Weight Loss Surgery - Trying to support Mom, now needing support!

02-06-2006, 08:42 PM
My mom had RNY last Tuesday. I agreed to be her "coach" or support person or whatever each surgeon likes to call it. I stayed with her in the hospital, leaving only long enough to go down to the cafeteria. I am overweight myself, and hoping this is the answer she's been praying for. At this point, however, I'm worried. She's supposed to be on liquids only for 2 weeks. Last night I caught her licking a piece of cheese, and I nearly fainted with worry that she might swallow it. Tonight she was straining the soup from chicken noodle and I saw her put a noodle in her mouth and stood there with my jaw down. She spit it out and said, "What? I just wanted the soup off of it." She keeps telling me she wants to lick a potato chip, because she wants that salty taste. I am working half days this week and next in an attempt to not take so much time away from my job (I teach band, and there is no sub for me when I'm away -- my classes are pulled out, so they just stay in their normal classes if I'm not there), but now I'm scared that I should stay home in case she does something crazy and eats what she shouldn't. I need help from those of you who've been through this. I'd love advice, and I really want to know what to do to be supportive but not the food police at the same time.

Thanks for any help you can offer!!


02-06-2006, 10:00 PM
Wow, this sounds more than serious and makes me think deeply about weight problems. I just have 20 to 30 to get off but sometimes I too get "crazy" and want to cheat...but husband stops me. He locks up snacks and we don't buy what I shouldn't have...he knows all about my diet and follows it with me and goes to my jenny craig appointments with me. How about OA help...they might have people available to sit with her when you cannot be with her as she needs 24/7 help right now.

mama annie
02-06-2006, 10:57 PM
I wonder if you should relax a bit. Your mom is probably having cravings that are pretty normal. If she eats something she shouldn't, she will get really sick really fast. She will be so sorry that she will learn not to risk it. When I had my gastric bypass I couldn't cheat. My stomach wouldn't allow it. One bite too many, or one bite of the wrong food and I would be instantly sick. For the first 6 months I threw up at least once a day, even though I was careful. You only have to get that sick a few times, and you learn to avoid it.

02-06-2006, 11:11 PM
Thanks, mama annie. We heard horror stories about people having things surgically removed because they ate something they shouldn't, and I keep picturing myself going back to the hospital with her. I know this sounds uncaring, but if all she gets is sick, I'd feel better. As you said, maybe she'll think and not do that next time. That will at least help me breathe easier.


02-07-2006, 01:47 AM
annie is right. and so are you, kimmy. your mom might be having what many call 'head hunger.' she's not physically hungry, but she wants FOOD. this might be the hardest thing about the surgery, since we use food for anything and everything except for satisfying hunger and our nutritional needs.

i'd suggest that you have a little chat with your mom - about the idea that it might be a good idea for her to think about doing something other than eating. sounds simple and silly, doesn't it? but i'm talking about knitting to keep her hands busy. or scrapbooking, or whatever else occupies her mind and her hands. it's a hard hard lesson we all have to learn.

the other issue that has me a bit concerned is that she seems to be looking for ways to outsmart the surgery, ways to push the envelope. mama annie is right - she'll get sick if she pushes too far, but there also comes a time WHEN SHE WON'T. and that's why we need to re-develop good habits right after the surgery.

and by the way, eating a tiny piece of cheese - like about the size of the fingernail on your pinky [but not if you have dragon lady nails!!!!] is NOT the worst thing in the world... chew chew chew.

BUT hot, melted mozzarella will make you wish you had died, it hurts so bad!!!!! it DOES improve - but at 1 week - not a good choice.

02-07-2006, 08:29 AM
Jiffypop, thanks for the advice. I was hoping it would help that she has a laptop and is working 4 hrs/day from home. From my personal experience, I know you're exactly right. Head hunger is my biggest enemy, too. Just KNOWING she cannot have something is the demon. BTW, I had surfed this site a lot before I finally posted here, and wanted to say your stats are fabulous. I was most impressed at the loss you had before surgery. GOOD FOR YOU!

