The Plastic Surgery Conundrum – To Do Plastics or Not To Do Plastics?

plastic surgeryLike many people who have lost a significant amount of weight, I’ve thought about doing plastic surgery. Yes, I have bat wings and pockets of loose skin that make me feel extremely uncomfortable about myself sometimes. I thought plastic surgery would make me feel better. So I went in for a consult last week to see a plastic surgeon. What I found out shocked and upset me.

Making the appointment to visit a plastic surgeon

The appointment process was easy. Well, once I got the right plastic surgeon. Initially, my gynecologist thought that there was a plastic surgeon in her practice. I found out she was a bariatric surgeon, not a plastic surgeon. I asked her office if they recommended any plastic surgeons. They did and I called the office. Apparently, there is quite the market for plastic surgery in Austin.

Plastic Surgery Hopes Pre-Appointment

I made the appointment and went on the 20thof August. I was nervous and excited. I had hoped that plastic surgery would be the thing to help me accept myself and my weight loss. I need to make peace with my body. It’s a long time in coming. Losing over 150 lbs. has not given me the satisfaction I thought it would sometimes. I guess I put a lot of stock in the fact that this excess skin was causing me problems and if I could remove it, I’d look and feel better.

Plastic Surgery Hopes Dashed During Appointment

The plastic surgeon saw me as just a piece of meat to cut up and carve. She saw me as a sale, not as a person with hopes and dreams. I am not saying all plastic surgeons are this callous, but she was. She told me she could not fix my legs because of the lymphedema. That crushed me. She could do the arms, the boobs and the tummy tuck but they would all be cosmetic procedures and not covered by insurance. She chided me for coming to her before I was at goal weight. She also said she couldn’t tell me how much loose skin I was carrying or what my goal weight needed to be.

I was crushed. I was told to await a quote from the office and expect it to be the price of a good car, like $20,000 plus.

Where I Stand on Plastic Surgery Today?

Well, I can honestly say that the last week has been a bit of a roller coaster. I finally came to the conclusion that, for right now, I am not going to consider plastic surgery. My loose skin speaks to my accomplishment of losing so much weight. It doesn’t bother me physically and I have people in my life who love me for who I am. It’s time I love myself as I am. I am okay without the plastic surgery. That does not mean I discourage others from doing it. If you want to do it and can afford it, go for it. I am just not willing to put in the time, effort and money necessary to have these procedures at this point.

Besides, as a life coach, I encourage my clients to love themselves as they are. If I want to show up for my clients the right way, I have to be the kind of person I expect them to be. Don’t I?

Colonoscopy Prep – My Arduous Journey

colonoscopyI had a colonoscopy recently. I can honestly say that I wasn’t thrilled with the process leading up to it, but…I’m glad I did it. My GI doc found a small polyp which would’ve been a bigger polyp and potentially problematic had I waited until the age of 50 to do this.

Before the procedure, I was lucky enough to have a friend to help me. Kathy went through a difficult experience this year. It’s her journey so I won’t share it here, but just know that she was kind enough to help me out and I appreciate her greatly.

Kathy and my GI doc gave me some great tips and tricks to follow to make the prep easier and the process a lot smoother.

Stop all supplements a week before your colonoscopy.

This freaked me out a little bit. Anyone who knows me knows that I am religious about taking my supplements. I am extremely nervous about becoming deficient in anything. My numbers are good. I haven’t lost hair. I am happy about this. Not taking my supplements for a week seemed extreme. After my doctor assured me that I would be fine and there would be no long-lasting side effects from doing this, I began not taking them. I actually missed them and went right back as soon as the procedure was over.

Eat low fiber several days before the procedure.

This is a bit more difficult for a bariatric patient than a normal person, but it can be done. I ate some crackers and some pasta. Yes, I did do carbs. I couldn’t see a way around it. They didn’t kill me and I didn’t eat a ton. I did notice though that I was hungrier eating low-fiber and wondered if my old diet was part of my problem back in the day. Heck, I didn’t wonder. It was just further proof that I made the right decision to have the surgery and that I like the way I eat so much better now. My body complained a little bit, but that’s okay. It was only a few days.

Go clear the day before procedure.

