How not to treat people at a support group

Gwen M.
on 2/6/18 6:53 am, edited 2/6/18 9:34 am
VSG on 03/13/14

Last night I went to the local monthly WLS support group. It's hosted by a local health care provider and, luckily for me, anyone can attend whether they've done surgery with that system or not. We tend to have 6-10 people on any given month.

Last night we had a "guest." I missed her introduction but I got the impression that she's probably a nurse with the bariatric program. I'll refer to her as "guest." Edit: I just googled her name - apparently she's actually one of the bariatric surgeons :/

There was also a SMO woman who, during her introduction, stated that she'd had lapband about 8 years ago, lost 100+ pounds, gained it all back, and was working to get back on track. I'll refer to her as "Eliza" - not her real name. (It was the first name to pop into my head, blame Hamilton.)

Eliza introduced herself and, immediately with NO KNOWLEDGE of this woman, guest starts talking about how she should consider revision surgery. Eliza states that she's not interested because she has a tool and she wants to work with the tool she has.

I think this is a great reply - Eliza seems very aware that her brain hasn't been in the game and that she needs to fix that before giving up on her band.

Later on, another support group member starts talking to Eliza as though she hasn't had any surgery at all. Which was o_O.

Then, even later, the guest AGAIN tries to tell Eliza that she should be seeking revision. What the heck?

(In the meantime, the guest had said things like "you only need to spend 15 minutes in the sun each day and your vitamin D will be perfect," "you don't need to supplement calcium when you're 2+ years post-op because you should be getting everything you need from food and a multivitamin," and "there's no reason you should need 100+ grams of protein after surgery." The last one was to me, because I'd said that my reconstructive surgeon wants me to get 100+ grams of protein before and after my surgeries with him, while preparing for surgery and healing from surgery.)

I was really dismayed by the treatment of Eliza, though, and stuck around to talk with her afterward. While I think that the lapband is a crappy tool, I don't think trying to badger someone into revision, when you don't even know them, is a useful tactic. Talking to her, I learned that she's had a number of surgeries since lapband and really doesn't want MORE surgery. I reassured her that if her lapband were malfunctioning that would be one thing to pursue revision... and she quickly chimed in with "right! But it's my brain that's malfunctioning."

She seems to have a good level of awareness with what's going on for her and why she's regained the weight. I hope that she's not too turned off my the judgment of the guest and that she'll keep coming back. I think that support and encouragement will help her. And, who knows, maybe more exposure to people with VSG and RNY might encourage her to seek revision if that's her eventual desire.

All of this really reminded me that it's important not to assume you know where someone is in the WLS "journey" (unlike the person who treated Eliza as though she hadn't even had surgery because she was SMO) and also not to try to pressure people into revision/surgery when you don't even take the time to learn anything about them.

I think I like my support group? I've only gone about 4-5 times so far due to my surgeries and getting snowed out. But sometimes I've got to resist the urge to groan or roll my eyes at the advice/suggestions made.

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

theAntiChick
on 2/6/18 7:23 am - Arlington, TX
VSG on 08/17/16

Wow. As a nurse, I'm embarrassed for the way this person behaved.

I'm glad you were there to combat some of the treatment Eliza was given.

I haven't been able to make any of the meetings of my surgeon's group due to my schedule. I did find a patient-led group that's been around my area for many years, and I really like them.

* 8/16/2017 - ONEDERLAND!! *

HW 306 - SW 297 - GW 175 - Surg VSG with Melanie Hafford on 8/17/2016

My blog at http://www.theantichick.com or follow on Facebook TheAntiChick

Blog Posts - The Easy Way Out // Cheating on Post-Op Diet

Gwen M.
on 2/6/18 8:11 am
VSG on 03/13/14

It was definitely bothersome!

I tried a patient-led group in my area immediately pre and post-op and it was appalling. The group consisted of band to RNY revision people who very proudly discussed their bad health habits. Like smoking, drinking, and eating potato chips. It was not a god environment for me! At that time, it was the only game in town though. I'm glad that this group started up - even if it has some odd foibles from time to time.

It can be a little strange due to having people from different programs. But... we see that on OH too.

One of the hot topics of conversation last night was tastes changing post-op and I'm glad I never experienced that!

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

Citizen (USA & Brit) Kim
on 2/6/18 7:45 am, edited 2/5/18 11:45 pm - Castle Rock, CO

Considering the damage a lap band can do to other organs, I would absolutely NOT want one to remain in my body. Maybe the nurse has seen people who are band sick and was trying to encourage her to do her body a favour. It would be my recommendation too.

I doubt the nurse is setting her own supplement protocol but if she is, then someone should be letting the practice know. Her recommendations are not in line with the ASMBS guidelines, so I would have called her out on her bull**** - like a PSA for all the surgery peers there.

Proud Feminist, Atheist, LGBT friend, and Democratic Socialist

Gwen M.
on 2/6/18 8:06 am
VSG on 03/13/14

I agree - I definitely wouldn't want a band in me! I think the approach of "bands can cause damage and you might consider getting an EGD to check things out" would have been a much better starting point than "get a revision" on the guest's part.

I'm definitely tempted to start taking copies of the ASMBS recommendations to these meetings! It amazes me how many programs seem to completely ignore them.

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

VSG on 12/10/13

It may be worth putting in a comment to whoever runs the group. They need to be aware that this is happening and that participants are being treated this way.

I am the master of my own regain.

Professional geek, toddler mom, derby girl, author of the Five-Day Meat Test

Gwen M.
on 2/6/18 9:35 am
VSG on 03/13/14

For sure!

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

VSG on 12/10/13

Glad to hear it. Because honestly, complaining here isn't going to change a darn thing about the problem.

I am the master of my own regain.

Professional geek, toddler mom, derby girl, author of the Five-Day Meat Test

Gwen M.
on 2/6/18 12:08 pm
VSG on 03/13/14

Obviously!

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 41 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

gracegetsgastric
on 2/6/18 8:54 am
VSG on 01/02/18

Ugh, that's awful. I'm glad you were able to talk to her afterwards, and hopefully she'll continue to stick around. I just went to my first in-person support group last month, and we have another this weekend, and it's definitely...interesting, so see some of the advice/suggestions people make. And also just the apparent lack of research people have done regarding the surgery! But I think that's a great point about not assuming you know where someone is along their WLS journey.

VSG on 1/2/2018!

Age: 27 Height: 5'8"
HW: 354 (May 2017) SW: 319 (DOS, 1/2/2018) CW: 280 (3/6/2018)

Pre-Op: -35 M1: -24 M2: -13 M3: -???

My YouTube: Grace Gets Gastric

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