WLS Center E-Newsletter

A FREE publication from


Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

Issue #98

August 1, 2006

Barbara Thompson
The Voice of Obesity

Hello Everyone,
Weight loss surgery has certainly been in the news lately with all of the articles on the link between alcoholism and weight loss surgery.  There is a story behind this news that involves many of you. This is truly an example of our ability as patients to effect positive change.

And the numbers are building for my first retreat, caused in large part by my ability through some generous funding to significantly lower the price. You won’t want to miss this!

In This Issue


* Alcoholism and Weight Loss Surgery: Together We Made a Difference
* Vitamins in Oil: An Authoritative Answer
* Back on Track
* Restaurant Card
* Spreading the Word in Erie and Alabama
* Recipe: Instant Dessert
* Success Story: Debbie

Alcoholism and Weight Loss Surgery:
  Together We Made a Difference

Dear Barbara,
I cannot believe the number of people post-op that are suffering from alcohol abuse and dependency.  I thought I was alone in this struggle, until your newsletter brought to light an ongoing and very real issue!  It's frightening to me because like many of your readers, I too was a "social drinker" prior to surgery and found myself drinking every night to the point of passing out - at times. 

My family has talked with me over the past year always voicing their concerns about my health and well-being.  I've had so much guilt about this matter, which seemed to escalate the problem further.  I tried therapy and journaling, but nothing seemed to curb my cravings.  Thankfully, between reading your articles and doing my own research on the negative and/or deadly affects of drinking to excess- I've stopped completely.

I know of 5 people who've had weight loss surgery in my social circle who have confided in me with the exact same issues.  Once they "start" they cannot seem to stop and the booze of choice seems to be wine.  It's as if the "trigger" within us all is no longer functioning.  This is something that everyone going into weight loss surgery should be aware of and I hope surgeons and nutritionists will make this clear to potential patients.

Thank you for enlightening me and others - it's very reassuring knowing that I'm not alone in this horrible battle against the bottle.  Thankfully, I'm still young enough and strong enough to repair whatever damage has been done to my body.  In addition, I've never wavered from your Isotonix supplements and eat lots of protein every day.  I think that's part of the reason why I'm sober and have regained only 10 pounds from the 130 I'd lost initially.  You are an angel -


In my April 1st newsletter I asked you to write to me if you were experiencing a problem with alcoholism following your weight loss surgery.  I had been receiving so many emails over the last year from people who were experiencing this and asking if I had heard of this problem.  They had mentioned it to their surgeon and he or she would say they had not heard of a connection.  So I asked you to write me your stories if you had this experience and many very brave people responded. And on May 1st, I was able to share their experiences with you http://www.WLScenter.com/NLArchive/may_1_2006.htm.

As a result of my article, I was contacted by Jane Spencer of the Wall Street Journal.  She explained that she wanted to do an article on that topic.  We talked at great length and she asked if I knew a patient that she could interview.  I referred her to Patty Worrells who wrote the first story in my May 1st article. 

Jane was impressed with Patty and her story and subsequently featured Patty in the article that appeared on July 18th. Patty went on to appear with a friend of hers on Good Morning America and in case you missed it, Patty did a terrific job in her TV interview.  

Here is the text of the Wall Street Journal Article on the link between alcoholism and weight loss surgery as well as Patty’s story.

“Thank you so much for your help with the story, and especially for introducing me to Patty. I've gotten a lot of e-mail today from bariatric patients struggling with the issue. The issue will definitely get some significant national attention thanks to you.”

                                                                                            ---Jane Spencer, Wall Street Journal

As a result, of so many of you being open and brave, this story has become a hot topic in the media.  It has appeared in many newspaper articles and TV programs.  Patients experiencing this will no longer have to feel ashamed and alone. Together we made a difference!