Clear is no big deal for me. I went clear before my bariatric surgery. I knew what to do. Some people have a hard time with this. I didn’t. My doc’s instructions were for clear liquids and jello, but I was allowed no red or purple anything.  I guess it could interfere with what she’d see. I was doing the two-fer, an endoscopy and colonoscopy so I don’t know for sure if you need to ‘go clear’ for just the colonoscopy, but if you can manage it, it will make things easier.

Take your prep solution, but you don’t have to like it.

Damn. I was given something called Suprep. It tastes terrible, like Robitussin that went bad and was salty and kind of vinegary. So gross. I needed to do two rounds of it, one at 5pm the night before and one at 2am the morning of. I did not enjoy this at all. If you can try to get something else for your colonoscopy prep, I’d recommend it. If you have to deal with it, then trust me, this is the worst part of the entire process. It’s doable and manageable. You will get through it, but you’ll be like…ick.

Use diaper cream and flushable wipes.

Yes, I’m going here. There is no reason for me not to other than the TMI factor. If you know me, you know that is not a deterrent. Kathy told me to get flushable wipes and to rub myself with diaper cream before the Suprep kicked in. It was a lifesaver. The flushables are much gentler on the skin and I ended up not feeling raw or inflamed back there. That was a wonderful gift. Take the tip. You don’t have to tell anyone. You’re welcome.

Be there on time for your procedure and relax.

I always get there early, but you can be on time. I got pushed back because of something out of my control and out of my doctor’s control. This pisses me off to no end. I had a hard time regulating myself. I’m bipolar. I was hungry, had dry mouth and teary-eyed because I couldn’t take my meds pre-procedure. I was a wreck. My hubby tried to get me to relax to no avail.

Looking back now, I wish I did relax more before because it was NOT a big deal. My GI doc is a pro at this and well, I can’t imagine it going smoother. I can tell you that getting a colonoscopy can save your life so talk to your doc about it especially if you have a family history of polyps or colon cancer like I did. 45 is fast becoming the new preferred age to do it. Many people still wait til 50. Don’t. It’s not worth playing Russian roulette with your life.

Okay, I’m off the soapbox now. I hope it wasn’t too TMI for you.

Health Update – Gall Bladder Removal

I had my gall bladder removed on Friday. It was not a difficult procedure, but it was necessary. Apparently, I had an ‘impressive’ number of stones. The doctor said it was over 50. Yeah. No wonder why I had been feeling pretty sick and had trouble eating.

The extreme weight loss from the surgery may have facilitated the need to have the gall bladder removed. Some surgeons remove it as a matter of course with the weight loss surgery itself. I’m not sure what caused mine to flare up.

Would I still have the WLS surgery? Yes, in a heartbeat.

Today is Monday. I’m just tired. I do have some lingering pain and I’m just drained. I am happy with my progress. I see the surgeon for a follow up on Wednesday and hopefully I’ll be cleared to do all my regular activities.

What’s going on for me this summer – besides gall bladder surgery?

I have lots to do this summer. I’m excited to show you my Bariatric Badass podcast.  The first four episodes are up on SoundCloud right now. We will be moving them to iTunes soon so you can subscribe.

I have not forgotten the Bariatric Q&A, but I have not done as much work on it as I’d like. Don’t worry – it’ll be in great shape as the summer gets over just like I will be. In the fall, I’m planning to turn it into an e-book for purchase.

Finally, I’m working hard on my support group documentation. I will be running two – one in Austin and one online. Feel free to check out my Facebook page for more information or Eventbrite. The links are below:

Please know that I am here for you no matter what and am willing to offer support and assistance. I love what I do and I love you. No, that’s not the pain medication talking. No matter what, I’m in your corner. Know that. Trust that. I am authentic and real. I will fight for you and teach you how to fight for yourself. I will also encourage you to love yourself.

You deserve it.


A Challenging Time

I feel my real power as a coach and as a person comes in sharing my story. Not everyone agrees with me, but they don’t define me so I’m going to get real here. I have had some complications from my current bariatric surgery. I still am pleased that I have had the surgery. I have gained more from it than I ever expected and well, I am proud of it. I’ve been having a challenging time, however.

However, a few months past I noticed that I was feeling stuck a lot. I threw up a little more. I thought I was eating too fast so I really watched that. It continued. In February, I called my surgeon and asked what to do. He suggested I see my gastroenterologist and get an endoscopy to find out what was going on.

Well, I did that. The GI doc had other ideas. He wanted to put me on an expensive medication that was basically Nexium. I’m sure he had his reasons, but I was disappointed.

