Monday, February 02, 2009

Gastric Bypass - the myth and the reality

This post has been a long time coming. It should have been writtenw hen I first made the decision to get this surgery and had people commenting anonymously about it beign the easy way out and the repurcussions etc. And, now, people are saying things like "I think people who get gastric bypass are taking the easy way out. I understand why people do it but I have a really hard time respecting their results. It's not like I look at them and think, "Wow, you worked SO HARD to get that skinny."" Well, time to set the record straight. And, don't bother commenting that that wasn't aimed at me. It was aimed at everybody who's had gastric bypass and that includes me.

1. You don't get "skinny" automatically with gastric bypass. Most people lose 50-70% of their excess body weight within a year and then it's up to the person. Which measn that somebody with a BMI of over 40 (which I was) can get down from severely obese to maybe the upper end of overweight within a year. Which means I am still fighting with 40-50 lbs of fat, which is more for people who go in with more excess weight. I was maybe at the lower end of the weight spectrum of the people I saw at my doctor's office.

2. The 1st year of weight loss, which might seem seamless and easy to most people is anything but. Somebody who's dieting and excercising can cheat and eat some chocolate or drink a shake and go through a guilt trip later. Somebody who's had gastric bypass has a piece of chocolate or a nice thick shake and they get chills, sweats, nausea, debilitating cramps sometimes. I would say it's harder after having had gastric bypass because I have to consciously think of every morsel and every sip that gets past my lips. Because I can't just say to myself, "oh, I had this piece of dessert, I guess I'll run an extra half mile in the morning or do 20 more crunches." Because sometimes that extra morsel or sip could land me back in the hospital. I also have to go to the gym, unless I wan't excess skin jsut hanging off my ass, arms and legs. The initial weight loss is too fast for the body's skin to keep up with. So, the gym it was, 2-3 times a week, with a trainer, so I can be sure I am doing the right things for myself.

3. Past the first year, now I am only at BMI 29.9. Yay, not obese anymore. But, the work's not done yet. I go to the gym 3-5 times a week. I run, do strength training, weight lifting, swim, whatever I can. Because if I don't, I don't lose weight. Worse still, I have heard stories of people who regain after this surgery. I am still fat. I need to work harder now to lose the rest of it.

4. Beyond the constant care of what we're eating and drinking, then there are the health issues. I take multivitamins, iron, calcium citrate and protein supplements daily. I get a Vitamin B12 shot monthly. I'll do this for the rest of my life. And yes, that was my decision. But, don't you dare tell me it was an easy decision.

So, yes, made a decision that to some people, might seem like the easy way out. But, it wasn't. It just gave me a tool to use for the rest of my life. It gave me a starting point that I could work with. Maybe I could have done it without the surgery. But, a whole six months of supervised diet, excercise and prescription medicines under my primary care physician didn't help. Actually, a whole 8 years of yo-yoing despite gyms, personal trainers, what diet can you name that I didn't try ... and I was ready for something drastic. And, I wasn't willing to lose more of my life and time to fat. To failing some more. To being depressed any longer.

Gastric Bypass has yet to make somebody "skinny" without effort. To be skinny even now after the surgery, I am going to have to work harder than ever in my life. So, do some research and get your facts straight. If, after that, your views don't sway even a bit, well I guess everybody's entitled to their blind prejudices.


Larraine said...

I had my surgery November 11th of last year. I haven't yet experienced anyone saying to my face that I took the "easy way out." I'm sure some people think that. I've been lucky (and maybe unlucky - depending on how you look at it) in that I don't seem to get sick from eating anything - even sugar. However, I really have to curtail it otherwise I will feel very uncomfortable. I haven't had the full blown experience of being sick for hours and hours. One thing that I've found after three months is that I can't eat anything greasy or too fatty. That's ok. I spent my whole life with weight issues. I wish I had had the surgery years ago. My doctor wasn't in favor of it when I brought it up the first time about 6 or 7 years ago. However when I talked to her about it last year, she was very enthusiastic. She said that a number of her patients had had the surgery, and that it had changed their lives. When I went to see her in December, she was very happy and said that I had given myself a wonderful gift. Most people who have surgery are not "skinny." One person I know has reached a certain point and can't lose anymore. She has come to terms with that and feels good. She looks good too. It's not about skinny. It's about HEALTHY! Obesity is a disease. It's not just a lack of willpower.

Shib said...

Thanks Larraine. I believe the person I was trying to explain to this will never really understand. It's like any other prejudice; you close your mind off to the pros and leave them open to all the cons.