Guest Post ~ This is Fay’s Gastric Bypass Story

I have decided to feature Guest Posts on my Blog which will feature stories of others who have had Weight Loss Surgery. While I love that you all follow MyStory I thought it would be fun to hear others as well.

Everyone has their own story to tell and their own experiences when it comes to Weight Loss Surgery – both good and bad. I think reading all about what others have experienced will help you either make the choice to have the surgery yourself or help you through if you already have.

So I put together a list of questions for my guests to answer and asked them to be completely honest with their answers. I am hoping to have many Guest Posts featured here on my blog and it will be so much fun to read each and everyone of them. So are you ready? Ok lets go…

This is Fay’s Story…

1. WHAT TYPE OF WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY DID YOU HAVE AND WHAT DATE WAS IT?

I had RNY Gastric Bypass on August 25, 2008.

2. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT SURGERY OVER ANOTHER SURGERY – LIKE GASTRIC BYPASS VS. LAP BAND

I chose this surgery because of the amount of weight I felt I needed to lose.

3. WHAT WAS YOUR HIGHEST WEIGHT PRIOR TO SURGERY AND WHAT WAS YOUR WEIGHT THE DAY OF SURGERY? WHAT IS YOUR WEIGHT RIGHT NOW?

My top weight before surgery was 375lbs.  My weight the day of surgery was (to the best of my recollection) 357lbs.

4. HOW DID YOU COME TO MAKING THE DECISION TO UNDERGO WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY?

My husband and I had come to this decision together for each of us. We have both had this same surgery.  My biggest struggle with deciding for myself was that I feared I would somehow fail yet again to actually lose weight.  I didn’t want to have some big, drastic surgery, and still end up being huge.  I wasn’t sure I could survive another failure.

5. WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSED YOU TO GAIN SO MUCH WEIGHT— ARE YOU A COMFORT FOOD EATER? HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH WEIGHT ALL YOUR LIFE? HOW MANY DIFFERENT DIETING PLANS HAVE YOU TRIED OVER THE YEARS? CAN YOU NAME THEM?

You name a diet, I had probably tried it at some point.  I had struggled with my weight my entire life.  I began using food as a distraction when I was in first grade.  I can actually remember being bored while watching TV and going to get whatever I had seen advertised.  Probably didn’t help that I grew up in a family owned grocery store and could just go get whatever I wanted off the shelf!  My parents didn’t realize the habits I was developing until I had already gotten used to eating for entertainment.  Later, my eating turned into comfort eating for multiple reasons.  Mostly, however, it was from depression.  By the time I was out of college I was experiencing major depression and in my mid-twenties I was hospitalized for it.  I was also mis-diagnosed as bi-polar a couple of years before surgery.  I have classified myself as a food addict.  It was my drug in almost every way.  I thought obsessively about junk food and drive-thrus, and before surgery it was not uncommon for me to stop at least once for a “snack” on my way home from work.  I would often cry as I ate junk food, because I knew that if I didn’t stop, I’d never lose weight, but I had no idea how I could ever stop.  Finally, I found a counselor who was a substance abuse counselor, and she treated my like any other addict.  Until then, nothing had ever worked.  I began intense counseling with her about 8 months prior to surgery.

6. DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY APPROVING YOUR SURGERY OR DID YOU SELF PAY FOR IT?

My insurance was excellent.  We met our deductible and never got another bill.

7. WHAT WAS THE PROCESS YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY MADE YOU GO THROUGH TO GET TO THE POINT OF SURGERY? EXAMPLE: HOW MANY MONTHS OF NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING, HOW MUCH WEIGHT IF ANY DID THEY REQUIRE YOU TO LOSE… WERE YOU DENIED AT ALL THE FIRST TIME ETC..

I had to have several tests leading up to surgery, such as Upper GI, EKG, blood work, helicobacter pylori and a brief psych exam.  I passed all those just fine.  (Yes, even the psych exam! lol)  My surgery required nutritional counseling with his staff, as well as a physical assessment and routine consultation with his exercise physiologist.  Once all that was done, I was approved within a few days of insurance submission.  My insurance required a certain BMI which I more than exceeded, and co-morbidities, which I had.  (sleep apnea, depression, joint problem)

Related Post:  My first week after Gastric Bypass Surgery

8. HOW DID OTHERS REACT TO YOUR DECISION TO HAVE WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY? DID YOU HAVE SUPPORT? DID YOU KEEP YOUR CHOICE A SECRET FROM YOUR CO WORKERS OR ANY OTHERS?

I had amazing support.  My husband had surgery first so he knew what to expect with me.  I didn’t keep anything a secret, I believe secrets keep us sick.  I have since had a couple of people react badly, but I didn’t do it for them, I did it for me!

9. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR SURGERY — DID IT ALL GO WELL OR DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS AND IF SO WHAT WERE THEY.

My surgeon has said I’m his “poster-patient” for how surgery should go.  I didn’t have ANY physical complications during surgery, the hospital stay or my at home recovery.  I had a few rough days prior to surgery with the liquid phase, but who doesn’t?  At the hospital I was doing laps in the hall a few hours after getting to my room.  Yeah, it hurt, but I was determined not to get blood clots or a lung infection from being there.  My days in nursing paid off for me in that respect.  Sure, I had the gas pains and such, but I just considered that part of the process.

