Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy & Why I Chose Bariatric Surgery

Some of you who know me may ask, “Why keep this a secret? Why not just say HEY I AM GETTING SURGERY and just move on?”- well, I don’t know. Originally I had planned to just say it, but as the day got closer I felt guiltier and guiltier.

Very few, and I mean very few, people knew about my real weight loss struggle over the years outside of my parents and my husband. Most never knew about my eating disorder, or depression and anxiety. Most would see me as “taking the easy way out” and judge me for doing it. Thinking on it now, it is so stupid that I let that stop me from sharing this publicly, but I did. With the fitness craze that is happening these days, and many of our friends owning gyms or being gym rats, I really didn’t want to hear anyone tell me that “All you need is Keto and Crossfit” because, no, that is not all I need.

I was 27 years old, 264 lbs at my highest, with severe Type 2 diabetes and a family history of severe genetic heart disease and cancer. And to top that off, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to have children, which is what I want more than anything in the world, because of reproductive issues I have dealt with since I was 10 (this is a totally separate story that I may share later, but is ongoing with research and doctors visits). I knew that I needed something to help me, and clearly diets and exercise were not enough.

On February 13, 2018, I spoke to my doctor and learned that I had to be put on a heavy dose of Insulin as well as a cholesterol medication due to my A1C being 11.4 and my cholesterol being high. This caused me to re-gain the 30 pounds I had previously lost due to my glucose levels being to high. It was that moment that I asked to began the referral process for bariatric surgery. Now, with Kaiser they have multiple hoops to jump through. Aside from having to meet criteria (BMI over 35 with co-morbidity or over 40 without) but you had to complete a 12 week course and complete a number of medical visits before even scheduling a surgeon to talk with you. It was a long road, but I jumped through every single hoop.

I had originally decided I wanted to get RNY Gastric bypass which decreases your stomach to a 2oz pouch, and reroutes your intestines to cause you to digest your food in a different manner, however, upon further discussion with the surgeon, we learned that it was actually better to have the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) because it not only is less invasive, but it does not cause a risk of future internal hernias like RNY does. Because my goal is to get pregnant, that was a major deciding factor.

So, what is VSG? Well, with VSG surgery, the surgeon makes 5-6 small incisions on your belly and laparoscopicly removes 70-80% of your stomach, leaving only a 4oz, banana shaped, ‘sleeve’. There is no re-routing of intestines or remaining pieces floating in your body. They physically remove the other portion. Gross right? Well, on January 21st 2019- I had my procedure done. Typically you go home the following day, however I had to stay an extra night due to the nausea and pain that I experienced.

Now before I get to the good stuff, I want to make this very clear. This is not cosmetic surgery… it is not done because “I want to be skinny”. This is a last resort surgery to take control of your health. Yes I struggle with the mental aspects of losing weight, but the overall point of this surgery is to take control of my health which I had lost control of years ago. This surgery is merely a tool. It does not fix anything mentally or eating wise. I have to make the decisions to eat better. I eat extremely low carb, low/no sugar, and in very small portions. You are required to follow a strict eating process post surgery until week 6 when you can finally introduce normal foods, HOWEVER, my stomach can only hold 4 oz at one time, so this means I have very small portions and chew things more than is humanly normal. I cannot eat and drink at the same time, and can make myself sick if I eat the wrong things. I go to the gym at least 4 times a week and try to walk and move as much as possible. For those of you thinking this is easy… please do some research. I will also be taking vitamins for the rest of my life, but to me, that is worth it. I would rather go through the tough times (like the potential hair loss that is to come in the next few months) and take vitamins forever if it means I have a chance to live a long life and raise a family with the man that I love.

I still feel this was the greatest decision I have ever made for myself. Not only have I finally been able to lose weight and keep it off/continue to lose, but I am feeling better than ever. I am off all diabetes medication, dropped my A1C to 5.8 and have made so many friendships via the WLS (weightloss surgery) community on Instagram.

The following pictures are from 2 days prior to surgery on the left (242 lbs), and 1 month post op on the right (221 lbs). By 1 month I had already lost 21 pounds since surgery!! This process is a slow lose, but continuous lose which is perfect!

The following are my stats as of today! I am at the end of week 8, and today weigh 213.4 lbs. That is 28.6 pounds down from surgery and a total of 50.6 lbs from my highest! I have now dropped 2 pant sizes which is surreal as I have not been a size 16 since a year out of high school (9 years). I still have a long way to go, but I am so fucking proud of how far I have gotten and how much this has already helped me. I got this surgery to better my health over all and to give me the best possible chance to have a baby in the future, and seeing the results happening is beyond emotional. I cannot wait to share more of this journey and my life as I go, and I hope that ya’ll can be encouraging and supportive.


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