Weight Loss Surgery Wisdom from a Friend

I believe people come into your life for a reason. Years ago when I was researching bariatric surgery I became active on the Obesityhelp website and made several friends, many of whom I still chat with after all these years. One of those early friends was Ruth Lamb (aka Dame Tooter) her early words of wisdom and guidance helped me and seeing her paying it forward was definitely a guide for me as I became a post-op to continue to share my experience, story, tips, recipes, etc. for others so their journey might be made a little easier. I lost my friend and early weight loss surgery mentor to cancer this weekend. I will miss her and always be grateful that we crossed paths in this life.  

Quote friendship

I want to share something she wrote years ago that helped me, I hope it helps the newer post-ops reading...
WLS TIMELINE – Or Am I Normal? by Ruth Lamb 
As you can guess not everything will apply to everyone, however, the following are my observations for the last few years.

By 1 week preop:
Panic sets in – much like the panic before having a baby. What to take to the hospital… pack and repack. Arrange everything you can before going into surgery (cook meals, write letters, read the memorial pages (an old OH feature) and then go to the message boards to get reassurance, confirm babysitting, postop help, time off work, travel arrangements, etc.). Dive into whatever final foods you’re just SURE you’ll never eat again. Ask the MB (Message Board) what foods you’ll never eat again. Insomnia! Mood swings. Preop testing, nasty bowel preps (btw, there are NO easy ways to get this stuff down. Just do it!). Wonder if you’re weird because you ARE NOT scared. Wonder if you are making a mistake because you ARE scared. 
Postop Day 1 through Week 2:
“What the hell did I just DO to myself???”
“Why am I/am I not hungry?”
“I’ll NEVER be able to get in all the fluid/protein/food they want me to.”
“I can eat TOO much – did I break something?”
“I can’t eat enough… will I die of starvation?”
“I can’t believe how badly this hurt! ~OR~ I can’t believe I even had surgery, because there’s so little pain!”
“Why do I have no energy?”
“When can I eat…fill in the blank?”
“Will I ever be able to gulp water again?”
“Why did I GAIN 10 pounds???”
“Wow, I’ve lost 10 pounds!”
You think you've hit your first plateau. Nope. Odds are VERY good you haven't :-) 
Postop weeks 2 through 12:
Post op remorse usually fades during this time period. What a relief that is!
You TRY hard to stick to your doctor's diet regimen/protocol and wonder if you’re evil when you slip off the wagon by eating… fill in the blank.
You think you've hit your first, 2nd or 3rd plateau. Nope. Odds are VERY good you haven't :-)
Nearly everyone experiences a stall during the first 3 months.
You accidentally gulp water and freak that you’ve broken your pouch.
You accidentally forget to chew something to death and fear you’ve plugged your stoma.
You FEAR strictures, fistulas, and leaks every time you burp, get nauseated, have diarrhea, feel a muscle cramp, etc. This fear is not abnormal and you ‘could’ have one of these since this is the prime time for it – however, fear is no way to live. There are common symptoms attributed to these. Hopefully, you’ve researched them postop and can shelve the fear and keep a reasonable eye out for them.
You discover that you vomit or burp mucus, foam or fluid occasionally. This is called frothing, the foamies, or just mucus. It typically IS just mucus, caused by your healing pouch.
You discover your body has weird ways of telling you that you’ve eaten enough/too much (i.e., sneezing, sniffles, runny nose, hiccuping, etc)
You wonder if it’s normal to poop once, twice, three times a week.
You discover one day the scale is evil (you’re losing too slow) and the next day it's your friend when it rewards you with 1, 2, 5 pounds gone.
You wonder if you’re losing too fast and how will you stop it when you get to ‘goal’.
You wonder if you’ll EVER get to ‘goal’.
You try numerous types of protein drinks/bars, etc and wonder if protein is ‘for life’.
You swear you will never eat or drink… fill in the blank…as it is evil or forbidden (pop, cookies, popcorn, gum, etc.)
You discover that many (not ALL) long-term postops have discovered that very little is forbidden or evil to them in moderation and with care. 
Months 3 through 18:
You worry you are a slow loser and have days you doubt the tool will work, or wonder if it’s broke. I am NOT mocking. Some people’s tools DO break during this period of time, but it is in the minority, not the majority.
You wonder if you’ll ever get to goal.
You made goal and worry you’ll not stop losing.
You worry because you can eat TOO much.
You worry because you still eat too little.
You worry about getting in enough protein.
You worry you’re getting in too much protein.
You ponder whether carbs are evil or not.
You question again whether diet pills are evil.
You compare your losses against everyone else’s.
You discover that you had an exercise guru hidden within you and are now an exercise maniac.
You discover that you HATE exercise and try and force yourself to get moving.
You may have hit your first plateau. Don't panic! - Have you noticed a reoccurring theme? :-)

Months 19 and beyond:
You may hit a plateau. Don't panic!
You reach goal and worry you'll regain.
You wonder if you'll stop losing!
You wonder if you'll EVER make goal (you've likely heard about the dreaded window and fear it closed at 18 months - be aware, I continued to lose to goal for 20 to 22 months).
You may find yourself sliding; eating the wrong foods; slacking on exercise; and freak when you regain 10 pounds. Time to get back on track. 
This is NOT to discourage you from asking questions. If anything this is to encourage you to. This is to show you that all your fears, doubts, worries and hopes are VERY normal – and to not be afraid to ask that question that is eating at you. I have purposely not provided ‘answers’ to most of the above questions, because we all need to discover our own path on this long loooong journey and everyone’s answer will be slightly different, as will their journey. So if you’re worried, curious, knowledgeable or just flummoxed… ASK, TELL, RESEARCH!  
Good luck to all – preops and postops and just the curious.
Bariatric Surgery Advice Tips Answers Questions
Ruth, Me and Amy (circa 2006)
In Ruth's memory, I will continue to share my story and answer questions whenever I am able. RIP my friend.

9 comments:

Susan said...

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. What lovely post to write for her and thank you for sharing what she wrote with us.

Pamela Kirk said...

Thanks for sharing this, Shelly. I remember Tooter from the early days on ObesityHelp.com. Cancer is a cruel bitch...I am sorry to hear of Tooter's passing.

Serena Wainwright said...

I'm sorry Shelly. I shared your post so that others can see the marvelous writings you posted. The only other thing I can do is to add her name to our luminaria list, and in August of 2019, a special bag that has been created (by me) will be display at our Relay for Life Event in Cowlitz County. That allows her memory to be honored and envelops her memory in our ongoing battle against cancer forever.

Pamela Stemmerman said...

Shelly I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray and send hug's for healing.
Pam

Michelle "Shelly" said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments and Serena for the lovely gesture. What a wonderful event! This awful disease touches almost every family. It's time we found a cure. She was a great lady and fellow weight loss surgery post-op (RNY 2002) and helped so many on their journey.

Aimee said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Praying for comfort for you and her family. Hugs!

#1 Grammie said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend, Shelly. She sounds like a very special woman. Her memory will live on in your thoughts and deeds. So sorry for your loss.

Kathleen M. Hill said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Shelly. My heart goes out to you and Tooter's family.
~Katt~

Miss Weightloss :) said...

I am sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace.