Weight Loss Surgery - Need To Share

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10-11-2011, 07:58 AM
Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum and have read a lot of the threads here. Like most people I have done research into weight loss surgery off and on for years. Now that I am giving it serious consideration I really need a place to share and get advice / thoughts from people who have been there.

My situation is rather unique, or perhaps not, I'm not sure. My weight issues have been life long. I don't remember ever truly knowing what it is to be thin. I think as a youngster it was just slow metabolism and perhaps being fed the wrong things because I was very active. Also in my teens, I was a skier, I was into horseback riding and other sports. Still, I was always thick. When I graduated from high school I was already 205 lbs (which actually sounds quite thin to me now!)

I am 36 years old, been married for over 11 years and have been having problems with infertility. I also moved to another country to be with my husband. The culture shock, homesickness and my infertility issues lead to some major depression which, as you can imagine, lead to weight gain. My highest weight was 308 lbs.

When we first found out I couldn't get pregnant naturally (this was when I was 31, after years of trying. I was diagnosed with PCOS) I was told by the doctors here that I couldn't have fertility treatments without losing 88 lbs first. At this time, I was so depressed that I just didn't have it in me. My doctors suggested that I have weight loss surgery, but at that time I was so fragile emotionally that my husband and I decided it was time to step back from the fertility thing for a while and that it was more important for me to see someone and have a break. At this time I was approx 280 lbs.

Fast forward a few years, I'm coming along my mid 30's and while things did improve in regards to my depression, the evidence of it was still there as I'd reached a weight of 308 lbs. I still wasn't trying to prevent pregnancy but it had been on the back burner for a few years now. After visiting my doctor because I wasn't feeling well, I was told that I was developing Type II diabetes. Once again they suggest weight loss surgery, but I didn't want to do it.

I joined Weight Watchers and lost 50 lbs, and then after hitting a rather nasty plateau I started a very strict low carb diet and lost a further 30 lbs. I was down almost 85 lbs, I had gotten my sugar to a totally normal level and my doctors agreed to start IUI (intra uterine insemination). In the first half of this year I had 6 cycles, all of which failed. It was almost 6 months of nightly hormone injections and a massive emotional roller coaster, which sent me totally off the rails with my diet.

I have now gained back over 30 lbs of the weight I lost and I can feel myself in a downward spiral. I am an emotional eater and with all that has been going on and the fact that it has been going on for so many years has me once again depressed and overeating.

Again, my doctors have suggested weight loss surgery, and this time I am giving it some serious consideration.

I am in the Netherlands (Holland) and both IVF and the weight loss surgery are fully covered by my insurance. They won't do IVF here if you have a BMI above 35 though, nor will they do it if you are over 40. IUI they will do as it's less intensive with the drugs, but it's a strict rule for IVF. If you had asked me this time last year I would have said that right now I'd have all my weight off, but here I am once again after saying "No I don't want surgery, I will do it on my own!" still not having actually gotten there.

I'm sorry I know this is a very long thing to read but I feel like the history is important in explaining why I am considering the surgery and what kind of place I am in mentally at the moment.

I feel like I am running out of time. I will admit that in the past I was always the one to wave my hand and say the dreaded comments about surgery being the easy way out. I always thought that if someone REALLY wanted it badly enough they'd just do it. ESPECIALLY when I was on my losing streak and had reached that 80 lb loss. I have had so many stops and starts though, and I have the biggest motivations there are... my health and my ability to have children... yet I STILL can't seem to do it on my own. I am disproving my own theories and am quickly realizing that things aren't as black and white as I had imagined.

I am now kicking myself, because if I had had the surgery 5 years ago, 3 years ago or even 1 year ago when my doctors suggested it, I would be a lot closer to my goal for IVF or maybe even HAVE a child by now. I am almost 37 years old and I am finally admitting, I don't think I can do this on my own. I need help, I need something that is going to help me get to where I need to go... and maybe the surgery is my answer.

The problem is, as I'm sure many of you know, it's not an easy decision to make. There are a lot of things to consider besides how you feel about it personally. I thought that if I did my research online that it would make things clearer but like anything else you look up on the internet, for every good story there is a bad and nobody's situation is exactly like yours.

The idea of surgery scares me. It feels extreme and I admit, I worry a LOT about how friends and family are going to react to the idea of me even considering it. In fact, I did open up to my best friend about it (who also has weight issues) and while she tried very hard to be supportive, she eventually opened up that she works so hard at her weight that she feels like people who have the surgery are taking the easy way out. Something I may have agreed with her about five years ago, but I don't now.

