Would You?

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Friday – July 2, 2008 – was my EIGHT year anniversary of my surgery.

It’s hard to fathom how quickly those 8 years since I was given the incredible gift of my DS have flown.

I always said as a pre-op that I would never lose sight of or forget from whence I came.

Here’s where I came from:

and here…

..and it wasn’t all about being fat.

I was used to being fat. I’d been fat for a long time.

The scary parts were the blood sugars in the high 200’s and low 300’s – with five diabetes medication; the stroke level hypertension – with four hypertension medications; the severe obstructive sleep apnea; the congestive heart failure; the hyperlipidemia; the out of control GERD; the need for the wheelchair, etc., etc., etc….

I’ll admit it – the past year was not so much fun.

There are assumptions that the crap that I’ve been through in the last year were because I’d had weight loss surgery eight years ago.

NO – once again (repeat after me, children) – the crap of the last year is ALL about the fact that I was stupid and took WAY too much ibuprofen, and essentially toasted my stomach.

Okay?

So – in light of my just passed anniversary of my DS, many people have asked me this question, assuming the answer to the question were an emphatic, “NO! Are you kidding?”!

What’s the question, you ask?

“Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again? Would you have your DS all over again?”

Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.

My answer.

“Are you kidding me? YES. OF COURSE. I would *SO* do my DS over again. Right now. Right this very minute. Without half a hesitation. Yes, I would do it again.”

People!

I was dying.

Let’s put it all inter some perspective, okay?

My DS saved my ever living life!

My DS gave me a quality of life most people never have the opportunity to enjoy!

My DS was the thrill ride of my life!

I will NEVER regret having my DS.

I will NEVER wish I could take it back.

I will NEVER place blame there – because the blame lies soundly at my doorstep for being such a stupid head with the ibuprofen.

That being said, I had an interesting thought yesterday… it went along the lines of…

“…but if I could go back and do it all over again, it would be really awesome if I could go back knowing everything I know now!!!”

And then it struck me that I remember reading posts along those lines when I was a pre-op… You know – older, wiser, further out post-ops trying to beat it into the thick skulls of we pre-ops and newbies – trying to get us to learn from their hard earned wisdom.

So – if I were to go back and re-do my DS, with the stuff I know now, there are – indeed – some things I would do differently, as well as some things I would have paid more attention to, and some things that I would have tried to do a better job of. Sit up and pay attention pre-ops and baby post-ops. Try and learn from my stupidity, okay?

First – I so totally would have insisted on a really comprehensive pre-op blood draw. One that includes everything we check for in a full lab run for post-ops. I would have wanted to know (knowing what I know now) how severe my hyperparathyroidism was. I would have wanted to know how severely anemic I was. I would have wanted to know how borderline not okay my albumin level was. I would have wanted to know what I could have done to fix some of those issues a bit heading into surgery and malabsorption. And it would have been really beneficial to know as a pre-op so that I would have taken getting in my vitamins and supplements SO MUCH more seriously than I actually did. (If you need a lab order – see here.)

Second – I would have known then what I completely know now: just because you feel okay, doesn’t mean you are okay. What I mean by that is this. Just because I feel fabulous – ’cause I’ve lost 150 pounds, ’cause my blood sugars are normal after the first time in years, ’cause my blood pressure is enviable, ’cause my mobility is better than it’s been in over a decade – doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have to take my vitamins. Just because you feel great doesn’t mean everything won’t hit the fan eventually. (Okay – sorry, I can’t hold it in: PEOPLE! THIS IS MALABSORPTION WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! YOU GOTTA TAKE IT SERIOUSLY IF YOU ASK FOR IT!)

Thirdly – I would have given up ALL SODAS as a pre-op. Completely. And never gone back to them. What an idiot I was. I was so sure I would not be affected by their (1) sugar content, and (2) fight against my body’s desperate need for calcium absorption! (As Dr. Baltasar has been overheard saying, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” YEP. I accept it. I own it. I admit it.) So – just because someone out there is trying to find a way to justify sodas in some way, shape, or form… NO – I wouldn’t do diet sodas. (They’re just as crappy for you as any other form of soda.) NO – it doesn’t count toward your hydration count for the day! NO – an occasional one isn’t harmless. Sorry – I know – not politically correct, not comfortable, not nice. Especially when we talk about an addiction similar to that that I own. Yes – I’m addicted to Coke. I know it. Anyone who knows me well knows it. And that’s why one hasn’t passed these lips in over 3 years. And never will again. ‘Cause just like an alcoholic – I can’t handle it. There’s no middle ground for me. And yes, it’s kinda radical, but it’s the truth and I know it.

