A FREE publication by
Issue #34 , Oct 16, 2003
From the Desk of Barbara Thompson
Author of "Weight Loss Surgery, Finding the Thin Person Hiding
** In this Issue **
* The Paper Jungle: Your Personal Safari to Health
* Research Article: Fighting Obesity and the Food Lobby
* Dating Following Weight Loss Surgery
* E-Newsletter to Continue
* CD Special
* Cheering on Louisiana Patients
* Success Story: Ron Falkowski
* Spreading the Word in Tulsa and Morristown, NJ
Today is my 4 year anniversary! Not the anniversary of my
surgery! It’s the anniversary of my paperwork! It was 4 years ago
that I set sail on my own personal journey by requesting the forms
and started the documentation process.
For those of you just getting started, the article that follows
will provide you with some guidance on your journey. For those of
you well along, I think it always helps to reflect on how far we
** The Paper Jungle: Your Personal Safari to Health **
It’s a frightening task to make that call to request the
paperwork to start your journey. You wonder if the surgery is really
what you should be having. Will it work for you? Will you survive
the surgery? Will you be rejected by the surgeon? Will you be
rejected by your insurance company?
The paperwork arrives and it can paralyze you. You may set it
aside because it is too much to tackle. You wonder what the
“correct” answers should be.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are shuffling through
all of this paperwork:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The paperwork is really
based upon the requirements set by the NIH. Your answers will
establish that you meet the requirements of Body Mass Index (BMI),
establish what co-morbidities or health problems you have, establish
that you have tried to diet and have failed, and establish that you
understand the risks and benefits of this surgery. Those are the
requirements set by the NIH and almost all surgeons and insurance
companies follow their lead. So the paperwork establishes how well
you meet thoes requirements.
Documentation - Try to document all that you can, especially
when it comes to dieting. If you have old Weight Watchers books, or
if you have talked with your doctor about your weight, or have been
on a diet when he or she wrote a prescription for a weight loss
medication, that counts. Ask your doctor’s office to verify
everything possible. Even a fluctuation in weight will indicate that
you were on a diet and failed.
Be accurate and honest. A very serious and complicated surgery
will be performed on you based in part on the information that you
provide. Although most of what you provide will be medically
verified, some will not. Do not omit anything with the fear that the
information will disqualify you from the surgery. You could be puting your health and safety in jeopardy.
Paperwork paralysis – Don’t get so wrapped up in all of this
that you never submit it. At some point, you will have to "just do
it." If you have not included something, someone at some point will
probably let you know.
Call to ensure that the surgeon’s office has received the
paperwork and keep copies of everything that you send in. Call
periodically to see how the paperwork is moving along. An
appropriate frequency of calls would be about once every 2 weeks.
After you complete your paperwork and submit it, congratulate
yourself on your courage to take charge and change your life!
** Research Article: Fighting Obesity and the Food Lobby **
To follow-up last issue’s article on obesity and how our children
are affected, this is an article from the Washington Post followed
by one mother’s response to what she is doing to spread the word
about school lunches.
Thank you for your wonderful newsletter. I look forward to the
interesting and insightful articles you provide.
I have been thinking hard about the habits that I developed that
helped me create the obesity I am now fighting (and winning thanks
to WLS) and recently started looking at school menus for my
children. Lunches are typically "kid" food like nuggets and pizza
but they provide salad, etc. Breakfast is even worse, however. Twice
a week the school provides doughnuts and/or cinnamon rolls for
I called the nutritionist for the county and complained about the
food choices. Healthy breakfast foods are not available. The only
protein available is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and French
toast because "it is thicker than you would most likely make at
home." I was told that school breakfasts follow the food pyramid,
heavy in grains, and that "these are baked goods." I couldn't
believe that answer. I told her I thought the food pyramid was
mainly considering complex carbohydrates as the basis of the food
pyramid and not processed white flour and sugar laden products. Of
course, she told me she would take my comments under advisement. To
me that means no change.
I have now become an activist for proper nutrition in my school
and hope that every other person who reads this will make that his
or her own personal goal, especially if he or she has children.
Schools teach children to eat "color" every day. Big signs hang on
the cafeteria door, but healthy, colorful food is not available. We
need to make a difference in our children's lives so that they grow
up with better eating habits and don't wind up like we did. I would
appreciate whatever you can do to help spread the word.
WLS and Healthy School Food Activist
** Dating Following Weight Loss Surgery **
By now most of you know that the magazine “WLS Lifestyles” has
asked me to be a regular exclusive contributor to their magazine. My
next article for the magazine will be on dating following weight
loss surgery. I would love to interview anyone who would like to
talk with me about their experiences and insights on dating. Please
email your phone number to Barbara@wlscenter.com and I will call as
many of you as I can. And if you would like to subscribe to WLS
Lifestyles, their link is http://www.wlslifestyles.com. Just click
on the yellow star. The subscription cost is $24.95 per year.
