For today’s blog post, I wanted to touch on my journey with the Gastric Sleeve surgery. If you have read my “About Me” post then you know that I have had the surgery, but I didn’t go into a lot of detail about my decision. I began thinking about surgery two years ago because I have struggled with weight my entire life. However, within the last five years, I have REALLY struggled with my weight. I was always self-conscious about my weight, but towards the end of my college career, I began to notice more side-effects in my everyday life, such as not feeling comfortable working out or feeling limited to what I could do. I lived with this unease until November 20, 2018, when I had my Gastric Sleeve Surgery.
If you are unfamiliar with the Gastric Sleeve Surgery or you are knowledgeable of the surgery and would like to hear about my journey, keep reading! Basically, the Gastric Sleeve Surgery is a laparoscopic procedure in which the surgeon removes the portion of your stomach that has stretched overtime due to weight gain. For the procedure, they did six incisions across my stomach and pulled the part of the stomach that was removed out through an incision at my belly button.
Overall, the process for the surgery is a long one. There are many things that you have to do before you can be approved to have the surgery, including six months of tried weight loss that is monitored by a doctor outside of the bariatric community. Personally, I did Weight Watchers and my primary care physician also monitored my weight loss.
Side Note: Beware! Not every insurance will accept Weight Watchers as a form of tried weight loss! If you are considering this surgery as an option, I would go to your doctor and visit that doctor every month on whatever regimen they provide you.
Once I did six months of tried weight loss, I began the process of classes, labs, insurance approval, and procedures before I could follow through with the surgery. The surgeon I went through required all of these things beforehand, which also depended on your health history. For example, I had to have an EKG, labs, a scope, and classes that would prepare me for the surgery. The classes are very helpful because they help educate you on what you will need to do before and after the surgery.
After I completed all the prep work and was given a surgery date, I had to complete a very specific diet two weeks prior to the surgery, which was basically a Keto diet. I could have meat, dairy, eggs, and non-starchy vegetables. A lot of people that I have talked to or encountered on groups were very weary of this diet, but when you are that close to the surgery, you are already in the mindset of doing whatever is necessary for your health and the surgery and honestly, this was not bad at all!
The day before surgery, I could only have broth and liquids, which is not an easy thing to do, but again, you are so ready for the surgery, so you don’t mind. At midnight before the surgery, you can’t have anything to eat or drink, which is the most difficult thing because you want water or something!
Surgery Day: The surgeon gave me a time to be there, which was about two or three hours before the procedure. The procedure itself only lasts about an hour and a half. After the procedure, you are in recovery for about two hours and then you are taken to your room.
I’m going to be honest, I did not have the easiest time after the procedure because it was my first surgery, ever, and I was not ready for the effects of the anesthesia, pain, or medicine I would be taking. I wanted to sleep the entire time I was there, but it is imperative that you drink fluids and walk. Walking helps you work the soreness out and it lets the nurses and surgeon know that you will be okay once you get home. Fluids are extremely important, too, because that is all you will really be able to consume the first couple days and they need to know you won’t be dehydrated.
Now, when I say I didn’t have an easy time, I didn’t, but it was not miserable. I had pain in my back and upper left shoulder due to the air buildup from the laparoscopic surgery. I was very sore in my stomach, clearly, but it is a manageable pain. I honestly believe the hardest part is when you first come home after the surgery because that is when you begin to feel the enormity of what the surgery means. This is different for everyone, but I approached the surgery so matter-of-factly, that my emotions came in once I got home from the surgery. Again, there were moments where I felt very down-trodden because everything changed, but I never lost sight of why I did what I did.
Overall, I would do the surgery again. It has pushed me to change the way I approach food, my lifestyle, and fitness. It was the best decision I could have made for myself. If you have any questions or would like for me to touch on other topics with my surgery, please let me know!