Thursday, December 29, 2011


This is Suzy! Jerry told me I should write this one, so here goes.

I am scheduled for surgery January 24, 2012.

I don't want to go into a major "organ recital," but this is pretty exciting for us here in Benson. My surgery is something we have been working toward since our recent summer trip, after a long talk with our daughters. Deb and Kathie actually focused our attention on this, which we had heard about but had not explored. This is bariatric surgery to enable significant and lasting weight loss.

Once a person gets to a particular point, considered "morbid obesity," (and yes, that's where I am right now) there is virtually no way to real sustained weight loss. I've done most of the regular diet programs and some of the odd ones as well, with no lasting success. So we investigated what is called minimally invasive bariatric surgery, and learned there are three basic options, each with its own success rate, each with its own potential risks.
  • The original option was a gastric bypass, in which the stomach is drastically reduced in size (imagine a golf ball), with the results of digestion re-routed to the small intestine. 
  • The next development was the gastric band, or "Lap-Band," which can be compared to a noose around the stomach; it can be adjusted by means of a port installed in or under the patient's skin.
  • The most recent option, which I have selected with the concurrence of both Jerry and the surgeon, is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, the stomach is reduced in size, but the food is still routed through the regular tract rather than being shunted into a detour. This leaves a sleeve-like organ about the size of a medium banana, with the full digestive program at work.
Because this program calls for a complete change in life-style (for both of us really, but mostly for me), there is a comprehensive six-stop clearance process:
  • The first step is to attend a seminar conducted by one of the surgeons, so you understand what it is you are considering. Since the seminars are conducted in late evenings in Tucson, we were offered a DVD of an earlier seminar.
  • The surgeon conducts an interview to make the initial evaluation that you are indeed a candidate for this procedure.
  • The candidate undergoes an upper GI endoscopy to check for any problems in the esophagus, duodenum and gullet.
  • The candidate meets with a nutritionist, discussing future eating processes and procedures.
  • The next step is a visit with a psychologist, to determine if the candidate is psychologically prepared to take on the lifestyle changes.
  • The final step is a heart study with a cardiologist, to determine if the candidate's heart can withstand the rigors of the surgery.
I passed all the steps, except that the cardiologist wanted me to have a stress test, since I have been leading a rather sedentary life due to other medical conditions. That test was completed Wednesday, December 28, with no red flags apparent. And how I have the go-ahead!

For the next two weeks, I will be on a restricted diet: two protein drinks and one small meal each day, total not to exceed 1000 calories. I am totally off alcohol, and will stay away from many starches. The purpose of this short diet is to get my stomach ready for its change, and at the same time to reduce the size of my liver so the surgeon will have better access for the laparoscopic surgery.

Next, there is a pre-op session with the surgeon, pre-op testing at the hospital, and a 3 hour class for both of us to attend. Surgery is scheduled to begin at 11:00am January 24, with hospital check in at 9:00am. I'll be in the hospital two or three nights.

How will all this turn out? Well, we've all heard the scary stories of what somebody else's cousin's friend's uncle went through. But we've also been hearing wonderful stories of success, including one of our park residents and the daughter of another.

All we ask is that you guys hold good thoughts for me, and if you are the praying kind of person, we could use some of that also. It's going to be a major change in the way we live ... Our Life on Wheels!


  1. I am so excited for you, Mom! I'll see you at the hospital on the 24th. Love you!

  2. Congrats, on your decision and determination to be a heather you. It must be harder than most of know.

    I will pray for your speedy recovery and continued good health.

    Be well n be Happy,
    Pam :)

  3. Very interesting -- I will be praying for a GREAT outcome and speedy recovery. And I'll be watching for progress reports! God bless!

  4. Wishing you all the best a very speedy recovery.

  5. Oh Suzy...we are so happy that two have come to this decision. We are sure it was not an easy one. Glad you included your daughters.
    We will keep you both in our prayers. Prayers to you, Suzy, for a successful surgery and speedy recover. For you Jerry, prayers for patience and understanding. God Bless you both!

  6. Best wishes for a successful surgery.

  7. Suzy, you know we'll be praying for you and looking forward to a completely successful surgery, recovery and weight loss. Your support group will be there for you and we know you'll do well. What a big decision to make! Big HUGS to you both.

  8. We wish you all the best on the surgery. You will be in our thoughts and prayers!

  9. I'm so proud of you Mom! I'll see you in Benson February 4!

  10. Good luck with the surgery; wishing you a speedy recovery. Laparoscopic procedures are truly a wonder and can make all the difference in how quickly you can get back on your feet. I was working from my desk at home by the next afternoon after my gallbladder removal (although you might want to milk the recovery period ... if you know what I mean :-)))

  11. WOW! Suzy, I know these are hard decisions, it's good to have the whole family backing you and I like all the class time they give you. Our prayers go out to both of you.
    God Bless

  12. Suzy - congratulations. I had a gastric by pass done in 1980 back when they were still more experimental. It was one of the best things I ever did. I did keep the weight off for many years but as time went on, the way it was done way back then meant that the stomach would stretch out and I can eat more - which of course I did. Would I do it again, in a heartbeat. So lots of prayers being sent your way.

  13. Best wishes Suzy, With the love and support of your family and many RV friends you will emerge a champion.

  14. Good for you Suzy! Making a decision to improve your health and life has to be a “right” decision. You have been added to our prayer list for a successful surgery and easy recovery!

    John and Ellen

  15. Sorry I'm late to the party!! Somehow I missed this post but wanted you to know I am thinking of and praying for both of you.


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