Am I glad I did it? Would I do it again?

On January 11, 2010, in Uncategorized, by Andrea

This is a question that gets asked often about WLS.  Stick around any length of time on any community and it’s going to happen — someone WILL ask it.  Non-ops will ask it of post-ops while getting their 15 vials of blood drawn, or when trying to decide if surgery is right for them.. but for those of us who have had the surgery — it’s something we get asked quite often.

And really, my answer is dependent on a number of factors — who’s asking?  What day is it?  What time of day is it?  Cause believe it or not, my answer really does change as much as that.

So let’s put it all out there, once and for all.

When I had my gastric bypass, I was young and stupid.  I was fat, too.  Let’s not forget that.  I weighed somewhere around 320.  I say somewhere around 320 because I don’t know one way or another.  I believe my official operating weight was 317, but I believe my office weight was 320.  I say 320 was my highest, but I suppose it could have been higher — I was not very fond of scales at that time in my life.  But I was healthy at that time in my life.  I did not have high cholesterol.  I did not have high blood pressure — in fact, I had LOW blood pressures (which, hey, maybe should have been a clue?!?).  I did not have diabetes, or even beginning stages of diabetes — I had hypoglycemia (which, again, maybe a clue?).  I was working full-time on my feet all day, and while I ached at times from this, but I think anyone weighing 320 standing for 12 hours, going up and down ladders and such would ache somewhat as well.

But going into surgery, I had no real need for it beyond the fact that I was fat.  So let’s face it — it was for vanity.  I was fat, I was tired of being fat, and that was that.  Oh, sure, we know where being that fat would have landed me.  At times previously, my knee had hurt due to being in a skiing accident and a car accident and subsequent screws took 12 months to fully heal due to horrible circulation and poor calcium stores and the weight.  So yeah, the signs were there that things would not stay well for long.  But at this point, I had no comorbidities.  I was functioning well.  And I didn’t do a whole lot of research.  I looked and there were two surgeons in my area — one of which was covered by my insurance, and made an appointment.  THAT was my research — I think a whole two hours worth.

I was never told — and let’s face it, it could be because they didn’t know it at the time — that reactive hypoglycemia was a possibility, that lowered blood pressure was a possibility, that a number of post-op conditions could occur.  I got the usual surgical complications — nerve cutting, death, infection, etc.  But none of these long-term conditions that could follow.

So here I sit with severe reactive hypoglycemia — a condition that means I have to watch my sugar intake pretty carefully.  Now, you’d think for an admitted sugar whore, this is a good thing.  It just means I know what typically sets me off and how to avoid meeting the floor face-first.  It also means I have glucose tablets in my purse, and 3 glucometers throughout my house as a precaution.  Oh, and the fact that the husband knows what to do in case we are out and I begin to act like a complete and total bitch out of the blue.  He looks at me carefully and says (and no, I’m not kidding here) “you need to eat something” when it slides slowly.  We don’t always know when it goes slowly — sometimes it drops like a rock and we don’t get the personality change.  That’s always a fun, panicky moment as I’m fine one moment, and the next moment I’m cold, shaking, and sweaty with a number around 30.

And then there’s the blood pressure part of the equation.  It tends to drop happily when I’m at the gym (and hey, we’re supposed to go to the gym to be healthy, yes?), or when I get shots (which happen every 10 weeks to treat my headaches), or when I get IV’s.  Not typically when I get blood draws, but this last one started to cause a blackout.. I was close but somehow stopped it by sheer force of will.  Add in the fact that I take migraine medication that lowers my blood pressure already, and now a new medication that lowers it even more for another WLS-unrelated condition and I could be meeting the floor quite often.  And hanging out on the boards, I’m seeing more and more people being diagnosed with blood pressure problems — mine is called neurocardiogenic shock.

(So if you find me on the floor, it could be sugar, or blood pressure.  Feed me and put my feet up.)

I have the pickiest stoma on the face of the planet.  It hates vegetables.  I miss broccoli — and if you had told me that I’d say that 6 years ago, I’d laugh at you.  But broccoli, even pureed will stick.  So will apples — I will have a stuck episode with APPLESAUCE.  It’s a whole WTF thing with me.  Cause it makes no sense whatsoever — applesauce?  Really?  Other fruits and veggies are about 75% of the time no-no’s.  It’s not hard at all for me to do “protein-first” cause I don’t do veggies.  Which, hey as a mom makes me feel horrible.  Their dad doesn’t either cause he hates veggies.  Great examples we are.  Have no idea.  Raw veggies are a no-no ALL of the time.

I suffer, and have since before my RNY, from migraines and severe headaches.  I miss my NSAIDs that I can’t have with my RNY.  Even without taking them, I’ve had ulcers (3).

I’ve had adhesion removal surgery that left me unable to eat real food for about 3 months.

The supplementation guidelines I was given?  Yeah, killed my iron stores and gave me rickets.  Deficiency hell is horrible to fight out of.  It’s one reason I get very angry with doctors that suggest Tums and Flintstones as post-op supplementation — I’ve BEEN there, I’ve DONE that, and living it is HELL.

BUT!  I said there were positives to all of this?  Here they are:

I am not naive enough to think I could have remained healthy all this time at 320 — nor could have STAYED all this time at 320.  I was fat, I wasn’t moving, and I had metabolic issues.

Additionally, I had two babies since my surgery.  Even if I could have had kids, there’s nothing to have said that I would have 1) had healthy pregnancies or healthy babies being as large as I was, or 2) lost any of my pregnancy weight — which meant I certainly would not have stayed at 320, which would have put me as large as a killer whale sooner than later, and put me in line for many of the comorbidities that I didn’t have when I did have surgery.  So my children, my two beautiful children, are what make my surgery worth everything I go through daily.  I had horrible pregnancies due to the daily headaches — I walked through hell every day pregnant, and I would continue to do so to have them in my life.

However, if I had done more research, I would have known about other surgical options — the Duodenal Switch for instance, or even the band.  I’m not certain I would have gone with either, but I would have known about them (the VSG wasn’t being performed back then to my knowledge).

I can’t turn back time, but I can be a cautionary tale to be sure you know what you are stepping into before you do it.  I hate being a cautionary tale — it was never what I wanted to be when I grew up in school.  This isn’t something that is presented at Career Day — “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “A WLS failure! That’s me!!!”  But here I stand.

So that’s why you may get any number of answers from me when you ask — are you glad you did it?  Would you do it again?  It depends on the day.  Have I just gone through a particularly bad session with my hypoglycemia tanking all day?  Or have I been playing playdough with the kids all day?  Have I just gotten my yearly draw of 15 vials of blood and almost passed out?  Or have I gone hiking with my skinny husband and been able to do it without huffing and puffing?  Am I in the throes of a bad headache and longing for an 800mg Advil, or have I just come off an airplane where I could sit in the seat comfortably?

Day-to-day.  Minute-to-minute.  Don’t like the answer you got?  Ask me later, cause my answer may change.

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