Monday, July 31, 2006

Heartwarming Letter-O-The-Day

Dear GB Girl, sometimes I think that for a lot of people the decision to get the procedure is a little too easy, like I want to lose that much, that fast, and there’s no other way I would ever be able to do it and they just plunge in. I’m just not one of those people who can decide so easily. I am 48 years old and a mother of two. I am 5'7" and I weigh 348 lbs. I want to be thin and be healthy more than you could ever know but I weigh the pros and cons of this so much it’s starting to make me crazy. But now I have your site and it's so helpful and I have to praise you for putting all this information out there. I honestly think that for a morbidly obese person, the decision to have gastric bypass surgery should be one of the most difficult ones they’d ever make and you are helping me figure out what to do every single day. Thank you so much.
Linda G.

Garden City, NY

Linda, I hardly know what to say except this: Regardless of anything you may hear while you are researching this, know that You Are A Brave and Smart Person. You are the one who is deciding whether or not to change your entire life in order to save it. And in order to enrich it. And you are taking the decision seriously and NOT plunging in. And I should be applauding you for your courage. I wish you the very best in your decision-making progress and in your future. And I hope you will continue to write to me throughout, no matter which way you decide to go. I do know that even having doctors involved, family involved, community involved, it is still you and you alone who have to firmly commit to this. And I know how hard that is. Good luck, Linda!
GB Girl

Friday, July 28, 2006

GB Girl, I’m so scared to do this. I have read stuff from 3 Dr’s offices so I know what it is they do to you but I just don’t know if this is for me. I am 39 and I weigh 300 pounds. I have lost the same 25 pounds 50 times in my life already. Can you tell us what your reservations were about doing it, if you had any?

Camille S.

Camille, I had about ten distinct reservations about doing it that ran through my head constantly. In no particular order:











And don’t think, Camille, that I didn’t have people run very similar, albeit more subtly put, variations on those same points by me every single day while I performed my two-year research study.

You know who didn’t do that to me, though? The psychiatrist I was forced to sit with in order to have a professional let the insurance company know whether or not they should approve me for the procedure. She didn’t do that to me. In fact, she just went over every one of those concerns with me and she and I determined that I was not likely to change my mind afterwards. Though, how she really knew that is beyond me.

Oh by the way…the reason the insurance companies will (and should, I guess) make you get the all-clear from a shrink is so they can know that you are not likely to “change your mind” after the fact, which would mean the surgeon would have to go back in and put everything back the way it was, which costs the insurance companies more moolah. Did you know about this? The shrink explained it to me. Some people do this. They go though ALLLLLL this and then decide it is too difficult for them to maintain the lifestyle changes and they get it switched back.

I can’t fault them. I would NEVER fault them. They are, I am guessing, among the many who were not told everything up front. Who did not have the future complications spelled out for them ahead of time. So they didn’t know. And once they got there, they didn’t like the changes they had to make to every single moment of their day.

And that is what it’s like, Camille. For the first 2-3 years you are someone for whom themes like “nearby bathroom” and “longer sleeves” and "carefully maintain protein and iron levels” have become a daily...nay...hourly refrain. Are you up for that?

Are you up for the not knowing what the long-term future will hold?

If you are, and you are already reading all the stuff on this site, I have to assume you are also checking out every other resource possible in order to make an informed decision. And I applaud you, Camille. And whether you do it or not, know that you have sisters and brothers out there who know what you are going through and are rooting for you! Please really know that. And send me your address, Camille. When I write my book I want to send you one.

GB Girl

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What are the first couple of days like at home after the surgery?
Michele J.
Westwood, CA

To try to really answer that in a detailed way, it would take a book. But let me try to summarize:


1. I was so weirded out by my new wiring because I was afraid I’d bust it, rip it open, stuff like that. At the same time I was trying VERY hard to eat all the protein shakes (one shake took over 2 hours to get down for the first 3 weeks) I was assigned and slowly attempting to add food items off the approved list – things like egg salad and tuna salad are commonly approved after the first week, but I was too afraid that eggs would gross me out and cause me to vomit which you are ALWAYS afraid will happen.

It’s funny…after the myriad vomit warnings, I did not throw up ONCE. Not once.

2. I was warned that I would be really constipated from the hospital medications so I actually had to have someone insert anal suppositories for me because the doctors are eager for you to keep eliminating. They need you regular Wheee!

