suffer from long walks through new cities, and I’ll have so much more energy.

There’s also the hope and promise of motherhood. It’s possible, though a long shot, that losing weight will help me to become pregnant. But even if not, once this is done, I will be healthy enough to raise a child. If we can’t conceive naturally, Sean and I plan to adopt.

The weight loss will help my health in other ways. It should stop the pseudotumor cerebri, the intracranial pressure behind my eyes that is threatening to blind me. My sleep apnea should end. My heart should do a lot better without the extra strain of carrying so much weight all the time. The changes to my diet and nutrient absoption will help my blood pressure and cholesterol.

Some of the health changes will happen fast. The rest of these dreams (and more) lie waiting for me about two years from now, after I’ve had the surgery and gone through the rapid weight loss that follows. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get there.

First will be the actual surgery itself. It’s laparoscopic, meaning they go in using long, skinny surgical implements rather than cutting you completely open. With this kind of surgery, recovery time is much shorter…but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a cakewalk. I’ll still be in pain and discomfort for a couple weeks afterward.

I’ll also have the immediate change in my digestive system to deal with. My stomach will be reduced to a tiny pouch, so I won’t be able to eat much at all. I’ll have to switch to eating a bite here and there rather than a full meal. Unlike the lap band, the duodenal switch does curb hunger, but it will still be an adjustment. It’s possible my attitude toward food will change and I won’t want to eat at all, in which case I’ll have to force myself to get the nutrients I need. The most important thing will be protein…in the beginning I’ll be eating a lot of meat. Long term, I will probably need to take a lot of vitamin pills, and I may end up drinking protein shakes too.

Just a couple days after surgery, they’ll want me to be up and walking. I know I won’t feel like it, but this will be important to my recovery and to maintaining my muscle mass. I’ll need to keep moving around during recovery and maintain a good exercise routine afterward. That will continue not just during the rapid weight loss, but for the rest of my life. My plan is to always keep walking and hiking, since I enjoy those activities, and then rotate in other activities like running or biking or a workout video when the mood hits me. I also plan to develop some sort of weight lifting routine, enough to stay toned, but not bulk up.

Finally, I’ll need to see a doctor yearly for the rest of my life to make sure everything is okay. (I see doctors at least that often already, and you should see how many pills I take daily…so this isn’t really a big deal.)

So yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I said this surgery would change my life. It’s not a quick fix or a miracle cure or magic. It’s a lot of work. But it will help me achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle, allow me to be happier and more active, and hopefully extend my life. I’m really excited for my future.

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Diary Health

Many steps down…

…and many to go.

I’ve seen my PCP and he’s agreed to send in a letter of clearance for bariatric surgery. We also completed the required labs and chest X-ray. I now have an appointment for Friday with a cardiologist to get those tests and clearance out of the way. The next step is the psychological clearance, which I should hopefully be able to knock out this week as well.

Taking charge of my health has been pretty empowering. I like the feeling of knowing what I want and how to go about getting it. Pretty cool.

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Diary Health

Nervous

My sleep schedule has been off for quite some time. Yesterday I didn’t get out of bed until 4pm. Knowing I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, I forced myself to sleep at 11:30. This worked arguably well, except that around 5:30 or so I had a very unsettling dream that woke me up. I got out of bed and futzed around online and watched some Cheers on Netflix and organized my notes for today’s appointment.

I am hoping to knock out most, if not all, of the clearances and tests required for bariatric surgery today/this week. A lot of it will be handled with this morning’s appointment; my PCP will do a full physical and bloodwork and I’ll ask him to request some additional required tests. My neurologist has already seen me and said he will provide clearance for surgery; I’m just waiting to confirm that he has in fact done so. The main variable is a cardiologist; I don’t know if my PCP is qualified to give a cardiac evaluation and clearance, or if I’ll have a separate appointment for that (likely). I need a cardiologist here anyway, so it’ll be good to go ahead and find one.

Then I’ll do a psychological interview and (presumably) get clearance there, and all my required pre-screening will be done. Then it’ll be on to the surgery that will change my life for the better. I’m trying to get to that point as fast as I can.