Band-to-Sleeve Revision: Susan’s Story

Sep 05, 2017

band to sleeve revision

Some patients who undergo bariatric surgery find that a particular weight loss procedure has not allowed them to reach their weight loss goals, for any number of reasons. What many patients may not know is that revisional bariatric surgery is an option that may help resolve medical issues related to obesity and help them get on track with their weight loss goals. In 2014, Susan came to Nicholson Clinic for revisional bariatric surgery after having the LAP-BAND procedure by another doctor several years earlier. This is her story.

As any other morbidly obese patient, my journey was to live my life and feel normal. But what is normal? I wasn’t always fat. I was maybe only 10-15 pounds overweight growing up, and it wasn’t until I became an adult, that the toxicity of life caught up with me. All I wanted to do was hide. I no longer cared about myself or whether or not I lived. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, even in my own family. But…you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out!

At the time I had my LAP-BAND done (March 4, 2008), I was at my biggest and weighed 489 pounds. I was literally trying to eat myself to death because I no longer cared. I was married to my first husband at the time who was too self-involved and refused to work, so all the pressure of life, bills, etc. was on me and it was too much to bear alone. Plus, I was carrying a heavy burden of past occurrences from my childhood, my strict Jewish upbringing, family issues (being they wanted to disown me or were ashamed of me) and having been bullied in school. All of this, caused me to develop an eating disorder as a cry for help. I became bulimic 17 years ago and still battle it to this day. No one heard my cries, yet were fully aware of what I was doing physically. So, I took it upon myself to try and do something about the “excess baggage.”

I first had the LAP-BAND procedure through another clinic a friend referred me to, and knew of several people who had seen this particular doctor. This seemed like the safest option at the time. It was not permanent, and could be reversed in the case of an emergency. I was not pleased when I awoke from surgery as no one told me that I would have compression socks on (that literally cut off my circulation). I also had a pain pump inserted in me that I was sent home with and had to remove it alone! Needless to say, I was not made aware of any of this prior to lap band surgery. Removing the pain pump was the scariest part!

Sure the weight fell off fast, but like any diet attempted, old habits slowly creep back in if you don’t follow the directions or have the support so desperately needed. The support groups were not as popular as they are today and this clinic didn’t offer classes that I was made aware of. I had to keep going back pretty frequently for fills as the weight loss stopped. At one point, my band was at max fill. So then what?! I was no longer getting “full” signals, had developed social anxiety and was throwing up constantly as a result of the anxiety and food getting stuck. I had to always scope out where the bathroom was in public settings and made sure there was a clear path I could fit through easily as I know people were watching.

I had lost about 100 pounds with the LAP-BAND, but had gained it back, and then some. Consequently, the throwing up started to cause other problems within my esophagus. Years later, in 2014, I was introduced to Nicholson Clinic through my job. The company I worked for used to do the billing for Nicholson Clinic, and several employees had the gastric sleeve done with no complications. I then scheduled an appointment for a consultation to see what my options were. I met with my doctor at Nicholson Clinic and began the process to have a revision from the LAP-BAND to the gastric sleeve.

As I went through the ins and outs of the insurance route, I had the EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy) performed. It was during this procedure that my doctor advised my esophagus was screwed up. It turns out that even going 24 hours without eating (prior to the EGD) that there was still food in my esophagus. The food was never even getting to my stomach, but instead forming a second stomach on top of the banded stomach. It was time for the LAP-BAND to come out!

The day had finally come! December 16, 2014. I had the revision from LAP-BAND to gastric sleeve. At this point in my life (and being on the liquid diet for two months prior to surgery), my starting weight for the sleeve was 389 pounds. My doctor and surgical staff took such great care of me and was able to keep me calm despite my anxiety! When the surgery was complete, I was told it took a little longer because the band was “embedded” into my stomach and he had to wrestle to get to get it out.

I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten re-married this summer to my boyfriend of four years, have acquired a stepson, and we’re trying to have a baby in the next year to expand our family!

Sure you still fight old habits and it’s more of a head game at this point, but the rules/instructions are clear as day. Going on three years this December, I am now at my lowest of 247 pounds and hoping to be in “onederland” by the end of 2017. I wavered a lot with the sleeve too and denied the fact that I needed help. In reality, we all need help and it’s okay to ask for it. The Nicholson Clinic has a ton of resources: doctors, nutritionists, a patient mentor, support groups, Facebook pages and even a walking group.

I still struggle with my eating disorder from time to time and have gained and lost the same 20-30 pounds countless times. But it was this month actually (August 2017) that I reached out to utilize these resources. I had always been so ashamed to ask for help as if it was admitting I was a failure. The only thing I wasn’t admitting was to myself was that I could no longer do this alone.

Just within a span of two weeks, I’ve been to a nutrition meeting, a “patient to patient” meeting, two walks with the group and have met such a wonderful variety of people that I hope to have as lifelong friends. The Nicholson Clinic patient mentor, even reached out to me and spent nearly an hour on the phone getting to know me and my struggles. He was very uplifting and encouraging. It really has helped to be surrounded by people who have gone through the same journey, experienced the same ups and downs, and just understand how you feel when saying nothing at all. We’re like a family. It is because of their help that I have gotten back on track, I food prep, I count my water intake daily, and have sought help for my eating disorder. I had a “coming out” at the patient to patient meeting where I openly admitted it to everyone. They have shown nothing but love and concern, and held me accountable for my actions. It’s really nice to meet people who are real, non-judgmental and who genuinely care and want you to succeed! If you haven’t reached out to any of these resources, I strongly urge you to do so.

Thank you Nicholson Clinic for changing my life for the better!

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