Sunday, October 11, 2009

In which I step away from the toilet talk a little about my surgery. Has this extended illness been a blessing? My ass would say NO FREAKING WAY, but the rest of me says, "Well, uh, sort of, I guess." Over the last month I have learned more about my body-after-surgery than I did in the last year. And I needed to learn these lessons.

I chose to have this somewhat complicated surgery that causes malabsorption called a Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal Switch. I picked this surgery rather than a traditional Roux-N-Y or a Lap-Band because the DS has the most malabsorption -- if not for that, how is any weight loss surgery going to work long-term? That, and at 5 years post op, most DS'ers have maintained 75% of excess weight loss, which is the highest percentage of any weight loss surgery.

Here's a before and after, it's been about 11 months and I'm at goal:

It wasn't until six months post-op that I said I was glad I did it. I kept the attitude of, "I did it, and it's done; it's not good or bad," rather than getting all emotional over it. I save getting all emotional for when I can wear something in a size medium, versus a size 4XL, which I was a year ago.

But of course it's not magic. I take tons of supplements to compensate for the malabsorption. Sixty a day, easily, and that's just the basics (vit A, D, E, K, C, zinc, iron, calcium, mag, copper, and several probiotics). At some point the lack of good bacteria in my gut (since so much of my small intestine is bypassed) plus the malabsorption combined to make me really sick -- and I still haven't gotten the balance back yet, but I'm better.

(By the way, I also keep the attitude of, morbid obesity has its own set of medical problems and issues! Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stress incontinence, high blood pressure, the list goes on.)

But the DS-related illness has affected my midwifery career (ah, yes, I'm getting back into how this relates to midwifery!) I've been at births over the last year where I was feeling kind of sick, and it sucks, or I've had to stay home from prenatals or births because I was sick, and that sucks too. But now I'm finally figuring it out, thanks to about $300 in copays to a gastro-intestinal doctor who has worked with me, and my surgeon. What I do to prevent myself from getting sick:

1. Eat more protein. This seems like a no-brainer, but I think I was getting lazy about it. I'm a long-time carb addict, and since eating carbs didn't affect my actual weight loss, I started eating them more frequently. And then getting sick.

2. Take a pancreatic enzyme. I take enough pancreatic enzyme to... I have no idea what. To be honest, I'm not even sure what a pancreatic enzyme does. But every time I see the GI doc, he gives me this wide-eyed look of horror when I tell him what dose I'm taking and that it's not helping that much.

3. Take a good probiotic, eat yogurt daily. Right now I'm taking Align, which my mom and several DSers recommended.

4. If I start getting sick, stop eating for 12 hours. This was the hardest one for someone like me, who loves to eat (I would say I love to eat more than I love food). I'd get sick and keep eating and get sicker and until I was miserable. The GI doc wanted to keep trying different medicines, but I finally said that I wanted to see if what I'm putting in my body is causing issues. It was another no-brainer. Avoiding food for 12 hours after I'm sick can stop the illness from lasting or continuing, and then by the time I eat again, I'm happy to stick to all protein.

I'm a stubborn woman who likes to do things my way. But this sickness has helped me figure out that I can't do everything my way, I have to do it the best way. So I'm glad I got sick, for that reason, and because I learned how to deal with it. And also because all the time on the toilet got me to goal weight!


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