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  • Name: Brook Robinson
  • Age: 41
  • Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
  • Surgery date: June 24th, 2014
  • Testimonial date: January 11th, 2015
  • Surgeon: Dr. Almanza
A little info...I just turned 40 in December 2013 and had one of the worst winters ever health wise. I was seriously sick for 4 weeks over Christmas and then had continual issues with my stomach each month over the next three months. This harsh winter of health prompted me to do a bunch of testing and doctor visits. During those visits one thing that came to light is my current weight...452 lbs. This was at a doctors office in Boise when I was having my allergies tested. You see I hadn't been able to weigh on my scale at home for quite a while because it maxed out at 400 so I knew I was over 400 lbs...I just didn't know the exact number. Well when you are talking weight of this magnitude you might think "So what? You are morbidly obese at 400 or 452. What does it matter?" Well the answer is I don't know...but it did. It mattered a lot and it caught me WAY off guard. I'm not sure what it was that made 452 THE magic number, but it was. It was the number that would change my life forever. At that point I knew something had to be done and something that was beyond me being the only thing in control of my body. I was now willing to look at "other" options. I had seen some information about a year ago about the Gastric Sleeve. It had caught my eye and I did some research to understand the process more. Up until this point I had never even considered any kind of weight loss surgery because I was NOT at all interested in the Gastric Bypass or the LapBand. I had family and friends who had tried both with some serious side effects and struggles. So when I saw the YouTube videos describing the Gastric Sleeve I actually was very interested in learning more. At this point I contacted my doctor, my insurance company and 2 different weight loss centers within a 300 miles radius trying to learn more about how I too could get the process moving on this new weight loss surgery. Needless to say after a few MONTHS of getting NO WHERE with my insurance and finding out they would not approve me for this surgery (simply because I didn't have 5 consecutive years of documented weight loss attempts. Seriously?!? I weigh 452 lbs!!!!!) I started looking at other options. I also pouted and got seriously depressed for a few weeks. Then I got online and did some more research. I wanted this surgery and I knew I NEEDED this surgery. After only a few days I had a plan. I talked to my husband, got him on board, figured out how to pay for it and then booked my surgery date for June 24, 2014 down in Tijuana, Mexico with Dr Mario Almanza!!!! I booked my surgery and set up my patient portal via www.weightlossagents.com. They had me fill out my medical history information, tell them whether or not I had a passport, how and when I was going to arrive in San Diego (where they picked me up) and any other pertinent info. They then sent me a ton of information relating to the 10 pre-op diet to shrink my liver, post-op diet and healing instructions and life-style info for after this type of procedure. They also connected me to an online forum/blog where I can gather information and connect with people all over the world who have had this specific procedure done by different bariatric surgeons. It is www.GastricSleeve.com . Before I knew it, it was time to start my pre-op diet. The information that follows will be basic stat updates and a little about my experiences. You can get all the details about my experiences during these time frames on my blog at www.MommyCEOs.blogspot.com

I started the 10 day pre-op diet on June 14, 2014

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**10 Day Pre-Op Diet**
(Purpose is to help shrink your liver and get it out of the way for surgery as well as prepare you for the drinking/eating requirements for the first several weeks after surgery.)

*I had to stop taking any blood thinners, aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, naprosyn, Vitamin E, and any multi-vitamins 2 weeks prior to surgery. I was able to take Tylenol if needed.

*Breakfast and Lunch were low calorie protein shakes. I could also have sugar free jello, sugar free popsicles, soup broth, popsicles, crystal light, apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, sugar free snapple, non-fat milk, water, coffee or tea. The point being that it was mostly liquid, sugar free, and non-carbonated.

*Dinner should also be liquid like broth or a protein shake but could consist of a small portion of lean protein like chicken, turkey or tuna without any spices or seasonings except lemon juice. (The protein aids in shrinking of your liver.)

**Three Days Prior to Surgery**

I had to take 1 adult dose of a laxative. It helps to not only clean things out but helps with the surgical gas you may experience after surgery.

