WLS Center E-Newsletter

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

Issue #96

July 1, 2006

Barbara Thompson
The Voice of Obesity

Hello Everyone,
This past week the American Society for Bariatric Surgery met in San Francisco and I had the pleasure of attending the entire week.  I have been attending since 2001 and every year I see the Society grow and evolve.

When I first starting attending, the big question was whether open surgery or lap surgery was better. And it was that year during the meeting that the FDA approved the lap band. The next controversy was with the Center of Excellence and there was continued discussion regarding that this year.

I always feel honored to be with this group of healthcare professionals that care so much about and work so hard for our well being. They are a very special breed.

In This Issue

* 10 Rules for Keeping Food Safe Outdoors
* Research Article: Guide to Plastic Surgery
* Recipe: Anna's Own Lentil Salad (The salmon Recipe will be in the July 15th Newsletter.)
* Success Story: Patty Staley
* Attention Nurses

10 Rules for Keeping Food Safe Outdoors
We are now well into the summer season, a time when many of us plan picnics and parties outdoors.  Don’t let the summer heat spoil your fun.  Play it safe.  Here’s an article to remind you of some common sense rules for outdoor eating:


Anna's Own Lentil Salad
In the Back On Track Internet Mentoring Program, we have a Yahoo group that is very active.  We share success, struggles and support each other as we fight to come to terms with our weight and health. Anna from the group shared this recipe recently and I got her permission to share it with you.  For more information about the Back On Track Program go to http://www.backontrackwithbarbara.com/

This is a very healthy salad that can be eaten as a main course or a side dish.  Don’t be concerned by the number of carbohydrates.  All of the carbohydrates are complex and will not cause your blood sugar level to spike or cause you to feel hungry.  It is very filling and if you are newly post-op, this will easily make 12 servings.

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 bag dry brown lentils

1. Soak lentils overnight.
2. The next day, in a saucepan add lentils and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
3. Drain lentils. Let cool to room temperature.
4. Add all ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Toss to mix and serve at room temperature.

Makes 12 servings.  Each serving:
278 calories, 15 grams protein, 33 carbohydrates

From the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council:
“Lentils are packed with nutrients, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and folic acid. Lentils are a low calorie; low fat and cholesterol free food as well as being inexpensive. Folic acid is one very important nutrient found in lentils. The U.S. Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Most women do not meet this guideline. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Lentils provide more folic acid than any other unfortified food.

Lentils are also an important source of iron, especially for women, whose iron needs are greater. Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits or juices, helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.”

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:
  Patti Staley

Not all weight loss surgeries go well. Although the mortality rate is less than 1 percent and most complications are no more serious than hernias, incision problems and bad gall bladders; sometimes things go horribly wrong.  This is not to frighten anyone, but more so to educate. It is not fair to show only the perfect side of weight loss surgery

Patti had weight loss surgery and nothing went right for a long time, including 11 endoscopies, repeat surgery and being in a coma for 6 weeks. She is emphatic that she "would do it all over again" as she has gone from nearly 538 pounds to less than 200 pounds now.

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

There is one thing that I want everyone to remember as they read my story about my journey through weight loss surgery. That is, THAT I WOULD DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN!! It was well worth everything that I went through. You see, on the day of surgery, I weighed 538 pounds. I truly believe, that without this surgery, I was eventually going to die. It was only a matter of time.

It took me almost two years from the date of my first consult to the day of my actual surgery. My insurance at the time was Maxi-Care of Indiana. While weight loss surgery was excluded, they did leave a small window if you met their conditions, which I did. My insurance company had extra requirements, such as an extensive psychological evaluation, in excess of what the surgeon required. This was to determine if I could really handle all of the implications associated with the surgery.

On May 28th, 1999 at the age of 33, I had the Vertical Banded Gastroplasty procedure. From the beginning, I had problems with it. The silastic ring which they placed in my stomach began shrinking, making it very difficult to eat anything. I spent a lot of time in the hospital throwing up before I even came home. Two weeks later, I had the first of 11 endoscopies and none of them were pleasant. They stretched the ring out during these so that I would be able to eat again, however, this would only last for a few weeks. So, they would do another endoscopy.

After 3 of these, the surgeon and I decided that a revision to the Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery would be necessary. More than two months later, on August 4th, 1999, I had this done. This time, I thought all would go well. How little did I know?

From the beginning of the second procedure, I had problems also. My surgeon inserts a g-tube during this surgery, which is normally removed at the 2-week checkup. Mine was not removed for 2 1/2 years. It was my lifeline for a long time. Another endoscopy showed a stricture that needed to be stretched out. I battled with malnutrition and dehydration and was hospitalized on many occasions. I was on a first name basis with everyone at the hospital.

Eventually, I got to the point at which I could not eat at all. The only thing that I could keep down was broth and a few liquids. Occasionally, some beans from Taco Bell would work, but not enough to sustain my body.

Finally, I was put on a home I-V to receive fluids and had visiting nurses come to my house. My veins were so weak that they could not handle the fluid, so my doctors decided to put in a pic line. A pic line goes in the arm and straight into the arteries. Through this, they gave me TPN feedings which is just bags of nutrition. These worked for a while, but I was never able to eat.

