I had a gastric bypass (roux-en-y) operation at age 27, on February 17, 2010, in Brussels, Belgium, at a certified and well-respected hospital. I was treated beyond well by nurses and staff who took my meltdowns with smiles and humor and were shocked when I offered a tip. A very funny memory was when I was just off with my blood drainage bag and my visiting friends to sneak into the morgue, and a nurse came with my antibiotics or whatever shot as I left, and just stabbed me in the belly with it as she walked by. This is not a complaint; I actually thought it was funny and time-saving.
Dr. Staudt was my bypass surgeon. He explained the procedure to me and seemed very friendly, yet I should not have blindly trusted him to fully inform me. He said nothing of side effects except the usual surgery risks and a change in diet. He didn’t go into details about the unreasonably strict and restrictive diet that would make you skinny even without the surgery, until after I woke up from the latter; and said nothing about any of these things I am experiencing on a near-daily basis:
-digestive problems, and I mean severe and bothersome
-outbursts of sweat and weakness, called “dumping”, but not just when expectable
-lactose intolerance in all its glory, especially after milk on an empty stomach, aka the end of morning cereal. I can binge on dairy once I’ve eaten something else though, this usually being carbs.
-random adverse reactions to sugar: feeling sleepy and sick and dying with a tad too much, or waking up with a cold sweat and dizziness at 3 am because I need sugar at once
-random adverse reactions to fat: feeling sick and awful with too much on some days, and like I could keep eating forever on others.
-extreme cravings for carbonhydrates. I often set out with the specific urge for a specific dough product
-extreme cravings for apples. Apples save me from all sugar high or sugar low episodes.
-no weight loss
-random weight: 3 kilos DOWN in a week after eating only junk food and lots of it, or 10 kilos UP in a month for reasons yet unknown to me as my daily schedule has changed, yet not my eating habits
-fatigue in spite of vitamin supplements
-massive hair loss that does NOT end after a few months; I shed my hair all over the place until I had no choice but to shave my head completely and let nature decide how to proceed with my hair from there onward
Let me elaborate on my sugar episodes. Aside from a cold sweat, dizziness, and needing to sit down, it makes me sleepy for hours. It causes delusions, fear, rage, and PMS-like mood swings. I have had suicidal or rage episodes on post-OP sugar highs and lows. If outside, I would find myself walking very fast (I don’t imagine it; my dog will have trouble keeping up and tires quickly) and as if in a haze, an aquarium, my senses impaired, sounds muffled, sight oversensitive or blurry, and feeling like a cold wind in my head and chest. I would get angry, suicidal thoughts, become aggressive, and start getting scared of being unable to slow down or stop walking. I feel like I’m walking unsteadily or even swaying, with no ground under my feet, feeling light, though I never trip or get glances; every such walk ends without incident. It’s like a huge bad rush of some drug, though I never tried any. It’s more confusing than buzzing on alcohol. I have had manic depressive tendencies, “sorts of” ADHD, OCD, and Borderline before the operation, but they were under control and I have found a pattern in my sugar consumption and these specific episodes. The episodes coincide with only 2 things: PMS once a month, and sugar swings at any other time of the month.
I recently woke up sweaty. Mind you, I was sleeping naked in winter with only 1 blanket. Sweat was pooling on my clavicle. The next morning it had formed thick crumbs in the back of my neck. That’s how bad it was. Dizzy and confused, I was guided as if by instinct or magical pulling toward the fruit bowl where I grabbed 2 apples, a banana, and devoured them within 2 minutes; everything happened so fast and with such urgency as if my life depended on it. The episode was over and I feel asleep right away. I remember being unable to think straight, with just 1 thought: APPLE! Whenever I feel queasy, ill, or dizzy, I grab an apple of the soft, sweet, yellowish kind.
I have never experienced the “dramatic weight loss”. I have never experienced the lack of hunger or the promised mental aversion to sweets. The fear of dumping syndrome may be what they meant, but it does not help as I rarely experience it with the most unhealthy stuff: chips, chocolate, and pizza.
Yeah, sometimes I randomly lose weight very fast, but without significant changes in eating or exercising behavior, and it just returns as fast as it dropped. I can eat large amounts of food including red meat at once with little more than a stomach ache to punish me. I don’t “feel full, fast”. I need to overdo it and let it sit first.
My weight now not much lower than pre-OP. I weighted much less at some point, but it came back over the course of a few weeks and is now hard to lose. The window of “dramatic weight loss” has closed while the side effects will be permanent, rendering me permanently disgusting and undesirable. I need to keep eating to keep my energy up, but random mistakes in quantity and timing of fat or sugar can ruin my day. Too little? Feel crappy. Too much? Feel crappy. Right amount? Random.
Some of the digestive issues can be sort of avoided by avoiding onions at all times, and dairy on an empty stomach. Yet, how am I to function at work without my morning coffee that I hate without milk?
For the digestion I was told to try Psyllium as a supplement. It helps a little but not satisfyingly or reliably and the most effective preparation is one that will make you gag no matter how you take it. Integrating it in an egg omelette helps, but still… Also, it’s ridiculously expensive. The life long vitamin supplements make for a regular hassle at the doctor’s without helping much and most of the time I disqualify to donate blood. Also, having ADHD(-like issues 24/7, never diagnosed but pretty obvious) who will remind me to take them? Hm?
The bypass is supposed to make you skinny AND healthy. It’s supposed to save you diseases to be medicated. Yet – you have to permanently medicate, and permanently suffer side effects. The bypass is a cure for one ailment, while creating another. I frankly don’t give a fuck whether I’m sugar-ill from diabetes or bypass. I don’t give a fuck whether I’m tired all the time from being too fat to endure, or from being malnurished by the bypass. I don’t give a fuck whether men reject me because of my fat ass, or my digestive issues (and I still have a fat ass). The bypass solved nothing other than allowing me to return to fresh produce after the stomach band that I lost more weight with in the first 12 months than I did with the bypass in 2 years. I lost 50 kilos with the band. Yeah, I puked all the time and couldn’t stomach fresh stuff, but thinking back, until it stopped working, at least IT FUCKING WORKED!!!
I’m miserable and none the skinnier. I am still fat, yet now I am also sporting a buzz cut what with the hair loss, and I feel gross a lot of the time – the bypass has made me the opposite of more attractive.
-having had a gastric band for the 10 years leading up to the bypass, I could never deal with fresh produce because somehow it made me throw up and clogged my stomach; now I can eat fresh produce meaning I eat much healthier and can refrain from fattening juices or shakes because I can eat actual apples. I enjoy meat in its fresh and nutricious form rather than the minced crap in burgers.
–I can no longer vomit. I can eat red meat and sit at the restaurant with people without having to run and purge all the time for food trying to burst out of my nose. A problem with the gastric band. I also puked in my sleep or in a doubled-over position. It would just run out my nose. Though, is it a good thing to actually be unable to puke..?
What seems to help a bit:
-Psyllium for the bowel
-lots and lots of protein, but watch your cholesterol with those eggs and mind the lactose intolerance…
-exercise, though mostly it’s been disappointing. Just saying, it helps a little. I walk a lot, my city is built on a steep hill, but still, little effect.
-strangely, I tend to lose more when I care less about what I eat (not: how much)
-4 Snickers bars a day in addition to a diet of mostly produce. No kidding.
-Diary on an empty stomach
-Fat or sugar on an empty or very full stomach
-Pizza and crackers (specifically; some carbs are okay)
-Coffee (makes me extra hungry, like PAINFULLY hungry and feeling a chilly wind in my gut)
I fucking regret it and I want to die.