**One Day Prior to Surgery**

Nothing but liquids for the 24-36 hours prior to surgery and nothing to eat or drink (not even gum) after 10pm the night before surgery.
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Weight loss from pre-op diet prior to surgery
June 23rd, 2014 = 22 lbs

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Because I had my surgery done down in Mexico, I will give you details about the entire process including travel in this information section:

We arrived in San Diego on Monday, June 23rd and went to the airport to catch the shuttle from Terminal 1 to then cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico. Once in Tijuana, my driver dropped us off at a clinic where we had blood drawn as part of the pre-op testing as well as an EKG from the cardiologist. (As a side note, don't panic if you are going through this same procedure and the process goes differently than what you are used to in the United States.) After the EKG, I met with the surgeon's brother who explained everything that was going to happen over the next three-four days. He also went over my medical history including any allergies and then asked if I had any other questions. At this time if I still had a balance to be paid on my procedure I would have paid it then. I had already pre-paid for the entire procedure but one gal in my group brought cash to make her final payment. After the consultation another driver came and picked us up and took us to the hotel we would be staying at for the week. My husband came with me on this trip so we were required to pay for our own private hotel room for the week. The cost was $232 for 4 nights. Others who came alone had their hotel stay included as part of their fees for the surgery and shared a room with another patient of the same gender. (The girls from my group all absolutely loved their roommates and had zero issues with the arrangements.) We got checked into our hotel room at the Hotel Ticuan and were EXTREMELY impressed with the entire hotel. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I believe it's equivalent to a 4 star hotel. Our room had a lush King size bed with a HUGE walk-in shower and bathroom area. It also had a large closet, a safe and about a 45" flat screen tv. The room itself smelled wonderful. (I have a sensitive nose and prefer nice smelling things so this was a big deal for me.) It smelled kind of like rose water. Even the linens smelled this way. At check-in we were also introduced to the nurse who was currently on duty at the hotel and told that if I needed juice, popsicles, or jello, I could pick them up from the front desk at any time. They were complimentary. Since I was still on my pre-op diet, that was good to know. They also gave me three coupons for free soup broth from the restaurant. After settling in, my husband and I went to the restaurant so he could have dinner and I ordered the soup broth. It was delicious. The next morning we had to be down in the lobby by 5:30 am to catch the shuttle over to the hospital. (About 6-7 people went on this same shuttle. The time of your surgery depended on what time you got in the day before. People were staggered at 2-3 different time intervals based on when their surgery was scheduled that day.) Once at the hospital we had a consultation with the surgeon himself in which he described exactly what he was going to do, asked how much weight we had lost on the pre-op diet and then got a "before" photo with us. :) (This was kind of funny to me. He's a celebrity of sorts in Mexico and he's a young, built, doctor so some of the girls in my group were all about hugging him for the picture...lol) Then one by one the nurses took you to the room you'd be staying in for the night, had you remove all your clothes and get into the gown. Then they came back in started an I.V. and wrapped your feet and legs to help prevent blood clots. Then we just waited for our turn. Each surgery took between 45-60 minutes on average. Once it was my turn, I grabbed my I.V. bag and followed the nurse into an elevator going up to the surgical floor. Once upstairs, they had me get on a gurney and wheeled me into the surgical room. In that room they had me move over to the actual surgical table which is specific table designed to have your breast plate poking up towards the sky, opening up your abdomen cavity and your arms stretched out to the sides of you like you are on a cross. The anaesthesiologist introduced himself (Mr Lopez) and said "now you see me, and now you don't...goodnight." with a big smile on his face and then I was out. :) The next thing I actually recall is waking up in my hospital room with my husband in the chair next to my bed. He said it had been 3 hours since I came down from recovery (supposedly in a wheelchair and then I myself got into the bed...seriously ZERO recollection of those events...lol. My husband stayed for a bit and then caught the last shuttle heading back to the hotel for the night. Through the night I feel like I did really good and didn't have near the issues that some others did. I was able to sleep for 2-3 hours at a time and then would get up to use the bathroom and walk around a little bit. Some people were dry heaving from the moment they came out of anesthesia or had serious pain from the gas bubbles trapped in their abdomen. (During the surgery they fill up your abdomen with surgical gas so they have more room to work and can see everything better. It usually takes several days for all of that gas to work it's way out of your body.) My only issue related to the timing of my IV pain meds and heading back to the hotel the next morning. For whatever reason, I ended up getting my last IV pain med at 12:30am in the hospital. And then by 5am they are prepping everyone who was in the that first group of surgeries the previous day to go back to the hotel. They remove the wraps on your legs and feet (if you haven't already), change your bandages on your belly, remove your IV and have you get dressed so you can catch the shuttle back to the hotel between 6-7am. So needless to say by the time I got back to the hotel and in my room it had been almost 8 hours since my last pain med and I was in some pain. But the nurses were in our rooms within 30 minutes, rehooking us up to an IV (that included the pain meds, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication and something else that I can't think of right now). That was Wednesday morning. Over the next 30 hours I basically slept, sucked on popsicles, ice water, and apple juice (tried room temperature water but that hurt a little the first several days) and walked around checking on other people as I ran across them doing the same things. On Thursday morning I was instructed to be down in the lobby by 9am I believe and to drink this little purple cup of liquid before I got to the lobby. At this point they took a group of us over to the radiologist office and we each did a leak test ex-ray. Once at the office they called us in one by one, had us stand in front of this ex-ray machine and had us drink another little cup full of NASTY liquid while they ex-rayed my stomach checking for leaks. (I hadn't thrown up or had dry heaves at all by this point, but seriously just about did when we had to drink this second liquid. Just a heads up.) They had us wait in the waiting room for a few minutes while they gathered our ex-ray results and then gave us a copy on our way back to the hotel. At this point, we had no one in our group who had any leak issues with their stomach but if you would have they would have taken you back to the hospital. So for the rest of Thursday my husband and I did a little shopping close by, walked around a little, and just relaxed and continued to let my body heal. Again, popsicles, apple juice and soup broth were my best friends at this point and were my only source of nourishment outside the IV. Thursday night they came and took out the drain tube that had been in since my surgery, changed my bandages and hooked me up to my last IV for the night. When the IV liquids ran out around 2am, they came in and took out my IV. The next morning they changed my bandages and checked my incisions one last time, made sure I had the meds from the hospital that they were sending me home with (which included Cipro -antibiotic-, a pain med, milk of magnesia for constipation and a small bottle of wound wash to use when cleaning my incisions) and answered any questions I had about after care of my incisions or my stomach. (FYI - Prior to my surgery the surgeons office had already emailed me several pages of detailed information about everything relating to my post-op care.) At this point, we packed up our room and headed down to the lobby to catch the 9am shuttle heading back to San Diego. Prepare to sit and wait to cross the border for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Yes, I said HOURS. You literally sit in a line about 1/2 mile from the border and creep along for 2-3 hours until it is finally your turn to get checked at the border. (IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: In my dealings with the surgeons office I was told if I didn't have a passport I could use my drivers license and birth certificate to get back across the border. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do not do this and that you have a valid passport. The department of homeland security was not impressed that we did not have passports. We haven't needed them in the past when we've been on cruises down to Mexico but I guarantee I will have one before we ever go back. ;)