3. Between those blasted, chalky shakes and my new intestinal avenues, my breath would have KILLED someone who came within ten feet of me. I am serious about this. And no one in the doctor’s office had EVER mentioned this to me (surprise surprise). It actually had me so freaked out that I reported it to my surgeon’s office but they just shrugged (another surprise). So I started doing Internet research. I learned the why, I just didn’t learn the how long. Thankfully, that went away after about a month so if you are in that time frame, Do Not Worry. The frighteningly evil breath will go away. I promise.

That’s a very, VERY basic summary of the first few days at home, Michele. Not terribly illuminating, to be sure, but it's my job to give you the lowdown truth, so there ya have it!

GB Girl
I had my surgery 4 months ago. I was told to wait until 3 months out to start drinking soda again because the stomach has to heal first, which I did. But now that I am drinking it again I get pain sometimes in the side of my stomach. Is this normal? Did that ever happen to you? Regina from Flushing

Regina, listen, when one finds that doing something is causing them pain the first thing they need to do is STOP DOING THAT THING. Like a kid who puts their hand near fire for the first time – they’re not going to do it again. So please, Regina, put down the Mountain Dew and walk away. Right now.

I would love to know who told you that THREE months was long enough to wait until drinking soda again. That is insane and stupid. Soda is so bad for you, Regina. Because you have had a new stomach created for you, you do need to treat it extra gently for a very long time until it’s up and running. And by that I mean wait at least a year before drinking soda, if you ever do. Soda, with its highly concentrated sodium levels and wicked carbonation is going to do nothing but rip through the walls of your brand new stomach lining. You know, that stomach you paid more than the price of a Balenciaga purse for.

I do know from the temptation of the Coke One. I am intimately familiar with the siren’s call of the Diet Pepsi Lime. And Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper? He and I go way back, and it didn’t end pretty.

I started drinking soda again 8 months post-op and did things like diluting it in water, using a full glass of ice and letting the soda soak in that a while to temper it, and leaving cans open for a full day before drinking it, all in an effort to make soda edible for me, but it didn’t work. Drinking soda as a post-operative GBer will make you sick every time. For me, it created diarrhea scenarios that I was forcing myself to live with, gave me aches and pains on the right side and left side, gave me cramps, headaches, and terrible, painful gas. All The Time. Every Time. And being such a slave to soda made it very difficult to give it up, but give it up I did. And only in the last few months, too. But all I did was trade up. Now I’m a slave to my one and only true love - Crystal Light Lemonade.

You might not wanna get me started on that one.

GB Girl

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Our Hero

I would like to dedicate this site today, as I do every day, to Star Jones – International Spokesperson for Gastric Bypass Surgery.

For being proud and fearless and showing others that they can be, too.

For standing tall and acknowledging that needing a potentially life-saving weight-loss procedure
and then getting it is nothing to be ashamed of.

And for using her platform on National television (ooops…scratch that, huh?) to educate

people about the ifs whys and hows of this surgery.

For being a real stand-up, gal…and being as brutally honest as you constantly claim to be,

we salute you, Star Jones.

"On Thursday’s “Larry King Live, Reynolds said she did, in fact, have "medical intervention" for her weight and that Rosie O'Donnell had “just misinterpreted” how she had lost the weight."

M i s i n t e r p r e t e d when you straight out kept denying it?
You sure that’s the word you wanna use, Star?
To my readers: The following letter is representative of roughly 30% of the mail I get. This ONE topic! And you can see why…this is something that has the ability to transcend all categories of age, sex, economy…this sucks for EVERYone who gets the surgery! Read on…

Why is it that when I look at before and after pictures on all the web sites almost every woman has short hair in the after pictures? Do you lose your hair from this? I called a doctor's office and asked and they said occasionally people do lose some hair but not to worry about it. Is this true?
Kelly Pugh
Hackensack, NJ

Kelly, it would be really easy to act blasé and tell you that having this new and gorgeous body just makes a woman want a fresh start and a new look so she goes and gets her hair cut and styled in a trendy way and now she’s ready to take on the world! And that is what the doctor’s office will likely tell you and the support group leaders, too.

Here’s the thing: That’s not the answer.

