Six Weeks Post-Op

It’s amazing how quickly six weeks can go by. Of course, I live a fairly busy life – so I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise that I was surprised that it was six weeks already!

I forgot to weigh again – but late last week the scale read 170 lbs – meaning I’ve lost 20 pounds since surgery. I did do measurements shortly after getting home – but I haven’t had time to do them again – I think I’ll wait until I’m two months post-op.

In terms of energy – totally back up to speed. I’m going full speed ahead – doing laundry, errands, taking kids to various appointments, cooking meals, washing dishes, taking care of dog, cats, chickens – to name a few!

Eating continues to get better with the passage of time. I’m finding that I’m craving stuff that I just don’t do, though! I gave up Coke May 29, 2007 – I cannot believe how badly I want soda – any soda. But I don’t do HFCS or carbonation at all any more. I seriously haven’t given a rip about it in ages – but I want it now! I won’t give in to the want – but dang, I can’t believe how strong the craving is!

(Oh for the daywhen I can get my arms done!)

I am doing better with fluids, too. For a while I simply could not bring myself to do the iced green tea that I’ve lived on for YEARS now. Then, one day – out of the blue – it was the only thing I could fathom tolerating again. Wierd.

I am having quite the issue with jeans that are just too big. I’d just put these jeans on – straight out of the dryer when they’re at their tightest – and they’re a couple of inches too big. The biggest problem is the way that jeans are cut nowadays – you know, lower in the back – well, I’m having to hike my jeans up every few steps! It’s such a pain in the butt! (Thankfully, not literally!) I can’t bring myself to buy new jeans quite yet, though – I’ve got several very nice pairs of them that I will try to hold out with for a while yet.

So that’s pretty much it for six weeks post-op reporting. It’s been a good six weeks. I’m still blown away at how much easier it is on the body to have a lap surgery – dang! SO much easier!

It’s official – I’m outraged!

May 29th, 2008 I celebrated one of the biggest milestones of my adult life: 1 year of being high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) free. (You can read a little about it here.)

I know – seems kinda weird, maybe to wholesale eliminate an ingredient from one’s life, but I have motivation: my bones. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis quite a few years ago – since then I’ve taken big strides to improve my bone density – including losing a couple of hundred pounds, supplementing appropriately, getting appropriate exercise, etc. A little over a year ago it came to my attention that one of my – literally – lifelong addictions was fighting me tooth and nail for my bone density. My love for Coke. One of my orthopedic surgeons mentioned to me a couple of years ago that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by consuming it, but I kinda shrugged the comment off as some health nut type of comment! LOL!

Shortly before I took the plunge and decided to kick the HFCS to the curb my endocrinologist casually mentioned to me that HFCS and carbonation BOTH inhibit calcium absorption.

That stopped me cold in my tracks.

“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. Why didn’t I know that?

That’s when I decided I had to research and decide for myself the veracity of such a statement. I put on my researchers hat and jumped in with both feet. It didn’t take very long to find some alarming information. Timeline was also troubling – introduction of HFCS into the food chain and parallels to the obesity epidemic were difficult to dismiss. Incidence of spikes in the numbers of the general population developing Type II diabetes and that timeline were interesting, as well. And particularly concerning to me, the fact that there were many references to a correlation between increased HFCS consumption overall and declining bone density.

There were some really great resources available. As always, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ was offered lots of interesting articles – one in particular that I found helpful was by Sally Squires entitled, “Sweet but Not So Innocent?” dated March 11, 2003. I wish I could offer a link to the entire article here, but it’s now in their archives and you have to buy it to read the entire thing – the free preview gives you a good idea, tho.

Suffice it to say – there’s a lot of excellent information available for an intelligent person to make an informed choice. My choice, obviously, was to exclude HFCS from my world.

Easier said than done.

Have you ever read labels? I do a lot – one of my motivators for label reading is because I’m allergic to so much stuff, so it’s a pretty important thing for me to do. But have you ever read labels with an end to ferreting out whether or not HFCS is in the ingredient list?

Whoa Nellie!

It’s in almost everything! Good grief!

So why? Why is it everywhere? Why is it in Ritz Crackers? I love Ritz Crackers. Why is it in Wheat Thins? I love Wheat Thins, too! Why is it in crazy stuff that you’d never dream it would be in? Honestly, too much stuff to begin listing. It’s a little bit frightening when you start to pay attention and realize how pervasive the use of the stuff is. And then you look around at your fellow shoppers and the light bulb kind of goes on.

