"Do you regret your gastric bypass?" - for the pre-ops and interested post-ops
I had my surgery at 20 years old - 5'2, 265 lbs. It's hard to use the word "regret". You're exchanging one set of health problems (fat - difficulty with movement is solved, people no longer look at you like you're a freak, so that's a huge non-health benefit, breathing is easier, blood pressure and sugar issues resolve themselves, etc) for another. I'm 23 now and 105 pounds. I lost 100 pounds in the first 7 months out of surgery, and by one year out I was down from 265 to 110 pounds. The plusses? I'm esthetically pleasing and can walk for hours on end - my body no longer hurts like before - my bones are stronger, and my breathing is a million times better (asthmatic). The cons? About 10 UTI's in the first year and a half out of surgery, 2 resulting in ER trips for bloody urine, yeast infections including thrush (rapid growth of yeast in the mouth and esophagus, another thing that wound me up in the ER once I couldn't swallow any more), black outs from vitamin deficiencies, constant bowel disruption (diahrea for the first year and then bouts of constipation followed by bouts of diahrea). Not to mention muscle death, dehydration, and malnutrition. Losing 100 pounds in 7 months means you're literally starving to death - the weight pours off as you fight daily nausea (this doesn't happen to everyone, but it's a long struggle to figure out which foods you can and cannot tolerate after surgery - and that does happen to everyone).
14 months out of surgery I was 95 pounds and so weak I couldn't open a window, or carry my own purse or bags to school. My surgeon sucked in the support department - and so once my blood pressure dropped to a constant 70/40 we searched for unaffiliated help from my PCP and got a new GI. Every time I seemed to get things under control (aka keeping my weight above 100 pounds) I'd get sick or get a UTI - which meant antibiotics, which HATE a newly-constructed pouch - and made me violently ill for the first 2 years after surgery. So it'd be one step forward (eating better, getting in water, vitamins) and 1 step back (getting sick/UTI - getting antibiotics, heaving daily from the contractions in my pouch from the antibiotic, and nausea so severe I'd force myself to eat - only to heave it back up - and to lose whatever weight I'd worked so hard to gain). I had a good stretch in 2008 with no UTI's (after passing a stone during the last UTI/ER trip) and stabilized between 105 pounds and 110 - usually a safe 107. I also got engaged in October 2007, to be married in October 08. Then, just this past August, I got hit with this terrible pain in my upper abdomen - and began losing weight again, despite force-feeding myself fatty foods like bacon and cream cheese. I had bowel cramps after every snack/meal - and constant floating diarrhea. In a week I was back down to 95 pounds; after months of *finally* being semi-normal. I went to my PCP, who wanted to check me into the hospital for dehydration and malnutrition. I refused - now traumatized by hospitals and the idea of a feeding tube - something I'd been "threatened" with since surgery due to the massive weight loss. Long story short - they did lots of tests - turned out I was peeing protein, and had gallstones (something I was told by this new GI and my new kidney doc that is common in most ALL bypass patients with gall bladders - and a good 75% have to have them removed due to constant build up of stones due to dramatic weight loss). This explained the terrible upper back pain, but not the protein in the urine and the weight loss. Turns out I have blind loop syndrome, a syndrome particular mainly to WLS patients, where bacteria grows in the "blind loop" of the intestine created by the bypass, and causes severe malabsorption. Turns out my floating poop was straight-up fat. My body was *malabsorbing* fat - so the more fat I ate, the more I shit, the more weight I lost. It got to the point where they could literally feel my aorta through my touching my abdomen. To add insult to injury - my new GI found through endoscopy that I have two blind loops for bacteria to grow in (caused by the "style" in which my surgeon performs his bypasses - prick). Intestinal antibiotics clear the flare up, but it's recurrent - similar to chrones, colitis, or IBS. It's been 2 months since that month-long hell. I'm 23 years old, and just got married Oct 5 to the guy I've been with since way before surgery (we got together at 16). We moved into a new apartment, and the stress set off another blind loop attack. I've got antibiotics, and it seems to be getting better - solid stool today.
So yeah - there's no way to use the word "regret" something so complex. It doesn't cover all the dimensions. You cannot prepare yourself for shit. What happens, happens. Yeah, I'm 105 pounds and pretty amazing looking, if I do say so myself - especially being I spent 20 years being regarded as a "slob" due to my weight; an untouchable; a monster and *gross* to my peers through my school years. Health problems caused by my fat are gone, but new problems have arisen, and I haven't been "healthy" since before my surgery, ironically enough. It's been one health drama to another. So you take the risk - there are pro's and con's - and it's a serious, serious mind fuck.
An excerpt from another sufferers post - a member who's 1 month post op:
I am having a bout of buyer’s remorse. I find myself thinking “why did I do this to myself? I wish I’d never done this,” about a thousand times a day.
I'm 3 years out - and still think this every day a million times over... but then, in that same day, I'll achieve some feat that makes me a million times grateful for what my WLS has "given me"; what I've accomplished. It's one set of health problems for another. The first 6 months are like a slow death - seriously. The first month is so fucking bad that some WLS patients just block it out the further along they get. After month 3 you'll have alot more energy. You have no energy because (a) you just had surgery and (b) you're starving - there's no other way to look at it. You had to maintain 300 lbs somehow - and that was by consuming over 3,000 calories a day. Now you take in probably 500 if you're lucky. Think about what you're entire body is going through - and cut yourself some slack. After 6 months you'll feel like a new person. The pain from the surgery will be gone and you'll be smaller - so you'll have much more mobility - which will be a *huge* high for you. Then the psychological aspects hit. By 18 months you'll be used to your routine - but, in my 3 years experience, the struggle is never over.
Pics under cut of before and after
Lap RNY 2/15/06
Surgeon's goal: 140 lbs
Me before surgery:
And just after, so I'd lost about 25 pounds at this point:
And this is me down about 60 pounds:
And different times where I was "sick" - 90 pound range