My weight loss surgery is finally approaching. It has been a long 6 months going through the process, but the big day is in sight. It is 14 days before surgery, and today is the day my life changes forever.
Today is the day I start my all liquid, liver-shrinking diet. I have to live on liquids only from now until surgery, then for 2 more weeks after surgery. Then, I move to 2 weeks of soft or pureed foods. Then I finally return to regular eating. A check of the calendar shows that my next bite of solid food in 6 weeks is December 26. By that time, I should have lost a pretty significant amount of weight – perhaps 20-25 pounds if it goes the same as it does for other people I have come in contact with.
What people are those? Mostly, the members of a Facebook group called “Bariatric Surgery And Gastric Sleeve Support Group.” I found this group on the recommendation of 2 other patients waiting for the pre-op class we all attended on November 4 to prepare us for the surgery. There are hundreds of people in the group, people who have already gone through the surgery, are in the prep phase, or are exploring the surgical options for weight loss. There is no shortage of motivation and inspiration – reports of triple-digit weight loss figures, stunning before & after photos and stories of being able to change eating habits. There are also tales of struggle – post-op infections, desire for pizza while on the liquid diet, and accounts of patients having their spouses leave them after the surgery. There are so many comments of congratulations and lifting up in support, it makes you feel like you have another family. One man posted that he is 6′ 3″ and once weight 640 pounds. Today he is 235 pounds. He posted that according to the charts, he is still obese. He has a current photo, and the guy looks fantastic. Many have encouraged him to ignore the “charts.” I agree; the “charts” say that Cam Newton is obese. How stupid is that? But all this activity in the group gets you mentally prepared for what the journey will be like.
In addition to that, the pre-op class was great mental prep as well. Why are we trying to shrink the liver? Because the liver rests on top of the stomach, and if it is shrunken, it’s easier to perform the alterations to the stomach, with less time pushing the liver out of the way, and a shorter time on the table. The instructor pulled no punches, telling us, “it sucks. Every TV commercial will be about food, every billboard will be for Cracker Barrel.” The FB group also has accounts of people who have had complications. The most frequent complication with this surgery is leaks along the line of staples used to re-shape the stomach. This can lead to infections and extended hospital stays.
In the qualifying process for this surgery, you must consult with a bariatric therapist for a few sessions. One of the things that is brought up repeatedly is, “what is your support system?” I’m all set in that regard. My wife is 100% behind me, my Dad is coming into town to stay with us for a few days after I have the surgery, and a ton of people at church are ready to step in wherever help is needed. Now I add this FB support group. This is a critical step in the process. Losing most of a major organ changes everything about life. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared. I think my bariatric practice and my sources of support have done a great job with that.

Bring on the liquid challenge. I am ready!