Friday, April 8, 2011

A Day In the Life and Bandster Basics

*This may be my longest post ever...just a warning*

Sometimes we forget when we were first beginning.  Do you remember the first time you googled Lapband?  Or the first time you logged into the forums...frantically searching for before and afters....looking at successes and getting pumped...stumbling upon a horror story and then getting scared?  Do you remember the stupid questions you asked?  I remember posting on something like  "is one cup of Wendy's chili bad for you?"

Well, I am going to try and remember back to when I didn't know much about the band...and what information would have been helpful.  Here goes...

Did you know:
  • I started at 327 pounds.  My doctor, the wonderful and handsome Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, told me that the band is not always the best choice for someone who is a grazer.  They find that the band is actually more successful for men, because men tend to eat in volume (sitting down for a huge dinner and getting really full, vs eating and munching on little things all day).
  • Some doctors say that the band will not work as well for those of us who are or were really morbidly obese.  I disagree.  And there are plenty of us out here who are proving them wrong.
Did you know:
  • The band may not work for you?  You could have the surgery and not lose much weight at all.  It is not a sure thing.  BUT, if you work with the can and will work for most of us.
What does "work with the band mean"?
  • Every doctor has a different regimen they want you to follow.  Every doc is different, as it almost every patient.  Some say no pop/soda, some say it's fine.  Some have a 2 week liquid preop and scare the sweet baby jebsus out of you about not shrinking your liver enough for surgery and not being able to operate (thank you Dr. Friedman).  But, you will have to do your part with the band.  You will have to watch what you eat.  You will have to eventually get your ass up and exercise.  You will have to make healthier choices and just be better.  I know you are saying WHAT?  That sounds like a diet to me.  And I fail at diets!!!  The band is a TOOL, not the Alpha and Omega of your weight loss journey.  You can "cheat" the band by eating sliders and soft food.  I for one could eat cheetos all day long and the band would sleep right through it.  But with the right restriction, your band prevents you from eating that large pizza, the extra value meal, the entire bovine.
  • You have to find a doctor that you can have a relationship with.  They have to be open with you and you have to be open with them.  You HAVE to go see them for fills.  You have to follow up.  You have to be a good patient.  ASK QUESTIONS. 

