Bariatric weight loss surgery is serious business and you really need to be prepared.
It doesn’t have to be a fearful or painful experience with all kinds of complications if you will just go about it with the right attitude and preparations.
First let me make it clear that I did not go into this without much soul searching, much prayer and months of research. I didn’t have surgery for vanity reasons.
My decision was based on my health reality. At my age, with diabetes for 20 years and my weight it was not likely that I would live another 30 or 40 years. Let alone be healthy and mobile for the time I had left. Dying in a nursing home, wheel chair bound, having to have toes and legs removed or dying of a heart attack or stroke due to diabetes and obesity is not the legacy I wanted to leave behind.
That’s how the devil wants me to go, but that has never been God’s plan. I decided to go with God’s plan for my life. To live to a ripe old age in good health, with a strong body and mind.
So, I read everything I could find for weeks before approaching my family doctor about bariatric weight loss surgery.
I’d researched every kind of surgery popular today and weighed the pros and cons and decided that Vertical Gastric Sleeve surgery was right for me. It has by far fewer complications and nothing is re-routed. Plus it’s done endoscopically, so no huge incisions with a much shorter recovery time.
Fortunately my doctor wholeheartedly agreed that I was ready for weight loss surgery and that I had indeed chosen the surgery she preferred for me. I had even spoken to friends who had this surgery, researched Bariatric surgeons and had already chosen a surgeon. Again, my doctor approved of my choice and made a referral.
Positive Mind Set And Self-Talk
From the moment I decided to go with surgery and after much talking to God then listening, I was sure this was what I was supposed to do. After that, I only spoke positive things over my surgery and recovery. I nipped all negative thoughts that tried to enter my mind before they could take shape and I refused to allow fear or worry in. It took effort, but I wanted and EXPECTED a very positive outcome and I knew that I had to play my part in order for that to become my reality.
I was careful to allow zero negative self talk or stick around long enough to listen to a couple of naysayers who thought I should just try yet another diet. The ones they were on, of course. Bah-Bye Felicia!
Then came the usual pre-bariatric surgery tests like the required Psych Evaluation, Upper GI, EKG and labs. My EKG came back with a negative report. The doctor who read the report told me that it showed I had had a previous heart attack and asked me when it happened. My response was NEVER! I had never had any signs of problems and no attacks. He argued that I could have had one and not known it due to Diabetes and nerve issues that it can cause. He assured me that I had indeed had a heart attack in the past.
I absolutely refused to accept that. I would not allow even the possibility that this could be true to settle in my mind. No way was I gonna open a door for the enemy to work in my situation and destroy my future health.
So a stress test was ordered and I passed that with flying colors with no indication of any past issues. A perfectly healthy heart! Apparently somebody needs to calibrate an EKG machine?
Because I lived 90 minutes from my surgeons office and the hospital, I was allowed to do the Psych Evalutation over the phone. Plus I was self pay, which made things easier all the way around, no hoops to jump through. Most insurance requires more than one visit to a therapist or psychologist.
I was also required to go to a seminar and a class which I was able to do online and to pass a test about the surgery, required supplements and how to eat after the surgery as well as lifestyle changes for long term success. I was able to take the class online. That’s not the usual route when using insurance. They usually make you go to several classes and seminars.
As my surgery day approached I ramped up the positive self talk and declared over my body that I would have no complications of any kind, no issues with anesthesia, no pain, no gas pains or constipation from medications or restrictive eating.
Every bariatric surgeon and their nutritionist have their own protocol for a pre-surgery diet and what you can eat for several months after you have surgery. Listen to your doctor and not what anyone else says.
My Bariatric Surgeon ordered a liquid diet the week before surgery.
I could have protein shakes for the first 4 of those days but only clear liquids the last 3 days. Oh yes, and lots and lots of sugar free Jello and Popsicles. It was a little tough the last few days but if you are really ready for this surgery, you can do it. If you can’t, then you’re not ready. There is a real mindset involved with bariatric weight loss surgery of any kind. You have to change your eating habits or you will fail in the long run. If you can’t do it for a week or two then you sure as heck won’t do it for the rest of your life.
Many doctors require 2 or 3 weeks liquid diet prior to surgery. A few require none at all or just the day before. The reason for the pre-op liquid diet is to shrink the liver so they can go in without having to move it around too much. The liver lays on part of the stomach and it could be punctured or damaged if its enlarged and in the way.
So do the pre-op diet your surgeon requires. Stick to it. If I can do it so can you!
What To Take To The Hospital
I recommend you pack a light bag. You will probably be in the hospital no more than 24 hours. Comfy loose jammies, robe slippers. You will be walking the halls a lot, so be prepared for that.
Also bring just the basics. I brought chap-stick, brush, tooth brush and tooth paste, deodorant, my phone and Kindle, Gas-X Chewables (you are gonna need them) and a heating pad. I wore that same clothes home that I came in with and a fresh pair of undies.
Going Into Surgery
The night before I was ordered to shower with a soap and sponge they provided and not to apply lotion afterwards.
