Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

On July 27, 2009 I celebrated my 5 year gastric bypass surgery anniversary. It has been an interesting journey up to this point. The euphoria of newly post-op life and weight loss success has waned and I’m now living in a new phase: the struggle to maintain health.

Not the answer you were expecting?

Hate to tell you, but weight loss surgery is definitely not an easy way out, nor a quick fix for all that ails you. Quite the contrary, I see more and more folks like myself who have essentially traded type II diabetes, hypertension and all the other ailments of pre-op life; for a now a post-op life of osteoporosis, low energy levels, iron infusions and battles to stay well nourished!

If it were only as simple as taking a few vitamins and that’s it – the struggle would not be there. But unfortunately, finding supplements in the proper forms that we can absorb, and equally as important, in the correct amounts to keep our blood work where it needs to be to keep us healthy, is practically a full-time job! I posted on the topic of gastric bypass post-op supplementation two years ago.

Helping Others

Recently I was interviewed by Scott Tousignant, also known as ‘The Fat Loss Quickie’, about my life after weight loss surgery.  He asks me if, knowing what I know now – based on the issues I’ve had, would I have the surgery again. My answer is no, I wouldn’t.

My mission is to give an honest post-op life view as I am living it, and how I’m seeing other longer term post-ops are doing overall. If someone has not had the surgery, I’m not going to recommend weight loss surgery as an option, until I give them the honest truth on what life is like. I also want to help those who have already had gastric bypass surgery and are finding they need answers and help. Someone who understands their struggles.

I realize that not every single post-op struggles with post-op nutrition like I do, but a good majority of them do. I’m not referring to those that didn’t follow their surgeon’s post-op supplementation schedule, because to be honest – if we all did that, we’d be in worse shape!

Surgeons are trained to do surgery – they are not trained nutritionists, and even nutritionists are basing their information on a normal digestive system. The gastric bypass digestive system is far from normal – malabsorption is not easily dealt with to keep us healthy. The fact that every person is unique in how their body responds after weight loss surgery is what makes getting help and keeping YOU healthy so difficult.

There are some awesome online support groups with very knowledgeable folks willing to help. Michelle Curran, aka:  The VitaLady, is one such person. Michelle and her husband Don both had weight loss surgery; Michelle in October 1994 and Don in October 1995. Michelle is brutally honest about the supplements we need to take, and does not gloss over the importance of taking all that we need and that it is a struggle that can only be won by regular blood work to monitor how you’re doing and adjusting your supplementation schedule based on your labs.

Staying Positive & Staying Focused

Believe it or not, getting your guts rearranged is not a permanent solution to keeping the weight off, if you do not change your eating and exercise habits. The further post-op you get, the more you are able to eat foods that you weren’t immediately post-op. The fact that you’re willing to try to eat foods you know you shouldn’t is clue #1 that you’re veering off track. If this is you, and perhaps a few pounds have crept back on: STOP! Right this very second stop the destructive behavior. There is no more lifelines. No more excuses as to why you’re gaining weight again.YOU are responsible for the food that you eat, and the supplements you take.

If you have not been exercising, then I’ve got a program that will help. I’ve Fat Loss Quickie 10 Minute Home Office Workoutbeen doing Scott’s awesome Home Office Workout, which is broken down into two 10 minute workout sessions per day. Because I have been struggling with low energy, my stamina and ability to do long workouts is not possible; but 10 minutes I can do (and you can too!) and I love Scott’s workout videos!

Exercise as a post-op should be part of our new lifestyle changes. It helps keep you focused on health. So instead of slipping back into bouts of depression and a sedentary lifestyle, we need to stay focused good, healthy habits and a positive attitude.

To YOUR Health,

Traci Knoppe

P.S. If you are a post-op, how is your health? If you’re considering weight loss surgery, do you have any questions? I’m here to help.

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13 thoughts on “Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

  1. catherine

    If I had the chance I would get it done. Taking vit.and iron would be worth it to me. Iam diabetic 2. Isuffer at the weight that I’m at. I’ve tryed every thing . to no avail I cant loose this weight. I cant afford the cost of the surgery. I have no health insurance. I would love to have the band or surgery.

    Reply
  2. billy labelle

    Hello! My name is billy Before surgery, I weighed in at 584 pounds. More than 1 years later, I’m maintaining at between 340 and 350 Some say gastric bypass is the “easy way out.” I beg to differ. There are many things I wish I had known befor the surgery Would I do it again? yes i would love to git moer of this lbs of me i whant to be at 215 lbs any one out there whant two halpe me out

    Reply
  3. alta

    Thank you for speaking your mind, and giving me more than just a hint as to why I want to crawl into bed the minute I get home from work. I am 3 months out, female, had no co-morbidities I suffer with pain everyday from arthritis and fibromyalgia so I got the surgery done. So far I would recommend this to anyone, but I really have not had bad results.
    I have been getting better about taking my 3 flinstone vitamins a day, 3 to 4 calcium chews, 2 vitamin D3, biotin(cuz I love my hair) and omega 3 gummies, but have not been on a good sched with my b vits. Now I understand part of why im so fricken tired most every day. I used to take my handful of vitamins all at once during the day and now having to space everything out I just find hard to always remember. Sometimes I take a vitamin in the middle of the night when I wake up in pain and need to take a pain pill to go back to sleep.

