Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stop Blaming Gastric Bypass . . .

I was doing some Googling this morning on gastric bypass to see if I could find some updates to some old statistics on the death rates for GB and the other complications and so on.

What I found, as per usual, was a slew of coverage of people who died "from" gastric bypass surgery. I will not be dusting off my soapbox - THIS TIME - but I will, instead, take this opportunity to remind people of a few things.

1 - We all lay on that operating table at our will. Unless dictatorships have started to insist the poor and huddled masses they oversee be thin - we all CHOOSE to have this surgery. We chose to get heavy (no one forced us to eat a thing, no matter what contributing factors you might have faced) and no one forced us to need this resource.

2 - Almost ALL gastric bypass "deaths" are caused by the tired hearts, compromised circulatory systems and weak physical resolve of the people who have the surgery. The laser (or the scalpel) itself has caused very, very, very few lives in the last 20 years. I challenge you to find me ONE instance of death FROM gastric bypass.

3 - The surgery is just four hours of the journey. I would suggest that anyone who doesn't go through a complete PROGRAM (like the one at Danbury Hospital or at Union Memorial in Baltimore (although I think they moved the GB program to another hospital in Baltimore)) is not really doing themselves any favors. Without the months of prep work (consulting with nutritionists, mental evaluations, support groups, blood work, prep tests and exams, time to think, resources to review, peers to get to know, etc.) people are, frankly, doing themselves a great disservice. You can't just decide to have gastric bypass. You have to PREPARE for it and then you need months and years of continued monitoring and support to make a go of it following the surgery.

4 - If you aren't willing to make diet changes - stay away from a surgery that requires it. I can't read ONE MORE article about "Oh, poor me, I can't even have birthday cake with my kid without dumping" or "I had no idea that I could not still eat Fritos and Queso dip on Sunday afternoons." I can't. There are THREE simple dietary rules to life after GB. 1 - Low fat, high protien. 2 - Low-to-no sugar (even "allowed" sugars). 3 - Every calorie counts so you should count every calorie. That's it. Pretty simple. If you are basing your post surgery diet on foods that violate those three rules, you're going to become a statistic. Don't become a statistic.

5 - Get up and get moving. I'm a bit of a hypocrite here. I busted my butt for the first five or six months after surgery and have been very blessed since then to have lost as much weight as I have without more excercise but you can not just have the surgery an chill on the couch and expect long term results and success. You will plateau very quickly. And will start to gain weight from there. THAT BEING SAID - You CAN do everything you should (diet and excercise) and still plateau (just ask my beloved BGBFF Kate) but you are MORE likely to have trouble on the plateau if you don't excercise.

6 - Be Honest. If you are having trouble after your surgery, admit that you probably had trouble before the surgery too and get the right help. I had someone e-mail the other day and tell me that she "never" had knee or ankle pain before her surgery but now she is in contstant pain. That seems odd to me (although my friend Melissa's husband did get extreme gout after his surgery and I passed that news along to my e-mailer) and I suggested that maybe she had pain before the surgery too but didn't acknowledge it. I had pain and never knew it. I was really, really sore (not in PAIN but sore) for the first week after my surgery when I would get up or down from a chair or bed. I never took a single pain killer and I did not have morphine in the hospital. I wanted to FEEL the experience for motivation long term. It was totally managable and any troubles I had were going to get me either way.

7 - Get some help. Stick with your doctors and your health team after surgery. GO TO SUPPORT GROUPS and make a friend in support group. My friend Kate and I don't talk all that often but she's very important to me for having cheered me through the last 15 months and I have helped to celebrate her. I introduced her to Stew Leonard's Chicken Chili. We're friends for life accordingly. Get yourself some support so you can know what to expect and how to deal with it when/if trouble comes.

That's it. That's the rant. I feel TERRIBLE for people who do suffer after surgery and for lives lost but I can't believe how little attention is paid to the benefits and positives of this surgery and how often the negatives are presented as just being "because" of the surgery.

2 comments:

ROXANNE said...

SEAN,
HI. I AM MELISSA'S SISTER-IN-LAW, JOE'S SISTER, ROXANNE. I MET YOU UP IN ITHACA WHEN THEY HAD THEIR BARBEQUE. YOU LOOK GREAT!!! I WAS THE ONE THAT ALSO HAD GASTRIC BYPASS. I AM SO GLAD I DID IT. I HAVE LOST ABOUT 119 LBS AND FEEL GREAT. LOVE YOUR WEB SITE..
VERY INFORMATIVE AND FUNNY.

WILL BE CHECKING IN FROM TIME TO TIME.

ROXANNE

Sean C. Amore said...

Hey, Roxanne. I remember you well and just asked Meilssa about you the other day (I finally tracked her down in Florida). I'm glad you are doign well and I am SO glad that Joe's situation is finally under control.

Scary time for sure.

Stay in touch!