When they took me back to prep me for surgery I was required to disrobe, use wipes they provided and wipe my whole body down before donning the sexy hospital gown. At least it was huge instead of tiny! They weighed me, tucked me into bed and soon the surgeon came in to see if I had any questions or concerns. Then the Anesthesiologist stopped by to talk to me about the drugs he was going to administer.
Before long it was time to go!
I don’t remember a thing until it was all over. I woke up in recovery and they took me to my room. Because they blow air into your stomach many people have severe gas pains for a couple of days after surgery. Again, I refused to accept that and this was one of my affirmations. Plus I came prepared with Gas-X chewables in my bag. I asked for the liquid Gas-X that they put in your IV. That gave me little relief and I couldn’t have more for 8 hours. So I took it upon myself to take a chewable. Then again about half an hour later I took another one. The gas pains soon went away.
I had a little pain, but not bad from the surgery itself. Luckily for me my doctor used a pain pump in the incisions. It had tubes that went about 8 inches deep into each incision. The pump was a ball of pain meds similar to Lydocaine topical. And it slowly dripped into my incisions for about 4 days. Then I was able pull them out and threw it away myself. No need to go to the doc for that.
I only needed pain meds for a couple of days. I stopped taking them not long after I came home.
Over all I had a very easy and speedy recovery. I went to Walmart with the hubs on day 3 after my surgery and drove a few days later. I don’t work outside the home but if I did and had a sit down job, I could have returned in a week. The worst part of recover was feeling so weak after surgery.
I attribute my quick recovery to a positive mindset, expecting for it and lots of prayer.
What I Ate After Surgery
As soon as you come out of surgery they are pushing lots of ice chips at you. Get as many down as possible. The next morning I had to start drinking water. It’s important that you sip on water from here on. If you can’t prove you can get your water down, you can’t go home. They also made me eat jello and a Popsicle and I drank a couple of cups of hot tea. I didn’t really want the Jello or Popsicle but had to eat them to appease my nurse.
There is sometimes a little nausea involved when your new tummy (it’s called a pouch, but I just can’t call it that) It’s still my original stomach. I don’t have a bag attached or a fake stomach. It’s my stomach just much smaller. Like 80% smaller. But to me it’s my tummy not a pouch. Anyway, you need to get used to food again and sometimes your tummy will not like it. It’s trial and error. Some things set great and others ? not so much. Don’t worry, you’ll get a prescription for nausea meds that dissolve under your tongue for quick relief.
Remember, not every surgeon has the same post-op diets. The one I had was pretty common among the FB support groups I am a part of, but once in a while I’ll see a comment from someone who had food the first week. I would not have been up to that! With a thousand staples and only 20% of my stomach left after surgery, I can’t imagine putting food in there for it to have to process so soon! Can you say “pain and puking”?
The first week post-op diet consisted of Jello, Popsicles, protein water, and clear liquids. I could have coffee or tea as well. I am a coffee nut but for the first 3 weeks coffee nauseated me, so tea it was. I am back to coffee again now with no issues.
Week 2 post-op diet
This is called the Full Liquid diet. Clear liquids, Milk, SF Popsicles and Jello, pudding and protein shakes. Also creamed soups with no bits or chunks, applesauce, yogurt, veggie juices, thin Cream of Wheat or Malt-O-Meal.
Week 3 post-op diet
New Rule For Life – no drinking 30 minutes before, during or 30 minutes after you eat. You are only eating a small amount. Not really enough to get enough nutrition in so you don’t want to take up room with liquids. Also while eating it thins out the food in your stomach making it empty faster and you hungry way too often. Plus many people throw up when eating and drinking during a meal. I am not one of them, but I see plenty on the support groups that just can’t do it without spewing!
Foods: This is the soft foods, pureed phase. Easy to digest foods pureed in the food processor. I can’t have beef, pork, venison, lamb for 6 months for 2 reasons. Also no pasta or bread. First they are harder to digest and 2nd they are much higher in calories. So I could puree chicken, fish, soft cooked veggies like canned green beans and mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower. Beans, canned fruits, peanut butter in small amounts, cottage cheese, hot cereals, cheese, saltine crackers, etc. I made pureed chicken salad and stored it in the fridge in little 4 oz jars. About 2-3 ounces was all I could eat at a time this week. I also made No-Noodle Lasagna and Taco Bake in Pyrex bowls with storage lids and got 2-3 meals out of one bowl. If you use your imagination there are lots of good things you can eat in this phase. Let’s face it, you haven’t eaten for weeks so it’s all good!
Get more ideas on what you can eat, grocery lists and more go to my Pinterest Board here.
Weeks 4-8 post-op diet
Modified regular foods like eggs, fish, chicken, cooked veggies, canned fruits, bananas, soups etc. It’s really important to eat slowly and chew to the consistency of tooth paste or you will have pain and vomiting. Stop at the first sign you are getting full, stop!
Always start with your protein. Then if there’s room for more, knock yourself out. I am eating 4-6 ounces at this stage.
Still no breads, pasta, rice raw veggies, beef, pork, lamb or venison.
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So there you have it. Now you know what to expect before your Bariatric weight loss surgery and can go into it better prepared.
I’m happy to answer your questions in the comments below or on my Facebook page here. Please scroll down and leave a comment.
We’ll talk soon!
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