Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gastric Bypass Step 1: Making the Decision

Making the decision to have gastric bypass surgery is not an easy one, and originally, it wasn't an option I wanted at all.  Sure, I had heard about this "miracle surgery" that people could get and they would magically go from being fat to skinny in a matter of months, but why would I want to do something so drastic to my body?  Yeah, I needed to lose weight, but why do something so invasive when I can just do a better job of watching what I eat and exercising more?  When word first got out about gastric bypass surgery, I wanted nothing to do with it.  I saw it as an unnecessary extreme for people who just wanted the easy way out.  I was still young, only in my early twenties, and I had plenty of time to get myself in better shape, without the use of surgery, thank you very much! 

It wasn't until I hit my late twenties when I finally started to realize that my methods weren't working.  I tried to eat better and exercise more, I stayed away from sweets, and I even made a truce with salads, telling myself that I really did love them as much as mashed potatoes.  But nothing worked, at least not well.  I lost a few pounds here and there, but as usual, they always came back in larger quantities.  I tried skipping meals, which of course all the doctors tell you specifically not to do, but that was one of the few things that made me feel better.  I figured that by skipping breakfast or lunch, it allowed me to eat a more "regular" dinner, but without the guilt of consuming too many carbs or some kind of take-out.  The joke was on me though, because skipping meals did absolutely nothing good for me, as it generally made me hungrier by the time the next meal came, and I would just eat way more than I should.  My frustrations continued to climb and I began to suspect that I would be trapped in my over sized body forever. 

I felt lost, disappointed, self-conscious, frustrated, and generally unhappy.  I was lucky to be in a relationship with Roland (my current fiance), who loved me for who I was, both on the inside and the outside, but it still wasn't enough for me.  Although being with Roland definitely gave me a better sense of self-confidence, I still almost flinched every time he called me "Beautiful" or told me how pretty I was.  I didn't believe him, and figured that was just something people are supposed to say to the ones they love.  (Looking back now, I can see how wrong I was about assuming Roland's "required" feelings about my appearance...hindsight being 20/20 and all...but being fat your whole life can really screw with your emotions and self-perception, and at the time, I felt as far from beautiful and pretty as you can get).  Having a weight problem most of his life too, Roland was at least able to commiserate with me on being unhappy with the way we looked, and he was a great help in getting me motivated to exercise on a more routine basis, but yet again, nothing worked long-term. It wasn't until about two years ago, when Roland's cousin had the Lapband surgery, that I finally had an epiphany. 

Lapband surgery was the new "hot button" and I had been hearing commercials for it increasingly on the radio, but it wasn't until Roland's cousin actually had the surgery that I learned what was involved. Unlike the gastric bypass surgery, none of your internal organs were cut or moved around and if for whatever reason you weren't happy with the outcome, it was REVERSIBLE!  That was what truly seemed like a miracle.  After that, I did a lot of thinking and researched the Lapband surgery in every way possible.  I wanted to know what exactly it did to your body to help you lose weight, how invasive the actual surgery was to your body, and I wanted to read peoples' comments on how they felt afterwards.  Most importantly, I wanted to know how much weight people lost with the Lapband, and I was happy with what I found out.  After seeing the information online, in addition to asking Roland's cousin a million questions, I finally had a plan!  The Lapband surgery was exactly what I needed to help me lose weight...and keep it off!  And what was even better was that my local hospital (NSMC in Salem) offers a gastric surgery program and there was an information session coming up in a few weeks!  Roland jumped on the bandwagon with me and together we attended the session with plans of forging ahead with both of us having the Lapband surgery.  Who would have predicted we would get waylaid again???

During the information session we met the surgeons and they discussed the basic differences between the Lapband surgery and the gastric bypass surgery.  The session contained a lot of information, meant to help people decide which surgery they wanted, but to really get an idea of what we needed to do, we then had to set up an appointment with the surgeon as a means of discussing what the surgery would do to each of us personally.  I went into the appointment feeling optimistic for the first time in years about getting my weight  under control.  After the information session, I knew that the Lapband was still very much what I wanted, and I was looking forward to meeting with the surgeon so that we could get everything underway.  Once my height and weight were recorded and I was asked a bunch of questions about my overall health and weight history, I finally got to talk to the surgeon, Dr. Buckley, one-on-one.  Right away he told me that I didn't qualify for the Lapband surgery.  You could have knocked me over with a feather (Ironic, no?) 

Dr. Buckley explained to me that once a person's BMI (Body Mass Index) gets over a certain amount, for some unknown reason, the Lapband just does not work.  He said I would likely lose about 40 pounds in total, and that would be it.  A waste of surgery, in his opinion.  The only way for me to proceed with having surgery would be to have the gastric bypass, something I was still very unsure about.  The good news was that the gastric bypass surgery had come a long way in the past ten years; it was no longer a "dangerous" surgery and they were even performing it laproscopically now, which meant less chance of problems both during and after surgery.  I was disappointed, but had already come so far, and I had become so optimistic about the options surgery in general would give me. Dr. Buckley, sensing my hesitation, took the time to tell me all about gastric bypass surgery and he answered every one of my questions, without ever making me feel like I was taking up too much of his time.  It was in that hour long visit that I officially made the decision to have the gastric bypass surgery. 

Although part of me was still disappointed that I couldn't proceed with the Lapband surgery, I was confident in Dr. Buckley's abilities and opinions, not to mention the fact that having the gastric bypass would actually allow me to lose even more weight than the Lapband would have.  Never having had surgery before, the thought of the actual surgery itself scared me to death, but I knew this was not only what I wanted to do, but what I had to do.  I was lucky in that aside from my weight, I was otherwise healthy, and I really didn't want to wait and give myself the chance to become diabetic and/or have heart issues.  It was now or never...and I chose NOW!


  1. What a great post Yell. Life is so full of little ironies.

  2. You gotta love those little ironies! lol

  3. Good for you Danielle, I know a couple of people who had it done and they love the results they got.

  4. Wow. I didn't know that you upgraded to gastric bypass. Shows how well I listen to Roland... I am so happy for you taking such big steps to make the changes you want to see. I'm also very happy that everything went as smoothly as it did. Having someone by your side during big life changes makes them a bit easier to stomach... Yes. I made that joke. Buh. I feel dirty.

  5. For most of Bariatric Surgery is safe. As with any surgical procedure has risks and must be carefully considered before surgery.

    bariatric surgery