Then, things got worse. I tried acupuncture and reiki. I was convinced it was me, that I had somehow not accepted the surgery or was eating the wrong foods or doing something wrong. I stopped eating after 5pm as the GI doc suggested. I made sure I got in my protein – even though I can’t eat meat (another complication) – and really made sure to eat slow. I started exercising again. I had stopped because I was so tired from throwing up. I just did it anyway.

I had a follow-up with the bariatric surgeon on March 21. He was upset that I was throwing up so much. He ordered a barium swallow. I had that on the 26th. The next day, he called me himself to tell me to go to the ER if I got dehydrated, which I haven’t, or get an endoscopy ASAP. The GI doc’s office originally wanted me to wait til the 29th to see someone to get approval for the endoscope. No. I complained and got an appointment that day.

I was hoping to have the scope that day. Didn’t happen. I have to wait until April 3, unless I get dehydrated first. Then, I must go the ER and my bariatric surgeon will make them admit me and scope me. I don’t want to get dehydrated. It’s not pretty. So I slowly sip drinks throughout the day and night. I am having trouble sleeping because I can’t hold down all of my medications.

I still don’t know what’s wrong and I hope on that day, I will get some answers. I am kind of hoping that the GI doc can’t fix it. I don’t really trust him. I have made an appointment for follow-up with a new GI doc on April 17.

I do not like being treated poorly by doctors. Basically, I am on liquids right now and potentially for the foreseeable future. I am bipolar and have to grind up my meds. They taste horrible. It makes me cry to do this. In fact, I’ve been mad and sad and have had a lot of emotions. I am just taking it as easy as I can and being gentle with myself and trying to laugh a lot.

I will fight. I am a warrior. Again, I do not regret this surgery. The problem is most likely easily fixable. I don’t want you to fear putting your needs first. I don’t want you to fear a health crisis. No matter what it is, you can cope with it. The not knowing is hard. I’m lucky to have great professionals like a life coach and a therapist and a psychiatrist. I’m lucky to have great friends. I love them so much. I have a fantastic family.

This only makes me stronger. It makes me more conscious that my passion is to help people like me overcome my challenging time. If I can do it, I know you can too.

Thank you for reading this post.

Bariatric Troubles

I understand bariatric troubles. My first surgery was in 2010. I was about 420 before the lap band. My doctor didn’t want to do it, but I was afraid of what I then called ‘mutilating my stomach.’ I had a sister who had the bypass and she was completely a mess. I know most of it was her own making, but there were mistakes by the surgeon as well.

I was scared to have the bypass. The sleeve wasn’t used then so the other options just seemed worse. I persuaded the surgeon to do the lap band. It happened in March of 2010. On surgery day, I was 397. I got down to about 268 in about a year and a half. I enjoyed a trip to Disney, but I was pretty miserable. I throw up a lot. We kept going in to readjust the filling and then sometimes taking out the filling on the lap band. I’m not going into specifics here, but basically you have a port, they put liquid in and it keeps your stomach ‘fuller’ so you eat less.

Eventually, I had to have the lap band removed. The new doctor I was using wanted me to get the duodenal switch. I said hell no and walked out of his office, vowing to lose weight on my own. I worked with a nutritionist and my therapist to figure out why I was addicted to food. You see I was really food addicted and I believe that many people who have these surgeries are. No one during this process prepared me for the feelings of loss and loneliness I’d feel without being able to overeat. No one told me that I would feel mental stuff because of this physical change.

I worked on myself for three years. I did try a lot of things to lose weight. I kept gaining. In December of 2016, I was at 387 lbs. I also tore my meniscus in my knee. I needed knee surgery but couldn’t have it because of my size. I decided to go back to a new doctor and get the sleeve. I went through the process. I prepared myself mentally and physically. I had the sleeve on June 6, 2017. I have, to date, lost 115 lbs from my high weight of 387. I still have a long way to go. 272 is good, but my goal is 175. I will get there.

Food is not an issue for me. I do still struggle with regurgitation and vomiting. I’m currently working with my surgeon to figure out what’s wrong. I have bad days and good days. I understand the process is not easy, but I am not a food addict anymore. Food is just food. A cookie, my food love, is now just a cookie and I don’t care if I eat it or not.

It’s very freeing and allows me to do other things and focus on other things like being a life coach and helping others like me. I’ve been there. I get it. Thank you for hearing some of my story.