We've all heard them. The gastric bypass horror stories. The stories from a friend who knew someone whose relative had gastric bypass and it was horrible. As in that old "telephone" game, the story is usually exaggerated by the time it's retold the 1,000,000,000th time. So, usually I don't listen to those. I knew before the surgery that there are stories like those out there. I knew the risks associated with the surgery. I chose to trust God with this decision (not to infer others didn't) for my life and proceed with this journey.
Yesterday, I heard a snippet of one of those horror stories. This time was different. This time it was from the patient herself - someone I've known for about a year. It wasn't a second-hand story and it wasn't hearsay. It was her life and her experience with gastric bypass. Not only that, it was through the same bariatric center and surgeon that I have. Obviously it caught my attention. She didn't start the conversation, I did. I had heard the second-hand cliff notes version so decided to ask her about it. I'm glad that I did, though I must confess it put a tiny bit of concern into my brain.
Disclaimer...excuse me if I mess up some of the medical facts, or forget some. I am relying on my memory and was trying to absorb all she said. (Again, it's like that old telephone game!)
Some years ago, she was the second patient of surgeon when gastric bypass was started in our city. Her surgery was open, not laparoscopic. She didn't have any complications and the first 12-15 months were glorious for her. Weight came off, she felt successful, etc. The one thing she kept experiencing after the initial year or so was a constant pain in her stomach. Though she kept addressing it with surgeon she felt as though her concerns were brushed off. According to her, bariatric center even suggested that she see a psychologist - which she did since she was also dealing with depression from the pain. Long story, but after a scope was done, they found an ulcer. She said she felt as if surgeon thought she had done something wrong to get an ulcer...that she wasn't following the plan, etc. (I do understand that not everyone's feelings are reality, but I do not dismiss the fact that it's truly how she felt!) Meds wouldn't fix it so they made the decision to do surgery and cut out the ulcer. That's when they found out that her stomach had perforated...to her liver??. Not sure if that's what she said, but it's what I remember and I know that's NOT a good thing. So they fix the pouch and a little later she suffers from another ulcer, another perforation and another surgery. Add to that the fact that she had to be sent home with a feeding tube. To make a long story short, her health was NOT good...and NOT improving. She could barely walk around her house, had no energy at all and was pretty well bedridden. It was so bad that a nurse told her she was in stage 3 starvation and sent hospice to talk with her. After literally being on the brink of death, the decision was made to do a reversal. Since her reversal - her stomach doesn't work properly. The vagus nerve that communicates between the stomach and the brain is pretty much broken so she has no concept of hunger or fullness. (That nerve also has other functions, but I didn't ask her if those functions were affected as well.) She says she's doing "ok" as she puts it... 99% better than at her worst. Still, she cannot eat more than 2 oz at a time and has severe hypoglycemia. She wasn't complaining, necessarily. She just said that she has learned to "deal with" the life she's living. She did say that she wished she had never had the surgery.
I really didn't think our conversation affected me negatively. I was wanting to know so I could be informed. But as the day went on...and as today has gone on, her story has had more of an impact on me that I originally thought. I'm really trying to keep the worry out of my thoughts, but here's what's happening in my brain: I feel good. (So did she at my stage). I placed this journey in God's hands. (She's a believer too...think she didn't?) I'll be sure to bring issues to the attention of surgeon/bariatric center as soon as they arise. (She did that...but felt dismissed.) Yes...these are the games that the evil one is playing with me today. Today's message at church was on the healing power of prayer and the timing was perfect. I will continue to be in prayer as I progress in this journey and ask that you pray for me as well. I will add this person to my prayer list. She needs prayer as much or more than I do at this point! She's not in anyway angry at or blaming God. She is, however battling feelings of guilt of having the surgery done and is still suffering through the complications she's experienced. Praise for her though...she's not been in the hospital in the past 9 months which she said is a record since her problems began!
So I'm needing to hear some positives. Some encouraging words. If you've had gastric bypass and are years out, please share your experiences. If you've never had gastric bypass and have some encouraging words or Scripture, please share that as well. You can comment anonymously on my blog...feel free to do so in order for others to hear those encouraging words as well! But most of all, please keep "C" in your prayers. He is the Healer!
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14