Weight Loss Survey Responses
The following are Margaret P.'s responses to the Weight Loss Survey:
- Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
- As most here, I've been overweight (by definition) close to all my life. And likewise, like most here, I've been on almost every diet and exercise plan and exercise equipment all my life....to sadly see the weight lost (if any!) to come back and more.
In my humble opinion, the emotional battle (and related scars) is something that only other obese people can truly understand. The ridicule as a child, the low self-esteem, the burying feelings, etc. I think all of us could write a book. The "eat-because-I'm-sad," "eat-because-I'm-happy," "eat-because-I'm-breathing...." syndrome.
We don't 'fit' in the society. Many people can be so cruel with their comments, stares, avoidance as if we don't exisit, judging.
- What was (is) the worst thing about being overweight?
- The health issues. I never thought carrying more and more weight would make me feel so crappy. I've come to the realization that I really AM carrying another extra person around but without the help of the 'other' person's heart, lungs, etc. to get me around! I can't walk far without being out of breath. The weight really does restrict you from LIVING. From doing the things and going to the places I want to go. I LOVED to swim but you couldn't catch me dead in a swimming pool right now. I'd truly die of embarrassment.
- How did you first find out about bariatric surgery and what were your initial impressions of it?
- My cousins had it perfomed. Very successful weight loss. My first impressions were "that's pretty drastic!" And, as with any surgery, it doesn't come without serious risks. Likewise, the surgery is just a tool. You have to work your big buns off and eat properly for the rest of your life. A real LIFE-CHANGING event!
- Describe your experience with getting insurance approval for surgery. What advice, if any, do you have for other people in this stage?
- For me, it was very easy. Before selecting a surgeon, I checked with my insurance to see if they considered this surgery. They did, but said it must meet the criteria, i.e., 100+ lbs. overweight, comorbidities listed, family history morbidites, weight loss attempts (failures!), etc. They required this info in a 'justification' letter from my primary care physician ("PCP"), a psych consult, etc. As the office mgr. at my surgeon's office stressed, "this goes as fast as you do." Getting the psych consult and my PCP letter was easy. To hurry the process up, I drafted the letter for my PCP (I love to write!), which she loved, edited a bit and signed. After getting it to the surgeon's office mgr, it took approx. 2 weeks (?) to recieve approval.
Advice? Spend every single day doing SOMEthing to get to a surgery date, whether it's making doctor appts., following up with the surgeon's or insurance office, or performing research. Do SOMEthing to keep yourself busy and looking forward to getting this procedure performed. You'll not regret it!
- What was your first visit with your surgeon like? How can people get the most out of this meeting?
- Long. :-) It was a gathering of interested patients (approx. 15-20?). We filled out a myriad of paperwork and when everyone was finished, the office mgr. presented insurance processing information> Then the surgeon presented an information slide presentation with extensive Q & A, and had one of his gastric bypass patients do Q & A. It's a smart use of the surgeon's and his staff's time. After the presentation, the surgeon's met individually with each prospective patient, reviewing your medical conditions, meds, etc. Brief physical exam to determine whether he thought he could perform the surgery lap or open. Started at noon and I left at 5pm. As I said, long, but it was well worth it.
How can you get the most out of it? Be sure to have a list of your surgeries (dates, etc.), current medications, insurance info, etc. to assist you with filling out all the forms. Also.....be patient. It's really worth it.
- What made you finally decide to have the surgery?
- When I found out the insurance would pay for it, I sought out the best surgeon (Dr. Garth Davis!). He was wonderfully caring, empathetic to obesity issues and has a great track record as a gifted general surgeon. It was a no-brainer after that. Best surgeon, gain back my health. Get the surgery!
- How did you decide which procedure to have?
- I didn't. The surgeon said what was best and since HE's the best, I went with what HE said. My momma didn't raise no fool.... :-)
- What fears did you have about having complications or even dying from from the surgery, and what would you tell other people having the same fears now?