    Over the last year that I was trying to get the surgery authorized I kept hearing from everyone from my chiropractor to my pain management dr that once I lose some weight I will start feeling better. As of today I am down 38 lbs and while I can get out and do more, I am nowhere near being pain free. I have done too much damage to my spine to expect weight to have that great of an affect on my pain levels.

    Oh, one more thing. My original surgery date was postponed the morning of surgery due to an inflated white blood cell count. My family and I converged on my pcp’s office to find out why this had not been addressed. I was sent to a hemotologist who looked at my past blood tests and my current and past medications and said that it was do to inflamation. That bariatric patients have a tendency to have increased wbc counts and especially patients who have arthritis and fibro who now find themselves unable to take the anti-inflamitory medications. So he wrote a letter to my surgeon stating this and that it shouldnt proclude me from having the surgery. I hope this helps anyone who may read this.

    good luck

    Reply
  4. Lori Montalbano

    I had my gastric bypass surgery in 2003. It is now 2/2011, I would not suggest it to anyone. I have regained half of my weight loss back.I find myself on a poor diet and am eating all I have in the past except for carbonated beverages. After 3yrs.of my surgery I had iron infusions every Friday for a year straight. I still get my iron checked every 6 mnths. I find the only way to feel healthy is to drink 5 Medfast diet shakes daily but still crave unbhealthy foods. It is like falling off the diet wagon. Good luck to all!

    Reply
  5. Gayle

    I am a POST OP Gastric Bypass Surgery Patient… Life SUCKS! Sorry, but true. Most days, I simply lay in bed. That’s all, just lay there. I do not have the energy to move!
    I stay in a constant state of depression because I do not have the energy to do anything. Nothing brings me joy (and if it did, I wouldn’t have the energy to do it).
    Wheter I take vitamins or not, it is the same, no difference at all.

    Honestly, I don’t know if I would do it again… Yes I lost 230 pounds and I would consider myself to be very attractive (no one can tell I was ever even overweight, let alone super morbidly obese), but at what cost? At least when I was big I had a life… I was able to do things and live… Now with my new, much smaller, healthy looking body, I suffer every day.

    Reply
    1. jennifer

      Gayle,

      I am 34 and 13 yrs post op. I am in the exact same position. No energy, depressed and for the past 12 years I was living on pills that gave me energy. I just found out I am pregnant and I can no longer take the pills. Since I found out, I have not been able to function. I cannot get out of the bed to even work. This is my worst nightmare!

      Reply
      1. Traci Post author

        Oh Jennifer – I’m so sorry you’re struggling. Pregnancy isn’t always easy, I can only imagine what it’s like dealing with the post-op issues too. Please try to get in all of your supplememts and protein shakes. It’s so important!!

        Reply
  6. Katina

    I am 38 years old 5’8″ 315lbs. I literally hate my body and hate myself for allowing it to get this bad. My mom stuggled with severe obesity and died in her 40′s of heart failure yet I am following in her footsteps. I have tried so many things yet always gain it back. I am wanting surgery but do not have a supportive family. I have started to want to give up, not suicide, but just not try anymore. I still have some hope(right now) and I beieve it is surgery. I am willing to take the risk because I am NOT happy and dwell on my body and self image. I just am scared without support I will not be able to do this. Give any advise you can. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for listening!

    Reply
  7. jamie

    Hello i had my by gastric bypass in 02/2002 I lost 105 lbs. I knew going into this, that this was not going to be easy. I myself did really well. almost 10 years out now. with having 3 kids in there I am about 30 lbs. I am struggling with anemia right now. and learning how to boost vitamins. I can tell you from my own experience. If i could do it over again. absolutely. I tell this to everyone. it is not for everyone do your research know that your life is going to change. you have to work hard to maintain. it’s not a quick fix. you think eating all that food over years is going to come off and it’s like a miracle no.

    Reply
  8. Irene

    I had gastric by pass surgery about 13 years ago and would do it all over again. I was almost 300 lbs and didn’t really have any health issues other than sever depression.
    I had the surgery, and after 6 weeks of rest and yes feeling like I had no energy I forced myself to get out and run, lift weights etc. My energy level started to go up and now 13 years later I’m super fit, look and feel great. YES I have had some side effect, bloating, painful gas, kidney stones and gall stones but I would do it all again. I think people think it’s just an easy way but it isn’t and still requires working out and eating healthy. It’s like a second shot at respecting and treating your body they way we always should have in the first place. I should also mention before my surgery I suffered from depression and was on meds for years, a year after my surgery I went off my meds and turned to exercise as my new drug and feel great! No regrets here!

