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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weight Loss Surgery is Easy? NOT!

From my syndicated article file, published in 2005. Not much has changed since then. Please share your experiences with public perception of surgical weight loss. Thanks for stopping by.

Gastric Bypass: The Easy Way Out of Fat Land - Right?
By Kaye Bailey

If you listen, even for a moment, to the talk in overweight communities you will almost always hear that gastric bypass weight loss surgery is the “easy way out” of Fat Land. People with weak spirits and good insurance get a lucky break, have their stomachs whacked and stapled and lose weight the easy way. Weight Loss Surgery: seen by pious public to be surgical baptism for the guilty gluttonous slothful.

But those of us who step in the water to be cleansed of our fatty sins know better. Weight loss surgery is NOT the easy way out, a simple dunking of the repentant, the sins atoned, and the price paid, the soul and body healed. We know the atonement is paid every day for the rest of our lives when we set our healthy house in order with gastric bypass.

We understand that WLS is not easy. Why, then, does the public think it’s redemption to weight loss?

First: what the public sees is a rapidly diminishing person recently repaired by gastric bypass. The pounds melt away seemingly in a plain sight. What hides behind the curtain are the ugly demons. Dumping? We don’t talk about it. Vomiting? We don’t tell our regurgitating stories. Head games driving you insane? Who you going to tell? Who is listening? Exercising? Nobody wants to hear about the “E” word. So what the public sees front and center stage is a person consistently succeeding at massive weight loss; a person glowing in their own rebirth and betraying the fat and hopeless around them. How else can it be explained? WLS must be the magic pill, the easy-way-out of obesity hell.

Second: the WLS grass-roots public relations machine tells the public gastric bypass is easy, thus we become our own worst enemy. Tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar: “I can still eat the same things, just less of them! ha ha ha!” or how about, “I lost 145 pounds and never had to do a moments exercise – WLS is fabulous that way – no exercise required.” And so the popular belief perpetuates that fat glutton slobs can lose weight just by eating less of the same foods and never exercising. Brilliant! How easy is that?

Let me tell you what weight loss surgery is really like for me.

I am six years post-op. Two nights ago I vomited my dinner (bacon-seared sea scallops and green beans) because it was just a bit too greasy for my sensitive stomach. A week before that I became deathly ill, it’s called dumping, from snacking mindlessly on Chinese chow mein noodles. Disorientation, hot sweats and then cold chills – dumping – a dire consequence of eating the wrong foods with the malabsorptive system. This morning, just like most mornings, I walked two brisk miles on the treadmill to begin my day. This evening I spent 25 minutes strength training to maintain my muscle tone, keep my metabolism running high and making damn sure I don’t regain one single pound.

And this is how it will be for the rest of my life. I will vomit, dump, exercise and be vigilant day in and day out if I want this easy weight loss surgery to work for me.

My body does not take weekends off from weight loss surgery. I don’t get chocolate cake just because it’s my birthday. I do not have a double-cheeseburger with fries and a shake just because I’ve had a stressful day and I deserve it. My body is on the gastric-bypass plan 24-7.

Do you think that’s easy?

Weight Loss Surgery post-ops understand what I’m talking about. Many of us go through a phase of fighting the gastric bypass and engage in snacking or grazing. We out-eat the stomach pouch and regain weight and we become self-loathing. We vomit and dump and do it all over again thinking we can somehow trick the body. Eventually we learn and we get it: WLS is for life.

Weight loss surgery pre-op patients want badly to understand this, but the dieting culture has taught us to be strict for X-number days and then we get a free day. The culture has taught us if we can stick to a plan for X-weeks and lose X-pounds then we can “get back to normal”. We are all expert dieters by the time we elect to have gastric bypass surgery.

There is no back to normal after WLS – it is a lifetime lifestyle commitment.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 - All Rights Reserved

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1 comment:

Pam said...

My daughter-in-law had WLS 4 years ago. She initially lost about 75 lbs. right before her wedding. She had more to lose, but looked just pleasingly plump in her wedding dress instead of morbidly obese. I guess at that point, she quit trying, because she gained all the weight back and remains at her heavier weight today. I don't ask her what happened, and after reading your article I wonder if she didn't experience some of that dumping and diarrhea as she was gaining her weight back. Evidently it didn't bother her enough to stop her from eating the wrong things. I looked into the surgery at the same time she did, but my insurance will not cover it, and I didn't have the $40K it was estimated to have cost back then. Her insurance did cover it, but it did no good.
In December I started a diet myself. I had a scare, thought I'd had a heart attack (the cardiologist didn't think so), and it was enough to motivate me to lose some of this excess weight. I was surprised to find at my Dec. doctor appointment that I had lost 20 lbs. since my July appt. Since then I have lost an additional 25 lbs. I am simply eating healthier, eating less and have recently started walking. The first day I went about 1/10 of a mile and it exhausted me, even though it only took about 5 minutes. Less than a month later I am up to almost 7/10 of a mile in 20 minutes. I am still exhausted afterwards, but try to go just a little farther every day. My knees are hips are bad, a direct result of being over 100 lbs. overweight for 30 years, and they hurt badly when I walk, but I am determined. I try to stay motivated, because I want to live to see my grandchildren grow up some more. Just wanted to let you know that not only is WLS not easy, it is not always successful.