How to tell the kiddos...

on 4/18/17 7:21 pm - Springfield, IL


I have finally met indications for surgery by all of my medical team! I have to take a nicotine (blood) test on May 1, and when I pass that I will get a call the following day with my surgery date. I was told that the date HAS to be within 30 days of that phone call so by June 1 I will be on the Loser's Bench. It is surreal!

In the meantime, I have 7 and 8 year old daughters, both very inquisitive, and one a huge science nerd who I just know will want to know every last detail I am willing to share with her about the surgery. I don't know whether it would be appropriate to share the details of the actual surgery, or if that would end of worrying her because while she does love science and is as curious as they come, she is also a worry wart. The first thing out of my mouth will be that I am doing this in order to live a healthier lifestyle. But, I just know that is not going to be enough for them. They are going to want to know why I am not eating much at all anymore, and how I am losing weight so quickly. I want to be honest with them that I am having surgery, I am just not sure how detailed I should be about it. My fears are that they will look at food differently and worry about how much they are eating when they see how little I am eating. And while I am not hiding this surgery from everyone I know, I would prefer it if my kids didn't run to their teachers and other acquaintances and share with them the details, or worse, misinformation (such as my motives for wanting the surgery in the first place.)

Does anyone have any advice for me? I feel I may be worrying a little too much, but when it comes to kids you can never be too careful...right? Also, did you want or let your kids visit you in the hospital?

Any input is appreciated!

on 4/18/17 11:31 pm
Revision on 03/29/17

I had this discussion with my son twice; first, in 2015 when I got VSG--my son was 9 years old. I told him I was having surgery so I could be around when he became an adult. My weight was preventing me from living my fullest life. I explained the surgeon would remove 75% of my stomach and I would eat a lot less food. Some food I would be unable to eat such as candy and donuts. I showed my incisions to my son when I returned home. I answered all of his questions. He was worried but I did call him after I recovered from the anesthesia.

I had revision to RNY on 3/29/17. Again I explain that I was having hernia repair and I was having a procedure to fix the bile coming up from my stomach. He observed I wasn't feeling my best the past 6 months and I told him I would feel better after the surgery. I answered all of his questions. Again, I called him after the surgery to assure him everything was OK.

My advice is to sit with your daughters and explain to them why you are having surgery. Answer their questions. Don't worry about whether your children will tell everyone; my son didn't. If you believe your daughters will tell everyone, gently tell them that, for now, you would like to keep the discussion regarding surgery among family only.

My son's eating habits did not change based on my surgeries. He will offer me Takis, Jelly Bellies, fruit or whatever else he is eating. I thank him and let him know those foods are not for me anymore. And no, I did not let my son visit me in the hospital either time--I was in too much pain and did not want him to witness this because it would have upset him. He did come to pick me up and I made sure to have a smile on my face when I saw him.

on 4/19/17 5:23 am

Be open and honest. Kids worry sometimes even when they don't know what is actually going on. I would talk to your daughters telling them what you are doing. Ask them not to tell anyone about it other than people in your home.

I didn't want my kids to come visit me. The reason for that was it was flu season. I didn't want them to catch anything.

The way you look at food and what you are eating will lead by example. Later on after surgery you will be able to eat more. Showing your kids how to eat healthy is a good thing.

Best wishes to you.




on 4/19/17 8:20 am
RNY on 08/13/14

Having experience with grieving children, honesty is always the best, but keep it age appropriate. You might say you are having surgery to help you become healthier...afterwards you might not be able to eat regular things for a while because your stomach will take a while to heal. This is all true - but it also doesn't say, "I'm having my guts rerouted." :)

Good luck. My kids were and still are my biggest cheerleaders. At that age you can teach them things like, "I won't be able to drink with my meals." It'll take a while but soon they'll know that mom's spot at the table doesn't require a glass :) My daughter used to be in charge of the timer after meals. I think she enjoyed being a part of it.

