Barbara Thompson

Weight Loss Surgery

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Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

 


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Issue #163

April 1, 2009

 

Video: Starting Your Exercise Program with Baby Steps

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In This Issue

 

* Video: Starting Your Exercise Program with Baby Steps
* Do You Remember?
* Response to Joy: Problems Eating
* Recipe: Firecracker Salmon
* Success Story: Chassity Bird

Do You Remember?

I am in the process of writing an article for WLS Lifestyles Magazine on weight discrimination.  As I was doing research, I had the great honor to interview Dr. Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University . We were talking about the unique position that we as weight loss surgery patients are in after we have had surgery.  We have been morbidly obese, but now many of us are approaching normal weight.  And being close to “normal” we are sometimes privy to conversations that people have when they are laughing at or talking about people who are morbidly obese.

It reminded me of something that happened to me several years ago. I was speaking in New Brunswick, NJ and decided to take my daughter Erin with me for a little mother-daughter bonding trip. Erin was about 15 years old at the time. The speaking event was in late August just before school was to start, so I thought it would be nice if Erin came along with me and saw what I did.

We were staying at the Hyatt Hotel and got up for breakfast rather late on the day of the event.  We went downstairs into the restaurant and because of the late hour, there was only one other table occupied. As we ate we could not help but overhear the 4 men talking at the other table.  They were laughing and talking about flying and how disgusting it is to have to sit beside big, smelly fat people on airplanes. They went on and on laughing about it. 

I looked at my daughter and she had her head down and said to me, “Don’t do it, Mom.  Don’t do it.” I considered my options. I could make a fuss and tell them what I thought of their comments and take a chance of ruining the bonding time that I was having with my daughter. Or I could let it go. I knew it would embarrass Erin if I spoke up.  She was at that age when she believed that everything revolved around and related to her.

I was so angry I was gripping the table, when I saw them start to get up to leave. Ah, I was going to make it and the ordeal would be over.  But instead of taking a left out of the restaurant, as fate would have it, they took a right which meant they would walk right past our table.  I watched them coming, I was quiet. They started to pass the table.  I was quiet.  They were 2 feel way, and I blurted out, “Excuse me, but 4 years ago I was one of the big, smelly fat people that you would hate to sit beside.” Now that I had started, I was on a roll. I talked about how obese people are humans and that obesity is very complex.  There are a lot of reasons that people are obese and that no one chooses to be that way. They apologized and meekly said they hadn’t meant anything by it. They were so embarrassed, I don’t believe they would ever speak so freely again and in such a derogatory way.

When you hear those remarks, how do you react? Do you just think to yourself, ‘Wow, that would have been me they would have been talking about,’ and breathe a sigh of relief, or do you speak up and defend those who have not had the advantage of the surgery that you have had?

My real hope was to change the way those men would look at the obese, with a different understanding. I looked at my daughter and although she was embarrassed, she understood and she now appreciates having a mother who stands up for what she believes in.

Response to Joy: Problems Eating

In the last newsletter  I ran an email from Joy who was having a terrible time eating 6 months after her surgery.  She was discouraged and wishing that she never had weight loss surgery.  She felt alone and wondered if there were any others who felt like she did. 

I asked the question of you, the readers, if you had problems with eating, how the problems were resolved and if you felt sorry for having had surgery.  I received some wonderful, thoughtful and sensitive responses full of good advice.  I want to share them with you.

Hi Barbara,
Please pass on my message to Joy about my lack of tolerance for most foods. I had my RNY surgery in May 2008 and I had a complication that made me have to have additional surgery just as I was able to eat my tablespoon of egg. I chewed, chewed, chewed and threw up. I had a blocked bowel and got it fixed but I hated everything. I could only tolerate ice chips and very cold water in super small sips. If the bottle was out of the fridge for more than 5 minutes I put it back in to get cold. All my favorite non carbonated beverages tasted horrible to me (Crystal Light in all flavors was the most awful thing) and once I was able to eat more foods I found that most of them made me sick.

I ate more teeny, tiny meals of shrimp slathered in cocktail sauce and crab legs dripping with butter than I want to remember because these were the only things I could tolerate and not foam and feel super nauseated. I could only drink peach and papaya diet white tea from Lipton and the first time I tasted it I thought it tasted like perfume.

The good news is that in December, 7 months post surgery I gradually began to not feel ill any longer and started to be able to eat more variety of foods. I am no longer nauseated all the time. My endurance levels have increased and I am now happy that I had the surgery and would and do recommend it to others.

Of course this in turn means that my weight loss has slowed considerably. I hope Joy keeps trying different foods and remembers that her body is healing from a major surgery and isn't getting very much nutrition to help with the healing process. I recommend that she try to use salsa and other lower calorie options to add liquid to meals. She may want to stay away from salad at this point all together, because there is no nutritional value there. I hope she enjoys her friends for the company and doesn't worry about the food. I hope she takes her weight loss and lack of appetite and taste and runs with it because it doesn't last forever.