Fourthly – I would have steered WAY clear of simple carbs. Now – I’m no carb Nazi. I’m sorry – I’ll never apologize for a slice of bread, a potato chip, or occasional dessert. That’s just me. There are some things that I’m kinda hung up over – you can read my philosophy of eating if you’d like. So let’s define what a simple carb is – in my mind, anyway: sugar. It comes in lots of forms… cake, cookies, candy, sodas, pastries – stuff like that. It’s all stuff that pretty much most of us – if we’re really honest with ourselves – enjoy from time to time. If I were to go back – would I have gone total cold turkey with this sort of stuff? Nah… I don’t think so. But I certainly wouldn’t have indulged in them nearly as often as I did. Because the fact of the matter is this: doesn’t matter how far post-op you are – at some point in time it’s gonna catch up with you. Whether it’s the scale that tells you, or your labs, or your general sense of well-being. The fact of the matter is that it just ain’t good for you. [And a little aside for you my friends the pre-ops and baby post-ops – ’cause I hear this from you guys a lot, in honest, genuine, surprise… YES. Alcohol is a simple sugar. Read the calorie accounting on any alcoholic drink and it should be enough to scare the living crap out of you! Enough said.]

Fifthly – I would have been far more disciplined about the “E” word. Yes – EXERCISE. When I was younger – and even quite heavy – I was an active girl. I was on the swim team, I swam, I canoed, I sailed, I hiked, I biked, I walked, I did aqua aerobics… In fact, there were several years there that I didn’t own a car – I walked or biked or used public transportation. I loved it! But at some point in time – I don’t know if it was because the degenerative joint disease was gaining ground or what – it became easier NOT to have a formal exercise routine. BAD ME. I weigh more than 200 pounds less than I did eight years ago – I should totally have an exercise routine! Even if it’s just going to the high school track and walking a couple of miles! Yes. I have daily orthopedic pain. So the heck what. I oughtta get off my butt and move more! I need to dig out my very cool pedometer and USE IT! Ever since my ankle reconstruction last March it’s been a heck of a lot harder to walk, and well – as they used to remind me in physical therapy – “Use it or lose it!” If I’d been more disciplined from the get-go after my DS, I’m thinking it would be far less daunting a thing to do just that!

And lastly – I would have taken advantage of every moment of the “honeymoon phase” during the first 12 to 18 months post-op and really done everything possible to maximize that easiest phase of the weight loss window. We’re so silly to believe that our entire post-op lives are going to be like those glorious first months. WRONG. Do everything possible to use those months to your advantage. Please. You will NEVER regret it.

So – those are the major things I would do differently.

Yes, I would totally do my DS again.

No, I would not take boatloads of ibuprofen again.

Yes, I would get on the plane to Spain to Dr. Baltasar for my surgeon again – completely!

No, I don’t regret my DS one single bit.

That, my friends, is the truth.

So a question for you – if you’re a post-op.

Would you do it again?

If so – anything you’d do differently?

Let me know your thoughts in comments, okay?

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo Diniz says:

    Dina…I am 9-plus years DS post-op. Would I do it over again?? Yes, YEs, YESsssss! I also agree you 100% on your “If I could do it over list”. Hopefully some new post-ops will benefit from your wise words. As for us Older Posties…although, we can’t re-do our past, we certainly can strive to achieve better health habits in our futures. Bottom line, it really, really isn’t just about jgetting thinner, our ultimate goal should always be to become healthier…thanks for the reminder. Hugs

    1. Dina says:

      Jo, thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      Isn’t it good to get this far out and to be at peace with your surgical choice? I’m reminded anew each day (I work for at a place with a bariatric center that doesn’t offer DS at all) how precious a thing it is!

  2. Liz Parker says:

    I am almost 9 years post-op myself and like you and Jo, I would do my DS over again in a heartbeat but I would follow your breakdowns of do-overs, too. I am about ready to take the plunge and go gluten free since I have many of the symptoms of gluten intolerance and I just feel better when I eat ‘clean’. I was so NOT the poster child for the DS and I never exercised at all during the first 8 years (OH MY GOODNESS – I admitted it outloud) and have recently, since the beginning of the year, started an exercise routine, 4-5 days per week and it is amazing how much better I feel even after 30 minutes on the elliptical. I am about ready to give up all sodas since they are crap and the health benefits of tea are staggering. So I feel like I am in a good place but I could be so much better.

    Thanks for sharing this and helping me to commit much more to what I know I need to do.

    All my best,
    Liz

    1. Dina says:

      Liz,

      Definitely let us know how the gluten-free thing goes. I’m nearly there – not because of any fall-out because of it, but simply ’cause I can’t eat bread any more. And honestly – I miss it less and less!

      Total gold star on the exercise program! You inspire me! πŸ™‚

  3. Thelma says:

    Thank you for this post! I am currently waiting for my insurance approval. I had my psych eval today. I was pleasantly surprised when he found me normal! My family would never believe that one! I too have a strong coke addiction. I pledge to give it up beginning today. I will not even have another sip. (Lord give me strength!) I somehow am far more daunted over the soda issue than the carb. I will begin a moderate excersize program tomorrow. I will also print out the lab thingie and ask my pcp to order those test since I have now reached my deductable, its a great time! Thank you for these post. We are listening!

    1. Dina says:

      Thelma – total gold star for you, girl! You will be miles ahead of other post-ops if you can stick with these decisions.