The only concern for me came 30 days after surgery when I was trying to re-start all of my psych meds.  My body just could not tolerate them at all.  I tried everything anyone could think of short of IV to get those drugs back into my system, but my body would just not have it.  Finally, after 3 months of trying and careful monitoring with my surgeon and psychiatrist, I was told to stop trying to take these meds.  I haven’t needed them since.

* PLEASE READ THIS

If you have been prescribed any medication, please do not stop it without talking to your doctor.  My case is unique to me and very rare in general.  I was lucky to have doctors who listened to me, but I had years long relationships with them and had earned their trust.  Please, don’t play around with any drug therapy on your own.  This is especially true with psychiatric drugs.  Changing these drugs can be very tricky and cause major harm if not carefully monitored with a professional.  Please, PLEASE, follow your physicians’ advice.

10. HOW WAS YOUR PAIN AFTER SURGERY — HOW LONG WAS IT BEFORE YOU FELT GOOD ENOUGH TO RETURN TO YOUR NORMAL ACTIVITIES/WORK?

My pain control was great in the hospital and at home.  My surgeon was familiar with my tolerance for pain medication as he had operated on me before for a different issue.  After going home I continued to walk daily as my strength and endurance returned and in a couple of weeks I was back to a mostly normal routine.  A month later I felt no lingering effects from surgery aside from the fact that I was NEVER hungry.

11. DID YOU HAVE A HARD TIME FOLLOWING THE EATING RULES AFTER SURGERY? IF SO WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST RULE FOR YOU?

I didn’t have trouble with the rules.  I was very compliant and worked hard on getting my protein intake up as quickly as I could. As for eating, I think seeing my husband do it and helping him had prepared me for what I needed to do.  I was really bad about taking my pepcid and my vitamins, though.  Five years later I am just now getting mostly consistent with vitamins.

12. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU NOW HAVE TROUBLE EATING OR CANNOT TOLERATE SINCE THE SURGERY?

I can’t eat hardly any kind of cereal with milk.  Even just Special K will make me dump.  I am pretty sensitive to any kind of sugar, so I have to try to be careful with that.  I also cannot eat country sausage.  I’m a mountain girl and grew up on homemade sausage gravy and biscuits.  I do miss that from time to time.  I can eat a piece of two of bacon, just not sausage. Goes right through me if you know what I mean, lol.  Other than that, I can eat a little of almost anything else I want.

I remember my first time trying Cereal after surgery – I dumped as well – I did a post all about it here: Cereal is NOT my friend. I think it is the liquid combo – drinking and eating at the same time. I can report I have had cereal since that time and have had no issues, but I used a lot less milk.

13. DID YOU EXPERIENCE ANY AFTER SURGERY DEPRESSION FROM YOUR HORMONES GOING CRAZY?

Yep!  I was a crazy person for a little bit.  A day here or there would just be really hard.  Then my cycle started getting evened out and my PMS became PMDD, other wise known as “stay outta my way day”!  Actually, the only thing that really got worse for me after surgery was my cycle. I developed endometriosis and have a hard time with my periods, they’re VERY painful.  No way to tell if surgery had anything to do with it.  However, it’s not an issue that makes me regret my surgery.

Related Post:  My second week after Gastric Bypass Surgery - Pureed Diet

14. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED DUMPING SYNDROME AND IF SO WHAT CAUSED IT AND WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO YOU. EXPLAIN YOUR SYMPTOMS.

Yes, I know all about dumping syndrome.  The first time it happened I swore I was dying.  I felt as though every ounce of energy was pouring out of my body, my heart raced, and I was very nauseous. That was a pretty severe case and it was from eating cereal.  Evidently I’m a slow learner because I manage to have a episode of it every few months at least, lol.  Usually because I had too much sugar and wasn’t paying enough attention.  Junk food has done it a couple of times, though.  I’m scared of anything from Taco Bell now, lol.

Even though Dumping is horrible for us Bypassers it is also a blessing in disguise – it helps keeps us in check.

15. DO YOU DRINK PROTEIN SHAKES? IF SO WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR AND BRAND AND DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL WAY YOU PREFER IT? COLD/HOT, MIXED WITH SOMETHING ELSE ETC…

I don’t drink them now.  When I did, I used New Whey vials from GNC.  I mixed mine with ice water and would sip on them all day long.

16. WHEN YOU WERE ON THE PUREED PART OF THE DIET— WHAT WAS YOUR GO TO FOOD?

Mashed potatoes and refried beans!  And, I got so sick of jello that to this day just the thought of it turns my stomach!

OMG me too – I loved my Mashed Potatoes and Refried Beans with some Sour Cream and Salsa – yummy!!! I also got sick from Jell-O in the hospital and the sugar free gave me such a headache.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AFTER WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY ALLOWED SNACK NOW?

I snack on cheese a good bit, since it has protein.  It’s still cool to me how a normal serving size is enough, sometimes more than enough.