Good Luck and best wishes.
Dawn Anderson 
297(that is 300 in my book) down to 180 at this time and working on losing about 20 - 30 more pounds.
mastheart@comcast.net

Hi Barbara;
Maybe I can help Joy with my story. My name is Jean and I had weight loss surgery in August 2003. At that point I was 351 lbs. I lost very quickly and could tolerate very little.  I was very stubborn and didn’t understand I had to eat very small amounts. Because of this I
caused myself to be ill constantly. Then I ended up in the hospital for 4 days with dehydration. Eight months after surgery they discovered I had Chron’s disease, which made my choices of things to eat even smaller. I kept asking myself, “What on earth have I done? Why in the heck did I do this? “

My husband kept reminding me that I did it for him, our children and grandchildren! I had congestive heart failure and was an insulin dependent diabetic with high blood pressure. If I hadn’t made the choice to have the surgery I might not be alive today. I weigh 148 lbs now and have not gained one pound, in that I have been fortunate, I am also lactose intolerant, and have to be careful about protein rich drinks. I have and continue to drink at least a gallon of water a day, without fail.

Would I do it again? No, I don’t think I would. My appetite has still not come back and I do not enjoy food any longer, no cravings at all, which I suppose could be a good thing. I, like you Barbara, lived on cocktail shrimp for the first year or so and scrambled eggs. I never liked fish before but I sure do now. I lived on sweets before the surgery and apparently was killing myself. I don’t enjoy cakes, pies or baked goods at all anymore; that is also not a bad thing. But you know what? I’m very healthy, no more heart problems, no high blood pressure, and no more diabetes so I don’t have to give myself shots anymore.

Just remember your health is the most important thing you have, so we have to take care of it. I am now 61 years old and have a better figure and am in better health than when I was in my 30’s. Remember we are alive because of the surgery. In all reality, when you look at the big picture, food is not important at all!

Barbara, it was because of you and reading your book that convinced me to have the surgery in 2003. I was operated on in the Henry Ford Hospital, downtown Detroit. We live 50 miles north of there in a small community called Waterford, MI, but my family traveled every day to visit me for the 4 days that I was a patient. I have had enormous support from my family and friends here at work. Even with all of that, I’m still not 100% sure I did the right thing, what I would give for a hot fudge sundae!!! I have tried and after 5 or 6 bites I get sick.

So I understand Joy; but in order to stay alive I had to do it. Everyone is right, every day it will get better, and you will learn to accept your limits and not miss the food all the time. I’ll be thinking of you and please let us all know how you are doing.

Sorry, Barbara I don’t know how to send pictures to you on the computer, but believe me, you would be shocked!!! Thanks for listening to me and caring about all of us through the years, Barbara. I still refer back to your book “The Thin Person Hiding Inside of You” http://www.wlscenter.com/Announce_Book.htm whenever I have any kind of issue or question. Bless you for being so candid in the book. It really pulled me through a lot of things. Hang in there Joy!!! Food is not life.

Jean Harroun
Waterford, Michigan
harrounj@oakgov.com

Dear Barbara,
I do enjoy your newsletters - they always address something I might be having a problem with or teach me something new. Thank you for giving of yourself to the weight loss surgery community as you do.

I had gastric bypass surgery in May 2007, so I'm almost 2 years out. My, has it been that long?!

I read Joy's query and your answer to her eating difficulty at 6 months out.  I too lived on shrimp as chicken and I didn't talk to each other for almost 6 months - just wouldn't go down.

Concerning protein shakes/drinks, I too became lactose intolerant following surgery and after several wrong choices, we finally found Lactaid. I continue the shakes twice a day with no ill effects using Isopure and flavorings from VitaLady. On weekends I have different proteins for a change up - Control Bars, new from Bariatric Advantage or Profect or ProteinX. The last two taste horrible but go down quickly!  I know that they give me what my body needs, so I tolerate the yuck for the several seconds it take to pass down my throat.

Joy needs to speak up at meetings so others can help her out. She probably has several sources in that circle who might have experienced the same or similar problems and be able to help her with their suggestions and support.  That's what she needs to understand, the support group is for support in whatever way we need - for affirmation in our up times and for helping us along in our down times.  I confessed to eating a couple of large bags of M&Ms last year and got the support and motivation I needed! 

Hope some of this may be of use to her.  Thanks again.

Sandi Chambers
sandi.chambers@alcoa.com

Dear Barbara,
Bless you for your wonderful books and your monthly newsletter! Even now, 4 years out, I still refer back many times to your books and look forward to my monthly newsletter.

