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.
- 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.
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!