I have been contacted by CNN. They would like to do a TV program, perhaps with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the topic of weight loss surgery and alcoholism or other addictions. They are looking for someone, preferably in the New York area, preferably in their 30’s or 40’s. If you are from that area, have an addiction that started after your surgery, and are willing to be interviewed and perhaps appear on TV, please send me your story, contact information and where you live, and I will pass it onto CNN.  

Send to me at Barbara@WLScenter.com

Vitamins in Oil:
  an Authoritative Answer
Dear Barbara,
I have heard that weight loss surgery patients cannot absorb any vitamins in an oil form.  I have asked many doctors and nutritionist and they disagree.  I have learned so much from you and your website and newsletters, can you tell me if it is true and send me in a direction that would verify it.  I don't like telling my group something that I can't verify that it is true.

Judy Harris

Hi Judy,

To answer this, I went to a true expert, Dr. Jacqueline Jacques, the Chief Science Officer for Bariatric Advantage. Click here to read her answer.

Are You Where You Want to Be?

If you’re not happy with your weight loss, then join the
Back on Track with Barbara Internet Mentoring Program.

Would you like results like this?
“I am loving this Back on Track With Barbara Program. It really does keep me on track.  I like having a new lesson each week, and practicing each of the new steps in the lessons. I know I need constant encouragement to keep the grazing under control. The low glycemic foods are a wonderful help. Let's hear it for Barbara! I'm so glad she is doing this work for us. This is a real need she is filling.”

New Jersey

For more information or to join the Program,
go to http://www.BackOnTrackWithBarbara.com

Restaurant Card

In my book “Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding inside You,” http://www.wlscenter.com/Announce_Book.htm I had a link to a restaurant card. The link unfortunately no longer works, so I have made a card and put it on my website which you can print out to use. 

A restaurant card is for those who want to eat out yet know that they cannot possibly eat an entire adult portion. The card requests that the manager of the restaurant allow you to order a child’s portion.  You can print out the card, have your surgeon sign it and have it laminated. The card can be found here http://www.wlscenter.com/restaurant_card.htm

Spreading the Word in
  Erie, PA and Alabama

Since the beginning of the year, most of my speaking has been to hospital employees on obesity sensitivity and patient satisfaction.  These events have been closed to the public.  However there are 2 events coming up in September that patients will be able to attend.

On Wednesday Sept. 6th at 6:30 PM I will be speaking to the patients of Dr. Ali and Dr. Arreola of the Hamot Bariatric Surgery Group, at Hamot Hospital in Erie, PA, sponsored by Autosuture.

And on Friday September 29th, at 1:30 PM I will be speaking at the Alabama State Nurses Association at the Dixon Conference Center in Auburn, AL sponsored by KCI.  I will be speaking on patient satisfaction and positive patient outcomes. The Alabama Nurses Association has invited anyone who wants to attend my presentation to attend free.  Although this is a subject probably of more interest to nurses, anyone is welcome.

Hope to see you at one of these events!

Instant Dessert

Thanks to Joellyn for this great dessert snack. She writes:

This recipe has been approved by my Dietician at Magee Women's Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA

8 oz of Cool Whip Free
2 pkg. of sugar free Jello (I use strawberry)
2 cans of crushed pineapple in natural juice, drained
1 16 oz. carton of fat free cottage cheese
1 pkg. of fat free sugar free cheesecake instant pudding

Mix all together and chill. The recipe makes quite a bit and will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Sometimes I mix a scoop of protein powder or a 1/2 cup of pureed fresh strawberries just to be creative. Delicious!!

Joellyn el Masry 

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at Barbara@wlscenter.com

Success Story:

I want to offer a special thanks to Debbie. Here is her story:

My name is Debbie, from Syracuse, New York. I had Bilio-Pancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS) surgery on December 10, 2004 at the age of 51. At the time of my surgery I weighed 353 pounds, at 5'7".

I've always been heavy. At the age of 8, I was considered to be obese. I remember going to the "diet doctor" at that age and being given diet pills, probably amphetamines back then! My mother and sister took them as well. We were all overweight, my father too, and we were always dieting.

