A Tough Month, Then the Big Day

After adapting to a sensible diet of six to seven small meals or snacks a day, I was a bit blindsided by my difficulty with the next step in my weight loss journey. For the month prior to my surgery date, my doctor put me on an all OptiFast diet. OptiFast is a meal replacement program of shakes and soups that is not unlike SlimFast. It’s basically an all-liquid diet, though some nutrition bars are allowed.

It is common for bariatric patients to be put on this diet for two to four weeks before surgery, as it can help reduce complications and smooth the transition into a fluid-only diet after surgery.

I certainly wasn’t looking forward to these 30 days – but I figured it wouldn’t be that tough. After all, lots of people go through it, right?

This is a photo of me a few days before my surgery, already almost 70 pounds lighter.

I was wrong. For some reason, I really struggled with it. Patients who had been through it

told me it was hard at first, but that you get used to it. It never really clicked in for me. It was especially tough at night. There were times I simply went to bed very early rather than face another night of hunger. Things improved slightly as my surgery got closer, but that was because I knew the month was almost over.

The OptiFast diet does work, however. I lost more than 20 pounds while on it, which brought my total weight loss pre-surgery to nearly 70 pounds.

By the time your surgery date arrives, you really just want to have it over with. I was very excited to head to Summa at the crack of dawn on July 11.  My attitude was “Let’s do this.” Which is exactly what my surgeon Dr. John Zografakis said to me as I laid in the operating room with nurses and doctors surrounding me. I felt like I was in an episode of the TV show “House.” I was totally ready.

Simply put, my surgery went extremely well. There were no complications whatsoever and everything played out just as my team said it would. You wake up in a different room, slowly regain consciousness and realize the deed has been done.

I spent two nights in the hospital following my operation. There was significant abdominal pain of course, but it was managed quite well with medications.  The Summa nurses, many of whom were Kent State graduates, were exceptional.  My experience overall was overwhelming positive.

Now it was time to begin recovery and a new life.

Check out the photo above as well as my Sept. 4 post for a photo from 2010, before I decided to make this lifestyle change.