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Old 11-19-2018, 04:37 PM   #1  
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Default One Month with the Reshape Balloon (very long post)

first time poster here-- I wanted to start writing a bit about my journey, not just to help other people by sharing my experience but also to help myself express my feelings. Warning, this is going to be a long post!

It's been exactly 4 weeks since I had the Reshape balloon inserted. This is one of the various gastric balloons on the market, with the theory being that the balloon will take up some space in your stomach and force you into better portion control. The Reshape is actually two balloons tethered together so if one deflates and tries to exit the stomach, it will be stopped by its still-intact partner.

I have been varying degrees of overweight for most of my adult life but after a knee injury 2.5 years ago and a multi-year tendency to poor diet and low activity, I found myself at 367 lb. I've developed osteoarthritis in both knees and one foot, and have been in more or less constant pain since my injury. I've been married for 6 years to a lovely man who shares all of my same bad habits-- we lost a combined 150 lb for our wedding, and without the looming deadline to keep us honest, we put it back on and then some. The Reshape balloon was actually my husband's idea; he did the research, compared the products (including traditional gastric bypass), and then spent about 2 months talking me into it. One of my goals is to lose enough to shut up the orthopedist long enough for him to give me another cortisone shot in my knee (because I would prefer that shot without the side of lecture, thankyouverymuch, and if I can say "well I've already lost X pounds" then maybe he'll just shush up and give me the shot).

We enrolled in a program at a major medical university in our area. Each of us got the insertion (and eventual removal) plus an aftercare program (more about that later). My husband's program cost $8000 and his insertion was performed under "twilight" sedation at a hospital-affiliated medical professional building. My program cost around $9400; my weight dictated a different type of anesthesia and also carried higher risks, so I had to go to a proper hospital. Insurance will not cover this procedure, although it looks like insurance might be covering our anesthesia. Possibly. It would be nice to have some of that money back.

The day before the insertion, you are required to have a primarily liquid diet, with yogurt being the closest to solid food you're allowed. The day of, you're not allowed even drinking water, and they do turn you away if you've not followed these rules (it happened to a man who was being prepped while my husband was in the recovery area). Once you're checked into the hospital, they give you and IV and take you to the surgical room, and once you get the gas mask on, you're pretty much gone. I have no idea how long I was out, but I was so thirsty when I woke up! You go home after the procedure; no overnight stay.

That day isn't too bad, because you're mostly still stoned on the anesthesia. I had no interest in food but forced myself to drink some flat ginger ale and half of a protein shake. I slept a lot. It wasn't awful.

The next day, though... ugh... so bad... you're given anti-cramping medicine (and good lord it is expensive) that helps, but your poor stomach is still trying to figure out what's shoved in it, and I spent the next 3 days or so with super angry, violent cramps. I also had bad acid reflux despite a daily Pepcid, and for about a week I had midnight hiccups that woke me up. I was pretty miserable and had even set a deadline "if it's not better by friday, I have to have it taken out." This mirrors my husband's experience (he's ahead of me by one week). I think I had stomach acid come out my nose once. It was really kind of terrible and I don't think I was prepared for just how terrible it was going to be.

Those first few days, you're really not feeling like you want a lot of food, and you're supposed to stick to a liquid diet anyway. After about 4 days of this, I was feeling exhausted, run down, nauseous, head-achey and sick. My husband made me a mashed potato-- just one boiled potato, mashed, with no butter and the tiniest bit of milk in it, and it was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten. It also fixed most of what was wrong with me. My headaches went away, I still felt drained but not bone-tired as I had been, and the cramping stopped, at least temporarily. It would come back when my stomach would get empty but I was getting more interested in food so I made it a point to always have a little something in my stomach. I have a new love of eggs.

From there, the meal plan involves slowly introducing more semi-solid and soft foods, with heavy emphasis on proteins, and gradually working towards an unrestricted (although healthy) diet. My husband and I both progressed through these phases faster than the official plan-- we were eating plain boiled chicken breast by the end of Week 1 and salad by the middle of Week 3, when officially you're not supposed to be ready for salad till Week 5. Rice and pasta are not officially banned but they're not favored; popcorn is banned for the whole time you've got the balloon. Menus are built around lean protein, more lean protein, and veggies that are cooked till they're pretty soft. Carbs are part of the plan too, either carby veggies or unprocessed/whole grains like oats or the occasional slice of bread.

So how does it feel now?