This doesn't FEEL easy, if anything it feels like I'm facing something MORE difficult than what I've been through when I was losing weight on my own. I know it's not like oh I'll have the surgery and Oh YAY! My weight is going to magically disappear! I will have a lot of changes I need to make and it probably won't be any fun at all.

I have tried talking to 1-2 of my friends about this, they also have weight issues and like me have had periods of losses and gains over the years. The problem is that they don't have as much riding on their weight loss as I do right now, they also aren't dealing with the stress, pressure, frustration, anger and sadness that I've experienced with having my fertility tied to my weight loss. So there is no way for them to understand why I'd even consider this.

So that's why I am here, I need to talk to people who have been there, who have had this surgery and can help me make this decision. I don't expect any of you to have a magical answer as I know we all need to choose for ourselves, but it would be nice to discuss this with people who don't have an automatically negative reaction to even the mere suggestion of this kind of surgery.

Has anyone here ever had to lose weight for fertility purposes? If so, do you feel you made the right decision?

I also have a million other questions but I'll leave it at this for now and see what kind of reaction I get haha sorry I'm a little edgy and all over the place at the moment so please bear with me!!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from you!

10-11-2011, 08:07 AM
Weight lose surgery is not the easy way out. In my opinion its harder because you are dealing with your food issues and a new way of eating. I always say, I don't question why you chose to do so and so type of weight lose so please don't question mine. It usually shuts people up :smug:
On to your question, I didn't have the surgery for fertility purposes. I was done with kids and it was my time to live I guess ;) I don't even know anyone that has done it for that reason or even had a baby after WLS. I can't give you any inside view into that part but I can help on others :)
When I had it done I was telling everyone what I was doing! I could care less what people thought. Now after 3 years I keep it to myself, not because I'm ashamed at all but I'm tried of the million questions that follow. Also, I am also a binge eater and emotional eater and if there is one thing I can offer is to seek help for those issues while planning for surgery. As I stated before, once you have WLS your dealing with more issues and those issues are the hardest to work though.
I wish you the best of luck! I hope everything works out with or without WLS. :D

10-11-2011, 08:24 AM
Hi Winter :) Thanks for your reply... I was just reading the thread you just posted, I'm sorry you are having a rough time :(

I wholeheartedly agree in regards to dealing with the emotional eating, I know this is something I need to deal with outside of the surgery. When I spoke to my doctor recently and told her I'm considering the surgery, I also asked for a referral (again) to see a psychologist as I really need to talk to someone to learn to deal with the emotional eating, help me deal with the residual emotions I have from the failed fertility treatments and find coping mechanisms to get me through the IVF when the time comes (which don't involve eating my face off!)

What did you find the hardest to deal with after the surgery? I don't even know what TYPE of surgery I'd have but from what I know, in the Netherlands at the moment they are mainly doing gastric bypass and the sleeve. From what I've heard, they are going to stop doing the lap band as they aren't seeing as good results with that (don't quote me on that though).

The things I am most concerned with are:

1) The surgery itself, I had my first surgery ever in December (just a WEEK before my first IUI treatment, ugh!) when I had my gallbladder removed. I really don't look forward to being operated on again. I'm a wimp.

2) Having such a small frame and having gained so much weight over the years, I worry a lot about loose skin. I think it may be unavoidable regardless of how I lose the weight though. I have thighs like a BABY, with rolls. Ugh, it's horrid. My upper arms and my legs are what I hate most and worry about most in regards to the loose skin.

3) I'm insecure and I don't know how I'm going to deal with people's opinions. I know how a lot of my friends and family feel about this kind of surgery just from comments they've made over the years, that isn't going to change because it's ME. If anything they'll have even stronger opinions and I don't know if I can deal with that. It's a hard enough decision as it is.

4) The mind-set. When I was losing weight before I was really in a mode. I went back to Canada (where I am from originally) and even avoided eating all the things I love to eat. I was MILITANT about my diet, until I cracked during the treatments and then all **** broke loose. What I wonder is, at some point when having this surgery, do your feelings change? Like, once you get a nice chunk of weight off does something in your head change in a way? That makes you more motivated than you may have been if you were trudging along on your own? I REALLY hope so. While I felt like that before it took only the smallest thing to set me back. I'm hoping the surgery will be a sort of safety net for those times. Does that make sense? To get me through, so to speak.