What can you eat once you are banded?
  • At this point in my journey, I can't think of one thing I CANT eat.  However, there are somethings that I try to stay away from because they are difficult with my band.  Example:  Bowtie pasta.  It doesnt go down well.  And then it just sits in my band and expands...causing me to PB (get to that in a second). 
  • I can't eat a sandwich, or a hamburger with a bun, but I could eat a roll if I tear off little pieces at a time.  Hot dogs give me problems for some reason.  Dry chicken or reheated meat (with the exception of a hamburger) often give me problems as well.
  • I still drink soda, I still drink beer.
  • I love soups.  I can eat veggies.  I can eat fruit. 
  • Eating after being banded is about going slow.  It's about chewing.  They say with proper restriction that 4-6 ounces of solid protein (a piece of meat about the size of your fist) should keep you full for 3-4 hours. 
  • Most docs want their patients to avoid "slider meals".  Meaning, eating a bowl of soup for lunch or yogurt for breakfast isn't going to keep you full or satisfied because it will SLIDE right down.  You want your food to stay in your pouch, and slowly drop down.
  • Sometimes may get stuck and then you get "sick".
The Dreaded PB:
  • A couple things may happen if a piece of food gets "stuck in your pipe" as Heather refers to it.  You aren't going to die.  It's not like it gets stuck and you need the Heimlich.  But if a piece of food gets stuck, ain't nothing else going down until it moves or comes up.
  • The first thing that may happen is a productive burp (PB).  This is not throwing up.  When something gets stuck, your slobber starts to build on top of it.  For me, when this happens, I get a weird sensation in the back of my jaw.  And if I wait long enough, I will have to get somewhere private (hopefully) and let it come up.  What comes up is this weird slime/foam combo.  It doesn't hurt.  And moves whatever is stuck.
  • Sometimes though, it takes a little more work.  Sometimes that one piece of food I didnt chew enough will be down there for hours.  And then, it's not PBing.  It's sort of like dry heaving until that piece comes up.  There is a tightness in the chest...a pressure.  It's not fun.
  • I will say that not everyone gets stuck or PB's.  And most of us would agree that when we do get's our fault.  We eat without being present, we didn't chew, we ate too fast.
Restriction and Tips for Eating:
  • Unless you are extremely lucky, you will not awake from surgery with perfect restriction.  Some docs put a little liquid in your band to start with, others wait.  I had to wait 6 weeks for my first fill.  And again, unless you are the rare case, you probably won't get restriction with your first fill.  It took  me several fills before I had good restriction. 
  • ASK your doctor what his/her fill policy is.  Some docs are super restrictive with their fills.  They only fill on a schedule.  They don't care whether or not you have restriction.  All I know is if Dr. Friedman hadn't let me tell him that I was ready for a fill...and if he had made me wait regardless of what I could eat...I wouldn't have been as successful as I was. 
  • You will know you have restriction when you have it.  It's sort of like having sex.  If you have to wonder if you had an orgasm or probably didn't.
  • Restriction will keep you full and satisfied for 3-4 hours.  You will be able to eat less. 
  • Restriction DOES NOT RESTRICT YOUR BRAIN.  You may still mentally crave things.  You will have to learn the difference between head hunger and physical hunger.  This is very hard.
  • When you do have good restriction, you will have to change the way you eat.  This is easier said than done.  You should be taking small bites.  For example, if you are eating steak, you need to cut that sucker up into pea sized bites.  You need to chew.  Then, set your fork down and wait a few seconds.  You should eat sitting down.  You should pay attention to what you are doing.  You will learn that things like eating in the car is rarely going to end well. (Always have your emergency PB kit in your car.  A couple of bags, some papertowels or handywipes.  Trust me.)
  • You probably shouldnt drink with your meal or for 30 minutes after.  Liquids can help push your food down...thus...cheating the band.
How much weight will I lose?  How quickly will I lose it?
  • Now you know that there is no one answer for this.  Statistically, Lapband patients lose around 40% of their excess weight. SO, if you are 100 pounds overweight, statistically you will lose 40 pounds.  I hate statistics.  And remember, they are an average.  17 more pounds lost and I will have lost 100% of my excess weight...and I am not alone. It can happen.
  • However, there are so many factors that go into how much and how fast.  Genetics, age, diet history, personal support, family life, exercise.  Some weeks I lost 7 pounds.  Some weeks I gained 5.  The weeks I gained, I gained because I ate poorly.  I cheated the band  The weeks I lost, I ate and made healthy choices.  There are some weeks, even when I WAS doing the right thing...I didn't lose.  It can be frustrating.  But you can't give up. 
  • You will have to keep upping your game.  At some point, even with the band, you will either have to adjust your food or exercise.
But, I feel like the band is "cheating".  I feel like if I have WLS, I am weak.
  • I'm gonna tell you what.  Who gives a flying monkey's ass?! Cheating what?  Cheating early death?  Cheating sleep apena?  Cheating high blood pressure, sore joints, diabetes?  I say CHEAT AWAY then.  There is no shame in WLS.  It's not about will power.  It's not about failing.  It is about trying to find a tool that works to give you some power, give you your health. 
  • I tell whoever wants to know or will listen about the band.  And yes, I have heard "Oh...well...I thought you did it the hard way"...or "hmmm...that must be nice".  I say listen FOOL.  There ain't nothing easy about the band.  It makes some things easier but it is still work.  And I find that people either give you 'tude about the band bc they are afraid or jealous or because they don't understand.  Either way, that is okay.  I will educate or I will ignore.  I feel like if I were to say "oh, I am just watching my diet and working out"...that I would be lying by omission.  AND, my real fear is that someone who is overweight will think "Well, Amy did it "the old fashioned way", and they will feel like a failure when they try and do not succeed.
Will my relationship fall apart if I have the surgery?
  • We all hear the stories of what happens when someone has WLS.  The divorce rate and seperation rate is a little higher for us.  There are several reasons.  One, for some of us....when we lose weight, we become a different person...or the person we would have been if our bodies hadn't been our enemies so long.  Our expectations may change, we may want more.  OR, our partners may not be able to deal with the new us.  OR, as in any relationship...sometimes it's just time to move on.  I don't think that having WLS should make you fear losing or changing your partner anymore than the normal person.  There are tons of bandsters out there still happy and maybe even happier with their significant other.  Sometimes though, even though we can't see it or don't want to admit it...we have settled.  And once you start to shed your cloak of security or realize you deserve more (too bad we don't realize that to begin with.  Long story short...people change and grow...with or without weightloss surgery.
Are you worried about complications:
  • No.  But most days I am not a worrier about things that may or may not happen.  I heard recently that the stats for band slipping are about 5% and for erosion, about 1-2%.  Slipping for example, can be avoided most of the time and according to the easy to fix.  Erosion is of course a little more scary.  But I hope that by always paying attention to my body, my band, and how I am feeling...I can avoid it or if it ever happens...catch it early.
Do fills hurt?
  • Mine never do.  My doc has never done one under fluoro.  He gives me a numbing shot and then the fill.
How many fills do you have to have?
  • To get restriction, it took me 4.  My first year I had around 6 fills.  My second year, I had 2.
Will you ever have the band taken out?
  • Lord I hope not.  Even now that I am at goal weight and weight loss is more of what I do instead of what the band does for's always there.  It's my safety net.  It will keep me from ever being 327 pounds again.
Why did you choose the band over other options?
  • I was 28 when I decided on the surgery. I didn't want my stomach cut apart.  I still wanted to be able to absorb my nutrients.  I wanted to be able to eat sugar and other things without getting physcially ill.  I liked that the removal of the band was a possibility if something went wrong.  I liked the idea of being able to control my restriction. And even though I bitched and complained along the way, I liked the idea of a slower weight loss (vs Gastric bypass).  It gave my skin and my brain a little more time to adjust.
Did you know there are different brands of lapbands? 
  • I have the Allegran Lapband.  Ask you doctor your choices and the differences.  Mine is a 10-11cc band.  Some are smaller. 
Were you worried about the loose skin?
  • Barely.  I figured I may look like a saggy deflated sack after I lost my weight, but I would rather be deflated then morbidly obese.
  • And I am lucky.  My skin is nowhere as bad as it could have been.  Again, so many factors go into skin.  Age, genes, working out, sun...etc.
Would you do it again?
  • In a heartbeat my friends.  In a heartbeat.  It was the best decision of my life.  It was a tremedous catalyst for change.  I can't think of one negative consequence of the band.