The trip home from San Diego wasn't too bad other than I think all the movement stirred up the remaining gas I had sitting in my abdomen because for the next 4-5 days I had a serious gas bubble sitting at the base of my rib cage, about by my breast plate on top of my stomach that did NOT feel good at all. It did however finally work it self out and ended up being no big deal. I arrived back home on June 28th and the next several days just consisted of drinking what I could (my stomach was picky about temperature on different days...some days warm felt good, other days really cold was the best), walking around, getting good sleep (including naps) and letting my body heal. The first two weeks home my diet consisted of mainly soup broth, protein shakes, water, popsicles, jello, juice boxes, gatorade, non-fat milk, almond milk, crystal light, and other water flavoring that was sugar-free.

I had my regular doctor remove my stitches on the 13th day after surgery.

The next updates are my weight loss totals over the first 6 months after my surgery.

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Weight loss total 13 days post-op
July 7th = 41 lbs!

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Weight loss total 20 days post-op
July 14th = 44 lbs!

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Weight loss total 24 days post-op
July 18th = 51 lbs!
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Weight loss total August 1 - 38 days post op
61 lbs!

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Weight loss total August 12 - 49 days post op
69 lbs!
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Weight loss total September 15 - 83 days post op
85 lbs GONE!
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Weight loss total January 10, 2014 - 6 and 1/2 months post op
115 lbs GONE!
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This is my 6 month update.

As of this morning I am still sitting at 115 lbs lost at just over 6 months post-op! :) I say still only because I've been at this same weight for about 3 weeks. I'm not concerned at all. I know that it's just something my body has to go through. If anything these stalls are a good thing because they help you stop and re-evaluate what you are doing on a daily basis and what calories/protein/nutrients you are putting into your body. This stall also happened to be over the holidays (more sugar added to my diet) and while we were on vacation (additional stress and change in habits) so again, I'm not worried. ;-)

