It’s been seven months since I went under the knife for my gastric bypass surgery. My life has changed in so many ways. I’ve lost over 100 pounds, my eating habits are different, I am more active, and I’m in better health than I’ve been for a long time.
I’ve been grateful for all of the support I’ve had through these months of change and transition. Writing on this blog has been very therapeutic, and I’ve been excited about the friendships I’ve made through sharing about my journey publicly. But after all these months….I don’t feel like my everyday existence is very strange or unique as a weight loss surgery patient. I don’t really have as much to write about, and sometimes I’m not sure what people want me to write about. I decided to do a Frequently Asked Questions post, since I get a lot of questions on a daily basis.
How long had you been considering weight loss surgery? Were you looking into any other surgeries besides gastric bypass? Yes, I also considered the Lap Band and a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. Deciding to have weight loss surgery was a multi-year process. I began researching they different types of weight loss surgery in 2008. For a while I was thinking about doing the lap band. But after a few friends of mine had bad experiences with their lap bands, I was less interested in it. I read some older posts from a favorite blogger of mine, and she gave a lot of information about her experience with gastric bypass. I was encouraged by her long-term success with it, and decided it was time to consult a bariatric surgeon.
I went to the mandatory informational session at my surgeon’s office at the beginning of 2011. My intention to pursue Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RNY), but began considering the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). By the time I met with Dr Smith to discuss my options, I was fairly certain that I wanted the VSG. We talked about the pros and cons of each procedure, and his recommendation was that I do the RNY. He said my weight loss would probably happen faster and it would give a better physiological results. I trusted his recommendation for me and decided to go with the bypass.
What food has made you the most ill since surgery? My food tolerances have varied a lot over the last 8 months. It’s hard to know when a food that I’ve had no problem with in the past will make me miserable the next time I eat it. The worst offender for me is applesauce. Even though it had no sugar added, it causes dumping syndrome. I’ve had two experiences eating it that I never want to repeat. I was nauseous, shaky, dizzy, and broke out in a cold sweat. The other things that have made me super sick are grilled shrimp, scrambled eggs, and iceberg lettuce.
When was the first time you looked in the mirror and thought “Wow, I look skinny!”? I haven’t had a lot of “WOW!” moments with myself, but I recently had that moment looking at a picture. About two weeks ago, my office manager took a picture of me with my awesome coworker Suzanne before a work retreat. She showed it to us to make sure it was acceptable to post on Facebook, and I couldn’t believe how good I looked. I got so many supportive comments on the picture on Facebook…but I felt bad that I was the one getting all the attention on it. But I have to admit, I REALLY like how my body looks in it.
What foods do you eat these days? I have a pretty good variety foods that I regularly eat, but I’m still restricted on breads, pasta, tortillas, and simple carbs. Some veggies, like celery, I can only tolerate if de-stringed and cooked. If something is breaded, like fish sticks, I will peel off the breading. These are my current favorites:
- Hummus and carrot chips
- String cheese and Tillamook medium cheddar
- Sauteed mushrooms and zucchini
- Curry with meat and veggies, no rice
- Teriyaki steak
- Toppings off of pizza (cheese, sauce, meat, veggies)
- Deli-style chicken salad and crab salad
- Watermelon, blueberries, strawberries
- Turkey jerky
- Dannon Light-n-Fit Greek yogurt with PB2 (only Greek yogurt I can tolerate)
What have you done with all of your clothes that are too big? I’ve got a big box of clothes in the top of my closet that are too big. And I wait to put the clothes into the box until they’re hopelessly too big for me. I’ve passed on some to people in my hospital support group, but now a lot of people are smaller than I am. I’ve meant to take them to the plus-size consignment shop in SLC, but I haven’t ever made an appointment to do some. Some items I want to list on eBay. But I’m open to giving them away to a good home. Most are size 22-30.
Why did you decide to write about your surgery experience so publicly? I knew that the surgery process would be difficult, and I wanted to have a good support network. I anticipated getting a lot of questions about what was happening with me and my body, and I figured that I’d probably have to repeat myself less often if my friends had a place to get the information publicly.
Also, I hadn’t found a lot of weight loss surgery blogs at the time I started Beauty and the Bypass. In a lot of cases, the posts I read seemed a little too…unrealistic. Of course, reading about significant weight loss is interesting and inspiring, but not very many blogs went into the emotional impact of the surgery. Even though it’s been hard to personally open up about the emotional and mental aspects as a weight loss surgery patient, I don’t regret it. Much. A few times I’ve felt overexposed and wished that I hadn’t written so candidly.
I’ve connected with many other WLS bloggers through my online support groups like Bariatric Bad Girls Club. I discuss a lot of the emotional issues there, instead of blogging about all of them. Because support groups exist, I think that’s why there aren’t as many bloggers writing about those issues.
What is your greatest regret? With how much my life has changed in such a relatively short time, I wish that I wouldn’t have put off having surgery for so long. I had so many weight-related health problems, and was miserable with my body. If I would have had surgery 2 years earlier, I wouldn’t have “dieted” up my weight so high. Then again, I gained 75 pounds in the time that I was considering surgery, and it took those feelings of desperation to push me over the edge to go for the surgery.
Who/what/where did you “turn to” when you felt on the brink of failure? My husband has been an amazing support to me, and I turn to him most often. I’ve turned to my daughter, who posesses incredible maturity and instincts to know how to help me when I felt too pathetic to ask for her help. I have prayed many time for strength, health, and courage. I’ve relied on my friends and family, both online and offline. I ask for help in my support groups.
If you could go back to your first meeting with your surgeon, what would be the top 5 or 10 questions you would ask him? Honestly, I felt very prepared and informed by the time I first met with Dr Smith. But the main thing that I wish I’d known before surgery was that I couldn’t take NSAIDs after surgery. I didn’t know until I was being released from the hospital and they told me in my discharge instructions. I’ve relied on ibuprofen for pain relief for most of my adult life, and not being able to take it has been difficult. If I would have known about NSAIDs before surgery, I think I would have opted for the VSG. I also wish I would have talked to him about hair loss, fatigue, and adequate protein intake.
If there’s a question about my surgery experience that I haven’t talked about, you can ask about it in the comments. I will do a follow-up post at some point.