Put on your Big Girl Panties!

Bariatric Surgery is Not Easy and Supplements do NOT taste like Cheeseburgers! If you are not ready to do Whatever it Takes, DON’T DO IT!

Hold on!
When I had Gastric Bypass surgery in June of 2001, it was not big in the media at that time and few personally knew anyone who had done it. It was shocking when Carnie Wilson (of 80’s pop trio Wilson Philips) had Bariatric Surgery, which people related to as Stomach Stapling, in a Live Internet Broadcast. It was a novelty, a sideshow, a curiosity, but it did bring attention to a serious problem and somewhat drastic solution. It sure caught my attention!

Practice makes perfect
While I was digesting the idea of bariatric surgery, I read everything I could find regarding surgical outcomes. If there were ways for me to make my surgery safer or have it turn out better, I was all over it. I wanted the best surgeon; one who had performed the procedure many times, and bariatric surgery was only being done on a large scale in certain regions.

What will they be cutting Mr. Peabody?
I knew I would need to live on a modified Atkins diet for the rest of my life. What exactly would they be cutting? What would happen to my stomach? What could go wrong – I was perfectly healthy other than being morbidly obese. (sarcasm off) What were the bad things that could happen after I woke up and down the road. What protein drinks did I need? What vitamins were the best and why?

I figured the good stuff would take care of itself, but the bad needed to be marginalized. If I were going to do this, I would be the best bariatric patient ever.

Euuuuuuuu… yuk!
Never once did I think “What do the vitamins taste like?” or “I hope the protein shakes taste good.” It did not matter what they tasted like, I had to take them! When I did buy protein that tasted awful, I still used them and became expert at fixing up shakes in the blender. I never considered NOT drinking a shake because I didn’t like it – I had to have protein, the surgeon told me so. The chewable brand of vitamins back in 2001 was horrible, but I had the mindset that I did not have a choice so just made an ugly face and chewed them. I took the deal and had to do things I didn’t like as the trade off.

Cut and run!
The dynamic has changed where todays bariatric patient does not appear to be intimidated by what will be taking place in that operating room – maybe they don’t feel anxious about a procedure that can be done on outpatient basis. Since new post ops know so many who have ‘the sleeve’, some are in a rush to do it too. In all our years of support groups, we’ve never dealt with so many who know so little about nutrition or what changes are critical for success. Our BE Facebook Support Group has way too many who really don’t know even the basics.

But I only have a bandaid!
These days you wake up with a couple of band aids on your big bloated belly and go home the next day. The perception is VERY different from just ten years ago when procedures looked a lot worse on the outside and hospital stays much longer. A very smart person I know gave the analogy that if you woke up with a giant bolt through your leg, you would be reminded that serious surgery had taken place, but a bandaid, meh!

Stomach in knots
The Sleeve is in vogue – but do people really know they are having most of their stomach removed? Some comment it is non-invasive! While the bariatric surgery itself is very safe with low mortality, you can be gravely affected by things that take place in the months or years after surgery. Many complications are caused by non compliance – not doing what is necessary – not taking care of ourselves.

How long til I can have KFC & sweet tea?
Fourteen years ago, when the medical team told us to ‘jump’, we asked ‘how high’. Today everyone is an internet expert and knows better than the bariatric team.

Todays trend is for the ‘sleeve people’ to continue to use sugar or sugar ‘in the raw’ under the guise that Splenda is bad for them. While artificial sweeteners are not ideal, neither is being 300 pounds. Their bariatric doctor or nutritionist certainly did not recommend Sugar over Splenda. They create this mythology to take themselves off the hook so they are not the ‘bad patient’. They say ‘yes’ to the doctor but push the limits as soon as possible because they know others who have and still lost weight.

I used a straw and nothing happened
There is a duty to do our part but as time passes, more are not keeping up their end of the deal. SOME OF YOU ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD. Knock it off. Bariatric people can die from deficiencies, gain all their weight back because they go back to eating at Subway and drinking Coke, get ulcers because they take meds they shouldn’t, spiral into alcoholism and liver disease and suffer needlessly with iron so low they can’t lift their heads, embarrassing hair loss, sickly paleness, bruising, leg cramps and things that can be prevented by paying attention and simply following a few rules of the road.

The Rules. (short version)
Drink protein shakes to supplement while you are unable to eat, chew the darn vitamins you are supposed to take… it doesnt matter what they taste like. There are no proper gummy vitamins or Skittles vitamins – the ones you need are always going to taste like you are sucking on a penny. Always eat Protein First followed by softly cooked Vegetables. Take a fast walk a few days a week. Don’t drink when you eat. Don’t use sugar. Stay away from Bread. Pay attention to your body and if something hurts or isn’t right… see a doctor. If you are compelled to drink way too much wine or overeat when you are full, get help by calling your surgeons office and telling them about it. Therapy is a good thing!

These simple rules prevent a lot of heartache and are much less painful than the consequences. Bariatric surgery will either slap a backbone in you or make you cry.