There are some moments in life you never forget. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got a phone call from Dr. Feiz's office telling me that not only was I a good candidate for the lap band procedure, but that it was covered by my insurance and I could schedule the surgery for less than a month away. But even if my insurance hadn't covered it, I would gladly have paid to have the procedure performed - there are some things in life that you can't put a price tag on.
For me, those things have been improved health, energy and an incredible outlook on life. And, that's partly because there are some things in life you never get tired of hearing, like, "You look INCREDIBLE!" When I had the lap band surgery on January 20, 2007 I weighed 290 pounds.
It’s been just over a year and I’ve already lost about 80 pounds, putting me about 50 pounds away from my eventual goal weight of 160 pounds. All of this is even more incredible to me than it may sound, since the surgery didn’t really “work” until some time in May when I had to have a second procedure, this one an outpatient visit at Dr. Feiz’s office.Which brings me to this: the fact that Dr. Feiz asked ME of all people to write down my experiences with the surgery and with him is perhaps the greatest explanation of the kind of man and the kind of doctor he is.
My experience with the process has been anything but ideal. When you’re considering taking such a monumental and life-altering decision you’re surely considering what could go wrong. Well, I’ve had some first hand experiences with what can go wrong, and there is still nothing I would change about the experience because it’s gotten me to where I am now. Just today Dr. Feiz told me that the first year and a half is the hardest time with the surgery, and I know that’s true, but honestly given the trials I’ve faced in the last 14 months, I don’t regret anything. Rather, I am thankful every day that I made this decision. If this is the hard part, I can’t imagine how simple the easy part will be!
Which brings me to this: the fact that Dr. Feiz asked ME of all people to write down my experiences with the surgery and with him is perhaps the greatest explanation of the kind of man and the kind of doctor he is. My experience with the process has been anything but ideal. When you're considering taking such a monumental and life-altering decision you're surely considering what could go wrong. Well, I've had some first hand experiences with what can go wrong, and there is still nothing I would change about the experience because it's gotten me to where I am now. Just today Dr. Feiz told me that the first year and a half is the hardest time with the surgery, and I know that's true, but honestly given the trials I've faced in the last 14 months, I don't regret anything. Rather, I am thankful every day that I made this decision. If this is the hard part, I can't imagine how simple the easy part will be!
Following surgery and my liquid diet and recovery period, I was anxiously awaiting my first adjustment. I lost some weight just by being on all liquids, but of course I couldn't wait to see what would happen when I had my first fill. Unfortunately, nothing happened. There was some trouble finding my port when I went in for the first fill. During my surgery the port had been placed much deeper than it is now (an older prototype) and as Dr. Feiz tried to find the port (with a very large, foreboding needle) apparently the needle punctured the area that holds the saline, meaning it leaked out over time. So, I never felt any restriction. But, since I never knew what it was supposed to feel like, I didn't call or say anything, assuming I was just hungrier than most people who have the surgery.
Well, after a few months of not hearing from me, Dr. Feiz called me to check in (he does this from time to time, it's wonderful) and I broke down and told him what a "failure" I was and that I wasn't losing weight and that I had a fairly strong appetite still. He instantly reassured me, telling me that I was ok, wasn't doing anything wrong and more importantly, should never hesitate to call him with questions. He is constantly reminding me that he is my doctor for life, and I can trust him to contact him with any questions. I soon returned to his office and that's when we discovered the punctured port, and I had the outpatient surgery to replace it with a new one. From there, I immediately saw the physical results of what I had been missing. The weight started to fall off, as I was eating sensibly and comfortably becoming full.
I've only been in for two fills since then, for a total of three, and I've still lost so much weight. I know I can go in more often, but I live about 70 miles away and truthfully, I am in no rush with this process. I have a sense of confidence that the weight will all come off over time, and truth be told, even at 210 pounds I feel so beautiful and healthy that my whole outlook on the my weight, or the numbers, has faded away. That said, I went to the mall last week thinking I was a size 18 (down from a 26) and was amazed when the pants wouldn't even stay on. So I tried a 16, and those were still too big. So I dared a size 14, thinking I would just have a good laugh, but ended up walking out with 2 pairs of jeans that are the same size I wore nearly 10 years ago at the age of 18!
I'm the editor of a newspaper and a writer by trade, but honestly, I can't find the words to explain how that feels. And that's not just for vanity sake. I never had real health problems, but I was on track to inherit some if I hadn't made the change when I did. My father has diabetes and my mother has heart problems. I just knew if I kept trying to diet and kept failing as I had so many times, one day I would wake up with serious health problems of my own. And, being just 26 when I had the operation, I put a lot of thought into how "drastic" the surgery option was, since it is a lifelong commitment. But learning that you can always have the saline removed and it would be as if you never had the surgery, that feeling quickly went away. I love the fact that if I get pregnant for the first time I can render the surgery ineffective (to make sure the baby and I get enough nutrition) without having another surgery. Then it's as simple as another fill and I am back on my journey.
I absolutely would recommend this procedure to anyone who has struggled for so long with the same problems I faced. If you are a good candidate, I think this is one of the best decisions you could ever make for yourself. Dr. Feiz has been more than a doctor, he has been a confidant and a cheerleader and has truly been on my team since the first time I met him.