I had been thinking about gastric bypass surgery as an option for weight loss for 2 years before I actually decided to go under the knife. This type of surgery isn’t something that one does lightly, because there is a 1 in 200 chance that you will die from the surgery. However, for me, this surgery was my only option to have a normal life.
I had tried dieting, and I couldn’t lose any significant amount of weight. Any weight I lost would come right back on, because I couldn’t exercise enough to promote weight loss. Losing weight was a necessity, due to pulmonary problems related to being morbidly obese.
On October 29, 2001 I was prepped for surgery. I was given a laxative to take to empty GI tract, and I was instructed to ingest only clear liquids during the day. From midnight on to the morning of surgery I was held NPO (Nothing by Mouth). I was very excited to have the gastric bypass, because I knew it was going to give me my life back.
I had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Mine was open surgery, meaning that I was cut in my upper abdomen. Many people have the laparoscopic surgery, but my bariatric surgeon did not do mine that way.
Tips for losing weight with gastric bypass surgery
Gastric bypass surgery isn’t a miracle operation to make you lose all of your weight. It’s a tool to help you lose weight. The following tips will help you successfully lose weight:
- Measure your food before eating it
- Start walking for exercise to help you burn calories
- Start journaling your feelings – you can no longer use food as a crutch
- Quit smoking, if you are a smoker
- Think of your experience as a weight loss journey
Purpose of bariatric surgery
The overall purpose of bariatric surgery, such as the Roux-en-Y, is to change how the stomach and small intestine breaks down food. My stomach was stapled so that I had only a pouch that would hold about an ounce of food or liquid. Approximately 18 inches of my small intestine was bypassed and my stomach pouch was connected to the remaining part of my small intestine.
My surgery went well; I was surprised that I didn’t have much pain when I woke up. Physical therapy came in to walk me about 8 PM my first night post-op. Three days post-operatively, I was allowed to drink juice from a medicine cup. They only gave me one ounce at a time, because that was my new stomach’s capacity. I tolerated it well. The following day I was discharged. I lost a total of 160 pounds in 18 months. I gained some weight back, and I’m losing that now.
What I learned about myself
I learned a lot about myself after having the gastric bypass surgery. I learned that I was an emotional eater, and that I could no longer eat any kind or any portion size that I wanted to make myself feel better. I learned that I could express my feeling by writing, rather than by swallowing them with food.
I learned to value myself. My self-image is much better now than before I had the surgery. I would have never come this far without the bypass. It changed my life.