      And honestly – on the whole Coke front – cold turkey is best. I’d tried giving it up ummm… just right around a bazillion times – and it wasn’t until I went cold turkey – and had LOTS of Starbuck’s Venti Iced Green Tea no classic with extra ice please – that I was able to do it!

      Let us know how you’re doing!!!

  4. kilaani says:

    OK, I’m so busted on the diet soda thing. Diet Mtn. Dew has been my main source of hydration for a while now. I’ve never been dehydrated in over 5 1/2 years, maybe I’m just lucky that way, I don’t know! I know it’s bad for me but I hate water…sigh…. I agree with your whole list – I didn’t have a diet soda for the first year or so after surgery – but still, crystal light doesn’t really count either. I wish I would have done better with all the carbs, I exercised some for the first 3 years but now I’ve gotten so busy it’s harder to fit. I do work on the arms as I can and need to get in squats so I can help the upper body strength. My doc said that if more women did squats we’d not have to take things like Boniva – not that it works for DSers, anyway, as far as I’ve heard.

    1. Dina says:

      I know, Jill! I know how hard it is to give it up! And it’s more than just about dehydration – you know that, right? But of course, hydration is so important – especially where you live!

      You know I love you, girlfriend! *smootch*

  5. Thelma says:

    I have actually been trying to get off soda forever. Several years ago I got off the diet ones. I actually got sick from quitting, which scares me to think of what I had been drinking all those diet soda years. But then I drank diet coke for like 6 years, toying with gonna quits. Lately I decided maybe between the caffeine and sugar, I was getting a double whammy so I switched to sprite. I haven’t had any since I posted, and normally I would have head aches by now, So I think the kicking the caffeine first did help. It dosen’t matter, I’m done. Ive known for a long time that a soda addiction isn’t much different than smoking. I have my mind in the right place, so I am sure I can do it. Kilaani, I wonder if you switched to caffeine free diet mtn dew for a month or so, if it would be easier. (and then tried cold turkey) But I warn you, that sugar sub is strangely addictive. to me, its harder to shake than sugar.

    1. Dina says:

      Thelma – you make me proud, girlfriend! You are so committed and headed in the right direction! Gold star!

      And you are COMPLETELY correct – artificial sweeteners ARE more addictive. There have been quite a few studies over the past 10 years that support that. I know for me – when I finally gave them up it was like my body took a big, huge, grateful sigh of relief!

      Keep up the great work!

  6. Janet says:

    Congrats on 8 years. I love every word you said and it should be required reading for every pre-op DSer. I love that you have taken complete ownership of your life, your health and not blamed the surgery as so many have done in the past. You have been an absolute inspiration and have helped me when I needed help.

    Would I do it again — are you kidding — in a minute. I was so lucky to have a great local support group. I embraced the DS and took full advantage of the honeymoon period — albeit to the words of some of my support friends, who kept asking me — why do you weigh your food? why are you exercising? why are you counting carbs? And the answer was — I don’t want to sit here a year from now saying “oh I wish I could lose 40 more pounds”.

    And because of your support, my labs are spot on and I’ve taken total ownership of my body and my health.

    Let the journey continue for many years to come.

    Janet in Reston (jpcello)
    DS 2/25/03

  7. Jan Schroeder says:

    I am 7 years out, and I also would do it again in a heartbeat, ….only…..I wish I could do it sooner, and know what I know now……..hindsite is wonderful! I’m down 140 pounds, and have kept it off, and like myself now………that is a wonderful thing to be able to say.

  8. Laurie Hayes says:

    Dina
    Loved your post. I will re-read it as needed.
    I had the DS 2 years ago, and I would do it again. It is hard to explain to others how the DS improves your quality of life.
    No soda for me. At one time I started out my day with a 44oz followed by a 6 pack and ending the day with another 44oz. My choice of poison – Pepsi. It has been so long that I have had soda, that I don’t even crave it. When I go out to eat I unhesitantly ask for water. I used to care that a restaurant would think I was some kind of ‘cheapo’ always asking for water — now, I realize that a restaurant is just that a restaurant and are in business to serve customers — like me — and their opinion of what I drink isn’t even open for discussion.
    Dina — you are a inspiration to all of us.

  9. Blackthorne says:

    I’ll be five years post-op this September, and I hear ya.

    Exercise is one of the things I’ve gotten into, but it’s often hard to convince others how necessary it really is both for the success of the DS, and the prevention of health issues. The DS can seem like a freeride, and exercise seems like the antithesis to that attitude of freedom – yet it really is the foundation of what makes freedom possible. It creates the ABILITY to do anything.

    When my body aches after an hour of yoga though, it’s not the same kind of pain that I used to feel when I was pushing 300lbs and barely making it up a flight of stairs I don’t feel like my body is coming apart, or that it’s going to break in two. There’s a good feeling of completion, of accomplishment, more like the exhaustion that comes after shall we say, more romantic activity.

    Being able to run upstairs, climb a rock wall, ride a motorcycle, benchpress 3x the amount of weight I was able to do six months ago – I can *do* things I could never do before. THAT is freedom. The DS just made it possible.

    –Lisa

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