Lanie; Age: 43; Surgery Date (VSG): 8/12/14 w/complications resulting in RNY next day;

Height: 5' 6" SW: 249 Comfort Zone: 135-140 CW: 138 (10/13/17)

M1: -25 lbs M2: -12 M3: -13 M4: -7 M5: -11 M6: -10 M7: -7 M8: -7 M9: -3 M10: -8 M11: -4 M12: -4

5K PR - 24:15 (4/23/16) First 10K - 53:30 (10/18/15)

on 4/19/17 8:24 am

I was very upfront with my kids, except for my youngest...she is only 4. My others are 6, 8, 12, and 20. They knew what I was doing. They didn't know all the details of the surgery itself, but they weren't interested in that. They knew I was having s surgery to help me lose weight and be healthier. I wasn't worried about whom they told because I have been very up front about the whole thing anyway, but as far as I can tell they haven't told anyone anyway. My kids didn't visit me in the hospital, but they were staying with my parents who live 1 1/2 hours away and I was only in the hospital overnight, so that was just the way it worked out. The hardest part was trying to keep everyone from climbing all over me while I was healing, lol. My 8yo has had the most questions about it. I don't think my 6yo has said much at all. And she tells me all the time that she doesn't think my surgery is working because I'm still fat. Thanks, kid. lol

HW- 375

SW- 358

GW- 175

on 4/19/17 8:26 am

Oh, and my 8yo was very busy feeling sorry for me when I couldn't eat what everyone else was eating. :) I had to keep reassuring her that I was fine about all that. And my 12yo was always very worried when something would make me vomit. He is autistic and worries a lot about something happening to me, so he hates to see me sick or anything. But all that is pretty much behind me now, and I don't think they even think much about it anymore.

HW- 375

SW- 358

GW- 175

on 4/19/17 8:27 am - Baltimore, MD

My kids were 9 and 6 when I had surgery (now 18 and 15...sigh...)

I was pretty up-front with them. I told them mommy was having surgery to change her digestive system so that she could lose weight. I told them I was doing this because my weight had become unhealthy and that the surgery would help me be healthier. I didn't really go into the risks so much as how life would change afterward. I told them I wouldn't be able to eat a lot of chips and candy and things and that we would all be eating healthier food (I started to change our diet a few months prior to surgery). I also let them know I would have to move more, which meant we'd probably be taking more walks together and going to the playground more.

My kids didn't come see me in the hospital, mostly because I only stayed one night. I recovered at my mom's house and they were there.

Kids are resilient. They are capable of dealing with information that is appropriate to them if explained properly I think. I can't say if it's right for you to go into risks of surgery, but I didn't because I didn't think it was very age appropriate stuff at the time. They were great partners in my recovery from surgery and took to the post-bariatric lifestyle with a sense of vigor! (My kids read labels better than most adults I know now).

Insofar as their world will change as a result of your surgery, I would strongly suggest you talk to them up-front but it's up to you what to include and what to omit. With hospital visits, you may not be in the hospital that long, but be sure to let them know you will have limits to what you can do when you get out of the hospital. Basically, just focus on what is likely to change for them and help them to understand the changes and what to do/who to go to if they get confused or have feelings about it.

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 4/19/17 10:20 am - Springfield, IL

I love how you pointed out to really focus on how this is going to personally affect them. That is so helpful because now I can kind of weed out info about the surgery that may not really be relevant or appropriate for them to know about. Thank you so much!

on 4/19/17 10:28 am - Baltimore, MD

You are most welcome! I got that advice from my therapist, btw, so I can't take credit lol.

But it worked well. They are a good bit older now but I had the same kind of talk with them about my mastectomy last year. I also arranged for them to have someone to talk to because...they are teenaged girls...with boobs...and their mom had breast cancer...but they handled it well, used their resources and were very helpful to me in my recovery.

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 4/20/17 8:17 pm - Springfield, IL

It sounds like you did an excellent job taking care of them. I'm glad they were able to take care of you when you needed it!

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