|Bob, Dr, Aceves and I a few days after surgery at Almater Hospital in Mexicali.|
Five years ago tomorrow my life was changed forever! On September 23, 2005 I boarded an airplane headed for San Diego with Carla and Bob. We were met at the airport by a man named Ernesto who drove us for two hours to the city of Mexicali just across the California border in Mexico.
I couldn't believe it, I was going to have weight loss surgery! I was going to get a lapband! Carla had done it 6 weeks before and I had gone with her so it was not the first time I had made the trip and I already knew the hospital, the Dr, and his staff. I felt nervous but had extreme confidence in Dr. Aceves and his staff.
We were met at Almater Hospital by Gaby (Yolanda's daughter who was doing the liaison job because Yolanda was on vacation). She had all the paperwork ready for me and got my bloodwork going and then put me into a comfortable private room. Carla was going to be staying in the room with me and Bob had a room in a nearby resort hotel. Gaby would drive Bob over to it after my surgery. There were only 2 of us lined up for surgery that day and Dr. Aceves had decided to do it that day instead of waiting until the next day so we didn't get to stay at The Lucerna Resort the first night as is usual. No "last dinner"! I wondered if I would regret doing this. Would I miss all my old food "friends"? Would this even work or would it just be another attempt that failed. I had seen Carla lose 20 lbs. already so I felt it probably would work but I also knew every one is different.
I really didn't have much time to worry about it once I was in my room. Dr. Aceves came in and told me everything he was going to do and showed me a lapband so I would know what it looked like in me. He was very kind and caring and he told us how much he loved what he was doing and it showed in his face. He is an extraordinary man. He and Bob then got into a discussion on ranching in the Colorado mountains and finally, I had to wave my arms and remind Dr. Aceves I needed my surgery!
Sergio, the head nurse prepped me for surgery and soon I was wheeling down to the surgical ward. A young nurse introduced herself and I chatted with her drowsily about her schooling and she practiced her English on me. The next thing I knew she was trying to wake me up! I now had my lapband and was in the recovery room! All had gone well and soon I was back in my room with Carla and Bob. By early evening Carla was getting me up and making me walk. I felt pretty good and I did a lap around the nurses station. Carla had gotten her fill and so we both had a clear liquid dinner that night. I definitely was not hungry so ate very little (I never did get very hungry like some people do--in fact, I still don't get hungry. The lapband is doing its job!) The nurses were great and took good care of us. They made me as comfortable as you can get in a hospital and were very caring.
The next day I got to rest and do a lot of walking--the best thing for getting rid of the gas they pump in you in order to do the surgery. Bob and Dr. Aceves went to lunch together and continued their ranching talk. I couldn't believe it! Then Gaby took Bob on a tour of Mexicali (a city of over 1 million people and the second largest Chinese population in the northern hemisphere). She showed him a lot of the more ritzy neighborhoods and the shopping areas. Carla stayed with me. The last day went about the same except I had my barium swallow to make sure all was well with the lapband and I got instructions on how and what to eat for the next 6 weeks. It is commonly known as lapband boot camp! The next day Ernesto drove us back to San Diego where we spent the night and flew home the next day.
Don't ever think that weight loss surgery is the easy way out for weight loss! Here is how boot camp went back then (they have changed it a bit now but it is still not an easy thing!). I was on clear liquids (only fluids you could see through and NOT including alcohol of any kind) for 2 weeks. Gatorade, fruit juices, broth, jello and tea. Not carbonated beverages or coffee. My stomach was particularly sensitive so I couldn't drink any juices and even jello didn't work well for me. I was very thirsty and popsicles and ice chips seemed to work out best along with broth. After 2 weeks I graduated to full liquids which included milk, yogurt, cream soups with no lumps in them, puddings, shakes, ice cream. But you have to remember that the whole idea is to lose weight so things loaded with calories aren't really recommended. The last 2 weeks are soft foods gradually moving up to a regular diet as you can tolerate it. If you can make it through all this--and most people can-- you feel like you can do what is needed to lose the amount of weight you need to.
I was one of the "lucky" ones. My stomach was very sensitive and swollen inside the band so I could not tolerate much food in it at all. I was never hungry and I felt like I would never need to have my band filled. I lost a lot of weight and felt really good. By week nine, I suddenly felt like I could eat anything and knew it was time to get a fill. It took me several trips to the fill Dr. over the next 2 years to get adjusted and to learn how to eat with my band.
The last 3 years have been fine with only a few problems due to irritation of the stomach lining. I still can have problems due to eating too fast, eating too much or eating something my stomach doesn't tolerate but those incidents are not too often and I know when I have goofed!
I have lost 80 pounds and have stayed there. My back aches, leg aches, sore feet and tiredness are gone. I feel great, have more energy and my clothes fit and look a lot better on me. My blood pressure is down and my bloodwork looks much better than it did 5 years ago! Like I said in the beginning, it has changed my life! I wish I had done it years ago but they didn't have lapbands back then! As I lost my weight I felt more like exercising and that also helped me to lose weight. I would recommend weight loss surgery (and there are some new ones I would do now rather than the lapband) to anyone who is very overweight. I would recommend doing it with Dr. Aceves in Mexicali if your insurance doesn't cover it and even then I know lots of people who chose him over US Drs.
Here's a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Aceves, Dr. Campos, Dr. Lopez, Sergio, Yolanda, Gaby, Nina, Ernesto, Lucy and the whole staff at Almater. You are like family to me and I do miss seeing you. I love coming back to Mexicali for visits. I am feeling great and it is all because you worked your "magic" on me. I know it is not a magic cure all but looking back it does seem like a miracle to me!
|Sergio, Kelli (who weighed over 300 lbs. before lapband surgery) and Dr. Campos.|
|Carla in Mexicali on August 5, 2005.|
|Me on September 23, 2005 in Mexicali.|
|Carla and I today going for a walk to see the aspen and to pick rose hips,|