One of the reasons it’s everywhere is money. It’s a cheap way to sweeten stuff. Another reason is that it’s sweeter than table sugar – so your taste buds crave that super sweet sensation. Another reason is convenience – easy to add to stuff, making production costs – even marginally – lessened – which means more profit for the manufacturer.

Maybe another reason is the Corn Refiners Association really, really, really likes having the resources available to produce commercials like the ones I saw last night – over my shoulder as I was sitting at my desk working on a project.

Okay – so let me just preface this by saying – I really don’t watch a lot of TV. Just not a lot of time. Usually it’s kind of by accident that I catch stuff. Kinda like last night. So I don’t know how long these commercials have been playing, or the web site they promote has been active – but last night was the first time I saw them.

Let me just give a brief overview of the first commercial I saw. I’d give you a link to it – but I don’t want to promote the stinkers who are promoting it! Two Moms – at a party of some sort – it’s summer time – happy children playing in the background. One Mom approaches the obviously hosting Mom as she’s pouring some sort of juice into glasses for kids. Approaching Mom says something to the affect (and in an obviously condemning tone) “You must not care what your kids eat/drink. You know that has high fructose corn syrup in that, right? You know what they say about it, don’t you?” Hosting Mom responds with a very laid back persona, “No, what are they saying?” Approaching Mom responds, obviously stumped, with hems and haws… Hosting Mom interjects, “That it’s made from corn, it’s all natural, and should be used in moderation like table sugar?” To which Approaching Mom stammers, “I love your shirt!”

So bottom line – one must conclude that anyone who is opposed to the use of HFCS is:

1. Stupid
2. Really stupid.
3. An idiot as well as stupid.
4. And a fear-monger as well.

Okay – yeah, I know, sorry. I’m mad. I shouldn’t say stuff like that. But STINK!

I know better than to ask, “Don’t they care?” Because obviously – they do – just not about the stuff that seemingly really matters to me.

Okay – I’m gonna shut up now. I’m still too mad.

It’s been a year now…

It’s amazing how time flies!

A year ago I made a life-altering decision. Well, I had made the decision prior to May 29, 2007 – but this date a year ago was THE day that I took the big plunge.

I decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from my diet.

Might not seem like such a monumental decision – except that I have always readily admitted to the fact that I’ve been a lifelong Coke (as in the soft drink!) addict. Seriously – Coke is the great Southern cure for colic – and I must have been a colicky baby, cause that’s when I started getting Coke – in a baby bottle.

One friend quipped to me at one juncture in my adult life that she wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that if I went to have labs drawn they’d get Coke – not blood!

And yeah, you guessed it – high up there on the list of ingredients on the label of Coke is HFCS.

Stink.

So, why all of the fuss about HFCS? There are lots of reasons why – it actually may be harder to prove a case FOR consuming it! However, in my own personal case, here are my motivators:

Before my DS I was diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Since my DS I’ve improved to have my diagnosis changed to osteopenia. (Yay!)
I take a boatload of calcium, Vitamin D, and magnesium to keep things going in the right direction.
HFCS *and* carbonation are both known to block calcium absorption.

Double stink.

Last August 23rd, at the ripe old age of 43, I had to have my right hip replaced. Years of having an extra couple of hundred pounds on my frame, my family’s health history (my Dad had degenerative joint disease – so do I; my Mom had osteopenia; my Grandmother had osteoporosis), the fact that I was in a wheelchair for a couple of years, the fact that I didn’t consume many dairy products growing up since I’m lactose intolerant and allergic to some other components of diary products, and that I didn’t ever supplement calcium until AFTER my DS – *ALL* big factors that led me to make the decision.

All it really took was some serious reading – a willingness to get a little technical and wade through some fairly boring papers on the subject for the horror of it all to hit home and decide that I had to decide which was more important: my addiction to Coke, or my skeleton?

Yep – the skeleton won out!

So, on May 29, 2007 – without any fanfare at all, other than a quick notation on my calendar – I had my last Coke.

Simultaneously, I decided to aggressively avoid HFCS in any/all forms, as well as carbonation. I figured, heck, if I’m gonna take it seriously, I may as well do it well.