** e-Newsletter to Continue **
I received this question in the past few days and it occurred to
me that more people might be wondering the same thing:
Good Morning Barbara,
I see that you are writing for WLS Lifestyles magazine. Does this
mean we won’t be getting any more newsletters from you? I do hope
that’s not the case. I enjoy reading your newsletter and the things
I get from them I share with our support group so I do hope you keep
up your letter.
Thanks, AL Rico
I have no plans to discontinue the e-newsletter. It is sometimes
hard to keep up, but this is one of the ways that I stayed connected
with everyone. And I know that there are thousands of people just
like you who really look forward to it. So the e-newsletter will
** Cheering on Louisiana Patients **
CNN ran this story, “Can Weight Reduction Survey Save Money” this
week which is very important to the future of insurance coverage of
weight loss surgery.
There are many of us who have seen our health problems disappear
following our surgery. We have been able to toss our medications,
and know that weight loss surgery is a health altering procedure.
But often insurance companies turn a deaf ear to those arguments.
Now 40 people who are Louisiana State employees will have gastric
bypass surgery and will be followed for 3 years to determine long
term cost savings to health care. Whoever these 40 people will be,
thousands of us will be cheering for them.
By the way, what the article does not mention is that there will
be a control group of 40 people who will diet and exercise. As
individuals, I wish them well also, but we have all been there so
many times, haven't we?
** CD Special **
“I was very nervous the day before surgery but have to admit your
CD really helped me through a lot. I must have listened to it at
least 10 times but always felt very positive afterwards.”
Are you nervous about your upcoming surgery? Or do you have
people around you who are terrified for you? Then my CD is the
perfect solution. While my book is the “bible” that you will use for
a year after your surgery, the CD will allow you to listen to some
truths about the surgery and life afterwards while you are on the
run. It is not a “book on tape.” It is a 78 minute interview of me
on all aspects of the surgery. Parts of it are funny, parts are
touching, but it is all informative and inspiring. And although you
may pour over my book for hours, your support system at home
probably won’t. But they will listen to a CD.
Click here to order,
http://www.wlscenter.com/AudioCD.htm and notice the special
package price if you order the book and CD together. What a great
** Success Story: Ron Falkowski **
I want to offer a special thanks to Ron Falkowski for sharing his
story with us. Here is his story:
I would like to send you my weight loss surgery story. Most of my
life I did not have a weight problem. However in 1991 after working
for almost 20 years in a foundry I developed a major case of
osteoarthritis all over my body. That started my many surgeries--12
of them in 14 years. Along with my surgeries, my doctors told me
that I was permanently disabled.
At first I was OK with that but after a few months I battled with
depression and also became addicted to food. My weight went
from about 255 pounds to 423 pounds. On December 30, 2002 my blood
pressure was 170 over 100 and I was on 5 medications. I was also
borderline diabetic. Along with that I have had both my knee totally
replaced. If I did not lose weight I would in time have to
have them replaced again. I tried working with a dietitian but lost
little weight. Trying prescription diet pills made me sick, so
surgery was my last chance.
Everything with my surgery went great and after 9 months I have
lost 114 pounds and 12 inches of my waist. I feel great. My
blood pressure is down to 122 over 82. My sugar level is in the
normal range on the low side. Although I never had a problem with
cholesterol, six months after my surgery, my cholesterol level was
down to 104. My good cholesterol was up 11 points and my bad
cholesterol was down 9 points. My doctor was very happy with the
results of my blood tests.
I tell people I am becoming half the man I once was. I also tell
people in the support group of which I'm a member to encourage
others to have weight loss surgery because the "Life You Save Will
Be Your Own."
In closing, I would like thank you for the newsletter. I
find it great reading material. It’s a great way for you and
all the people that have had the surgery to encourage the people in
this country who need it to know that it is a way to save a life.
Stevens Point, WI
I love good news. If you have good news, a success story to
share, or inspiration, please send it to
me at Barbara@wlscenter.com
so that I can include it in future issues.
** How Do You Maintain Your Weight Loss? **
Are you 2 or more years post-op? If so, I need to know what your
secret is for maintaining your weight. I
will be using your story to include in a
mini e-book on the secrets of success of weight loss surgery
patients. You must write at least 1 full
page. Anything less than 1 page will not be
useable. I need to know how you eat, what you do for
exercise, and any tips that you have to
offer. This will be a tremendous help to people who are
having the common problem of weight gain following surgery,
or are struggling to maintain their weight
Send your stories to Barbara@wlscenter.com