The Awful Truth

by Anonymous

Hi, I had weight loss surgery on April 16, 2002.

I started my complications from day one. Two weeks ago I just had my 10th surgery due from complications of my weight loss surgery. When the doctor did my surgery one of the staples got loose and was floating in my gastric juices, (which is like battery acid), which infected my whole body. They rushed me back into surgery and from there put me in a coma in ICU for 3 1/2 months. While in ICU they had to put me on a respirator.

Over the next few months I had one complication after another. Was close to death several times. Everytime they would try to take me off the respirator I couldn't make it on my own. They would have to put me back on it. The doctors told my husband that I would never come off of it and would probably have some brain damage the rest of my life.

I was luckier than some. Since I was in ICU they were keeping track of my fever and stuff so they knew when something was wrong and could look for the problem. One of my doctor's patients was in a regular room and was saying she hurt and they just thought it was from the surgery and by the time they did something she was in septic shock and died.

Five of my 10 surgeries were done during the 3 1/2 months I was in ICU. I also developed a staph infection. When I came out of the coma and they could finally put me in a private room due to the staph I was in the hospital another few months. Then I had to go to rehab to learn to walk, talk and think again.

The simplest things were a chore to me and very painful to do. I was lucky also that I had a devoted husband who stayed up there with me day and night. Through all this I still had the tube in my throat. My lungs had filled up with infection and it was hard for me to breath. I've had one medical problem after another and will continue to have them the rest of my life. Nothing stays long in my system so I don't get the absorption of the vitamins. I have to take megadoses of vitamins and medicines, liquids if I can get them. That is an added cost too. Insurances don't cover vitamins.

I have to go every three months for lab work to keep track of what my body is lacking. Since I had so many IV's and stuff my veins aren't very good. If my stays in the hospitals are longer than a few days I have to have a PIC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) put in. This is just a brief description of what I went through and am still going through. Everytime I have to have surgery I get a staph infection.

Besides the medical part of it here is the other side that people don't think about. I was working at the Post Office at the time and lost my job. Since my husband was with me day and night he didn't have an income either. We lost everything. Had to file bankruptcy. My medical bills were mounting up. Today with the 10 surgeries, all the ICU times and medicines, my medical bills have gone way past $1 1/2 million dollars and are headed close to $2 million. Right now we're living with my sister.

After weight loss surgery you have a 16 month open window to lose weight. If you don't lose all your weight by then you will have to go back to trying to lose it the old fashion way and you won't have the option of weight loss surgery again. I know people that lost all their weight and didn't change their habits or figure out why they ate in the first place and have gained everything back. Some even more.

Because of all my problems I had a tough time finding a doctor that would take me on as a patient. They said I was too high a risk for them. I was sold a bill of goods that weren't delivered. People think it's the quick solution and don't think of the overall problems that could happen. The doctors make it sound so good and say there is a small percentage that have complications. Likely you won't be that one, but what if you are? Families have been destroyed because of this surgery. Think very hard about having weight loss surgery and then if you still want it be sure and check out your doctor really good. Find out how successful he has been. A lot of people have had reversals to try to get their system back to normal.

My granddaughter was born 3 years ago in November. Due to all my infections and surgeries I wasn't allowed to be around her and now we're estranged from my son and his family. She is my only grandchild.

I hope my story will help someone. I've tried to keep it as brief as I can. There is so much more I could tell. Good luck and may God bless you.

Comments for The Awful Truth

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The awful truth
by: Marie

I am so sorry for your experience. I've known about a dozen people who have had this surgery and ALL OF THEM have gained their weight back and have been left with various health problems.

I'm so sorry for what you've been through
by: Suzette Kroll Barancik, RD)

When I read a story like yours, I just want to cry. But then I go back through and pick out the positives. Here's what I see:

1) You have a devoted husband who has stuck with you.

2) You had five surgeries in the first 3 1/2 months, then only one surgery per year, on average, in the years since.

3) You've persevered admirably.

4) You clearly don't sound brain damaged! ;-)

5) You've achieved acceptance; you know that you'll never be the same, but you've resolved to go on.

6) By sharing your story you're helping others.

I'd say that's pretty good! On behalf of everyone who will read this and think twice about having surgery themselves, I thank you and wish you the best.

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