I have some lifelong friends who are still in shock that I made it past the first week. Well, I was, too, for a while. You know, after the initial breaking the first so iced cold it actually hurt going down Coke of the morning (my mouth is watering at the memory of it – even still!) habit, it was easier than I thought it would be. I went through a brief panic around the first of the year when I mentioned that I was celebrating 6 months of being Coke-free to my daughter – who laughingly asked, “So you gonna have a celebratory Coke?!” She was joking – I was seriously trying to decide if I was gonna or not! But after some wise counsel and lots of consideration, I decided to make a goal of being able to say, “I’ve gone a whole year without Coke!” as my New Years’ Resolution.

I gotta be honest. Two days ago when I was on the flight from Madrid to Atlanta on the trip home from Spain every time that beverage cart stopped in close proximity and started pouring drinks – it seemed that every one of the folks seated nearby was asking for an iced cold Coke! Aaagggghhhh! It still smells good! The memory of the taste of it can make my mouth water! Yes, I still want one! But I’ve decided – tentatively at least – that I’m better off without it.

So I mark a milestone today. There were days when it seemed impossible. Today, it just makes me smile that I could do it.

🙂

Hugs,

dina

Open BPD/DS July 2, 2002
Dr. Aniceto Baltasar in Alcoy, Spain
Read my story at: http://www.duodenalswitch.com/Patients/Dina/dina.html
See my photos in the Photo Gallery at http://www.bodybybaltasar.com/
See my ObesityHelp profile at: http://www.obesityhelp.com/member/dinamcb/

23 Days Later…

I cannot believe I’ve made it 23 whole days without any HFCS *or* Coke!

AMAZING!

So – it’s blowing my mind how infrequently I have ANY inclination to grab and down a Coke. Today was probably the first time I felt like I had to fight an actual urge to drink one. My cousin and her children were over for lunch – her daughter decided to have a Coke as her beverage. She popped the can and poured it over ice, and I seriously nearly grabbed the thing! From a 7 year old!

What’s kinda wild is that we bought some Coke before Memorial Day weekend when it was on sale. It’s all pretty much still there. Good thing we’re having a few BBQ’s here at the house this summer – we’ll have to pawn them off on other folks! LOL! Actually – I guess no one ought to be drinking them. Scary stuff that HFCS.

Several people have asked for more info as to the WHY I’d do such a thing as give up HFCS, so here are a few:
http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/79/4/537
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8003-2003Mar10
http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/highfructose.html
http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlinda/cornsyrup.html

Well, there’s a little to get you started. I’ll bring out some more later.

The whys…

So what got me to this place of going past my laughing dismissal of my pathetic addiction to Coke, to a deeper level of contemplation as to what was really going on with me – and what I needed to do – in good conscience – in response?

The scale.

I “came up” (to borrow a great Southern term) in the group of post-ops who lived in the shadow of some of the early “greats” of the DS online world. They told us to eat anything and everything – and lots of it. That there would be complete liberty and license from the day of our surgery forward – with the acknowledged adjustment period of the first months post-op. We were told nothing could do us harm (i.e., cause us to not lose weight, loose slower, or make us gain weight) – and dang, that was a message we wanted to hear!

I’m the rebellious type – so I wasn’t willing to take that as gospel, and started doing some digging on my own. Long before my DS I was leaning more toward optimism on the liberty front than not. People that I was meeting (online and IRL), studies of anatomy and the resulting DS alteration, clinical data, etc., seemed to support a huge level of liberty with the DS – nothing like what was seen with other forms of WLS. Cause for rejoicing! However, guarded rejoicing – I did a lot more digging (and honestly, have never stopped researching – this is the surgery that I’ve chosen to live with for the remainder of my life, after all) and realized that yes, there would be great liberty (better than ANY diet I’d ever taken part in!), but also great responsibility. Responsibility to eat a balanced diet, responsibility to stay hydrated, responsibility to supplement appropriately.

I had my DS. I weighed 365 lbs on the day of my surgery, with a BMI of 64. By the time I was flying home from 2 weeks later I’d already lost more than 20 pounds. By 1 month out I was down 34 lbs. Down 65 lbs the 2nd month, 80 lbs the 3rd month, 105 lbs by the 6th month, and 175 lbs by 1 year post-op. For the longest time – honestly, the better part of a year, I stayed at 183 lbs – right at the 182 pound lost stage. I was thrilled. No, I was beyond thrilled – I was ecstatic.