Thanks to ALL of you for being kind enough to reply to a newbie. I want this to work for her so badly. The immediate results are fabulous -- she hasn't has BP meds since the second day after the surgery. I love her doctor and his team (bariatric coordinators are their official title), and I know they do everything the can to make it work, too. I guess I just need help for me!!

02-07-2006, 11:15 AM
I totally understand being worried and that from where the outsider stands it can be very puzzling how someone could go through a surgery and be 'cheating' right from the get go.


It is perfectly NORMAL for your mother to be going through this transition. Remember, she's probably hungry for one thing and it sounds like she's craving salt so she may also be deficient in potassium and other minerals right now. I'd be looking at what she's getting into her as far as supplements go first and formost.

Any doctor knows every single patient WILL test the limits of their surgery. And like jiffy says that will stop in a hurry when it hurts! A limp noodle and a small piece of cheese are the least likely to do anything harmful.

What concerns me though is your apprehension about leaving her alone. Let me say this as kindly and firmly as I possibly can. Your mother MUST be allowed to encounter her own limits and her own issues. It is NOT your job to police her, control her, or in any way 'parent' her through this process. Her success will come entirely from within and she must be allowed to explore both the physical limits as well as the emotional issues.

While you may also have similar issues yourself and as a daughter you have the best reasons for wanting your mother to be successful and safe, remember this is HER journey and she must be allowed to take her own steps.

02-07-2006, 10:06 PM
hubs - you are a smart, honest woman. Mom is indeed responsible for the success of this, but let's be honest - as a group, those of us who qualify for the surgery are pretty much incapable of taking care of ourselves, so it's a major huge learning process, soooo, kimmy, while your mom figures this out - it's important to take care of yourself, which might mean taking your own 'emotional temperature' as you see your mom making what might be unwise choices.... .

02-07-2006, 10:50 PM
I haven't/can't have WLS, but after my feeding tube was placed due to severe gastroparesis, I was told I couldn't take anything by mouth for 2 weeks at all- not even water. I had just spent 2 weeks in the hospital not being able to eat more then a bite or two per day and maybe drink 4-6 oz of fluid every 24 hours, if I was lucky- and this was with mega doses of just about every anti-nausea med available, including one that isn't FDA approved. When they told me I couldn't eat at all, I couldn't believe it- how ironic after struggling so hard to try to eat for 8 months and they finally tell me not and I get mad because they won't let me eat. But they wanted my stomach to stay as empty as possible so there would less chance of infection & since the feeding tube actually bypasses my stomach and goes into my jejunum so even the formula & medications wouldn't be in my stomach. I did it somehow- though I will admitt I had more then a few TicTacs, my thought was that a couple TicTacs per day were a lot better then eating something like a McDonalds Ice Cream Cone (that & Arby's Junior Roast Beef kept me going for several months when I could hardly eat anything else). Knowing myself personally, if someone had been there policing my every move and telling what I could & could not do, I probably would have tried eating something much worse then a TicTac. Its human nature- I'm sure you drove your mom crazy more then a few times growing up by doing just the opposite of what she told you to do. Maybe instead of seeing your job as policing your mom, you need to step back and re-evaluate what is going on. Can you be there 24/7 for the rest of her life? If thats all she needed to lose weight, then why have the surgery- just hire someone to sit on your shoulder and tell you what you can and cannot eat ;) I'm pretty sure that wouldn't last long on either of your parts without a major strain on your mother-daughter relationship- and it sounds like you have a pretty good one & that you care a great deal for your mother. Your mom needs you to support her, not make decisiong for her. Ask her- not in the heat of the moment of course, but when both of you can be calm & rational adults- what you can do to help her when she gets cravings. Let her tell you- if she doesn't have any ideas then make several different suggestions so she still has the opprotunity to choose what is best for her. I know I crave salt when I get dehydrated- and with the limits her surgery put on her stomach she probably is (some of the WLS veterans would be better equiped to help on this aspect). Is she getting as much water /fluids in as possible? This might be way out there, but if she is craving salt, what about putting a couple grain on her finger tip to lick off?- may not the healthiest option, but it might be an option. If all else fails, contact her doctors office to see if they have any suggestions.