The truth of the matter is that you will start losing your hair after the surgery. Each and every person who has the surgery. And that is the truth. About 3 months into your recovery and for at least 8 months you will find that your hair is thinning out and making a huge mess of your tub. It’s normal. You have just done something so traumatic to your body and one of the ways the body deals with trauma is by shedding - your hair falling out.

Also, as you know, even with taking in as many calories and nutrients as you can fit afterwards, your body is definitely in shock and starving for the fats, oils and SUGAH it was used to, so the hair is falling out for that reason, as well.

The technical name for it is "Telogen Effluvium". The best thing about it is this: It's temporary. Read some more info about this:

Telogen effluvium is when a stress (such as dieting/weight change) causes noticeable loss of hair after a stressful event. The event can be a physical stress such as an illness (especially with a fever), sudden weight changes (the most common), or a major surgical procedure {{BINGO!}}. Usually, the person losing hair has recovered from the event (or stabilized from the weight change or dietary change), and then they start shedding their hair in clumps. The condition is almost always temporary, and new hairs soon grow back in. Within a few more months the normal random cycle of hair follicle growth and rest resumes. Treatment for telogen effluvium includes waiting for the new hairs to grow in, and trimming and styling the hair to give a fuller look in the meantime.”

One of the best things you can do about this – and this sounds unusual, I know – is to make sure your diet is TRULY and TOTALLY Sugar Free. Sugar really exacerbates the condition. And in my upcoming “Why Sugar Is The Nectar of Satan” column, you can read more about it. As some of you know, I miss sugar SO much and I am SO bitter about having had to give it up, no pun intended. It’s not a laughing matter!!! But that’s a story for another day…back to the telogen effluvium…

It also helps if you do the following:

Up your protein by 15% each day over whatever levels you've been eating.

Drink LOTS of water. 64 ounces is a minimum per day. Not easy with your tiny new tummy but somehow you have to make it work. And the people I know who did that – really forced themselves to drink that water, even when they felt ready to burst, are so happy they did it. Not only did it help them with their hair loss, it also helped their skin and helped in every other way that water helps the bod.

Take your supplements! At a minimum, you should be taking:
-A good multivitamin
-CoEnzyme Q10 - 75-150 mg per day
-Acetyl L-Carnitine - 1000 mg per day
-A good Essential Fatty Acids supplement if you don't eat some form of salmon, tuna, or olive oil every day.

Super long answer, Kelly. And I know from your other emails that you are still in the surgery research stage. I really, truly hope that what you just learned hasn’t turned you off to getting the GB. The hair grows back and in the meanwhile you’re dropping pants sizes left and right and feeling SO much more flexible and healthy. Send me pics. Go Kelly!
GB Girl
I get really funny emails from readers. I love them. One of the main themes, though, is something I don’t find that funny and I want to address it today: The "If You Hate This Surgery So Much Why Did You Do It?" thing.

So here goes.

I DON'T hate this surgery. I was and still am thrilled that science perfected something so utterly life-saving and miraculous as a way to drop tons of weight while getting healthy and agile and everything else...for people for whom the average "weight loss/diet plan/exercise program" is not even an option. My jaw is still on the floor from this. And, on a more personal level, this thing has completely changed the course of my life - all in positive ways!

So of course I don't HATE this surgery. I just grow tired of people not being given all the details about what they will go through, from A to Z. I do feel that the medical establishment is both crudely jaded and, frankly, bored by the most basic of questions to even bother addressing them. And what the hell is up with that?!

If a person is going to go all Frankenstein on themselves and REWIRE their body, I think the very least the establishment (which is getting ever richer by the day because of it) can do is address questions and worries and even present every single potential issue or worry a person may eventually have, even if they happen to just a fraction of people in the post-surgical world. Is that too much, folks? Am I asking too much??!

OK...enough venom. Let's get to today's letter:

Why am I working out every day and still dealing with very bad hanging skin? Does this go away? Are there any tricks to it? I lost 106 lbs so far and my thighs and my butt are really sagging even though I run on the treadmill 2 miles a day.
Tiffany W.
Phoenix, AZ

Tiffany my girl, WELCOME TO MY WORLD! As we all know by now, I have lost a lot of weight and I am in my mid-30’s. For this reason, I was told by my surgeon that it was "likely" that my skin would bounce back like a rubber band. HA HA HA. It isn’t.

