After roughly 20 years of international and domestic business travel / customer entertainment my weight had increased from 240 to 425. I had tried a variety of weight loss programs, to no avail. Details are included in a Gastric By-Pass Pre-Approval letter that I developed from a lot of research in 2002/2003. This letter was used as the format for future University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Bariatric Program candidates.
Surgery & Recovery
During my research, I had found out that Carnie Wilson (Bryan Wilson’s daughter) had been through the Roux-en-Y procedure in 1999 and she made available to me a video of her surgery. After selecting a Surgeon, with the help UPMC and finally gaining the approval of my healthcare provider, a date for the surgery was set for the week before Thanksgiving in 2003, with my weight at 407 lbs. The surgery went off without a hitch but the following morning with a realtime radiographic procedure, it was discovered that I had a leak in the pouch that was “communicating” with the severed stomach. The decision was made to insert a G-tube port and wait 6 weeks for the tissues to clear before attempting a repair. The second surgery for repair of the leak was done in mid-January 2004 with no anomalies. Post-op my weight was 334 (-73 lbs) but I had been living on liquid through the G-tube.
Over the next 10 months my weight dropped to 280 (-127 lbs) but I had a huge flap of abdominal skin and a incisional hernia that required additional surgery, which was scheduled for mid-November 2004. Post-op, in the recovery room I threw a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) which left me on cardio/pulmonary support in a comma for 17 days. My post-op weight in early December 2004 was 245 (-162 lbs).
Fourteen years post-op gastric bypass, I am now 70 years old and living a somewhat less active lifestyle, and I have only gained back about 20 lbs.
After recovery from the PE and abdominoplasty UPMC asked me to teach a class to potential bariatric patients on Risk Factors of Bariatrics and what to expect from the surgery. I also consulted with individuals to assist in the insurance approval process, which was a nightmare in those days because bariatrics was quite new.
What I Have Learned
First is the importance of taking dietary supplements that are specifically formulated for bariatric patients. Centrum multi-vitamins nearly killed me! Make sure that your vitamins are specifically formulated for bariatric patients so that you know you are getting the nutrients you need.
Second, Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is potentially a silent killer. It is a symptom of Dumping Syndrome and is at least one of the probable causes of low blood sugar due to the pylorus being removed during Gastric By-Pass.
And most importantly, I have learned that most Primary Care Physicians have no clue how to deal with a gastric by-pass patient so be sure to talk with a bariatric specialist when embarking on this journey.