  1. This is a great post! Your success with WLS is nothing short of uber-impressive - I always find your blog so inspirational! Looks like the tail end of the post got clipped off, though. I need to know what PB stands for and how it goes away!

  2. This is your best post EVER! I bow down to you! I love your frank and up front way of presenting the day in the life of a bandster lifestyle. Thanks!

  3. Amy, my sister and I are wannabe BOOBs. We were both banded about 2 1/2 years ago and this post is spot on! We were at the doctors office yesterday getting a small adjustment (My doctor says 10 more pounds for me, but I want to lose 20). Anyhoo (see, I'm an Amy fan!) there was a woman in his office that was clearly obese and when we asked her, she had had the band for 3 years but had lost only 70 pounds (I would guess that she still had over 100+ to lose). So what you say about following the bandster rules holds true. Like Lap Band Gal said, I bow down to you. You are awesome and present great information.

  4. Loved this post, my sista! I especially love your response to people who view the band as cheating ("cheating an early death?" .. that one is going in my back pocket!). Really well said.

  5. *standing ovation*

    Such a awesome thought provoking and informative post. I can't put into words how this post can help someone who is thinking about WLS.

    My all time favorite line in this post though: "I say listen FOOL." I LOVE IT! I swear sometimes we were separated at birth, LOL. That is SO something I would say.

    Well done Amy!

  6. So, so, so well said, I can't stand it. You so utterly and completely rock! Like Catherine, I'm totally keeping the "cheating an early death" at the ready for future use and remembrence. Thank you for this and on behalf of all those out there just thinking about taking those first scary steps that find this now and in the future - I thank you for them too.

