If you are not ready to do whatever it takes, do not have Bariatric Surgery. However, if you do, you've got to PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES!
When I had Gastric Bypass surgery in June of 2001, it was not big in the media at that time and few if anyone 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 a pretty 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 at that time bariatric surgery was only being done on a large scale in certain regions like California, New York and Florida
Will they be removing anything Mr. Peabody?
I learned that after having a gastric bypass called a roux en y or RNY, 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 need be the best bariatric patient ever.
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 it and became great 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. That is often how life works!
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 BariatricEating Support Group on Facebook has an uncomfortable number who don't know even the basics. We are happy to hug them and help them, but some would be in a very bad place if they hadn't landed with a thud in front of us.
But I just have a bandaid on my belly!
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 20 years ago when procedures looked a lot worse on the outside and the hospital stays were much longer. A smart friend 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!
My stomach is WHERE?
The Sleeve is in vogue - but do people really know they are having most of their stomach removed? Many comment that it's non-invasive! Hate to be bearer of bad news but having 85% of your stomach removed from your body is pretty 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.
When can I have KFC & sweet tea?
Twenty years ago, when the medical team told us to 'jump', we asked 'how high'. Today there are too many internet experts singing different songs than the bariatric team and since the tune is easier, some happily follow down the wrong path.
The trend for 'sleeve people' to use sugar or sugar 'in the raw' under the guise that Splenda is bad for them is mind-blowing. While artificial sweeteners are not ideal, NEITHER IS BEING 400 POUNDS! Their bariatric doctor or nutritionist certainly did not recommend sugar over Splenda or okay honey. People create this mythology to take themselves off the hook so they can do what they want to do and not be 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, in the beginning when its the surgery doing all the work.
I ate chicken nuggets and *nothing happened*... AWESOME!
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 post ops can become sick, snap bones, lose teeth or even die from deficiencies, gain all their weight back because they continue eating Subway and drinking Coke, get ulcers because they take meds they shouldn't, spiral into alcoholism 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 what you are unable to eat, chew the darn vitamins you are supposed to take and it doesn't matter what they taste like.
- There are no proper gummy bear 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 or jump rope even just 3 days a week.
- Don't drink when you eat.
- Don't use sugar.
- No bread, rice, pasta or tortillas.
- 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.