Good luck~

02-08-2006, 09:16 AM
Ok, I feel like I MAJORLY need to defend myself here. :( First off, I have never, never, never, not before surgery, not after surgery, told my mom anything like, "you shouldn't eat that." Not even "are you sure you should eat that." I was simply stating what I observed her doing and how I felt about it. As I originally stated, I am also overweight. I have been since I was in high school, and I know exactly what it's like to have someon telling me what I should or should not eat. The reason I posted here to ask what I needed to do is because I didn't know how to handle this. I've never been through what she's going through, so I wanted some advice from folks who have been. We were told horror stories at the hospital about people eating bacon and having it surgically removed. I simply do not want to have her back in the hospital having something ripped out of her new stomach. I feel like I agreed to be her support person NOT to be her food police, but to do anything and everything I can to HELP her along the way. I just needed suggestions on how to do so. And I suggested she pour salt into her hand and lick it off. She said it isn't the same as a chip, I laughed it off, and we went on.

I guess I also needed someone to tell me everything is going to be OK as well, hence my saying I need support, too. I am the type of person to always worry about everyone else, take care of everyone else, and neglect myself. I know that, I fully admit that, and I keep trying to remind myself that I need to be thinking of me, but I just don't most of the time. I think I needed reassurance from others who've been where she is that as hard as this is right now, it will pass, and she'll get on to the next stage and be happier. I feel I've gotten some fabulous responses, and I thank you for that.

02-08-2006, 03:05 PM
Kimmy, I wanted to come back in here and clarify what I intended earlier but the site has been unavailable until now. I apologize if my tone left you feeling on the defensive. That wasn't my intention. In my attempt to say that what your Mom is going through is normal and that she needs to discover her new reality for herself I sounded far too harsh and judgemental of your concerns. Again, I apologize.

I'm not sure how a family member or friend best supports someone they care about when they see them engaging in behaviour they recognize as potentially self destructive, without pushing the wrong buttons. I think so many people who struggle with these issues struggle with control issues in all other aspects of their lives too. Its choppy water even at the best of times.

You've done a wonderful thing for yourself by asking for support here. That's the best thing you can do. Both for yourself, and for your Mom. She'll get through this new transition. So will you.

Back to the salt/chip thing. And I'm not advocating this at all! But it reminded me of a close personal friend who had WLS. For the first entire year she 'lived' on diet coke and cheesies. I kid you not. She went down from 320 to 135. For a minute. But when she had to start learning how to eat real food she was lost at sea all over again and gained it all back. Its those food choices that make all the difference no matter how you choose to lose.

02-08-2006, 08:17 PM
I'm sorry if I misread your orginal post, but when you questioned if you should go back to worrk or not, it raised some red flags for me. One big draw back of on-line communication is the lack of emotional cues, is what someone said to be taken literal or figuratively? You just can't tell when all you have are words on the screen.

You know your mom best. It can't be easy watching someone you love go through all this and I know you truely want her to suceed. But its not just through our words that we influence people- you mentioned the look of shock on your face when you saw her with something she wasn't suppose to have and I'm sure I probably would have done the same thing. Its hard to check all your personal emotions & beliefs at the door- even more so when you are dealing with a family member, as Hubs said. Be there to support in any decision she makes, let her know that you'll listen if she needs to talk to someone.

Her relationship with food has been drastically changed and its going to take time for her to adjust. I know with myself that after all these years of dealing with my GI disorder that I still can't believe I can't eat chocolate. I don't know why I do it, why I think this time will be any better then last time, that I'll be any less sick afterwards- but I do again and again. Your Mom will test her limits and boundries- I would just hope she could hold off doing so until she has at least recovered from her surgery.

Good luck to both of you~