18. WHAT VITAMINS DO YOU TAKE ON A DAILY BASIS SINCE THE SURGERY?

I take pur-absorb iron every day with a little apple juice, a pre-natal multi with iron, and a b-complex.  No, I’m not pregnant, but it’s one my body can absorb well.  I have a very hard time with iron, but was usually borderline anemic prior to surgery, so it’s not a surprise.

19. HAVE YOU HAD ANY COMPLICATIONS SINCE HAVING THE SURGERY? ANY ADDITIONAL SURGERIES OR ULCERS?

I have had two more surgeries since gastric bypass, but they weren’t related to it in any way.  I’ve not had trouble with ulcers or anything else.  It’s all been pretty smooth sailing.

20. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HAIR LOSS SINCE HAVING THE SURGERY? IF SO EXPLAIN AND IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT.

Oh yeah, I thought for sure I was going to be bald, lol.  I would panic in the shower, but the major hair loss only lasted about 6 months for me and, no one else was ever really able to tell I’d lost hair except for my hair stylist.  The b-complex helps with this issue.

21. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WOW MOMENT AFTER YOU LOST SOME WEIGHT FROM THE SURGERY — LIKE SOMEONE NOTICING, BEING ABLE TO FIT IN A SEAT WITH ROOM TO SPARE, DROPPING A CLOTHING SIZE ETC…

My first wow moment was a family member who didn’t recognize me.  It was a cousin’s wife and we went to high school together, so, it’s not like she barely knew me.  I watched her walk by me twice before I finally called her name. She was thrilled for me.  It was awesome!

I still have wow moments almost 5 years later.  Sitting in one of my rockers on my front porch is cool, I used to overflow them.  Getting back on an airplane and not needing the seat belt extender.  Going in Lane Bryant and trying on the smallest size and realizing that literally everything in the entire store was too big for me now.  I now shop at thrift stores and find awesome deals.  I’m way better dressed now for a fraction of the cost!

Related Post:  Cereal is not my friend

Those are all awesome!!! I am also a big thrift store shopper – before when I would go I was so limited to what I could buy. When you only got to shop the plus sizes and the selection was so small – now I love being able to shop the entire store and I come home with a giant bag every time I go.

22. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE AFTER SURGERY RECIPE THAT YOU LOVE AND WANT TO SHARE?

Brussel Sprouts!  I’m crazy for them, lol.  I cook them all kinds of ways, never get tired of them.  And roasted broccoli. This is a food I often crave.  I toss it in a little olive oil with some spices and roast it on 450 until it looks good to me.  Way better than eating french fries!

Hmmm I never even thought to roast Broccoli – I do that all the time with Asparagus – now I am going t have to try that out myself. Sounds Delish!!

23. IS THERE ANY THING FOODWISE YOU MISS THAT YOU CANNOT HAVE NOW?

Aside from sausage, not really.  I thought that I missed regular coke, but I had a sip a while back and it doesn’t taste anything like I remembered it, and it was nasty, so, I guess I’m over that!

24. WHAT PANT SIZE WERE YOU PRIOR TO SURGERY AND WHAT SIZE ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW?

Prior to surgery I was a size 34 & 4x shirts.  Today I’m a size 12 pants, 10 or 12 dress, and a medium or large top, depending on who makes it.

WoW, just Wow!!

25. DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS ABOUT HAVING WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN IF YOU HAD TO?

Not one time have I regretted this decision.  I have been scared that I would mess up, scared I wouldn’t lose any more when I was stalled, but I have never regretted it.  I would do it again in a second.

Me 2!!

26. TELL US THREE GOALS YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF OR WANT TO MEET WHEN YOU HAVE LOST THE WEIGHT YOU WANT OR MAYBE YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THEM ALREADY:

I wanted to weigh less than 200 lbs.  And now I do.  I have lost that much, in fact!  My weight stays between 165-175, and the BMI chart says I walk the line between “normal” weight and overweight.  I prayed that surgery would keep me from needing a knee replacement before I was 35.  I’m now 36 and haven’t had knee pain in almost 4 years, so I don’t really think about it.  I take no medication and am no longer required to sleep with a mask on my face.  I can keep up with most anyone and am able to enjoy exercise and any kind of recreation I want to.

That is so great – way to go!!

27. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT HAVING WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY?

Whatever you do, make sure you get LOTS of good counseling before and after surgery.  For me, the counseling was the key to my success.  Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about how you got to where you are.  Address all that stuff because trust me, it’ll come out later.  The other big thing is don’t listen to everyone else.  Talk to your doctor, your supportive friends, but don’t believe everything you read on the message boards.  Most importantly, trust yourself.  Deep down inside you there’s a voice that knows whether or not this is the right path for you.  Each person has within themselves everything they need to be whole and healthy.  It’s nice to get help on hearing it, but ultimately, it’s up to each individual to LISTEN.

Great Advice.

Thank You Fay for sharing your story and your photos with my readers. You look A-Mazing and your story will be a big inspiration to many I am sure.

Want to share your story?

If you would be willing to share your story and answer the same questions Contact Me and I will send you what you need. We would love to hear all about you!!

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