My Gastric Bypass Journey
I looked into bariatric surgery because my life had become out of control. I had ballooned to morbid obesity and I had been recently diagnosed with, and hospitalized for, diabetes type 2 and hypertension. My triglycerides were bad; my cholesterol was worse. They had been that way, in fact, for a long time. I finally got to the point where I felt like… no, I knew that I was going to die. The reality was that I had been dying for decades but it had become so “in my face” apparent that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. As they say, I hit rock bottom. And so began my gastric bypass journey.
Even on medication, I never could get my blood glucose readings or blood pressure readings “normal.” I still felt awful… and I was afraid of dying. Fat and desperate, I asked my primary care physician about gastric bypass surgery. He told me that several of his patients had had weight loss surgery with great results. He recommended Dr. Robert E. Brolin, a bariatric surgeon, to me and I phoned his practice for information.
I had ballooned to morbid obesity and I recently diagnosed with, and hospitalized for, diabetes type 2 and hypertension. My triglycerides were bad; my cholesterol was worse. They had been that way, in fact, for a long time. I finally got to the point where I felt like… no, I knew that I was going to die.
I was promptly told by the receptionist that there was an 18-month wait list for Dr. Brolin. She offered that another surgeon, Dr. Vishal Mehta, in the practice whom had assisted Dr. Brolin in many surgeries now was performing the surgery on his own. I could have my surgery with him fairly quickly. “Ding-ding-ding, it looks like we have a winner!” I scheduled my appointment with Dr. Mehta that day and began researching various weight loss surgery options online.
At my initial consultation, I sat with a group of weight-loss surgery candidates and watched a film presentation concerning bariatric surgery. Then I met with Dr. Mehta for a private consultation. I asked about the LAP-Band, Gastric Bypass, and the Duodenal Switch – which was my preference of the three surgeries. Although my weight loss would be greater with the Duodenal Switch, Dr. Mehta advised against it. He claimed there were greater side effects and that it typically was performed on patients with significantly more weight to lose than what I had to lose. I agreed on the laparoscopic RNY gastric bypass surgery.
The process went rather quickly from that point. Back in 2003 when I’d had bariatric surgery, there weren’t psych evaluations, or 6-month supervised weight loss programs, or the tighter scrutiny from insurers that patients face today. Most obese people qualified for weight loss surgery with a BMI of 35 or greater. There simply were forms I had to complete about my many (many) failed attempts to lose weight, about my comorbid conditions (my other diseases), and other questions that screened for mental health and addiction to drugs or alcohol. Insurance approval came quickly. So, in July of 2003, I had the gastric bypass surgery.
I went on an eating binge in the weeks leading up to my surgery. I made sure that I ate all of my favorite junk foods because I pretty much knew I’d be giving most of them up for life. I ate fast food galore… it was really quite despicable to be this way, but there you have it, a moment of truth.
Preparing for My Gastric Bypass
I have to be honest here and say that I went on an eating binge in the weeks leading up to my gastric bypass surgery. Being the junk food junkie that I was, I made sure that I ate all of my favorite junk foods because I pretty much knew I’d be giving most of them up for life. I ate fast food galore… it was really quite despicable to be this way, but there you have it, a moment of truth.
Binge eating aside, my pre-gastric bypass surgery preparation was simple. I met with a registered dietician who ran a practice out of my surgeon’s bariatric center. We put together a meal plan for several weeks of liquid diet. In preparation for this meal plan, I purchased the following nutrients:
Liquid multi-vitamins called Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality Organic Life Minerals, and NSI’s powdered Magnesium Citrate with Potassium lemon flavor, plus B12 sublingual vitamins, and Syntrax Nectar Whey lemon flavor from Vitacost (good prices on all).
Profect protein bullets from the manufacturer’s web site (be sure to use their online coupon for 20% savings). Profect are ready-made protein drinks 2.7 oz each that can be consumed in just two swallows or frozen and eaten. They are high in protein and low in calories, with 0g of fat and carbs. They tasted awful to me but are a solution for someone who needs protein but cannot stomach anything but the smallest quantities of food – they pack 25g of protein in 2.7 oz.
Organic creamy natural peanut butter and some condensed cream soups and organic vanilla almond milk. Although I am not one to normally eat canned soup, I opt for them rather than making my own because the sodium content is high and will keep my levels in range. The peanut butter, although high in calories, is good for getting fat grams.
I already had Optimum Nutrition Gold 100% Whey chocolate in my pantry and organic lowfat vanilla yogurt in the fridge. Lowfat dairy products are good sources for carbs while on the liquid diet — as long as you can tolerate lactose.
I also purchased the following tools:
Baby food spoons, which were the perfect size to help with eating my food slowly and in small bits.
Diet scale, measuring spoons/cups for measuring my food and prevent me from over eating (this can happen especially when you are getting used to your new pouch).
Straws to help slow down how much fluid I could take in a sip.
Mini chooper/food mill for pulverizing food for the first 4-6 weeks after surgery.
Disposable plastic gloves that my husband could wear if he needed to wipe me after a bowel movement. Thankfully, we did not need these but many patients cannot bend down to wipe themselves, owing to surgical pain. Another embarrassing moment of truth here, folks…
My Gastric Bypass Surgery
I was in the hospital for three nights — asleep or out of it most of the time as a result of the automatic pain pump that continuously injected me with a low dose of morphine. I certainly had pain but because I had the procedure laparoscopically I did not have the pain of a large incision, like I did with my c-section many years prior. I found the c-section more painful but other women whom I have spoken to have found the gastric bypass more painful as compared to the c-section.
I returned to work in two weeks, after my drains were removed.
I subsequently lost 85lbs, nearly all of it in the first 6-months of my gastric bypass surgery. I got off the prescriptions I had been taking for diabetes (including insulin injections) and hypertension and acid reflux. I thought about all those years of my life wasted, and I wondered why I had not done this sooner.
My Gastric Bypass Cost
Costs vary widely for weight-loss surgery and gastric bypass ranges from $25 to $35k depending on the facility. My insurance covered the procedure because it was medically necessary owing to my Body Mass Index (BMI) of 46 (wow!) and comorbid conditions of diabetes 2, hypertension, and sleep apnea. My out of pocket expenses were roughly $800-1200, if I remember correctly.
My Gastric Bypass Results
I subsequently lost 90-lbs, nearly all of it in the first 6-months of my gastric bypass surgery. I got off the prescriptions I had been taking for diabetes (including insulin injections), asthma, hypertension and acid reflux. I thought about all those years of my life wasted, and I wondered why I had not done this sooner.
In Spring 2006, I lost another 10-15 pounds by making some additional lifestyle modifications. This weight loss may not sound significant, but it was… my BMI moved from obese to overweight, and my belly was much smaller so that I was physically more comfortable and attractive and my clothes fit properly. I felt very, very good about myself. However, I regained that weight in 2009… plus a few more pounds. And subsequently underwent a gastric bypass revision surgery that was new at the time. StomaPhyx was developed specifically for gastric bypass patients who had minor weight regain. I invite you to read the continuing saga of my weight loss journey in “My Gastric Bypass Revision Story.”
As well, you may read more about my weight loss journey in these articles:
Getting Out of My Chubby Kid Clothes
Life Well-Lived After Weight Loss Surgery
Weight Loss Hero Behind My Bariatric Life
Plastic Surgery with Dr. Joseph F. Capella
Amazing Facelift with Dr. Catherine Winslow
My weight loss from gastric bypass surgery has been relatively stable. And my diabetes and hypertension remain normal without prescription medications to this day.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life