5 years have gone by since I had my Roux en Y Gastric Bypass. 5 years and I don’t regret it for a second. Even the days that I want to do nothing more than shove my face in a cake-I am actually grateful on those days because I know I can’t, so I do not even try. The road has not been easy, but I am glad to have traveled it. And as you read through this-yes I would do everything again. Every moment.
It all really started years before my surgery. I was in a never ending cycle of gaining and losing weight. (Read about that here.) Thanks to 2 pregnancies, some medications, and severe depression, the weight got out of control and I could no longer lose it on my own. I realized I had a real problem when one day on vacation, I tripped and fell and severely dislocated my elbow. I likely would have still had an injury were I lighter, but I don’t think it would have been as severe of a dislocation as it was. I got serious about eating better after that. Healthier options, smaller portions, and attempts at more movement. It didn’t work at that time, though, thanks to how messed up my body had become and medications I was on.
Moving was hard though; I had a circumferential compression of a disc in my spine. It made it incredibly painful to be on my feet for more than 15 minutes at a time. And forget about anything above a walk pace-then I had to stop after a few steps. It was awful. I could not play with my kids (then 4 and 6). I couldn’t pick them up, could not walk them across our apartment complex to the park, could not even swim with them for extended time periods. I was miserable and felt like a failure. One doctor insisted I either have spinal surgery ASAP, or lose weight rapidly. Luckily, I had already put in for my gastric bypass and was going through the process for surgery. The spinal doc agreed to hold off on his surgery while we waited to see what losing weight would do.
It worked. As the weight came off, the compression on my spine went away fully. On its own. I gained an inch in height, and my back pain only appears now on LONG road trips/air trips (seriously, moving from Florida to Japan was no joke on the back), or if I am on my feet all day (touring countries or walking amusement parks). There is always the chance of it coming back, but for now, I am good. The pains I experience now are the same that people that don’t have spinal issues experience.
My RNY went well. I did have a surprise hiatal hernia to repair, and a LOT of scar tissue that had my intestines attached to each other and my abdominal wall, but they got it all cleaned up and did my RNY. I was in a LOT of pain after though, the morphine did not touch it. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to shift positions, and I could barely walk. It took about 3 weeks for the pain to ease up for me. Once the pain was gone I was up and about. I was shedding sizes fast. I lost a pound a day my first month, and 20 pounds in my second month. It was half of what I had to lose. I was so excited.
I was not however, the best at getting in the required protein, water, or vitamins. It was hard to do, and I honestly did not try nearly enough. So at 2 months out when I wound up with a stricture, I got into a dangerous position almost immediately. Since I ignored warning signs of what was going on for so long I managed to deplete my body of potassium. I also managed to deplete my body of magnesium and thiamin. It nearly killed me. (Read about it here and here.) To this day I cope with the after effects of what happened. I suffer from PTSD now and have crippling anxiety at times. I struggle with minor things like grocery shopping. And if one of my kids gets an illness like strep or a stomach bug, I cannot be near them. We just recently went through a blizzard (Jonas, which dropped roughly 30 inches of snow on us), and during this time my daughter got sick. Presented like strep, with vomiting and everything. I was in such a panic that I would not allow her to be in the same room as me. I cried. I hid. It is a horrible thing to deal with and were my husband here for it, I could have coped much better, but since he was away I could not deal with it and am ashamed of my actions. I am coping much better than I was with it a couple years ago though-some improvement is better than none.
My only other issue since surgery became quite major recently. For the past few years I would notice that sometimes I would get extremely bloated and have a lot of pain, for up to a few days. The first time it happened the hospital I was at told me I was constipated, and sent me on my way with magnesium citrate to clear me out. It did not work at that time, but a couple days later the pain and bloating finally went away. Over the next few years it happened on an off and I learned that taking gas pills, Bentyl (and intestinal cramping medication), and stool softeners usually helped my symptoms. I was diagnosed with IBS and basically sent on my way. During this time I had an upper scope and a colonoscopy to try and figure out the pain, and why I was so anemic. All tests came back fine, and again I was sent on my way. I ended up having a hysterectomy, which cured my anemia, and had a bunch of endometrial tissue removed from around my body. For a short while my symptoms improved.
In October, it got severe though. One night the pain got so bad that I thought I was going to explode, and I started to vomit. That had never been a symptom before. My husband rushed me to the ER, and after hours and tests it was determined that I had a severe blockage and they had to operate to clear it and fix the cause. The cause in my cause was a type of hernia where the intestines twist on each other and get bunched up. It can be common in post ops as there is space for the intestines to move around in. My surgeon told me that often now, they stitch together intestines as they do bariatric surgeries to prevent this form of hernias. When they corrected mine, they did this method to hopefully prevent it from happening again.
From the time I made it to the ER, to the time of surgery, 24 hours had passed. And during that time I had been transferred to another hospital because the one I was at did not have a bariatric team. In retrospect, I should have pushed for more testing before this happened. Had they done a contrast ctscan they could have seen the hernia and repaired it in a non emergency way. I once again dropped the ball and did not advocate hard enough for myself. I accepted the diagnosis of IBS and walked away. If you take anything away from this, please advocate for yourself and fight for proper diagnoses. And listen to your body-you know it better than anyone else and know when things are wrong!
Now stats. My highest recorded weight was 234. At the time I was measured at 5’4” tall. My lowest weight was just after my skin removal where I managed to hit 111 pounds. I had lost 120 pounds in roughly 10 months. At the time I measured 5’5” so that was the lowest number of the “normal” category on the BMI scale (which isn’t the most accurate thing, but thats a whole other post). For years, up until my hernia got bad, I stayed at an average of 117 pounds, my range was 115-119. I was wearing a size 2. I got up to 128 with the hernia-and while I still FIT into 2’s, they were tight. I am now sitting between 122-125. I am in 2’s, they are snug, but whatever. I am 100% happy where I am. I love my body, even the hints of rolls that I have. I look real and I feel this is easier to maintain than my old low. In the coming months I PLAN on posting more. But bear with me, life is hectic. We are in the process of building a house, and I homeschool my kids. I have ideas for my next few posts. I feel bad as a blogger that I feel off the face of the planet for so long! I will try and get better for those of you who miss me!