The Melissa Helms Transformation: Part 2


This is part 2 of the Melissa Helms transformation. Be sure to read Part 1 first.

I was scheduled for 1:00pm.

During the pre-opperation dealings with health insurance, I had become very good friends with my insurance liaison. As a Registered Nurse she was interested in following me through with the surgery and wnted to be in the OR when I had my procedure. I said she could and I was glad that I would have a friend to see me through to the end.

Dressed in my surgical gown, I waited with my husband and parents. The surgical staff came at 3pm and wheeled me off as I waved goodbye. Soon I was transferred to a gurney. Facedown, I was pushed down the long sterile hallway. I couldn’t see anyone, but I could hear them. Like so many other crowded hallways filled with faceless people, their voices echoing in my ears, surely it was me who they were talking about.

The fear set in.

I began to cry. My surgeon came up to me took my hand and told me not to worry. We went through the double doors into the Operating Room where I was helped over to the OR table. I laid my head on the pillow and before I knew it the Anesthesiologist had done has magic. I was out.

An hour and a half later I awoke. Groggy, a bit out of it, and feeling like I had done a gazillion sit-ups. There was a woman holding my hand and telling me over and over that I did amazing.  It was my RN friend from Insurance. She had kept her word and stayed with me the whole time. Considering a pouch 4.5cm long by 25mm wide was just created in my stomach, I was doing pretty well. Still, I’d have to spend at least one night in the hospital. If I was able to eat some cream of wheat the next morning I’d be allowed to go home.

Sleep seemed like the only reasonable thing to do.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around the feeling of having half your body suddenly gone. In a way I have to come to grips that I am a normal healthy weight.  I still have days where I look in the mirror and see the Obese woman I used to be.  It is daily process to overcome that I am healthy and thin.  I have never been this weight in my adult life, or even as a teen, so it is overwhelming at times to see that small person looking back at me through the mirror.  Your mind has to catch up and that is difficult.

I woke up the next morning and ate 2 tablespoons of Cream of Wheat, an accomplishment in its own right. Because of that, I was able to go home. My post-operation eating plan was incredibly strict. Two weeks of liquids only, then two weeks of soft foods, then finally I would be able to progress into ‘regular’ foods, but they had to be high protein and low carbohydrate.

Two weeks after my surgery, I was feeling really good and thought I could exercise like normal.  I decided to go walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I pushed myself too hard and pulled a muscle in my stomach. This was more intense pain than I had felt after surgery.  It hurt my entire body to move. Besides that, my side effects were very minimal – if I eat too many starchy carbs or too much sugar I get a racing heart and have to lie down and nap it off.  When I wake up I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.  Sometimes if I don’t eat enough protein or I drink to close to after I’ve eaten or I haven’t eaten for a long time, my blood sugar drops and I get really clammy, shaky and lightheaded.  If food is not moist enough then I tend to get the “foamies” where I salivate and it feels like food is stuck in my chest. But these are all a small price to pay.

My eating plan is 3 Meals 4-6 oz. I don’t drink a ½ hour before my meals and I wait at least 45-60 minutes after to drink (my new stomach is like a funnel. The longer I wait to drink the less food I push through the funnel.  Drinking too soon washes the meal out quickly and hunger soon follows). I gave up soda and haven’t had one since a week before my surgery. I eat high protein and stay away from too many “bad” carbs. I was told that we need to eat 3 times a day, each meal 4-6 oz.  No snacking because they believe that snacking leads to those bad habits we had before surgery.  No drinking calories so water or very low calorie beverages.  NO SODA.

Everyone is different, of course, and I tend to do 5-6 small meals so I can keep my blood sugar stable. I have protein coffee every morning, and then have a protein breakfast. I use Quest Bars as a meal replacement or a snack if I’m feeling hungry throughout the day.  I have protein for lunch with some fruit or veggie and protein for dinner whether it is cottage cheese or a protein shake.  Water Water Water and more water!

I am back to walking and stationary biking.  I have started to lift weights to increase my muscle mass and am psyching myself up to start a running program.  One day at a time.

I should have done this a long time ago. I feel amazing and I would do it a million times over . The people in my weight loss support groups that have had way worse complications would tell you they would do it again too. It’s been almost two years now and time flies when you’re not obsessing over the small things! I feel great and  have lost 120 pounds, working towards “MY” goal of 130 pounds lost.  I can’t believe how much easier it is for my body to do things; I walk at a very brisk pace instead of slowly walking.  I climb and even run up and down stairs without being out of breath. I keep up with my 6’4” husband when he walks (long legs, long strides).  I don’t sweat as much, I don’t get as tired, I sleep better, and I just feel better! I read labels when I grocery shop, I make better choices when I eat, I am now very conscious of carb content of food. Bad carbs have an ill effect on my body and make me sleepy, dizzy and cause me to retain fluids, so I don’t eat them.  I know what my body can handle when it comes to food and I am not “bingeing” like I used to. I know when enough is enough or going to be too much. I can THROW FOOD AWAY and not get upset about wasting any.

My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach, so I’ve had to change the way I think as much as the way I eat. I weigh my portions and eat 5-6 small meals. I don’t feel deprives, and am not always thinking about food.  Weight loss surgery, coupled with a total shift in mindset and habits have given me my life back. I know what its like to struggle with obesity – the challenges, the frustrations, and despair. And now I can see it from the other side. There are times where I still see a “Fat” girl. I have excess skin all over my body that I’ll have to get plastic surgery for.  Sometimes I see that as a sign of failure, but really it is a badge of honor. This is my new body. I have shed the old Melissa and have emerged victorious!