Golf Balls and Eggs: My Gastric Bypass Story
The Reasons Behind the Decision
Everyone has their own reason for it.
Mine had been back-building for years, since high school.
My friends outpaced me no matter where we went, leaving me staring, depressingly, at their quickly disappearing backs...
Clothing was getting more and more difficult to find as well as more expensive with each additional pound...
The hobbies I once enjoyed were no longer doable...
A lover of all things nature that didn't have the strength and endurance to go hiking, climbing, swimming...
You get the point!
You Are Not Alone
Can you, on any level, relate to the above?
Gastric Bypass Illustrated
What is Gastric Bypass
In the simplest of terms...
A small section of your stomach, approximately the size of an egg or a golf ball, is sectioned off from the rest of the organ. The intestine is hooked into the new smaller section. Meanwhile the rest of the stomach is sealed off and left in place. The 'juices' that digest the food reach the intestine when a small tail of the intestine left on the stomach is reattached to the rest of the intestine.
See the Picture...
How do I Get The Surgery?
These are some of the generic steps to go through in order to get the surgery.
Step 1: Do I Qualify?
It comes down to your BMI (Body Mass Index - that chart that so glaringly tells us how obese we are). The National Standard says you must have a BMI of over 40 and be at least 1oo pounds overweight or a BMI of 35 with medical complications as a result of the weight (such as sleep apnea or diabetes)
For Example… A person who stands at 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 300 pounds would have a BMI of 49 whereas a person who is 6 feet tall and 300 pounds would have a BMI of 40. Both would still qualify based on weight alone.
Step 2: Gather Information
To begin your process you would need to find and attend an informational meeting in your area. It is a good idea to have a close family or friend with you. Not just for moral support but also to pick up on things you might miss during the session.
Step 3: Schedule a Consultation
Before going in for your appointment you will need to provide several bits of information. This changes with each office but some are universal.
- How long have you been obese?
- What diet and exercise programs have you tried?
- Which procedure were you interested in? (there are currently 3)
- What is your medical history?
Step 4: Classes
While undergoing the various appointments needed for the pre-operative time you will also need to attend a Nutrition Class and an Exercise Class. These will both be of assistance.
Nutrition Class -
- Protein Sources
- Good Choices
- Sugar Dangers
Exercise Class -
Step 5: Testing and Follow Up Appointments
There will be a slew of appointments before the procedure. These will be for blood-work lab-work among others. However one of the reasons is also to ensure that you have begun your new programs for eating and exercise. While they don’t expect miracles they do expect you to lose some weight during this time.
Some have done so well on the new program that they opt not to have the surgery while others do not. The weight loss number is not the point, learning a new lifestyle is the point.
Step 6: Meet the Surgeon
Pretty self explanatory. Meet with the person who is going to be doing the surgery. This is your chance to ask any new questions or broach any concerns you may have. This is also the time to discuss any surgical issues with them.
Issues such as:
- Medical Directives
- Durable Power of Attorney
Step 6.5: Smoking
Some surgeons will require you to stop, or at the very least put on hold, your smoking habits. Not all do. Check with your doctors office.
Step 7: Pre-Surgery Appointment
This is the ‘one-last-check-up’ to make sure you are still healthy enough for the operation. You will also receive instructions on how to get ready in the week before your surgery. Many doctors require a soft food diet the week before and then fasting for a day or two just prior to the surgery. There is also a preparatory cleanse the night before to make sure your digestive system is entirely empty.
Step 8: The Operation Itself
After checking into the hospital, and all the procedure that goes with it, the time will finally come for the operation to take place. The surgery generally lasts for 2-3 hours, and barring complications, you are sleeping like a baby in your room by the end of the day.
Step 9: Recovery
Again, barring complications, the general recovery time varies from person to person but it has an average of 2-3 days in the hospital and 2-3 weeks at home. After that life will resume at the pace your body is comfortable with. Like any major surgery there is a wide variety of recovery times among the patients.
A Personal Experience
Woke up in the morning… not allowed to have coffee. Oh Joy… Checking into the hospital was simple. The waiting was… well you know how it is when you’re impatient. If you’ve ever had surgery you’ll know how it is. If not it is as follows…
Take your weight.
Change your clothes to those ever so fashionable gowns.
Hook up the IV’s.
Roll on down the hallway, with a slight pause for a goodbye to the friends or family that came with you, and on into the pre-op room.
The part I love is when they tell you to start counting backwards… does anyone actually make it to 0?
Before you can really understand what has happened you slowly become groggily aware that you are waking up to the feel of something in your hand. Then, when you are finally capable of pressing it… medicine is a beautiful thing.
After some time, of which you really don’t know anything, you are moved to your room where the sleep-fest can begin!
Experienced it before...?
Have you ever had a major surgery?
The Hospital Stay
If your idea of a perfect vacation is sleeping the day away then you'll really enjoy the first few days of your stay in the hospital! The only fly in the ointment is that they are constantly waking you up to check your temperature, give you a shot, check your vitals, make you go to the bathroom...
Yadda Yadda Yadda.
Eventually the staff brings in a tray full of fluids you have no desire to touch. Hot stock, protein drink, popsicle, juice, etc. The sooner you drink means the sooner you can go to the bathroom and the sooner you get to go home!
I was there for three days start to finish.
The interesting part of all this is the drain that is hanging off you. A plastic tube connected to a plastic bulb that collects the drainage off the internal surgery site. Now and then the staff will come and drain it. I can only describe it as an odd feeling. It is a smaller version of the feeling you'll get when they take the tube out before going home.
Have you ever had a vacuum wand stuck to your hand while the suction is on? The pressure that it puts on your skin is a feeling most people know. Picture someone sticking a vacume tube just under your skin while the vacuum is on. That is pretty much the sensation of when they pull the tubes out.
That is when you get to go back to the comfort of your own bed!
You've heard the words and I'll tell you they are true...
This is a life changing experience!
The effect of the weight loss will effect you, this is most definitely true, however the changes go beyond just the physical. There are mental and emotional ramifications as well.
Again I offer my experience in layman's terms.
Even today, eleven years later, I still think of myself as bigger than I really am. "I can't sit in that chair, the arms are too small." "I can't stand on that ledge it will break." so on and so forth. Thankfully my husband has become my "You can do it!" person. I have played chicken in a pool, I have hiked with the crowd and not fallen behind, and I have sat on that rickety folding chair!
But now I see other people standing at 400, 500, 600 pounds and I have to keep myself from whispering "Try the Gastric Bypass" to them. Does the sight of obese people make me sick? No. Does it make me sad? No. Does it make me wonder if they feel as I did - trapped? Yes!
Some Cons - Hair Loss, Anemia, Lactose intolerance, Scars, Floppy Skin, and, for the love of Pete I can never finish a plate of food before it goes cold.
Some Pros - More Energy, Watching the numbers on a scale go DOWN not up, Getting out into the world and doing what I love again, and (this is the part I love best) Being happy in my own body again
There have been up and downs, both emotionally and physically. i have thrown up, passed out and ejected poop like I never thought possible - all because of eating too fast, too much or the wrong thing. I still have the bad habit of eating too much, taking too big a bite, and drinking while eating. What can I say, bad habits are hard to break.
So in the end, would I change my mind about having had it?