My surgeon sent me to every specialist you could think of. My blood pressure was dangerously low. I was dizzy all the time and had begun passing out. No one could seem to find the problem.

I was told that I was now anorexic and bulimic and that I needed help. My surgeon tried to commit me, but to no avail. I did see a number of therapists until I found one that I was comfortable with and also did a day treatment program for a while. But no one understood that I COULD NOT EAT.

My friends and family were calling my doctors telling them that something was wrong, but no one would listen. They said they had done all the tests they could and that nothing was wrong. So, I basically gave up and felt that this was to be my life. I was doing nothing for myself now. My friends were doing my shopping and driving and taking me to all of my doctors' appointments. My church was bringing in meals when they could for my daughter who was only 5 when I had my surgery.

By now, I was on nightly g-tube feedings, in constant pain from falling so much, and not eating at all. Was this a life? I barely left the house except to go to the doctor. My family, who lived 3 hours away, came when they could and when friends called them out of concern.

Is there an end to all of this madness? Yes, finally. In January of 2001, I underwent my 11th endoscopy. I hated these things because I was never fully asleep during them. But, this time, an answer came. The gastroenterologist discovered that my diaphragm had flipped on top of my stomach, virtually making it impossible for me to eat anything. I also had a severe hiatal hernia. After undergoing some tests, he scheduled an experimental endoscopy to fix the problem on Feb. 26, 2001. His exact words to me when he discovered the problem were "no wonder you can't eat!" He did the endoscopy and I came home and actually began to eat. My parents were there and stayed for a few extra days. The only problem was that they had discovered the problem too late. My body was in shut down mode. Two days later, on Feb. 28th, 2001, I collapsed in the middle of the night. If my parents had not been there, my daughter would have found me dead in the morning.

By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital, I was in complete liver and kidney failure. I had a blood infection so bad, they didn't know if I could ever overcome it. I was put on a respirator and taken to the critical care unit where I would spend the next 6 weeks, basically in a coma. My daughter was brought in to say good bye to me.

The doctor told my family that he had done all he could do and if I was to make it, I had to do it on my own. No one thought that I would live. I did wake up one day for a little while. During that time, I had no idea where I was or what had happened. All I know is that my Dad was standing beside my bed with papers for me to sign regarding my daughter and living will papers; things that I and everyone else should do before ever having this or any other surgery. While awake, I pulled the life support tubes out of my mouth. Talk about the nurses getting in a frenzy!! I still did not understand all of this. I was medicated so that I would feel no pain. I could not breathe on my own, so they needed to put me back on the respirator. Except this time, from pulling the tubes out, I had caught double pneumonia. They had to put a trach in my throat to hook me back up. It just didn't seem that I could make it through another setback. I had numerous blood transfusions to help the blood infection.

Finally, I began to come out of the coma. I wanted to go home so badly and just didn't understand why I couldn't. I was so determined to come home. In April, I was transferred to a rehab hospital closer to my parents so they would not have to travel so far. I continued to improve each day and by the end of May was able to come home on oxygen. I will tell you that the hardest thing that I have ever had to do was learn how to breathe on my own again. Boy, the things we take for granted.

We stayed for a while with my parents until I was able to find a new house. While I was in the hospital, my family packed my apartment up and moved us back home- something that I had considered doing anyway. I would like to say that I received excellent care at both the Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, IN and Select Specialty Hospital in Ft. Wayne, IN. I would not be here without the people at those two hospitals.

In my recovery I am improving each day. I am still not back to work yet and do not know when I will be able to. I am a teacher, which is physically demanding. I do not have the energy or stamina to do that at this time. Never in my life did I think I would be 35 years old and on disability. But, this will not be forever. I am off the oxygen and had the g-tube removed eventually.

Have I lot the weight????? YOU BET YA!!!!!! I started at 538 pounds and now weigh around 200 pounds. I do have a hernia and will have that repaired in the next few weeks. Am I frightened? Oh my gosh, yes- more than I ever was for the weight loss surgery. I do not want to go back into the hospital again. But the hernia is huge and it must be done. Also, my insurance company just approved a tummy tuck, so that will be done after the hernia. They will not do both at the same time since I am too high a risk. This time, all my "affairs" will be in order.

Why am I alive today? Simply one word, GOD!! He has been my strength through this whole ordeal. I don't know if you believe in God or a higher being, but I do and without Him I truly would be dead.

Was this surgery the right decision for me? Yes. You see, without it, I was going to die anyway. If the surgeon came to me tomorrow and said that the surgery had undone itself, I would be the first one in line to have it redone. We all go through things in life for a reason. We may not know what that is now, but we just have to trust and believe!!

I do not tell this story to scare anyone away from weight loss surgery. I tell it to let people know that problems can happen with anything you do in life- especially surgeries. Weight loss surgery is not an easy decision. I struggled with my weight my whole life and had tried every diet you could think of. This was my only answer. I love my surgeon and my hospital. I feel my surgeon is my personal savior.

What does the future hold? I can't answer that. No one can. All I know is that I am here today for my daughter. That is all that matters. Anyone who is struggling with this decision, I implore you to pray about it and to do your research on the surgery, the hospital and the surgeon. Be informed. Good luck to each and every one of you and God bless. Thank you for letting me share with you!!

You achieved your goal, be proud and tell the world.

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.

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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.
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