5) I'm really weird about vomiting and digestion issues. I worry a lot about how my body is going to react after the surgery and what I will be dealing with. I've heard stories where people puke all the time in the beginning or are having bathroom emergencies and that scares the crap out of me. Granted, I heard the same stories about gallbladder surgery and I was fine after that *knocks wood*

One question I really want to know from people is... have you ever regretted it? I know for certain there will be moments when things are tough just after the surgery where I'll probably have a total tantrum and think it's the worst thing I've ever done, and I'd imagine many have felt that way too... but in the grand scheme of things. Does anyone TRULY regret having done it?

10-11-2011, 10:47 AM
BREATHE honey - really. take a deep breath. relax your shoulders. ok. NOW start reading this post.

I'm not going to go through ALL your comments and Qs one-by-one - there's time enough for that as we go along. But i will try to give you a few things to consider.

repeat after me: it's nobody's business but MINE how i lose weight. go ahead. look in the mirror and say it, because it's true. This is between you, your doctors, and your husband. PERIOD. you don't have to tell anyone else. yes, they may wonder. they may be convinced that they actually KNOW, but a simple 'oh yes, i'm losing. i've finally found the right combination that works for me.'

and change the subject.

one thing that's ringing a couple of bells is your age - given the age limit on IVF in the Netherlands. Talk to your doc/surgeon about how long they recommend avoiding pregnancy after the gastric bypass. with this malabsorption procedure, most docs recommend NOT becoming pregnant for at least 12 months after the surgery, and some say up to 2 years.

with the gastric sleeve, there's no malabsorption [although it can be added later in the form of a bypass or a duodenal switch], so you might not have to wait as long to try having a baby.

as for throwing up, the risk is higher with the gastric bypass - you lose your pyloric valve which meters food into your small intestine. with the sleeve, you keep your pyloric valve, and BTW, there's been excellent long-term results with the sleeve in diabetics.

which brings me to the biggest point. your motivation for doing this. You said that you're doing this for your fertility. but based on your history, it's much more than that. your fertility issues are more than likely related to the PCOS, and because you've 'crossed the line' [so to speak] into diabetes, it's now become an overall health issue.

it so happens that the surgery is likely to help improve ALL of these, because they're so related, and it's therefore a matter of taking care of your overall health. Baby will be a bonus!

the loose skin is a non-issue. it can be removed [painful, but true].

recovery sucks BUT IT GETS BETTER!!!! short term misery leads to long-term benefits. you can handle it. complain all you want, but if you take it one day at a time, before you know it, you'll be fine. I've been known to complain LOUDLY while I go down a path that I have to travel no matter how unhappy i am about it. it helps me get through it.

therapy is a great idea - before, during and after. NONE of us got to the point of needing surgery because we had a healthy relationship with food and our emotions.

ok. i gotta get to work now - but i hope this helps get you thinking a bit. and regrets? not a single one, except that i should have done it sooner. i shouldn't have waited until i was completely disabled, unable to walk or breathe, and in the hospital.

10-11-2011, 10:59 AM
and a suggestion. it's about your screen name. I'm all about positive self-talk. calling yourself 'fatty' right off the bat isn't fair to yourself - it sounds like you're allowing your weight to define you, and it doesn't! if you want to change your screen name, let me know, and i'll find an admin to make it happen.

10-11-2011, 11:21 AM
Hey Jiffy, thanks for your reply :) You make some very good points but I don't know if I could hide the fact that I had the surgery from my close friends as I've already let on that I'm thinking about it to some, so the cat is out of the bag to so speak.

As for my username, I was feeling unimaginative at the time, maybe changing it would be a good idea! I just need to think of a new one, I wanted to avoid using my usual online names because I'm paranoid of being caught out and I want this to stay sort of private. :)

When I spoke to the different bariatric departments at the hospitals here, they said they had a waiting period before getting pregnant, but the clinic I was forwarded to by my insurance said there wasn't. I have to make an appointment for an intake so I will get to ask more questions then.

10-11-2011, 02:44 PM
I did not have surgery specifically for fertility, but I DID have it because I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 25 and knew I wanted to have kids in the future. I wanted to be HEALTHY while carrying those kids. I had my surgery when I was 26. I'm now 29 and 16 weeks pregnant. I have NO idea of the surgery/weight loss affected my fertility at all since I never tried to get pregnant before and had been on hormonal birth control from age 16 until just this past June as a meand of ovarian cyst prevention (had to have emergency surgery for ovarian cyst removal when I was 16, and the largest cyst had killed one of my ovaries).

