R-n-Y is “roux-en-Y”, a fancy French term for “gastric bypass”. I had gastric bypass in May 2004. Before I could consider the surgery, I had to have a series of procedures. Wait – I had never once thought of the procedure for losing weight! Rather, I was told by my doctor at a military facility, that if I did not have this surgery, I only had about another year, maybe two, to live. I didn’t get that. My blood pressure was good, my cholesterol was excellent (for an extremely fat person), other than my weight, she said I was the “healthiest fat person she’s ever met.” Okay then! What gives that I have to have this surgery?
I had a heart attack on the table during my breast reduction surgery. No real reason other than my heart stopped during that surgery. I had a stroke of sorts earlier that year too.
On May 19, 2004, I weighed 352lbs for the last time. I went into surgery and came out a different person. I wasn’t any lighter, mind you. I still have all my “parts”. Basically, when gastric bypass is done, all the doctor is doing is making your stomach into a pouch that doesn’t hold very much. It bypasses the gallbladder and forms what looks like a golf ball attached to two poles. You still have your cardiac sphincter but your pyloric sphincter is completely open. The cardiac sphincter is the “door” between your esophagus and your stomach. The pyloric sphincter is at the bottom end of your stomach and allows access to the duodenum, colon, etc. Both, when in a normal state, open and close to allow the passage of consumables when necessary. Since the pyloric is constantly open after gastric bypass, food must be chewed to a puree (talk about a sore jaw!) otherwise a backup in the pouch will occur and this causes quite a bit of discomfort! Vomiting becomes an issue at this point and without the gallbladder being attached, the stomach is not able to receive the bile necessary to breakdown the food for passage.
Did you know that the stomach is actually a muscle? It acts like a garbage disposal by “grinding” up food into small particles. The stomach does not actually do much absorption of nutrients. That particular feat is accomplished in the intestines!
Moving on to the beginning process of R-n-Y…
First, most people have to undergo a psychological exam. I aced this with no problems as the crucial factor in this exam is the understanding of how the surgery works and the risks involved. I have a strange view of death, so I understood all the risks involved with having any surgery. I flat out told the doctor that I know there is the risk of death but that I could easily die from crossing the street if a car runs a red light or isn’t paying attention to its surroundings. My appointment lasted less than 30 minutes.
Second, I had to have a battery of physical tests. One was a breathing test. I was put in a machine where they tested the capacity of my lungs. Granted, I cannot play an instrument for very long but I’ve got pretty strong lungs. Another test was gastrointestinal. I had to swallow some nasty, chalky semi-liquid stuff (hey, there were chunks in it!) and then pictures were taken of how my stomach processed the “food”. Blech. I also had to hop on a treadmill and do a physical fitness test. Fun. Oh, and bloodwork galore! I was getting poked nearly every week! That really helped my fear of needles!
Finally, after the last
science experiment exam was complete, surgery was scheduled!
Now, what they don’t tell you is how crappy you’re going to feel. They don’t tell you that the surgery is a TOOL, not a “cure-all”. They don’t tell you that your stomach will stretch back out to where you can eat normal portions (ahem! Not the gigantic super-size me portions but a humanly normal portion). After surgery, I was on a limited diet of soft, bland food. I was supposed to be on it for a month then slow introduce other stuff. I waited two weeks then had some steak and asparagus. Yeah, not happening, dude. I wasn’t ready for it but the steak managed to stay down. The pain of it was excruciating though. That first month, I lost 48lbs. That was from the time I left the hospital. The nurses weighed me every day. The day after surgery, I ballooned to about 370, thanks to the saline and IV stuff they were giving me. The day I left, I was down 28lbs. From there I lost the additional 48. Nice!
I still have eating issues from time to time. I never know what my stomach will allow me to keep down. For example, last night’s dinner of a fabulous turkey patty, sweet potato fries, and asparagus didn’t sit well with me. I enjoyed it and at most of it but I was in pain the remainder of the night. Until… Nevermind, you don’t need to hear about that and I think you get the picture. I didn’t have allergies to anything before but now I do and I’m lactose intolerant. Those are just a couple of the side effects from gastric bypass.
Anyone who’s had R-n-Y understands the issues. If you are considering this surgery, please don’t hesitate to ask me questions or even better, ask your doctor to give you the truth about the life after surgery!