Well, for me, usually it feels like nothing, but sometimes it bothers me, and it's hard to describe it. If I eat something that my body doesn't like-- which tends to be dark, leafy greens, whole beans (like edamame) or tough/fibrous veggies)-- my whole stomach feels heavy and "grabby" for the lack of a better word. It's like a cramp but not quite. And I get the most ferocious after-taste of those veggies. I had some sauteed kale which did not agree with me, and for 2 days I just kept belching up lawn mower bag flavors. Bleurgh.

Sometimes I can feel some bit of food that's caught between the balloon and the inside of my stomach, but it's annoying rather than painful. You have to chew chew chew your food to bits while you're eating but sometimes it's hard to be perfect, and your balloon will let you know when you've had one of those times.

I have random hiccups a LOT. My nurse says this is usually from eating too fast but sometimes it's first thing in the morning, so who knows.

My husband is not as comfortable. He has moderate cramps after almost every meal. The nurse and the dietitian both say that's because he's eating too fast, and he's trying to get better at that. We did get another anti-cramping medicine (not the super expensive one) but he won't take it because it knocks him out.

I've never felt the uncomfortably full feeling I'm told will happen when you overeat, but I've not really over-eaten since getting the balloon. But that kale, man, I am not touching that stuff till after the balloon is out. And I think edamame is going to end up on that list too.

What's the rest of the program?

Our expenses included 12 office visits, to cover a full year post insertion (aka 6 months after removal). We can see the dietitian, a behaviorist, a medical doctor or an exercise specialist (or we can see two in a visit and they count it as two visits, that's fine). We can also email questions to the dietitian or our nurse anytime, as long as they're not long research projects. Apparently participants in their program lose an average of 12lb more than non-participants, or so they tell me. But the nurse was a godsend during those awful days-- she was able to help us get a little relief where possible, and encouraged us to stick with it when we wanted to give up.

So how are we doing now?

We are both drinking oceans of water, which you must do because it's very easy to become dehydrated. We are currently consuming about 900-1000 calories each per day, spread over 3 meals and sometimes a snack. We tried going for the 5-6 tiny meals a day approach but it's just not for us. The dietitian says it's ok and we should do whatever works for us. We are also exercising 30 minutes a day (every day for him, 5-6 days a week for me) on a recumbent elliptical in our house.

Progress so far: I've lost about 17 lb in 4 weeks which I think is kind of awesome. My husband is just under 20 lb in 5 weeks. He has 19 weeks to go and I have 20. I don't believe we will keep up this rate of weight loss but I sure would be tickled if we did.


I'll post periodic updates -- it really does help me to do this-- but in the mean time, feel free to ask me anything you want and I will do my best to answer!

Last edited by MyGenericUserName; 11-19-2018 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:05 PM   #2  
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Update: went to a check-in with my weight loss doctor today and I've now lost 26 lb in just about 8 weeks since I got the balloon. My husband is at 29 lb. lost.

No negative side effects of any real note currently, although I never want to experience that first week again! Currently I don't have any cramping, bloating, or pain, and I only have a random hiccup here or there. I do take a daily prilosec (I believe that's standard protocol for balloon patients) and it keeps any acid issues under control. I'm eating about 900 calories/day (which my doctor says is sustainable for the short/mid term) and exercising 30 minutes/day, 5 days a week, on a recumbent elliptical (which I adore--- it's very easy on the knees).

My doctor believes that if I continue doing exactly what I'm doing now, then I can realistically expect to lose another 50 lb in the next 4 months, before I have to have the balloon taken out. Sounds good to me!

Last edited by MyGenericUserName; 12-17-2018 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 03-06-2019, 07:22 PM   #3  
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I am so happy to have found this forum! I am feeling pretty lonely, can’t find too many people that have had the Reshape. Just had mine Friday and it was an awful weekend. Today I had to get iv fluids and that made a huge difference. I am learning what hunger pains are! Hopefully I have smooth sailing. I need to work on snacks and things to stay full.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:19 PM   #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jodieole View Post
I am so happy to have found this forum! I am feeling pretty lonely, canít find too many people that have had the Reshape. Just had mine Friday and it was an awful weekend. Today I had to get iv fluids and that made a huge difference. I am learning what hunger pains are! Hopefully I have smooth sailing. I need to work on snacks and things to stay full.
How has your first month gone? I've not been super active on this forum -- kinda felt like I was talking to myself but I figured I'd check in. I just had my balloon removed-- removal is soooooooooooooooooooo much easier than insertion-- lost 65 pounds in just under 6 months so I'm pretty darn pleased with myself

Do you have a support program?
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