So, I only have one ovary, had been on birth control for nearly 13 years, and ended up getting pregnant in my very first cycle after stopping my birth control. Again, not sure if the weight loss helped, but I can't imagine it hurt!

Additionally, my type 2 diabetes is essentially GONE. Before my surgery, I was maxed out on metformin and was also taking sitagliptin (Januvia), but by 6 months after surgery, I was off all meds with my A1Cs in the 5s. For the past year, my A1Cs have been in the 4s. My fasting glucose levels are consistently below 100, often even in the 70s (67 just the other day, in fact).

That said, as the other ladies have mentioned, it is NOT always an easy lifestyle. For me, it was absolutely an easier way of losing weight, but it's still up to me every day to decide what food to put on my plate and in my mouth, and I am by no means immune to gaining weight. Surgery can definitely be scary, and sometimes, complications happen. Research and ask your specific surgeon LOTS of questions to be as prepared as possible for what will and what could happen.

10-13-2011, 09:03 AM
Well, my intake is on Nov 8th, I will have a full day and all the appointments will be happening at once as the clinic is a bit far. Apparently for some surgeries I may have to go to Brugge, Belgium which is a bit daunting, going to a hospital I've never been to before etc.

I've been speaking to a few friends who have had this done and it's making a big difference. I think I will have a much better feeling of what I want to do after I visit the clinic and speak to the surgeon and all of that. Especially once I know what kind of surgery they think is best for me. I don't really like the idea of the lap band because I hear there aren't such great results, but the bypass seems SO much more extreme.

I will have to see what they say.

Thankfully I was able to rid myself of the type 2 diabetes with diet last year, before I had to go on any medications. I don't have high blood pressure or other health issues that are a worry, for me it's just about getting more energy, feeling better about myself and most importantly, the fertility.

Also, Jiffy, could you have my name changed to TurtleGirl? :)

10-13-2011, 10:30 AM
stay tuned!!!! and congratulations! you're making tremendous progress. as your appointment gets closer, make sure you write down your Qs - so you can remember them all. and others will come up while you're there.

brugge belgium!!! LACE!!!!

10-13-2011, 10:46 AM
I'm SO scared... now that I have a date for the intake it's all becoming so real.

Speaking with people who have had it done has helped a lot. I don't think anything will REALLY prepare me for the experience though. I wish I had an idea of which of the surgeries they'd want to do on me, all of them seem to have pros and cons.

I'm still TERRIBLY afraid of the idea of hair loss. I don't have a lot to spare!!

Brugge, Belgium isn't that far from here, only about an hour. The actual obesity clinic I'll be going to is just outside Amsterdam but apparently for some surgeries you have to go to Brugge. They are both the same distance so it doesn't really matter. Just weird to have to go to another country!

10-13-2011, 11:36 AM
An hour isn't too bad. I know some people in the US who travelled to other states, across the country, or to Mexico, Brazil, or Spain for their surgeries. The hospital where I had mine was about 90-120 minutes from my home (depending on traffic). Of course, insurance is a whole different beast here, so going to another country means paying 100% out of pocket (tens of thousands of US dollars), but it sounds like that fortunately won't be an issue for you.

You are correct that there are pros and cons to every surgery type. I recommend you sit down and do some major personal soul-searching to determine what you honestly can/cannot commit to for the rest of your life as far as supplementation, potential dietary restrictions, way of eating, level of activity, etc. Pros and cons are all well and good, but you need to know which procedure YOU as an individual can live with for the rest of your life. I was personally scared out of my mind when I thought RNY and the band were the only options, but then I discovered the Duodenal Switch, and it was a huge wave of relief. You need to find your personal relief, the procedure that makes the most sense for YOU, your goals, and your lifestyle.

10-13-2011, 11:50 AM
What were the deciding factors for you with the DS? What made you choose it exactly?

10-13-2011, 12:21 PM
Oh, I just Googled the Surgeon I have the interview with, he seems really impressive from the write-up on him online. I wish I could post links!!! His name is Dr Bruno Dillemans, you can find info on him if you look him up. What do you think?

I'm so full of anxiety and I have almost a month until my appointment. How did you all stand the waiting?

