Lisa's Diary reveals the emotions and day-to-day experiences of a real patient in Fort HealthCare's Bariatric Program.


Me again!

Since my uniforms are all falling off these days, I went shopping for some new work clothes.  It was nice to have such a nice selection in smaller sizes.  The larger sizes I used to need cost more and came in a lesser variety.  Recently I got my haircut shorter and people at work hardly recognize me! Down over 55 lbs., I feel so much BETTER. I realized that I haven’t held this weight since 1995 when I was in my 30s.  I can only imagine how much better I will feel when I drop another 30-50 lbs.  

Without LAP-BAND®, I would not have lost this much weight. Like you, I tried for so many (MANY!) years. All of those wonderful support programs that mean well and work for many people – just not for me.  I get asked many times if I regret getting the surgery – not a chance! This has been an invaluable tool on my weight-loss journey.  

Keep it up,


October 6, 2010

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got greedy and I paid for it.

I was slowly losing weight — one or two pounds a month — and decided that needed improvement. At my monthly appointment, I decided I wanted more saline in my band because I felt I was eating too much before getting full. I discussed this with Dr. Erickson and Patrice, and we decided to “tweak” the band. He put in two-tenths of a cc — not much at all.

The next morning, I could barely get my yogurt down. I spoke with Dr. Erickson, who felt we needed to take the saline back out, so we did later that afternoon. I thought it was going to be okay, but my stomach must have been irritated and swollen — for the next week or so, even drinking water was a chore. I thought this was good because I DEFINITELY couldn’t eat much this way! When I couldn’t drink my Diet Pepsi and it took all day to get my morning medication down, it dawned on me — this wasn’t good.

(Plus the fact that I was REALLY cranky didn’t help much!)

Finally, I threw in the towel and called Patrice on a Sunday* to see what she thought, and she agreed that some saline needed to be taken out. On Monday, Dr. Erickson took one cc out. While I stood up to drink some water, it still hung around in the back of my throat. :(

I laid back down and he took another cc out, but when I sat up to drink more water, it wouldn’t go down again. Out came another half cc and the water went down — a good thing, right?

It was a great thing for me, because I felt like I had no restriction at all. I could eat and drink with impunity — but that doesn’t promote weight loss. I actually only gained one pound, because I decided to use restraint instead of just eating whatever I wanted. Still, I could eat nothing like I used to.

Now, it’s a slow process to get things back to where they were, which is perfect for me. I’ve had one cc put back in, and we’ll probably go up from there in two weeks.


If you’re losing weight (even slowly) and things are restricted but still comfortable, don’t get greedy! It was like a little vacation once they let it down, but was miserable when it was too tight. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I’m down between 58 and 60 pounds, depending on the day, but my clothes are fitting differently. I’m not setting any records, but they tell me it’s not a race. You should expect to reach your goal in 12 to 18 months — which might seem like a very long time. I’m still walking my dogs every day, and I’ll go on the treadmill three to four times a week. Love it (not!).

So long for now…

— Lisa

September 7, 2010

Whew! Just got off of the treadmill after two hours!

Okay, maybe it was more like 21 minutes and 34 seconds, but who’s counting?

Time is relative, but I will say I wasn’t sure I knew that toenails could sweat. Maybe they are crying tears of joy since the workout is done, but who can tell? In case you haven’t caught on, I really don’t like exercise — but it’s so much better than hot weather! Finally, some nice temperatures.

First of all, I have been meaning to do some of my entries on video, but I keep forgetting to get the camera. So, I thought I would write something tonight while it was in my little head.

I’m still holding at 55 pounds and am none too pleased. All I can do is continue to do what I have been doing and increase my level of exercise. It has been some time since my last appointment, but I’m thinking of making one soon because, for some reason, I’m starving all the time. Maybe my body is insulating itself for winter? That’s definitely what it’s used to this time of year.

Oh — I was in the grocery store tonight, and the five-gallon buckets of ice cream looked lonely. I’ve been known to take a stray ice cream home at times, but these didn’t look that lonely — yet.