- Very little. I could have dropped dead from all my comorbidities! I figured if I died from surgery, at least I would go at least TRYING to get healthier.
Tell others having fears? If you have a great surgeon (which I did) and if you believe God will take care of you (which I do), then you'll be fine.
- How did your family and friends react to your decision? Would you have communicated anything differently if you could now? How supportive were they after your surgery?
- Most were very supportive. Some a little skeptical. But I consider myself as fairly intelligent. I performed months of research before strongly considering this procedure. Fear of the unknown was the issue for those that were concerned. Well I was not afraid, as I educated myself about this surgery....and, yes....about the complications. I know some who took the 'don't ask-don't tell' approach. Whatever works, but I think you have to educate your family and friends to your potential risks with your current health and how this surgery is a tool to a healthy life. Their full support can only help your 'new life.'
- How did your employer/supervisor react to your decision? What did you tell him/her? How long were you out of work?
- I'm currently looking for employment after 33 years with a corporation, but..... had I been employed, I could have easily been back to work full time (at my usual 12 hr. workdays) in 2 weeks. No complications, felt terrific, tremendous energy level. Piece of cake (sugar free, that is.).
- What was your stay in the hospital like? How long where you there? What things are most important to bring?
- Not the best but it was all worth it. Entered and had surgery on a Thursday (at 8am) and was released Saturday AM.
What not to bother bringing? Robes/gowns. The hospital gowns were plenty big enough/thick enough. Remember, it's not a beauty contest, it's a hospital. :-)
What to bring? Lip Balm! The first day without water, ice, etc. reeeeally drys out our lips. Slippers. That's the ONLY thing in the way of clothing that I wore, except 'going home' clothes. Makeup. Ok, it's not a beauty contest, but I believe if you look better, i.e., do your hair, makeup, etc., you FEEL better. :-)b
- Did you have any complications from the surgery? If so, how did you deal with them?
- ONone from the surgery. Only one minor issue not related. The surgeon thinks they mixed my 'morning after' leak test solution with sugared 7Up, which caused me to have a dumping episode about 30 minutes later. Not pleasant, as we all learn about. But as I told him, I consider myself lucky. I learned VERY early on, just how bad a dump is. Sugar is the devil and I'll not attempt eating that stuff ever. :-)
- In the weeks after you got your surgery date, how did you feel? How did you cope with any anxiety you might have felt?
- A little anxious, by definition. I was anxious to be on the 'losing side' and to have the surgery behind me. I knew that the real work on my part was after the surgery, and, as I remain totally committed to this process, I was anxious to 'get to work!'
How did I cope? Prayer, discussion with other post-op patients and more research. Keep yourself occupied!
- Describe your first few weeks home from the hospital. What should people expect from this period?
- Mine was so great, it's almost like I hadn't had surgery! I never did have any pain. I was walking up and down my 18 steps several times a day. My energy level has been truly amazing. I talked often with ladies that had their surgery on the same day. We'd compare notes and encourage each other frequently. I really think that's important to have a 'surgery buddy.' Every day I would 'testdrive' new liquids, then new foods, etc. Some did great, others, I back off from for another day. :-) I did have a very minor problem with my belly button leaking fluid. Not scary, as I'd had a unrelated lap procedure last year. Just annoying to keep changing gauze every hour (leaked quite a bit). I went back to the surgeon 6 days after surgery....I'd slipped a stitch so he put on some surgical glue and fixed it right up.
What should one expect from this period? Most post-ops I've talked with or read about are pretty tired and sore. I think the key to quick recovery is walk as much as you can and get your protein in to get your strength back to normal. Be positive and remember, when you're not feeling your best, remind yourself you just made a courageous decision to feel good the rest of your life!
- How far did you travel to have your surgery? (If far, how did this affect your aftercare?)
- Um.....10 minutes? :-) I live in downtown Houston, very close to the Medical Center.
