A Dose of Reality Dished Out in Tough Love
With my recent health issues stemming from nutrient deficiencies (calcium, vitamin D and iron) , I’ve had several people ask me if I regret having had the weight loss surgery. My answer is a resounding: NO! I do not regret having had weight loss surgery!!
First, I think we need to put into perspective that while I have had some health issues, and while they have had some debilitating side effects for me, frustrating because it’s taken a while to discover that they were in fact related to nutrient deficiencies and not something else; there are people who have had much more severe complications from not only weight loss surgery but from living with obesity. I do not regret having had this surgery. All I need to do is to adjust my supplements – tweak the amounts I’m taking, and perhaps continue with iron infusions periodically, if I can’t maintain with supplements. But honestly, that’s a very small price to pay to maintain my health. YES, it’s worth it – it’s just vitamins and nutrients people: very important yes, but not a deal breaker for me.
Note to the Pre-Op folks: If there is one key thing I want to stress to any pre-op folks who may be reading this blog entry: is that you need to know you will have to take vitamins and nutritional supplements for the rest of your life after you have weight loss surgery. If you don’t – you can die. Yes, that’s a very serious statement to make; but it’s true. If you can not afford to buy vitamins and protein powders after your surgery, then you need to seriously re-think whether or not you can afford to have this surgery; because without vitamins and protein supplements after – you will not be healthy and you can do very serious damage to yourself that could be life-threatening. The total cost each month varies, depending on where you buy your supplements and exactly what all you take, based on the core minimum that all post-ops really should be taking and your specific lab results. I personally spend about $200 per month on supplements, including protein powders, prescriptions and everything I need to keep me healthy (not including food).
Which vitamins and how many of each you need to take will depend on your lab work; and of course, that means you’ll need to have your labs drawn regularly. Every 6 months is ideal for labs, then you can catch something if your levels start to drop, before they get too far down. Once a year just isn’t often enough and some recommend every 3 months. So maintaining your health as a WLS post-op is work; but it’s worth it to stay healthy. If you’re taking your supplements, then it really isn’t that big of a deal if you keep it up. It’s just part of what you do. If you stop doing it – then believe me, it will become a huge deal very quickly.
I am normally very much an encourager, but I believe the in telling the honest truth too. I believe this surgery works; but I hear of a lot of post-ops gaining and struggling years down the road with this surgery. In almost* every instance, it was a preventable problem. I want everyone to go into this surgery eyes wide open. It’s a great thing – it will work, but you will have to work too. You will have to know why you became obese. You will have to overcome your food addictions. You will have to exercise. You will have to take your supplements. If you can’t do that: then don’t have this surgery. Otherwise, you may find yourself, a few years down the road, obese once again, and suffering from nutrient deficiencies to boot, and it will not be the fault of the WLS, it will be your fault for not being compliant with the guidelines of the surgery.
Your tool didn’t fail you – you failed the tool. Only you know your own true circumstances and if you are making excuses for your situation. Let’s get real here. We didn’t rearrange our guts to continue to lie about what we’re eating and make excuses as to why we’ve failed at this. Be honest with yourself. Deal with it and work at making it right.
[*There are some cases of known surgery failures. Where the stoma is larger than it should be, or the food is going down and the intestine is actually enlarged and creating a pseudo stomach and holding food, and all sorts of things like this. If you believe you are truly able to eat more than you believe you should be, then make an appointment with your bariatric surgeon for a endoscope to make sure your pouch and everything else is working and intact as it should be. ]