Every inch of me…and I do mean every inch…is sagging like a hound dog’s jowls. Interestingly, my mother, who had this surgery 4 years ago, when she was 63, DID have her skin bounce back. That should not be and no chart would say it was even possible. Oil of Olay be damned.

This is what I mean when I say it is different for everyone. The elasticity of your skin depends on a lot of factors and I do hate to tell you this but there are parts of your body that will never respond to exercise if the elasticity in that area is shot. I wouldn’t waste your money on schmancy supplements that claim to renew elasticity, either. They are not going to work. Stick with herbal help: Vitamin C has a great reputation for strengthening elasticity in the skin, as do all strong antioxidants, and you should start taking some of that right now. I am taking them but wish I had been doing so for ages before I even had the surgery.

Obviously plastic surgery is an option but that is incredibly costly. I, myself, am saving pennies for brachioplasty – an upper arm lift. I spend hours here:

I'm thinking about that new one that tucks the extra skin into the armpit. New. Revolutionary. Terrifying. We’ll see. I mean, I have to do something. I can fly, at this point.

Serum 10 is amazing for this, with all its L-ascorbic acid and tons of Vitamin C. Check it out:

And have you considered yoga and pilates, Tiffany? Stre-e-e-e-tching out your muscles in this way will work as stretching works on ballerinas - it will lengthen and strengthen your muscles in a very beautiful way. And with that and some Vitamin C every day, you could be helping your skin along a lot! Good luck!

GB Girl
When you're sliding into first
And your pants begin to burst
diarrhea, diarrhea
When you're sliding into two
And your pants are filled with goo
diarrhea, diarrhea
When you're sliding into third
And you feel a greasy turd
diarrhea, diarrhea

Yeah. OK, so I am like that 7th grade kid back in Woodland Jr. High (Long Island, NY, folks...which should explain a lot) who banged smaller guy's heads into lockers and screeched the lyrics to The Diarrhea Song to any girl who passed him on the lunch line...what can I say? The scars of childhood.

Let's get to today's letter:

Dear Gb Girl: I am almost 9 months out of surgery. Roux-en-Y. I am having diarrhea every single day at this point. My surgeon’s office said there’s nothing they can do and nothing to be done even if they wanted to. They said it’s normal. Is that true? I didn’t read that anywhere and they never told me this might happen.
Casi B.
Detroit, MI

First off, don’t you hate the name of that procedure? RUIN Y ?! Y RUIN !!? As in WHY RUIN MY STOMACH ??!! But I digress…OK, I love your letter so much, Casi, because this is one of those unfathomably IGNORED issues that is very MUCH an issue. You WILL have diarrhea. Lots and lots and lots of it. It can start almost a year out of surgery or any time after that. I, myself, am still in the honeymoon/diarrhea phase of my post-surgical life and so I want to introduce you to my very good new friend: Casi…meet Imodium D. Your stomach and, moreso, your intestines, are still trying to adjust to their new surroundings. They’re in the nesting phase. Getting used to the curtains…the view…Any little thing can rupture this peaceful situation and will do so, any chance it gets. Once you are closer to 2 – 2 1/2 years out of surgery, the diarrhea will stop…or lessen to a very great degree.

Sooooo many of the letters I get tell me this all the time, so that’s how I know it is true…not because a nurse in a doctor’s office told me so. Unless, of course, she’s a nurse who HAD this procedure. Just take your Imodium, avoid eating anything that’s making your particular situation even worse (Oh, and look - in walks in my main nemesis: SALAD, anyone??), drink water drink water drink water as much as you can…diarrhea is terribly dehydrating, and keep bananas around the house. They bind you up.

But see, there again, though…that’s up to your new body…I was told that rice binds everyone up, no matter what, so I tried it. I lived inside the toilet bowl for like 3 days after that. Rice does not bind me up. I know you wanted a more pleasant answer but this is all there is, Casi. The truth aint pretty. Oh, and keep a can of Lysol around, k?

GB Girl

The GB Girl Is In

Have you had Gastric Bypass Surgery? Are you thinking of having it? Are you so tired of reading the "advice" given by boring Health sites that do, indeed, present facts of the procedure but not really ANY pertinent information about what your life will be like afterwards???

I was, too. And I am guessing you knew that.

So EMAIL ME! Send me pictures, stories, questions. I will get back to each of you. And I will begin posting my diary from 6 months before I got the surgery til today.
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