I had made wise choices with my diet in those first 18 months post-op – hadn’t been an actual food saint of course – but I’d worked hard at getting the right kinds of nutrients in my newly altered body, and worked hard at supplementing, and worked hard at continuing to try and understand my surgery. The one thing I could never give up, though – try as I might – was Coke. I’ll confess – I was only 1 week post-op and still in when I had my first sips of Coke as a post-op. Tiny sips, yes, but sips nonetheless. (Dr. B would so kick my butt!)

Some magic point in time right about the time John had his DS with Dr. B (2 years to the day after my DS) and we were in my body went through another shift. By the time we got home from I realized my pants were a little too big, and my body was changing again. By this point in time I rarely weighed any more – it was just really inconvenient to find the scale! (We lived in a multi-generation home with every square inch appropriated!) But a couple of mornings after getting back from Spain I found the scale, hopped on, and stared at the number for the longest time. It read 155. I seriously stood there and just stared at it for the longest time. I stepped off, stepped back on again, and thought – “What does that say?” I actually had to have John come over and see it and tell me that the number I was seeing was real. It was. That put me at 210 pounds lost since my surgery.

I didn’t ever start out with a number I thought I ought to end up at with my weight loss after my DS. Honestly, I thought anything under 200 would be phenomenal. Not only that, I hoped and prayed I’d get to the place where I could just simply order clothing from a regular clothing catalog. Or walk into a department store and buy clothes in the “regular” section. Those were things that couldn’t happen for me at just barely trying to still fit into my 5X sized clothing.

Dr. B told me that normal BMI for my height would put me at about 135 lbs. I laughed out loud – me! At 135?! LOL! I think the last time I weighed 135 was when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade! He pretty emphatically told me that was just what a normal BMI was, that it didn’t have to be the big gauge by which to measure my success. He went on to assure me that my body would likely stop right where it ought to.

When I hit 155 lbs I honestly felt like I was a little too thin. I had virtually no boobs left. My butt was so bony it hurt to sit. My hip bones were downright dangerous – if I bumped into the corner of a counter – it felt like my hip bones had been seriously jarred. And I wasn’t just cold – I was frozen all of the time. I think that was about the point in time I quit weighing. Life aside from my DS was beyond hectic – it was downright out of control. I felt healthy, my labs were good, I was active, involved in life, and getting on the scale seemed pointless.

So life went forward. Every now and then I’d end up at the doctor’s office for a yearly exam, or an appointment with my endocrinologist – be required to get on the scale, and I’d passively take note of the number but it seemed to have nothing to do with my day to day reality. I realized at about the time I was a little over 3.5 years post-op that my weight at the endo’s office that time was something like 172. Yeah, a little up from my low – but I expected a bounce – and I actually felt healthier, more rounded at that weight. Didn’t stress me out at all. In fact, I felt my clothing felt like it fit more appropriately – I liked that I had at least a *little bit* of boobs back, and my butt didn’t seem quite so bony.

Needless to say – my life has been full of major stressors – won’t go into them, but major nonetheless. I’ll admit it – when life is at it’s busiest, I often opt out of taking care of me and take care of others. Not completely out of the question for me to grab a Coke for breakfast, thinking I’ll grab something to eat later – but it never happens. In terms of orthopedics, my issues have been exacerbated over the past year, as well. Not only that, but I’ve got a new hernia along the top line of my abdominal mesh. Exercise routines have been started – but not followed through with consistently. Every single day I think, “It would be so nice to go take a nice walk.” But it never happens. I hate that.

At some point in time this winter – probably after we moved my Mom into the assisted living place and I had some semblance of a life returning – I realized, “I’ve gained some weight!” I didn’t break down and really weigh at that point, either – I just kind of mentally made note of it – and was a little perturbed about it. More time passed, and it must have been about January before I actually got on the scale and looked at the number staring me back in the face. 195. I don’t like 195. It’s a BAD number.

So I started doing some self-reflection. I had to confront the fact that taking care of others had almost completely edged out taking care of me. Granted, there wasn’t much of a choice involved – but somewhere along the line balance went completely out the window. I started realizing that while I started out each day with every intention of doing the right post-op things (sufficient non-sweetened fluids, enough protein, enough fiber, enough exercise) I was only very rarely getting them done.I knew something had to change.