I was my Dad's little tomboy, and always ate plate for plate whatever he did! By the 7th grade, I had reached my full height and weighed 173 pounds, and by the age of 18 when I went to Weight Watchers for the first time, I was over 200 pounds.

I continued to try every diet there was. I would lose weight, gain it all back and gain even more. This continued for the rest of my adult life. The most I ever lost was 75 pounds by being on a very stringent diet and exercising; only to gain it back and more after my father died.

My father had developed diabetes and had 3 heart attacks, so naturally when I became diabetic in my 40's, it was not a big surprise. But now all the dieting didn't work, and when I entered an early perimenopause, it was just impossible to lose any weight. I was put on insulin, and later learned that taking insulin itself will make you gain weight!

At one point, I gained 70 pounds in 3 months, just from an increase in my insulin dosage. I ultimately was taking over 300 units a day, an incredible amount, and my sugar wasn't even well controlled. I also had high blood pressure, osteoarthritis in my knees, high cholesterol and triglycerides, chronic sinusitis, headaches, and acid reflux. I could barely walk and owned a mobility scooter, and always used one whenever I could in stores and malls. I had no life to speak of, just going to work and coming home, and pretty much just wishing to die. I was constantly in pain, depressed and felt I was beyond hope.

I had heard about gastric bypass surgery but had thought the adjustable lap band might work better for me. Thanks to a doctor who turned me down for that because of my high BMI, I did more research and found that the BPD/DS is highly favored for diabetics and people with high BMI's. My BMI was 55. Furthermore, this surgery allows you to keep your own stomach and use the stomach acids for normal digestion, as well as keeping the pyloric valve, so the "dumping" syndrome is not a problem, and a greater variety of food can be eaten after surgery, including meat, sweets, etc. Knowing my general lack of self-discipline, I thought this might be a better choice for me than the RNY.

I ended up traveling to New York City, to Dr Alfons Pomp, for the surgery, as it wasn't performed by anyone in Syracuse. The surgery went off without a hitch, and Dr Pomp and his partner, Dr Michel Gagner, also videotaped my surgery as a teaching tool for other doctors, apparently because I presented so many potential problems!

That was over a year and a half ago. I now weigh 190 pounds and all my co-morbidities are gone! I'm no longer diabetic and the only medicine I take is for the acid reflux, which did not go away. My knees are fine and I walk everywhere, ride a bike, even a motor scooter! I took my first cruise in December and swam with the dolphins, wearing a wetsuit - something that would never have happened before the surgery!

I have had certain complications, including chronic diarrhea, and find that adjusting my diet is the only way to treat it. I cannot eat red meat or poultry, for example, or wheat products. I also lost almost all my hair, but it has grown back! I continue to lose weight, although slowly and yet I'm perfectly happy at this weight. I am disturbed by the extra skin, but hope to have plastic surgery some day down the road.

I feel I was given a new beginning, and enjoy life so much now that I just regret not having the surgery sooner. I'd recommend it to anyone who is at the end of their rope, as I was, and encourage everyone to do their research, as there are many surgeries and doctors to do them.

Syracuse, New York

Congratulations Debbie

You achieved your goal. Share your story.

If you have a story to share, are at least 1 year post-op and have before and after  pictures, please send them to me at Barbara@wlscenter.com so that I can include them in a future issue.

Attention Nurses

If you are a nurse and would like for me to speak on positive patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, or obesity sensitivity for your State Nurses Association, please have the conference planner for your State Association contact me. I have a corporate sponsor who will pay my fee and expenses so it is free for your Association. I also speak for many hospitals on the same topics. 

Contact me at Barbara@WLScenter.com or 412-851-4195.

Permission to Reprint

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Reprinted from Barbara Thompson’s free e-newsletter featuring helpful information and research material to help patients succeed following weight loss surgery.
Subscribe at http://www.barbarathompsonnewsletter.com/

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