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December 17, 2010

Adjusting the Band

   I've been referring to this as filling the band, but I think a more appropriate term is adjusting the band.  This is a great advantage of having a band rather than a full bypass surgery.  They can go back in and tighten and loosen it to adjust the size of the stomach opening so you can have more control over how much you are allowing into your stomach when eating.  I went on Wednesday to have my Lap Band adjusted for the first time.  The idea of it is really more intimidating than the actual procedure.

   I was called back into the room and they have a cool x-ray machine that I have to stand in front of.  Many doctors don't use an x-ray to do the adjustments, but my doctor feels it is the best way to make sure everything is working how it is supposed to and nothing is out of place inside my body.  The doctor felt my stomach to feel where the port is since you can feel mine with even slight pressure.  After marking my stomach where she thought the port was located, she held her finger on it while they did an x-ray while I was standing sideways.  It confirmed that she had the right location so she stuck the needle into my stomach at the site of the port and then had to root around a little bit while applying pressure to actually get the needle into the port and injected 5 cc of fluid into it.  Once she confirmed it was in the right spot, I turned so they could do the x-ray video through me from the back to the front.

   While you are turning, the needle is simply hanging out of the port in your stomach.  They told me it would be lodged in pretty well so there was not much chance it would fall out.  Once they align the x-ray again to ensure they are seeing what they want, I had to take a decent swallow of barium.  It is actually a pretty cool experience.  I got to see the video of the barium passing down my esophagus and into my stomach.  They pointed out where the band and port were before so I would understand what was happening.  The barium shows up as black on the x-ray so I saw it flow down the esophagus and then stop at the stomach opening created by the band.  It is like it hits a little wall and backs up into the esophagus, then you see it slowly continue through the small stomach opening.  The main part of the esophagus is fairly large - I'd say you see about a 3/4-1" wide strip of black.  Then at the stomach opening, the fluid path is a bit smaller - I'd say about half the width of the average drinking straw.  After it passes through the opening, it spread through the entire stomach and turned it all black.  It was so cool to see and we watched the video several times.

   I am a few days after now and it is cool to really notice a difference in how much I can eat.  Today for breakfast, I made some egg beaters with a little bit of sausage and cheese.  I made how much I thought would be fine based on how I ate the past few weeks and I was able to only eat about half of it.  The thing is that even if you are eating foods that are good for you, it is easy to eat too much and still gain weight.  I like the fact that I finally feel the signals my body is giving me regarding hunger and  I know when to start and stop.  For lunch, I had a cup of soup and small salad for about 350 calories.

You can see a slight bruise where my finger is.  This is where the port is located.
 If you are not too uncomfortable with it, I'll let you feel the port through the skin.