So, I decided some time in January that I’d give up Coke. Noble of me, I knew it was bad for me on so many fronts – blocks calcium absorption, is nutritionally worthless with simply NO redeeming qualities whatsoever, and horrible for my teeth. I started with great intentions… it just didn’t happen, though.

It wasn’t until later on – after having talked to my orthopedic surgeon and endocrinologist that I learned that HFCS and carbonation BOTH block calcium absorption. So here I was on one hand working like crazy to get enough calcium in to make improvements in my bone density – and on the other kicking myself in the butt!

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

So I did some research, lots and lots of reading, and I came to a conclusion.

The HFCS had to go.

Day 15…

Today is the start of the 15th day without HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) – which means, of course – my 15th day without Coke.

I honestly didn’t think I could go this long without it. It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it was going to be. Maybe because it’s not just the Coke I’m getting rid of – but the HFCS. It seemed when I eliminated the whole category it made the Coke thing just a little bit of the bigger picture. Wild!

How do I feel?

Good! I’m amazed that I’m not having to haul out some sort of Amazon-woman iron will to avoid Coke. At restaurants or – well – anywhere, it seems easy to NOT have it. The longer I go, the easier it gets.

I guess I should have known that. But in the past when I’ve tried to just give up Coke this has NOT been my experience – it’s been a battle of gargantuan proportions.

Ramifications?I lost 4 pounds right off the bat. Been staying there. Still at that range where I stayed forever before I had that dip to the low-low.

I’m NOT avoiding sugar. I’m not embracing it, either, though. If I want a cookie – then I bake it instead of buy it, because the bought stuff 99% of the time has HFCS in it. If I want a dessert, I get it – but just make sure there’s no HFCS in it.

Funny thing is – I want far fewer sweets now.

Maybe that’s because I’m not grabbing a Coke as a “meal replacement” now and am actually eating more real food! Go figure! (Duh – I can be so stupid sometimes!)

So… Will I stick with it?Yeah – I definitely will. I decided at the beginning of this whole thing that I wasn’t outlawing Coke – which I’ve had a life-long love affair with – but HFCS, BUT, that if I felt I simply HAD to have a Coke, then I’d have ONE, not one right after another. But you know what? I don’t even want the one. I’m blown away.

So far, so good.

HUGE decision…

I’ve made – what may well be – one of the biggest decisions of my adult life.

To say that this is going to affect my life is myriad ways is likely an understatement of gross and gargantuan proportions – hence, the reason it’s taken me so long to get to the place where I can actually say the words…

I’ve decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my life.

Phew.

I said it.

That was hard.

Harder still, was doing the research and realizing what I’ve been putting my body through for all of these decades.

As anyone who knows me even passingly knows – I am completely addicted to Coke. I’ve always blamed my Mother and Grandmother – they gave it to me in a baby bottle when I was an infant – it *is* the great Southern cure for colic, and yes, I was a colicky baby. I’ve loved it since – for more than forty years.

I did go through the late 80’s decision to kick the regular Coke to the curb and wholeheartedly embraced Diet Coke. Stuck with it – in a big way – until the year after my son was born. By that time I was having migraines so frequently and with the kind of intensity that I can’t even begin to explain and my PCP came across a study that she asked me to read and then urged me to eliminate artificial sweeteners from my diet to see if my migraines – that thus far had not responded well to RX’s and other modifications – would be lessened. Suffice it to say, getting rid of the artificial sweeteners brought about an amazing healing to my system. Yes, I still occasionally get a migraine – maybe one every three to six months – but never to the extent or degree of intensity that I would have before.

So – when I gave up Diet Coke, I – of course – switched back to “the real thing” – regular Coke.
I hang my head in deep and utter shame when I confess to you that at the worst of it – in the height of the Diet Coke days – I would easily consume six to ten cans of Diet Coke a day. More often than not, it was to the exclusion of food. It was my drug of choice.

Now – 10 years later, firmly entrenched back into my regular Coke habit – and nearly 5 years since my DS – I’ve had to do some deep soul searching and admit to myself that yes – I do have a chemical dependency! At first I pointed the blame solely at Coke. But I stumbled across an article about six weeks ago that made me start thinking through the whole thing. My problem isn’t just Coke. It’s HFCS – acronym for High Fructose Corn Syrup. If I’m honest with myself – I am addicted to it, and it is my drug of choice, and I’m truly sick of it.