- Please describe in detail what things you could and couldn't eat in the weeks and months following surgery. What foods have been off limits? Please explain how your dietary tolerance changed week-by-week, and then month-by-month since surgery.
- First 3 days you're on clear liquids, i.e., sugar-free jello & popsicles, cream of wheat, broth, etc. Then you go to full liquids including skim milk, strained soups, SF yogurt (no fruit pieces), SF protein drinks, etc. After a week, you get pureed foods, which I found pretty disgusting. I just can't puree tuna. :-) Well mashed beans, pureed vegatables or fruits, cottage cheese, low fat casseroles are ok'd. Currently, 4 weeks out, I'm on soft diet. This is for 2 months. Now I can have tender cuts of meat, tuna/chicken/egg salads, peanut butter (LOVE it), SF frozen yogurt, well-cooked vegatables, certain fruits, toasted breads, beans, potatoes, dry cereal, soups, etc.
The big off-limits? High fat and sugar. Remember! Sugar is the devil. :-) Also, no caffiene and absolutely no carbonated drinks or ibuprofen products. Very very bad for your stomach. I also think eating too much high carb during the first 6 months makes it a slower weight lose so I'm really trying to stay "low fat, low carb, no sugar." I am really looking forward to popcorn, green salads (I'm really craving a good salad from Olive Garden!). Nothing that's fiberous, as it can clog up your new stomach.
Dietary tolerance? I still have to be careful with scrambled eggs. They just seem to sit in my stomach. Also EAT SLOWLY. Eating out with friends has a tendency to make me rush a meal, versus when I'm in the privacy of my own home. The "I-ate-too-fast" feeling is terribly uncomfortable.
- What was your actvity level in the days and weeks after surgery?
- Climbing stairs approx. 8 to 10 times a day. Now walking daily, trying to get up to 2 miles per day. Beginning to bicycle. Nicer than walking on warm days!
- What vitamins and/or dietary supplements have you taken since your surgery?
- B 12, Calcium citrate, chewable multi-vitamins with iron and a perscription to keep me from developing gall stones. I also get 50 grams of protein via protein powder. I make a smoothie for mid morning and mid afternoon.
- What side effects (nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbace, dumping, hair loss etc.) were worse for you? For how long after surgery did they persist? How did you cope with them?
- None. My apena is gone since day 1 of surgery. Never nausiated except for the sugared leak test and then I didn't vomit. The thought of vomiting still scares me. Still haven't experienced any hair loss.
- What was the worst part about the entire bariatric surgery process?
- The hospital process has great room for improvement, and I know my surgeon is taking the necessary measures to improve that part of the experience.
The surgery itself was absolutely perfect and I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I truly selected the best surgeon and he made the difference!
- What aftercare support group/program do you have? How helpful/important is this?
- My surgeon has a monthly evening meeting, but my surgery has been so recent, I've not had a meeting yet. I think support from fellow patients is critical. Sharing strengths, weaknesses and hopes is very important to keep yourself on track. Likewise, I understand my surgeon's support group is very information, as they include nutrition topics and the surgeon speaks on various related topics at each meeting.
- What is your scar like? Is this what you expected?
- Very small (lap procedure) with 7 'holes.' Four weeks out, you can't see 2 of them already. Good job, Dr. Davis!
What I expected? Yes. Lap liver biopsy with 3 holes last year. Same results. No keloids. (sp?)
- Please describe any plateau experiences you have had since surgery.
- Regarding weight loss, only one. About week 3 post op, I had 6 days without a drop and then dropped off quickly in 2 days with 5 lbs. You just have to stop weighing and stay on program and it will drop again. Don't get discouraged. Take a walk!
- Do you notice people treating you any differently now?
- Not really, other than the compliments on the smaller face! :-)
- What things do you most enjoy doing now that you weren't able to do before?
- Talking about this tremendous experience! I'm told I light up when telling others about this procedure. The exercise is now enjoyable, instead of dreaded.....