At this point in the journey I can eat just about everything I would've/could've before BUT it's a WHOLE lot smaller portion and/or at a LOT slower pace. For example if I want a piece of pizza that my son and husband are having I get one and it takes me every bit of a full hour probably of little bites to get that down without being in pain. If I forget and take a normal or large bite or two back to back I literally have to stand up and stretch and walk around for a minute or two because its a discomfort in the top of my stomach that feels like I'm trying to shove two whole tomatoes through a straw....lol. ;-) So as long as I remember that my stomach width is A LOT SMALLER than I do just fine. People ask if I feel like I am deprived or if I regret this surgery and my answer is always the same...ABSOLUTELY NOT! At this point I HIGHLY recommend this surgery for anyone who has battled their weight or is morbidly obese. If you are 20 lbs over weight, this is probably not the solution for you. Not that it wouldn't work because it would but you could get the same results by simply going on a juice diet for 2-3 weeks and shrinking your stomach in my opinion. Those of us who are 50, 100, 200, or more lbs over weight the Gastric Sleeve Procedure really is what we need. It's hard to explain exactly why I feel this way but let me just say this. There are so many different emotions, hormones, habits, and addictions that come into play for those of us that are morbidly obese and having a permanent, no going back, force you to change or puke-your-guts-up solution really is the only way you are going to achieve permanent weight loss in my opinion. For me, this is how this has gone. I decided on the surgery on a day when I felt I had exhausted all my other options. I was sick of my current weight and I was ready for a change...no matter what. So I booked the surgery for like 2 months out. Then it came down to the time to start the 10 day pre-op diet and I got going with excitement and nervousness. By the 3rd day I was seriously thinking about cheating but the thought of getting all the way down to Mexico and then being denied because my liver hadn't shrunk enough to get out of the Dr's way was enough to make me be good...for the most part. ;-) Then you are also committed to travel plans and have told family and friends what you are doing...so you go. You are committed and you just go through the motions. Then you get to Mexico and are excited about the new adventure...yet still apprehensive but again...you are here...there is no backing out now. So you go through the surgery and begin your recovery. You are just focused on recovery for the first several weeks. Seriously, as you saw from above you are busy documenting every little detail...what you ate, what you've lost, whether you are pooping on schedule or loosing your hair, etc! :-) Hahahah....and that goes on. You just plug along day by day going through the motions. You have an experience where you are stressed or emotionally drained and you reach for one of your old go-to snacks that seemed to make you feel good before, you eat it just like you used to...and then it hits...within SECONDS....the discomfort and pressure and then depending on just how much you ate and/or how fast...you may throw it all back up. Now for me, it wasn't on an emotional binge that I had my first "throw up" session but rather on some Quinoa that just didn't go down right. ( I think I described that with the recipe above.) The second time however was on a mindless, emotional reach into the fridge. I didn't throw up my toenails...I just threw up the 2-3 bites that were sitting at the top of my stomach. I don't know if I described this in the beginning but after the surgery I had a MAJOR fear of throwing up because I was worried about what it might do to my newly sutured/stapled/glued stomach. So in a way that fear helped me a ton! It made me THINK before I put things in my mouth. And then when I would go past the thinking and caring and reach for a piece of food, my smaller stomach would step in and give me the extra reminder with the REALLY STRONG discomfort (not really pain...just uncomfortable). So that's why in a nutshell I think this specific surgery is THE ONLY OPTION for people who are seriously overweight and don't get accepted onto The Biggest Loser or to train one-on-one with Chris and Heidi Powell. ;-) This surgery has helped me to overcome habits and simply be more aware of my body as a whole. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not cured, fixed or done by any means. I still struggle with addiction issues and emotional eating. But I'm not beating myself up about how imperfect I am. Rather I know this is a life-long journey...and I really am enjoying the ride.

We recently went to Hawaii over Christmas and for me the proof was in the pudding. I had so much fun with my family and friends and was able to do things I never would've been able to consider last year including fitting in the seats on the airplane, walking through the terminals, etc. Like I said, I've only lost 115 lbs and I still have over 140 to go but the amount of energy, flexibility and stamina I have now is simply wonderful. I feel good and I am just focusing on creating a healthy body that my spirit can reside in.

With Dr Almanza I have experienced ZERO complications and very few side effects. I am currently trying to get my husband, my sister, my brother and my mom to all go down and have this surgery done this summer with Dr Almanza. I highly recommend him and his skilled staff and wouldn't choose anyone else for this procedure. You want the experience he has. Trust me if matters and makes all the difference.
* This is an actual testimonial, however, your results may vary. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.

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    * The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented on our website are only applicable to the individuals depicted, and may not be representative of the experience of others. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.