Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass
Bryan had the Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass surgery performed in 2003.
Before I introduce myself, I just want you to hear one thing in case you don’t read my whole profile. Gastric Bypass is a TOOL. It is not a magic cure and they don’t do surgery on your brain. It is like any other tool; if you do not use it properly it will not work the way it is supposed to. You have to be ready for the surgery and the lifestyle change that it brings. Yes, you are going to have a lifestyle change, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to do the things that you did before, you will just do them eating less and eating smarter.
I have said on more than one occasion that I wished that I would have had this surgery 10 years ago, but in looking back I wasn’t ready 10 years ago to make the changes needed to do this journey successfully. So be honest with yourself about if you are really ready to take this journey. It can be one of the best things that you have ever done for yourself, or it can be a miserable ride if you are not mentally ready.
Hello my name is Bryan, I’m 35, married to a wonderful woman for 10 years, and have been heavy all of my life. I first looked into the Gastric Bypass about five years ago, but we were living in Sheridan, WY and the closest hospital that would do the surgery was either Denver or Salt Lake City. There were several people where I worked that had the surgery and just when I started to really research it, one of my co-workers just about died from a leak. He spent 3 weeks in ICU and that scared me away from surgery for awhile. Then we moved back to Kansas City in 2002 and I started researching the surgery again. I was only 33 at the time, but I had lots of aches and pains in my ankles, knees, and back. I stress fractured my back so badly that I couldn’t stand for more than 30 minutes without being in excruciating pain. My other co-morbidity was sleep apnea. However, I wanted to have surgery done while I was still young enough to enjoy the benefits, plus doing it before I developed the other co-morbidities that made the surgery riskier.
I found the KC Bariatric Center on the Internet and read about their informational seminars. Long story short, I went, really liked what I heard and called the coordinator the next day to get everything rolling. What I really like about this program is the overall program, starting with the surgeons—who are great and they don’t have that “God Syndrome” like most surgeons, to Dr. Sabapathy, the psychologist. Just a side note…in the beginning I thought that I would do the psychological visits because I had to, but they were really helpful. My wife attended all of the sessions with me and it helped her also. I went back to “Dr. S” for about a year after surgery and I’m going to go back to him before I have plastic surgery in October 2005. He is really easy to talk to and he knows if you are “b-s”ing him or if you are holding back.
Just as important is attendance at the support group meetings. If you don’t go and learn from your peers (both what to do and what not to do), then you are losing out on a valuable resource. The program also has you meet with a dietitian, physical therapist, and has you get clearance through several other doctors before you are approved for surgery. I’ve heard horror stories about other programs that will take anyone and not give them any information on what to eat and how far out that they can eat it. Also, there are those programs that don’t give any psychiatric help with this journey, plus once the surgery is over the doctors are non-existent to the patients. The whole program is great here.
I had surgery November 10, 2003, and since surgery I have lost 167 pounds. The biggest advice I can tell you is do your research and talk to post-op patients. While everyone is going to be different, there are a lot of common things that everyone goes through. Two important things for me have to do with exercise : if at all possible before surgery start exercising—even if it just walking, try to get in a little better shape. It will help you with your recovery, plus you will want to lose a little bit of weight before surgery to ensure that it is done laparoscopically. The second thing is as soon as you can after surgery get out of bed and start walking. Yes, it will hurt the first time getting out of the bed, but it will hurt more if you just lay there and then try later. The second time is easier, the third easier, so on and so forth. The first two weeks post-operatively are probably the hardest, because you can’t really do anything and you are sore and hurting and bored.
After surgery the best advice I can give you is stick to the food plan given to you by the dietitian. That was my Bible; I didn’t eat anything new until I checked the list. I’m 19 months out right now and I still don’t eat potatoes, rice, pasta, very little sugar, bread. I don’t crave them any more, plus even though I probably could eat them without any problems I don’t want to do that to myself and set me back on a path that may not be a good one to go down. The second piece of advice is to exercise, exercise, exercise! You don’t have to join a gym, just get out and walk. I park as far away as I can anywhere I go. People look at me crazy at work when I take the furthest parking spot in the lot, but I want the exercise. I take the stairs whenever I can. I work on the 7th floor and I take the stairs every morning. The people I work with, whenever we have a meeting they automatically go to the stairs now instead of the elevator. Where I work we have a small gym with several pieces of weight equipment, plus some free weights, along with a treadmill, stationary bike, and an elliptical trainer. I use it 3-4 times a week. My wife and I just bought new bikes and we have been riding around the neighborhood. I run 2.5 miles each day on the weekends; I liked exercising/working out before, but I really like it now. It is my stress reliever now, where food was before.
There will be days when you don’t think that you can make it or that it wasn’t worth all this trouble. I had a couple of days like that. I just told myself “one more day,” and the next day was always better. I told myself before surgery that I could do anything for 6 months. Once I reached 6 months, I said I can do it for another 6 months. At one year I didn’t have to tell myself anything, it was second nature by them. Do you know the saying that “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”? Well, it is a true! It is so nice to be able to buy clothes at any store, to walk into anywhere and not have people stare at you, to be able to sit on an airplane comfortably, buckle the seat belt without an extender, and have the tray table come down and not hit your legs. We just got back from Virginia and while we were there we went Parasailing. That is something I never thought that I would do, and two years ago I wouldn’t have even attempted it because I probably wouldn’t have fit into the harness.
Someone asked me the other day if I would do this surgery again. And without hesitation I said “YES”. This has been the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I’m going to live 20+ years longer than I would have otherwise (unless I keep doing things like Parasailing!!!).
Just be honest with yourself if you are considering this surgery, there are things that you have to give up. You can’t do this for other people; you can only do this for yourself. The people that do it for others are the ones that are usually the most miserable after surgery. Don’t do this thinking that you will be a different person after surgery. They are operating on your stomach – not your brain. You will be the same person after surgery, but you will be thinner and maybe more confident. Probably 90% of having a fast recovery from surgery and excelling in this program is having a good mental outlook. Again, this is where Dr. Sabapathy and the support group come in.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I’m more than glad to help out in any way that I can.