Sorry if I seem long-winded tonight, but I had kind of a stressful day at work — and writing this has been keeping me away from the lonely refrigerator! ;)

Time to face reality,

— Lisa

July 28, 2010

Wow, this summer is flying by! Wish I could say my fat was flying off… but it’s not. :(

I had more saline injected into the band last night, and my official weight loss is at 47 pounds. Not too bad, considering the amount of time (about four months) since my surgery.

However, if you’ve ever dieted and lost weight quickly, only to come to a standstill, you know how frustrating it is. I’m keeping my head up, though.

I haven’t gained weight, so I’m doing OK.

I went to a family reunion last Sunday, and had a GREAT time! There were about 100 people there, and TONS of food! I have to admit — I ate some pretty decadent stuff. Had this event been a year ago, I’d probably still be there eating. I was careful and ate slowly. One plate of food with about a tablespoon each of three or four dishes, and a cut up brat (no bun, of course). After that, I was totally stuffed. My brain wanted to eat, but there was no place for the food to go.

The whole “no liquids before and after meals” thing didn’t work so well, because I always had a beverage of some kind in my hand — it WAS a party, after all! I did ‘fess up to Dr. Erickson and Patrice, and they didn’t seem to be too concerned about it — this time, anyway. It’s not like I do that every weekend!

The people who knew about my surgery kept asking me if I had the band let down for the party — of course that’s a big, fat NOPE. It wouldn’t have made any sense; this isn’t a tool of convenience. If you have that kind of expectation after all the education you go through, then this probably wouldn’t be the weight-loss solution for you. It’s a commitment that needs to be taken seriously.

Speaking of commitments, I have to be truthful with you regarding WHY I’m not losing a lot of weight. I am lacking in my ambition to get off my butt and exercise. I’ve kind of taken a little (OK, big) break from all of that. Just last week, I got back on the treadmill, not as much as I should — but baby steps, right? (Say, “yes!”)

My newest goal is to lose 20 pounds by October 1. An unlikely goal? Perhaps, but it’s worth a shot.

I previously mentioned that I got more saline, and it seems to be making a difference already. Usually it takes a couple days for me to feel the effects, but I really have to concentrate on chewing well — otherwise things don’t want to go down, or it’s a little painful. Not bad, but just a reminder of why I had this done. It’s exciting when you can feel that it’s working, but it can sometimes take a while to reach the correct fill. I’m hoping this is the last one for a long time.

That’s about all I’ve got for tonight.

Oh, wait! In other news, my 16-week-old puppy went from 19 pounds to 34 pounds in ONE month. I finally found someone who can gain weight faster than I can! ;)

I’ll check in again after five pounds. Hopefully, that will be soon.

— Lisa

May 25, 2010

HOLY MOLY, be careful what you wish for!

Three days ago, I had more saline put in my band — bringing the total to five milliliters. It wasn’t until two days later when I felt the effects. I was on-call for work and got out of my last case at 4:00 p.m. Since I’d had an early lunch, I was pretty hungry. On our table in the lounge (anything sitting on the table is free game), there was a big basket of chocolate, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispies Treats. After perusing the bounty, I decided that the Rice Krispies Treats had the lowest calorie count, and proceeded to slam it down. I say “slam” because up until now, I haven’t really felt any noticeable restriction, and thus have gotten lax in taking small bites and chewing thoroughly.

Bad thing to do.

I developed discomfort in my left chest area, and it felt like the food was at the back of my throat. I waited a couple of hours and had some pasta for dinner, and I just got more uncomfortable — but still felt hungry. This definitely kept me from having a snack last night.

The discomfort was still there this morning — but it was tolerable — so I had yogurt for breakfast. No problems with that, but it’s a strange feeling — the top part of my stomach can hold no more, but the bottom half feels hungry and growls!

I had probably a quarter of a Lean Cuisine–type thing, because that is all that would go down. I did talk to Patrice, and she suggested eating softer foods for a couple of days and, if I still felt residual food in there, some saline should probably be taken out. Of course that’s not what I want, because I’m finally like Pavlov’s dog — When I get uncomfortable I stop eating, which is the whole point of the surgery. However, I’m not sure how uncomfortable it should get before I do something. Patrice says I’m like every LAP-BAND® patient, because I’m sure I would really start to lose weight if it was left this way.

