Sometimes A Person Does The Right Things and Still Fails

by Anonymous

I have been super morbidly obese (SMO) for 47 of my 58 years. Over the years my doctors have put me on water diets, balanced diets, protein sparing fasts, suggested wiring my jaws shut, spiritual counseling (because I was "sinning against God" by being so disgustingly obese) and more.

I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian now for almost 30 years, and never have been a big snacker or sweets eater. But still I am obese.

Another in the latest line of doctors decided that I must be sitting around on my bottom all the time eating bonbons. He didn't bother listening to the fact that I was working full time doing my teaching fellowship at a local college, finishing my degree work at another, hiking weekly, and working out in the college gym 6 days a week with a personal trainer. I was SMO so therefore I was eating the wrong foods, too much of them, and doing too little physical activity.

I researched gastric bypass surgery and visited a doctor who did what I thought would work the best for me, the Fobi gastric bypass. (Not with Dr. Fobi.) I was given a 20 CC transected pouch with 125 cm proximal bypass. The surgery went wrong from the start. I had a partial lung collapse and ended up in ICU several days. The only nutritional guidance I had before going home was to "eat chicken first, then vegetables." Despite being vegetarian, I tried eating chicken and chewed it thoroughly. It stuck in the stoma (the surgically created opening from the stomach to the small intestine) every time and I walked and retched until the plug was loosened. I have periodically tried eating meat since surgery but cannot get it to go down.

I was unable to drink and had to be hospitalized 4 times in 6 months for severe dehydration. The first six weeks post op, despite being unable to eat anything more than clear vegetable broth, I lost only 9 pounds.

The first year I lost fifty pounds. Within a few months of the surgery I became a gray ghost. Rather than being able to hike and work out, I could barely get out of bed. My doctor decided it was depression and put me on antidepressants that made me vomit blood.

I returned to my surgeon several times, only to be told that the surgery was fine (no, I had no tests to prove that contention) and that all I had to do was be compliant and eat chicken. As for the daily vomiting, lack of energy and general failure, it was all due to me sitting around eating jelly beans.

For one thing, I don't like jelly beans. For another, I have always easily gone into hypoglycemia if I ingested sugar, and now even the little bit of sugar and fat in skim milk is enough to make me pass out. My blood sugar has gone down to below 30 a large number of times and I have passed out.

Last year was truly the year from hell. My very large abdomen became more distended and it became difficult to breathe. My heart was checked and found to be fine, so it was said to be depression and again I was put on antidepressants that made me vomit blood and hurt my gut so badly I wanted to cry. The difficulty breathing became worse.

I went to my doctor's office and could not stop having bowel movements accompanied by severe pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen with nausea, vomiting, dehydration and fever. I passed over a gallon of bright orange liquid feces daily for over a month. Again I was admitted to the hospital but this time the doctor focused on my gut and swollen belly rather than emotions. I was found to have pancreatitis, severe anemia, protein deficiency, B levels in the toilet (literally), epigastritis, diverticulitis and so on. The hospitalist (doctor whose practice is devoted entirely to patients in hospital) wanted me to have blood transfusions, but the doctor in charge of approving that was not in town, so another doctor was supposed to order them. The transfusions and/or iron infusions never happened. Everyone kept passing the ball and dropping it.

I was in the hospital for the entire month of December and was released after the nursing staff gave me insulin (I am not diabetic) because my blood sugar was 94. A couple of hours later, one of the nurse's aides found me unconscious on the floor and my blood sugar was 24.

The doctor released me from the hospital the following day because I could get lousy care at home without having to pay. (His words.)

I could not do self-care. I could not turn over in bed unassisted. I could not go to the bathroom unassisted. I could not feed myself. More frighteningly, I kept getting worse. My husband was unable to take time off from work so I would lay there for 12 hours hoping he'd be home soon to give me a drink of water.

Eventually neurological damage was evident when I lost the ability to speak clearly, severe palsy of the arms, face, and trunk. The cause was beri beri and pellegra. I was told to take a multi vitamin daily and chicken.

I now use protein supplement shakes for protein and take an assortment of vitamins, but I am still unable to do very much. With the neurological damage, I lost all 6 years of higher mathematics.

The fatigue is severe to the point there are days when I need help getting out of bed. I have taught myself how to write again, walk, and talk.

My weight went down to 212 for about 15 minutes. It is now around 250. I am unable to eat solid foods, as they get stuck and cause nausea and vomiting. My vision has become much worse and I can barely see print on the computer at the largest size fonts. The fibromyalgia is much more severe.

The pain in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen is constant. No, it is not cholecystitis. I had the gall bladder removed about 40 years ago. The original surgeon will not see me. No other surgeons will treat another doctor's patient, especially a failed surgery. I have offered to sign a notarized statement absolving the surgeon of any and all responsibility if something goes wrong in the surgery to fix my bypass surgery but still no other surgeons will see me. The only surgeon I have found who can and will fix my broken surgery is on the other side of the country and I cannot afford his fees. My insurance would pay some, but my insurance is not accepted in his state.

Oddly enough, the most condemning people I have encountered have been the weight loss surgery successes. As a group they seem to hold the opinion that I am "doing something wrong" because I am so very ill and unable to lose weight. As the criteria for weight loss surgery is adjusted downwards, I have noticed a large number of people with under 50 - 100 pounds to lose have been getting the surgeries with resounding success. Perhaps SMO patients need more than one surgery, or even a different kind of surgery in order to have such success.

The bottom line is that, though super morbidly obese prior to gastric bypass surgery, I was much healthier then, and absolutely much happier to not live in constant pain and overwhelming fatigue. Had I known that I would not lose all the weight and have serious health issues, I would not have spent our entire life's savings on this surgery.

Comments for Sometimes A Person Does The Right Things and Still Fails

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What a detailed account!
by: Suzette Kroll Barancik, RD

Wow. I don't know whether to be more impressed by what you've been through or by your ability to make me laugh about it. Apparently chicken isn't the miracle drug your doctor made it out to be!

I think it's important that bad outcomes like this be made public, because there's so much biased data out there about weight loss surgery.

(On account of doctors and others make money when people elect to have WLS, and they don't make money when no one gets cut open.)

Your story is an important one, and at least one good thing is coming of it: some others will read about it before booking their own surgeries. WLS is something everyone should think at least twice about!

Thanks for sharing.

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