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


December 26, 2010

Merry (Belated) Christmas!

It’s about time to get down to some serious winter. So far, I’ve enjoyed the winter. Not too cold (which, to me, means not below zero), and some pretty snowfalls. I love the hush after a big snowfall. It makes me think that I should be whispering outside, because nature is.

Enough waxing poetic for the night, and down to the big question:


Well, not exactly — but pretty close! As of Christmas Day, I weighed 197, only one pound short of my goal! I’m okay with that, considering I ate a bunch of garbage before Christmas, but I also exercised a lot — that probably helped me to not gain any more weight over the holidays.

The best part of having the LAP-BAND® during the holidays is that even though I probably ate things I should have, at least I couldn’t eat too much of it! No more “bottomless holiday pit.” I found that having a bite or a small portion of my favorite holiday foods satisfied the urge for them, but I didn’t overindulge because I got full. Oh, happy day! :)

At my last appointment, I didn’t think I was going to be able to get to my goal because I had gained a pound. Actually, I gained five pounds in a day, but there was nothing I could do about it (get it, girls?).

I was feeling like a failure and really beating myself up, but then Dr. Erickson and Patrice set me straight, and I got on with life. It made me so mad because I was working hard, but then I gained weight. Sometimes I’ll lose a couple pounds without trying, but when I gain after working hard and eating right, it really gets my dander up!

I haven’t set a new goal, although it was a great incentive for me. Maybe we should bet!

Any takers? How hard do you want me to work?

I’d like to have 100 pounds off by March, but I’m not sure that’s realistic. I’m at 69 pounds lost right now, and what a difference in my clothes! I’ve gone from size 22 to size 16, and now my jeans are starting to get loose.

That’s not the only thing getting loose… My skin is getting a little droopy as it doesn’t have the elasticity of youth anymore. My double chin has taken on the appearance of double skin. Wouldn’t it be nice if the bariatric program offered free skin de-bulking with every hundred pounds lost? Unfortunately, most plastic surgery is self-pay and that’s not an option for someone in my line of work.

Oh, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without a story about giving. A friend bought me an outfit from Under Armour to work out in, because she knows I don’t like to sweat. Does she know me, or what? Now I’ll have to keep exercising. It’s still not my favorite thing to do!

Until next time,

— Lisa

November 28, 2010

Greetings, all!

Yesterday I ran into someone who is thinking about LAP-BAND® surgery, and it reminded me to check in with all of you. I’m still holding at a total weight loss of 60-64 pounds, depending on the day. I’ve made a goal to lose 10 pounds by Christmas and, come hell or high water, I will do it. I’ve been coasting for far too long.

We are just wrapping up Thanksgiving, which was no big deal because the food didn’t thrill me. Yes, I know, I must be crazy! That’s not the first time I’ve heard that, and I hope it’s not the last :)

I’ve never been a big fan of turkey and all of the trimmings — with the exception of warm rolls and butter (which, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that bread in general was not in the equation this year — it’s just not worth the pain). I had some mashed potatoes with butter, a small portion of dressing, some corn and a very small piece of dark meat.

I didn’t have pie for dessert, but a small dish of ice cream made me happy. That was that; I had made it through the first big “food holiday” since my surgery. Woohoo!

I am still walking my dogs every day, but I’ve been slacking on the treadmill. I wish there were something that could inspire me to exercise more. I don’t want to hear about “endorphin rushes” and all that — it doesn’t happen for me. Oh, and anything that someone says you’ll “learn to love” is usually something I have an intense dislike for. I guess I’ll just keep plugging away…

As for the person I ran into, when he asked me if I would do it again, my immediate response was, “absolutely!” When he asked about the hardest part, I was honest: Giving up bread and not having beverages before, during and after meals. Don’t get me wrong — I still think this is a great tool for losing weight and maintaining weight loss, but it’s not magic. A lot of people still have that misconception, and for them, it probably wouldn’t work.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight… see you minus 10 pounds in December!

— Lisa

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

June 16, 2010

I would like to write about all of the fantastic accomplishments that I’ve had in the past couple of weeks, but I can’t. I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now. Since May 2, I’ve lost just over 43 pounds. Overall, that’s not too shabby — but I can’t help but think I should be down more than that. It’s not like I don’t know what’s happening. Can you guess what it is?

Complacency, that’s what!

I’ve really fallen off my exercise program for a few reasons including laziness, the weather and my new puppy. I could go on and on about Stella (my 9-week-old yellow lab puppy), but I’ll leave it at this — she takes a lot of time and energy. She’s actually sleeping through the night now, but for a while I wasn’t getting any sleep!

On Tuesday, I saw Dr. Erickson and he filled me in a little bit. I think I’m doing OK in that respect, but as I’ve said before, exercise plays a big part in this. The band is a tool to help — but I have to do the leg work, so to speak. Of course, he reassures me that everything is going to plan.

Maybe his plan, but not mine! Ha! ;)

To get myself back on the wagon, I’ve set a goal to lose 15 pounds by July 15 — so I’d better get off my butt and start working!

I know the truth is that I’m the only one who can make this happen, so I’ll talk to you again in a week or so!


— Lisa

April 19, 2010

HEY FOLKS! I’m back again after a short absence. Today I am one month and three days post-op and I have lost 32 pounds!

Things have been remarkably unremarkable as far as recovery goes, and it’s been easier than I thought it would be. The biggest challenge I face is the liquid restrictions before and after meals. I have always consumed lots of liquids all throughout the day, so this has been difficult. With my job in the operating room, I never know when I’m going to get a break, so I have to decide which I want more: water or food. There was a little learning curve, but I’m learning to adjust. It’s easier for me not to think about how thirsty I am after eating — and eventually, my 90 minutes is up.

Dr. Erickson put some fluid in my band at four weeks because I was hungryall of the time. That worked for a few days — but now as I sit here, I’m hungry again. They have told me it may take a few fills until I reach that “happy spot,” so until then I try to stick to smaller portions.

Something to work on, though, is my exercise. We all know you can’t starve fat off, so I need to find what works for me. I see Patrice and Dr. Erickson again on April 27, so I’ll have a picture taken then to show you how I look — so I don’t just have to tell you how I look!

That’s all for now,

— Lisa

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