Losing It! The Surgery.


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My name is Desiree Dunning. I’m 45 years-old and I weigh 198 pounds.

In our last segment entitled, The Beginning, I talked about the two-week period leading up to my surgery. I discussed the diet that was designed to shrink my liver as well as some of the low carbohydrate recipes that I made. In the end, my medically supervised diet enabled me to lose ten pounds prior to my surgery.

My date of surgery arrived and I was ready to go! After months of planning, everything finally came together and I had a chance to be pain-free! I only told a handful of family and friends because I was embarrassed. Most people were unaware of the physical struggle that I endured as well as the number of surgeries I went through. In fact, most people were unaware that I had to use a medical scooter to get around for several months. Overall I was extremely nervous, but also excited!

I had laparoscopic surgery to remove my LapBand followed by a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). That means that my surgeon, Dr. F., removed the LapBand from my stomach and the saline port from my muscle wall. Then he removed a bunch of scar tissue surrounding my stomach. Dr. F. simultaneously cut out 80% of my stomach and stitched it with staples. The remaining stomach now resembles the sleeve on a long sleeve shirt and will currently hold four ounces of food. It will be able to hold a little more once it heals. Therefore, I should be able to eat about four ounces of meat, and one or two ounces of vegetables and carbohydrates.

For the first three days, I was on clear liquid diet, which included: broth, tea, sugar-free popsicles, sugar-free Jell-O, and Crystal Light (clear and sugar-free drinks). As you can imagine, this was really hard! The exception was that I could have a protein shake during meal times. For the next eleven days, I could do a “full liquid diet”, which included everything I listed previously plus thicker protein shakes, smoothies, thinned-out cream of wheat, and custard-which turned out to be a life-saver!

During the first week of my recovery, I was fortunate enough to have my Mother-In-Law staying at my house. She is an expert at making custards, so she made me a bunch of them. I cannot express how grateful I was for her custard! As you can imagine, I was so sick of broth, Jell-O and protein shakes! In fact, anything that was super sweet made me extremely nauseous. It didn’t matter if it was real sugar or sweetener, it was a real mess. Crystal Light was completely out because of its sickly sweetness. I also had to readjust my faux sweet tea recipe to be able to drink it.

There are things in life that we take for granted. One of those things is the ability to drink water. Drinking water following bariatric surgery is difficult on a good day. WLS patients are required to drink at least sixty-four ounces of water each day. However, their stomach can only hold four ounces at a time and water makes most of the WLS patients gag or dry-heave. One thing that most patients do is drink room temperature or warm water to get past the nausea. I could NOT do warm or room temperature water because it made me nauseous. However, ice-cold water really worked well! It’s the only way I can drink water without nausea.

In the beginning, patients can only sip liquids! It’s usually difficult for us to get enough water in our bodies. I, on the other hand, had already experienced the LapBand and was accustomed to how you must drink. I.e., sip, sip, sip then sip, sip, sip some more. Therefore, drinking water was not a huge issue for me.

I was fine with all of this until the last few days of the full-liquid diet. Unfortunately, that’s when I realized that I was hungry. Okay, very hungry! This surprised me because I didn’t think I would get hungry. Well I was wrong! Therefore, I needed to find a way to eat something very soft. My choice was salmon with green beans, which turned out great! The next night I thought I would be okay eating stuffed salmon. Unfortunately, it was a store bought stuffed salmon and thus I was unaware of its contents. Apparently, it had rice, which swells in your stomach. That’s why we no longer throw rice at weddings!

Well I felt like I was going to explode! I started feeling hot and sweating profusely. I was dizzy, weak, I felt like my stomach was beyond full, and my chest started to hurt. It was a mild version of “Dumping Syndrome”, which is characterized by an episode that begins with the rapid emptying of bowels, vomiting or any of the symptoms listed above and requires the passage of time for it to dissipate. I have heard that there is a medication, but it would have required a trip to the ER. Besides, it was only a mild case. It could have been a lot worse! Especially for those who have had gastric bypass surgery. But I definitely learned that I needed to give my new pouch time to heal!

Have you ever had unrealistic expectations? I certainly did! I was also about to learn a valuable lesson about comparing my journey to other WLS patients.

During my recovery, I was required to go to my surgeon’s office so that he could check on my external stitches. Dr. F. was happy with my progress! I, on the other hand, was not happy because I only lost four pounds during that two-week period. To a normal person, this would be great news! However, the liquid diet period following WLS is usually characterized by rapid weight loss. So I asked my doctor why I was losing weight so slow. He asked me how many calories I was taking in per day. I informed him that my caloric intake was approximately 500 calories or less. He explained that I was starving myself and that I needed to add more calories. A minimum of 900 calories or more if I was working out. Which I was about to start doing!

How, you might ask, are you able to provide your body the necessary nutrients needed to survive? You ensure that you take bariatric vitamins, intake at least sixty to seventy grams of protein and sixty-four ounces of water daily. These items are the difference between a healthy, functioning adult and someone who is unhealthy and non-functioning. This is why we jump through so many hoops prior to surgery! They want to make sure that you are healthy enough and emotionally prepared to change your lifestyle permanently. I’ve already seen what this can do to people who are not prepared and it’s not pretty!

My name is Desiree Dunning. I am 45 years old and I weigh 194 pounds.

Below are a couple of my smoothie recipes. Feel free to add, subtract and substitute ingredients to accommodate your favorite flavor profiles!

Pineapple Banana Twist

½ cup of frozen pineapple

1 small frozen banana

¼ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup fat-free milk

¼ cup of ice

Place all ingredients in your blender and blend well.


Tropical Delight

½ cup frozen mango chunks

8oz Dannon Light & Fit Toasted Coconut Greek yogurt

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup fat-free milk

¼ cup of ice

Place all ingredients in your blender and blend well.




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