10-13-2011, 01:34 PM
hi TurtleGirl! ;) I'm just starting on the WLS journey myself & was so anxious at first to get the ball rolling! However, now I am appreciating the waiting game, as it gives me time to read all I can about how my new life will be and to actually process it in my head. Just hang in there!

10-13-2011, 05:51 PM
4eyes!! TurtleGirl is already taken! could you pick another one? or add some numbers to it or something?

10-13-2011, 06:14 PM
TurtleGal? TurtleGurl? :)

10-13-2011, 06:23 PM
TurtleGal it is!

10-13-2011, 06:47 PM
I have never had it, but I truly feel this is a decision you need to make with your husband and it's no one else's business. Other people don't even need to know what you are doing to lose weight. Technically, it is not the surgery itself that is causing the pounds to come off, but the change in what goes into your body, so when they ask, tell them you are eating a lot less and leave it at that. I am a mother of three and they are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I think it would be tragic if you never got to experience that because of weight and/or insecurity over what others think about that form of weight loss. Good luck!

10-14-2011, 07:50 AM
Yay thanks for the name change :) That IS better, thanks for the nudge Jiffy!

Cloud, the more I look into this and come to terms with it the less I am worrying about what others think. Also, having a few people react much BETTER than I expected helps too.

I am pretty sure I am going to do this... now I just need to get the info and hear what they say about the type of surgery I should have. That is still a bit confusing for me. Bypass feels extreme, I worry about lapband not having as good results. So much to think about...

10-14-2011, 10:39 AM
yes, turtle - there IS a lot to think about - and that's why it's really important to do some serious soul-searching and take all the time you need to make your decision. some folks make their decisions in a few days, others need a few years.

but it's ESSENTIAL to look at all your options first, and decide how you want to live. the lapband is a good choice for some people, but not for others. it IS possible to lose large amounts of weight and keep it off, but there's a trade off in terms of fills and the risk of slippage.

keep on asking Qs!!!!!

10-14-2011, 01:32 PM
I started a separate thread about the diff surgeries and why people chose the one they did, I think it'd be handy for anyone who comes along to read.

There are a lot of options and I've been reading up on them all. I know that people seem to have the best long term results with bypass but I'm really scared of the dumping, hair loss etc. That said, I want something that is going to make it most difficult for me to slip into old habits, so that makes me unsure of the lap band. I the sleeve seems like a happy medium, but ... oooooh I don't know I'm so confused!! I really want to have an idea of which I want before I go to my intake as I don't want to just go with what the surgeon says. Their opinion will matter of course but I want to be fully aware of what I am getting myself into as well.

I'm just so freaking scared by the whole thing.

10-14-2011, 02:26 PM
On the topic of other people knowing/reacting, I never hid my surgery from anyone. In fact, I take any opportunity I can to sort of share information with others; you never know who may be researching WLS for themselves or a loved one. I've ended up learning a lot about other people's struggles and made some sort of surprising friends along the way! But I'm generally not a very private person, so how you deal with telling/not telling is a very individual matter.

What were the deciding factors for you with the DS? What made you choose it exactly?
Well, it started because I wanted to keep my type 2 diabetes AWAY, and the DS has the highest resolution rates for type 2 diabetes, including long term (and having surgery at 26, I had hopefully a lot of "long term" left to consider!), including studies showing up to 98.9% resolution of type 2 diabetes.

Once my diabetes research led me to the DS, I also likes that the DS does not bypass the pylorus (the valve at the bottom of the stomach that regulates flow of stomach contents into the small intestine). The bypassing of the pylorus with the RNY is what increases the chances of having such side effects as dumping syndrom and reactive hypoglycemia, both of which are significantly less common in those who have procedures that maintain the pylorus.

And then there were the long-term statistics. The DS has the best long-term stats for maintaining the weight loss and for maintaining the resolution of most comorbidities. That doesn't mean the other procedures never work, of course - it's just the statistics.

I never considered the band or the VSG for myself since one of my primary goals was conquering my diabetes long term, and the intestinal rerouting seems to have a greater impact in that capacity than gastric restriction alone. I wanted the best possible outcome for my diabetes, especially since I was going to be getting pregnant in the future and knew I'd already be at increased risk for gestational diabetes, and I wanted to do everything in my power to have healthy pregnancies and not have the diabetes stick around again as type 2 AFTER my pregnancies. For me, the DS was the best shot.