As for Joy and her problems with food, boy does that ever sound familiar! It was like that for me and lasted about 5 to 6 months after surgery. Nothing tasted good - either it was "funny" tasting or totally unappealing. Just the thought of certain foods made me want to gag let alone smell them. Like you, I found things that I could tolerate protein-wise and ate them over and over again. In my case it was chicken wings, crab legs and cottage cheese! Go figure! Nothing else was appealing, but I did manage whey protein shakes. After that 5-6 month spell of this strange diet it all changed and then the thought of eating crab, chicken wings and cottage cheese filled me with revulsion, but I found I could eat and enjoy lots of "normal" protein filled foods. Now only very few foods make me queasy - especially things with aspartame and tons of preservatives. Unfortunately, I'm one of the unlucky ones who never dumped on chocolate.

Please tell Joy to hang in there because it WILL get better and she will probably be very happy that she made the life choice of weight loss surgery. I would also suggest some sort of physical activity that she enjoys doing. It does wonders for self-esteem and helps to rev up the metabolism. I started with pushing a cart around Wal-Mart without stopping for 1 hour and now I'm working out daily with weights, aerobics or yoga. She can get through this! I wish I could send her an email hug!

Thank you again for your hard work on behalf of all of us WLSers!

Susan
malzyk@tds.net

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Recipe:
  Firecracker Salmon

During the Easter season, everyone is looking for good fish recipes.  This is outstanding! Salmon is full of omega 3 fatty acids, the good fats, and very high in protein.

Firecracker Salmon

  • 4 (4 ounce) salmon filets
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar*
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾  teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½  teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼  teaspoon salt

     
  • Place salmon filets in a large zip lock bag. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and salt. Whisk together well, and pour over the fish. Marinade the fish in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the salmon in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish flakes easily. Turn the salmon over halfway through cooking.

*Use brown sugar substitute if you have severe dumping syndrome.

Makes 4 servings. Nutritional information for each serving:

314 calories; 25 grams of protein; 4 grams of carbohydrates; 22 grams of fat.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at Barbara@WLScenter.com

Success Story:
  Chassity Bird

I want to offer a special thanks to Chassity Bird for sharing her success with us. Here is her story:

Dear Barbara,
I love your newsletter, thanks so much for doing this.  Here is my story.

As many others before me, I have dealt with obesity my entire life.  High school was very hard.  Luckily I was very outgoing and had good grades, but nonetheless it is still hard when you know you are left out because of your weight. 

I tried every diet under the sun.  I would lose a few pounds, just to gain back twice as much as I had lost.  After having my second child my weight went to my highest ever at 270 lbs (5'5").  At the age of 32, I thought, ‘How much bigger can I get?’  I knew I had to do something.  My children are very active and I knew I would never be able to keep up.

I had a friend that had weight loss surgery and I started researching it.  At first my husband was totally against it.  He said I was not big enough and I was fine the way I was.  I have an amazing husband.  Then I started seeing the lap band commercials and saw that it was less invasive.  I told my husband about this new surgery and he agreed to go to the doctor with me. 

When we went in to see the doctor, his office manager started talking to us first.  She kept talking about gastric bypass until I interrupted and told her I wanted the lap band.  She said OK and we started talking about the pro's and con's.  The biggest con was I loved sweets and it was much easier to cheat the lap band with sweets.  I knew sweets were the main reason I was big, so my husband and I both knew at that point the lap band was out of the question.

When we talked to the surgeon, Dr. Watson, he started to make my husband feel more at ease.  The problem with gastric bypass is that when you hear about it, you normally just hear the really bad stories.  You never hear the thousands of success stories.  We started going to support group meetings at the hospital and my husband told me that if this was what I really wanted he would support it.  I had my surgery on November 26, 2007.  I weighed 257 lbs. when I went in to have the surgery.

The surgery was very painful for me.  I questioned myself over and over, did I do the right thing?  I thought I was just in a bad dream and I would wake up.  There is no way I would have put myself through this.  I couldn't stand any of the protein drinks, so I spent a fortune trying to find one.  Then about a month later I couldn't keep anything down.  I went to the doctor and he put me straight in the hospital and told me I wasn't leaving until he found out what was wrong.  This was 2 days after Christmas and I was in the hospital for 4 days.  The good news is they found the problem, it was a stricture.  It was easy to fix and I almost immediately started feeling better.  I had to go back 2 more times to get it stretched. 

The first two months were very hard, after that it got easier with every passing day.  As I am sure you have heard by now, in no way is this surgery the easy way out.  For those thinking this journey is a piece of cake I would say you have not done enough research.  Not everyone has the pains or the complication I had, however it is definitely not a piece of cake.

With that said, I would like to tell you it was the best thing I have ever done.  I would do it all over in a heartbeat.  I have lost 122 lbs, went from a very tight size 24 to a very loose size 8.  My children have a mother that they will not have to be ashamed of.  I am going to keep them active to be sure they never have to go through what I have gone through.  I am still attending my support groups.  I feel God gave me this wonderful opportunity and it is very important for me to give back and help anyone I can on their journey.

If anyone needs questions answered you are welcome to email me at jcbird@embarqmail.com.

Thanks,
Chassity Bird

Congratulations Chassity

 

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