Weight Loss Surgery: Becky’s Journey to the OR

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by dianeatwood | Catching Health Stories, Gotta Use It, Nom Nom

After years of trying to lose weight and keep it off, Becky Sawtelle finally decided to have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. It’s not one of those things you think about today and do tomorrow. She had to go through rigorous medical testing — one test showed that her gallbladder was so full of stones it was on the verge of rupturing and needed to come out right away. She also had to see a psychotherapist and go through nutritional counseling. In all, about six months of preparation for the big day, which was Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

As she lay on a gurney waiting to be wheeled into the operating room at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Becky admits to feeling both terrified and exhilarated. “I’ve spent all these months preparing, and now it’s here and part of me just wants to go home and not do it, but I think it will extend my life — if I survive the surgery!”

That mixture of anxiety and excitement is something he sees all the time says Dr. Jamie Loggins, Medical Director of the Central Maine Bariatric Surgery Center, and Becky’s surgeon. He promised her that she was in good hands and reminded her that the primary reason for her surgery is to help her “be a healthier person, who hopefully will live a lot longer than she might have otherwise.”

Becky already has high blood pressure and pre-diabetes and is at risk of developing other weight-related health problems. One of the goals is to eliminate or greatly reduce those risks. There are three things Dr. Loggins will consider when measuring the success of her surgery.

Measuring the success of gastric bypass surgery

  1. How much weight does Becky lose?
  2. Do her medical issues improve?
  3. How does she feel?

In the operating room, Dr. Loggins and his surgical team made six teeny incisions in Becky’s abdomen. They are for surgical tools and a camera. An image of the inside of her belly was magnified and projected on several monitors around the room. Ultimately, Dr. Loggins would create a small pouch in her stomach and connect it to a section of her small intestine, but it will take about three hours of many, many carefully choreographed movements before his task is complete.

Becky will not be able to eat solid foods right away, only liquids and popsicles, but when she can, the small pouch will restrict how much food she can take in. “Imagine that you start off with something about the size of a soccer ball,” Dr. Loggins described, “and you make it the size of a plum.” The rest of her stomach will no longer store food, but will still play an important role in secreting digestive enzymes and immune boosting substances.

From experience, Dr. Loggins says Becky can expect to lose 60 to 80 percent of her excess body weight. The percentage depends on the type of surgical procedure you have and how well you follow directions after the surgery. “Our philosophy is we’re here to give people a tool and we’re also here to teach them how to use the tool,” he says. “Gastric bypass is probably one of the best tools we have in fighting morbid obesity. This is not a cosmetic operation. We do this to make people healthier. Everything is lined up in Becky’s favor to be healthier, feel better and lose weight.”

Because of advancements in anesthesia medications and surgical instruments and techniques, Becky’s recovery should be much safer and quicker than even a decade ago. Her surgery went well and she was out of recovery by late afternoon. Her first Facebook message to friends and supporters came at about 7:30 pm. “I’m alive.”

She was up and walking last night. Today she has to have a x-ray to “make sure nothing is leaking,” as she puts it and she has to meet a water challenge — be able to drink 16 1-ounce cups of water every 15 minutes and keep it down. Only then can she go home, maybe as soon as tonight.

Catching Health aka Diane Atwood in the OR with Becky

Catching Health is going to check in with Becky on a weekly basis to see how and what she is doing. If you have any questions for her or would like to offer encouragement and support, just comment on the post. She is very appreciative of all comments she has already received. “The support is very important,” she says. “Some people look at this and ask why can’t you lose the weight on your own? Why can’t you just stop stuffing your face? That’s true. Why couldn’t I do that? I just needed another tool. Other people have gone through this and know what you’re going through. They can give you the support that you need.”

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  1. Lynne says:

    Becky – I wish you the best of luck and success! I had this surgery 5 years ago; I lost 130 pounds and have kept it off! One of the best things I have ever done for myself and my family. I feel fantastic! I highly recommend this to anyone who is trying to make the decision.

  2. giorgi baino says:

    Dear Becky,

    I am sending you many good wishes that you will have the strength to give yourself the time to heal and discover what your tummy likes. I have many friends who have had this surgery, and have learned from them that it is a process of self discovery. They all have happily lost much of the weight that was in the way of their happiness.

    Remember, that you are unique and while much of what you will go through post surgery will be similar to others…there may be times, when your body requires something different.

    Best wishes to you, Becky. Sincerely, Giorgib

  3. Dreama Epperson says:

    Becky, I just found your blog today and I’m so excited to read it. I don’t have my surgery date yet. Waiting for insurance approval. I’m interested in anything you can tell me. Good luck!

  4. Good luck to you! I had adj. gastric band surgery in October 2011 up to EMMC, and am over a 100 lbs lighter and feel AMAZING and so much STRONGER!!!! So excited for you!!!!

  5. Becky says:

    Thanks everyone! I’m feeling great. It will be two weeks tomorrow since my surgery.
    I’ve had no pain or complications. I didn’t take any pain meds when I came home.
    My blood pressure is normal as is my blood sugar.
    If you are contemplating having the surgery, I highly recommend it. I highly recommend Dr. Jamie Loggins at CMMC. The man is amazing. No, I’m not getting paid to say it :). He has given me the tool I needed to help lose this weight.

  6. […] loss surgery. She had tried for years to lose weight on her own and finally opted to have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass procedure. So far, she has lost 43 pounds and has also experienced the pleasure of clothes that don’t […]

  7. […] I think today should be all about Becky Sawtelle. No wait, let’s give her the entire rest of the week. She deserves it! For most of Becky’s life she struggled with her weight and finally decided to have gastric by-pass surgery. Dr. Jamie Loggins, from the Central Maine Bariatric Surgery Center did the procedure the end of January. […]

  8. […] an apology to the nurses who took care of her the one night she spent in the hospital after her gastric bypass surgery. Suffice it to say, she will not go down in history as a so-called compliant patient. She confesses […]

  9. […] I consider currently should be all about Becky Sawtelle. No wait, let’s give her a whole rest of a week. She deserves it! For many of Becky’s life she struggled with her weight and finally motionless to have gastric by-pass surgery. Dr. Jamie Loggins, from a Central Maine Bariatric Surgery Center did a procedure the finish of January. […]

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