    Reply
  9. Sandra

    THE UGLY TRUTH about GASTRC BYPASS
    I was 5’3 and 242 pounds 4yrs ago ! No health issues at all ! Now I have trouble keeping my weight between 70-100 pounds and when I do eat I throw it back up, I get about 42 ounces of water in my body, BUT it takes right at 4 days to get this down. And now for the really good part
    I went from no MED’s or HEALTH ISSUE’s before my gastric bypass to now 17 medications a day ! Also in a months time I get about maybe 4 good days in where I can get out of bed, and to think I did this to LIVE ?
    Now here comes the really, really good stuff.
    It’s cost me not only my life, but I will tell you in order what came first.
    I had a good first 8 months but then my weight continued to drop down till I got to 67 pounds. I started having kidney stones from calcium formed so from 2008 till present 2012 I have passed 39 that I have had to be in the ER to get IV fuilds to help my body push them out and my right kidney is so full they wanted to remove it. I also would go 2 times a month and get 8- 10 bags of IV fuilds.
    Then I started having bone loss and from throwing up cost me my teeth. Then I strarted falling from being so week that I have many fractures of the spine and also fractured arms, hands and ankles. In my spine the little padded disk has harden due to staying dehydrated.
    By this point I couldn’t take the cold weather because everything hurt so bad that now I am have a pain doctor! I spent $700.00 getting shakes and vitamins made just for me to get what my body was needing, but that was a waist of money because I either throw this stuff back up or out the other end.
    So to make this shorter, I then started having seizure and would go days without sleep, then the depression came and then 3 times I tryed to kill myself either over the pain or the depression or knowing that someone would soon be having to take care of me.
    Now my spine is so bad can sit over 5-10 mins because my legs and feet go numb. Also I pee only one time a day and only drops and smell like something from a port a potty and now I am lossing my vison because I am starving to death.
    I also requier more meds then most because my body only absorbes very little, my meds last around 2 hrs if I am lucky, I have no strenght or energy and have to take pills to get up, legal speed and then pills to go to sleep. Try waking up every 2 hours and taking pills just to go back to sleep for 2 hrs. Then from kidney stone I then get UTI’s and Bladder and kidney infections. { fun, fun} I tell ya, and I can’t get rid of the Ecolie in my urine I have had for 3 yrs.
    I have missed my own childrens b-days and Christmas and other hoilidays because I am either to sick or hurt to move, and lets not forget that when I get sick it last for weeks and if I get a cut or scratch it takes months to heal. And I also get to vist 3 doctors a month and for the past 3 yrs have to have a mental health doctor come to my home 2 days a week. And I have no short term memory at all !
    So now I know that I would never tell anyone to have a gastric bypass done !
    Sorry but this is not living, it’s a slow death and a burden for my children to help get me dressed, bathe me and drive me to my doctor appts. And most of all when I do look into a mirror I still see a large person, and OH it also cost me a 22 yr marriage. Sorry if my ugly truth bothers you, but I never thought this could happen to me, I had a 23 yr career in the medical field and now I can’t even hardly make it to the bath room. I also want to say this I can’t take any meds that are in capsule or anything time release or anytype of hard shell pill, it has to be a powered form pill that can be crush. I have been in and out of the hospital more than I care to say and have been on ever kind of medication know to man. So the cost was far greater than the worth I thought I would have. And one other thing with my weight being so low, I can’t afford to get really sick because I have no fat or muscle to loss. I have the bone dentsity of a 90 yr old women and I just turned 42, so yes I maybe be that one in a million, but you could very well be one too! Do the lap band it’s safer.
    If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact me at spiderrella3@aol.com.

    Reply
  10. Sheila

    I had my gastric bypass in 1994. I did research or as much research as was available at the time. I would reccommend this surgery to anyone who is willing to change their life no holds barred. It takes determination and tons, yes tons of wilpower to succeed. I have had numerous problems ranging from anemia, blockages, hemorrages,mal-absortion problems, extreme fatigue and the list goes on. Instead of giving up; I changed up. I do have iron infusions every so often, blood work every 3 months and some days I can’t eat squat! However, I am learning to deal with all these issues to the point where they are no longer issues in my life. I make wiser choices in food selections, try to exercise-moderately, take my post-op meds without fail and continue on. Don’t give up whatever you do. I needed this surgery and yes there are so many cons. I have decided to focus on the pros. Research, keep it lean and green and in small portions. Eat often and keep hydrated. This surgery is a godsend; not a magic pill. Follow the diet plan and don’t vere off. We are very fortunate to have wonderful medical technologies available to us. But, it is up to us as individuals to follow good common sense and proper medical advise. Be wise and make the right choice. Good luck and God Bless!

    Reply
  11. Traci Post author

    Sandra – so sorry to hear of your struggles. I’ve heard of others struggling to not loose too much weight.

    Sheila – I agree, we have to focus on the positives and do what we can. I created this site, and updates, to let others know that weight loss surgery is absolutely not an easy way to lose weight, and does come with risks.

    Reply

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