  7. Very well said, thank you for speaking for the rest of us so eloquently.

  8. what a wonderful post. and you're wrong. it's not just for newbies..... this was great reading for someone who's had a band for 6 months and lost 100+lbs. And I too loved the comment about cheating death. Right on!

  9. Such a great post! Thank you for sharing your experience and articulating this information in such a succinct format.

  10. I totally agree! Such an AWESOME post!

  11. Well said Amy! "DOES NOT RESTRICT YOUR BRAIN". Oh, how true! I will be the first one in line to get a "head"band, believe me!

  12. I feel like you deserve some kind of award for posting such concise, real and important answers to the most basic questions about the lap-band. Why can't doctors include this as a print-out in the little folders of information for new potential patients? I'm going to print this out, make copies, and hand it out to people who are either 1) curious for themselves 2) just plain curious about the band/my band 3) think WLS is some kind of 'bad option' or the 'easy way out' or something stupid like that. Great job!

  13. This was a great post and every one has to make there own choices but just like even the gastric bypass it only works if you work it!

  14. Great Post! I love it.. BUT I LOVE you more!!

  15. Excellent post - I especially agree with not caring if it's "cheating," when I get this damn weight off, I don't care how I did it, I still get all the benefits!

    Also so true about no restriction on your brain - this has been my biggest struggle thus far. I am still thinking of food first for so many of the wrong reasons.

    Thank you! Love this post.

  16. Amy, you're such an inspiration. So much so that I have decided to attempt to write my own blog. I even mention you in my first post and shout out your blog. Hopefully you and other bandsters can stop by. Since I am relatively new to this whole process, I look forward to the insight and support of others out there and I will gladly reciprocate. Thanks

  17. Great job, Amy. You are such an inspiration to everyone who wants to get some help in this weight loss struggle. Love you to pieces!

  18. I needed this post to remind me of all the things I need to do. Ditto to all of the wonderful comments about you above! Truly and inspiration who keeps us all focused on what we need to be doing. Keep it coming!

  19. Great post Amy! Spot on with the info and entertaining as always! Thanks for posting what some of us have difficulty putting into words. But they do need to invent the lapband/headband combo. That little shitmeister in my brain jumps up and screams way too often!

  20. Correction, that site has been changed to

    LOL Sorry, I'm just getting it started. You're still an inspiration though!

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. I hope you don't mind, I just shared this post on my blog. Well done, well said! Loved it.

  23. Bravo!!!! You are amazing. I am sharing this with everyone.

  24. Amy, Amy, Amy! Every person who is considering lap-band surgery should read this post as a preamble of what is to come! Required reading, I say!

    Fabulous, well written, honest, and thorough!

    You rock my socks!

  25. Thank you so much. I'm going to a lap band seminar on the 23rd and am THIS CLOSE to being ready to pull the trigger. Your post was incredibly helpful.

  26. I have to say this was an amazing post. This is the type of post that is helpful to people researching and for newer people like me. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Amy, I literally took ALL day yesterday to go back to your first blog posting and read through everyone since then. This post on prompted me to do so. I am having my surgery in 2 weeks and have been trying to absorb every ounce of information that I can before hand. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

    p.s I may have a little girl crush...

  28. Fabulous post, Amy. And just what I needed. Thank you!

  29. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. I needed it.

  30. Ahem, was this meant to be your last post? :) I look forward to reading your stuff! Hint.

  31. Thank you so much for this post! I've been working so hard to lose the 45 pounds that my surgeon is requiring of me to be able to qualify for the surgery (my insurance pays 100%, but it also means that I have to jump through lots of hoops). Lately I have been wondering whether I should get Lap Band (as I've always wanted to) or Gastric Bypass (as the surgeon prefers). This post helped to solidify what I already knew - the Lap Band is the right choice for me. Again, thank you!!

  32. THANK YOU...I am newly banded (march 4th) and it's so nice to see ppl like you being honest and putting it out there. I have lost 19 pnds. I have changed my eating habits, what I am eating and actually exercising. Slowly but surely, i will get there. I haven't had to many complications but this helps me learn what could happen. Thanks again. And to know that i can drink beer again, (i will try it slowing) but it made me smile. Can i ask, how long did you wait until you tried to have one?