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A weight loss update…

October 14, 2020, 11:18 PM

A friend of mine recently mentioned that I had not given any significant update on my weight loss progress since January, a month after I had my gastric sleeve surgery.  So I suppose that it’s high time that I gave an update.  After all, it’s been ten months since the surgery, and things have progressed since then.  Compare the April splash photo (which was taken on February 3) against the October splash photo, and you’ll see a difference:

Splash photo from April 2020 (taken on February 3)

October splash photo

Look at my face, my neck, my arms, and my midsection.  They are all a lot smaller in the October photo, as there is about 89 pounds’ difference between the two shots.  And all in all, I’ve been making good progress with this new tool for weight management.  As of the beginning of October, I now weigh 239 pounds (159 pounds total lost), which is a number that I have not seen since some time in high school – probably around 10th grade.

One thing that I’m happy about is that my stomach has now fully healed from the surgery, and I’ve gotten used to how it all works now.  It really was a matter of learning how to eat all over again, since my stomach had essentially gotten a renovation, and it works a little differently than it used to.  While things were healing, one thing that I had to deal with was nausea and dumping.  Nausea is pretty self-explanatory.  I believe that I threw up more times from December through April than I did in the twenty years prior to my surgery (it’s normally very rare that I throw up), though as I have gotten used to how my stomach works and as things have healed up, the hurling has stopped, thankfully.  Sometimes it was just because something didn’t sit right.  Bacon jerky didn’t sit well with me when I tried it, and my stomach also had a problem tolerating chicken for a while.  Nothing like getting sick on foods that I used to be able to eat just fine.  Not fun.  Then dumping is where the body also rejects food, but pushes it through quickly rather than going in reverse.  That manifests itself in having an urgent need to poop not long after eating.  That is also not pleasant, but far less unpleasant than throwing up (I mean, at least I can play on my phone while I’m taking care of that).  The most common situation for this is if I drink milk too quickly.  If I don’t pace myself on the milk intake, that tends to get dumped.  If I pace it and take my time with it, it tends to be okay.  I asked about the way that my body handles milk, and it turns out that some dairy intolerance is a common occurrence following what I had.  Something else that I had to get used to.  I also get dumping if I drink too soon after eating.  You’re not supposed to eat and drink at the same time after having this surgery, so typically, what I’ll do is hydrate, let that settle, and then eat.  I describe it as a “lockout period” after eating, where any fluid intake is prohibited.  That additional liquid, even after an hour (an hour was what the dietitian recommended), will still dump the system, and push everything through to the exit.  If I wait long enough to forget when I ate, then I’m usually good.

Meanwhile, what I eat and how I eat it has changed.  I got new dishes recently, because my old ones from 2007 were in poor condition, and also, the new dishes are smaller than the old ones.  The rims are lower, and the bowls are much smaller.  That means that they have lower capacity than the old stuff.  I was adamant about getting smaller bowls, remarking that the old bowls promoted overeating.  However, despite the new dishes, I mostly tend to eat out of a mug.  Throw something together quickly, put it in the microwave for about two minutes, and enjoy.  Now that my stomach is smaller, it makes me think more about what I eat, since I have very limited capacity.  Therefore I make sure that everything counts.  No junk food, no bread, and following the guidelines that the dietitian gave me fairly closely, which means protein first.

Following on with this, my new, smaller stomach has also changed how I view food.  I see a plate full of food in advertisements and such now, and my first thought is, I could never eat all of that.  Old me could have put that away, no problem, but not anymore.  When Elyse and I would eat out prior to mid-March, we tended to go to places like Wegmans, Harris Teeter, or Whole Foods because they had the by-the-pound food bar, because I could get exactly what I needed, and usually get away with a tab around five bucks, which isn’t bad for a meal.  Since March, with no more self-service food bars and no indoor seating, when we’ve eaten out, I’ve found eating out to be a daylong commitment, since a meal from somewhere will typically last me at least two different meals.  If it tells you anything, I can usually get two or three meals out of the power bowl from Taco Bell.  Wawa has also been good to me in this regard.  Sheetz doesn’t tend to have a lot of stuff that I’m willing to eat these days, unfortunately.

All of the weight that I’ve lost has also changed a lot of other things on me, health-wise.  I used to have some mild swelling in my legs, and that’s completely gone away.  I’m off of a few medications that I used to be on as well.  Additionally, the back pain that I had been having has gone away for the most part.  That really put a damper on things, since standing up for extended periods had become difficult, and I had to sit down in order to take the pressure off of my lower back.  Now, with a lot of the weight off, that’s more or less gone away.  Instead, I get upper back pain more often now, from other causes (isn’t getting older swell?).  I also get a good bit of tailbone pain nowadays, because with no padding where there used to be padding, I’m more or less sitting right on my tailbone, and that causes soreness after a while.  I now have a coccyx cushion on my desk chair as well as in the HR-V for those times when I have to be seated for an extended period, and those work well enough.  I don’t use one on the train, though, because the constant getting up and sitting back down to operate the doors for left-side stations makes it less necessary.  I also have a whole lot of loose skin.  Let’s just say that seeing me without clothing on isn’t so pretty right now, since I look like a deflated balloon.  Lots of sagging skin on my arms, my stomach, my thighs, my chin, my backside, and other places.  I am not exactly eye candy in a speedo right now, but that doesn’t stop me from wearing one.  There will probably be skin removal surgery in my future to fix some of that loose skin, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.  It’s not time for that yet.

I also discovered that I had a very easy time with summertime compared to previous years.  I tolerated the heat quite well this past summer.  However, I also get cold fairly easily now, which leaves me a bit concerned about this winter.  I’m concerned that without that extra layer of insulation that I was used to having, I’ll be freezing all winter long.  I’ve never needed to wear long underwear or anything like that in the past, but it might be a possibility if I get cold enough to the point where I can’t stand it anymore.  I suppose that we’ll see.  I’m just hoping that we get some snow this winter, because we didn’t get a single inch of the white stuff in the DC area last winter.

So all in all, I’m doing well, and hopefully that continues.  My various doctors are pleased with my weight loss, and my surgeon even remarked that my success also makes him look good.  I have about 40 pounds to go until I reach my goal weight, i.e. getting under 200.  I have not seen the other side of 200 since eighth grade, and so I am looking forward to getting there.  And one day, everything willing, I will.