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After surgery, adjustments continue

May 18, 2009|By ELLEN ROWLAND / Special to The Herald-Mail

Editor's note: Ellen Rowland, The Herald-Mail's North End columnist, underwent bariatric surgery on Feb. 20 to help her lose weight and regain health. So that others might get a clearer picture of the costs and benefits of the procedure, Rowland writes a regular journal describing the process. This is her seventh entry.

April was not a good month for me.

I was sick most of the time, and I soon realized that my body has not adjusting to the surgery - minor setbacks, but nothing that could not be fixed.

Since my bariatric surgery Feb. 20, I have lost 50 pounds. I am very happy with that. Most people tell me that they can see a difference.

This has been quite a learning experience for me and my family.

I got out most of the slacks that I was able to wear about three years ago and I tried them on the other day. They fit. What a thrill that was, as I have waited a long time to be able to do that. Some of my not-so-new blouses fit, too.

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The clothes I am wearing now are a bit loose, and I told my husband not long ago that I would need to borrow his suspenders to hold my slacks up. I do not want to buy any new clothes until later this summer, so I make do with what I have and will soon have to find a seamstress to make some alterations.

Do I have any regrets having this surgery done? No. I am pleased with the way things have turned out. If you were to ask me early in April, my answer might have been different because I was getting nauseated and didn't know why. Now, I feel great.

The medications I was taking before surgery for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol have all been cut in half. I do not take any other meds, except my daily vitamins and calcium. I can live with that, too.

I am eating solid foods, and for the most part, I digest them well, as long as I chew thoroughly and eat slowly. I know when my stomach is full and I just push the plate away, because if I were to continue eating I'd just throw up. It's not worth it.

I do have cravings for the foods that I cannot have, like bagels, bread and candy, but that has not been too bad. I getting used to it and I just don't dwell on it.

I would give anything to take a big gulp of ice cold water. I did that only one time and will never do it again - it felt like it was sitting in my chest.

So much of my diet is trial and error. What might agree with one person might not agree with the other.

I also discovered that I am now lactose intolerant. I became sick to my stomach after I would drink my protein shake and sometimes whatever I ate. But I do not drink milk much anyway, so that is not a great loss.

Now I am off the protein shake and I get my protein from other food sources, which has worked out well. I had to start narrowing down the things that would make me the most sick and stay away from those things.

I am on medications for the nausea, which helped.

As April progressed, I needed fewer of these medications and I now know what foods to stay away from. Certain smells - bacon, fish sticks and certain perfumes - will make me feel nauseated. Before surgery, that never seemed to be a problem.

Otherwise, I am doing OK, and I am right on target as far as my weight loss and health goes.

My goal for weight loss is at least 20 pounds a month, though I will be pleased with any amount of weight loss. Exercise is an important part of the program. During April, I had to put exercise on hold for a while because I was so nauseated.

My mind and body are now learning to adjust to the new me and there will be more adjustments forthcoming. I will take things one day at a time, and I can call my surgeon and primary care doctor if I need them. That is a comfort.

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