I decided that since I’m writing this diary for all of you to enjoy, I should take all the precautions that were explained to me to set a good example. I’ve already proven that I’m not unique with the bread thing! There is also another possible explanation as to why I’m having some trouble — those dreaded “female issues.”

Oh, by the way, I lost two more pounds… so my total weight loss = 35 pounds!


— Lisa

If you want to learn more, leave a comment below and we can discuss.

February 28, 2010

Hi everyone,

My name is Lisa Starin and I am — never thought I would have to say this — morbidly obese.

Lisa Before Bariatric Surgery at Fort HealthCare

For this reason I have decided to undergo bariatric surgery. I’m writing this in the hope that others in our community who also suffer with obesity may gain knowledge and courage to help themselves make a difference in their lives. I will try to give you a step-by-step information guide about what I have gone through and what I will be going through.

Now, how did I get started with all of this? I’ll start by telling you a little bit about myself. I’m 47 years old and have worked in surgery for about 25 years. I love my work and can’t imagine doing anything else, but all this extra weight is starting to make everything more difficult. I am currently between 260 and 270 pounds — although I’ve never been “thin,” I’ve never beenthisheavy. I was average weight at birth and average or a little above during childhood.

My adult life, however, has been a gradual but steady increase as I get older. I’ve tried lots of diets — Weight Watchers, Fen-Phen (great stuff but bad for you, isn’t that always the case?), exercise — you name it. I can lose weight, but the minute I stop a regimented program, it comes back — plus more.

For this reason, I have decided to take a more drastic measure. My decision to get bariatric surgery did not come easy for me. When Dr. Erickson first started doing these, I was very skeptical.Didn’t these people know that diet and exercise would do the trick?

Working in surgery, I have seen some great success stories, and some not-so-great. I realize that once the band is put in, the pounds don’t magically fall off. It takes a whole lifestyle change — with diet and exercise included, if not foremost.

I did a lot of soul searching to come to my decision, and I didn’t tell anyone until I was 80% sure that I could make the commitment. I am very ready now.

I wish it were already here!

Once my mind was made up, I talked to Dr. Erickson first — he was very enthusiastic about it. I was kind of hoping he’d say, “What?! You don’t need it!”

No such luck. 

He then sent me to Patrice Stair, the Bariatric Coordinator, who also used to work in surgery. She was also very enthusiastic. Again, I was hoping for the, “What?! You don’t need it!” but once again, a big fat no!

Okay, back on track — Patrice set me up with an informative session, which was exactly as advertised, very informative. Then the legwork started!

They needed a history of my weight from the last five years, so I went to my doctors’ offices and signed a release for them to give to Patrice. She also said they could use the recorded weights from Weight Watchers — so if you are in that program now, or have been in the past, hold on to your books!

The next step was to make an appointment with a psychologist to see if I was making this decision for the right reasons, or if I had high expectations without the willingness to work for it. She pronounced me sane — ha, fooled another one — and then I was pretty much ready to go.

I forgot to say that, somewhere in there, I had an appointment at the Bariatric Clinic where more information was given and discussed. Dr. Erickson weighs you, and he’s courteous enough to not gasp audibly when you step on the scale. At that time, you’re given a sheet with dietary restrictions and helpful things to buy for the liquid diet (gasp!) that is required for 14 days prior to the surgery. 

I am writing this on Saturday, and my liquid diet starts on Tuesday. Not really looking forward to it — I’m pretty sure I’m going to starve to death, even though Patrice assures me I won’t. So, my surgery is scheduled for March 16, and I see Dr. Erickson on March 2 for one last time. After this appointment, I will not be allowed to gain any more than five pounds until the surgery date, or it will be cancelled for non-compliance. I guess they weigh you when you check in in the morning. 

I am going to stop now and check back in after my appointment on Tuesday.

— Lisa