Outfit Details Below
So here’s a LONG update for those curious about how my bariatric surgery went, or those curious about it in general. I should probably do 2 or 3 parts, sorry people, but I don't feel like prolonging this or talking about it forever. I’ve had a lot of questions/messages from people thinking about it.
First of all, my doctor told me people would react in 3 ways. She said there would be ignorance, jealousy, or acceptance, no in between. I so so so appreciate the folks that have been accepting and understanding throughout this, there’s a lot more of you than I expected! It’s been nice! For the jealous folks, sorry, not much I can do about it other than pray for ya. It’s one of those things you can definitely “feel” from some people, but I find it so unnecessary. There’s nothing to be jealous of here, trust me! If you find yourself feeling that way, look at all the awesome things about your life, I’m sure you can find plenty, and then know that you can do the exact same thing I did! This isn’t some exclusive club, you’re allowed to have surgery. It’s up to you, nobody else!
For the ignorant folks, that’s not necessarily meant in a bad way. We aren’t calling you stupid, most of you, ha! It’s just a lack of knowledge about this procedure, that’s all. You’re not doctors, so you likely have no reason to know about it, me having it done may be the first contact you’ve ever had with someone who’s done it. That’s ok, I’ll try and shed some light.
For the ignorant ones who don’t understand it and also think it’s “the easy way out,” I’ve got some news for you. If you’ve lost a ton of weight naturally or are some sassy body builder type, that’s awesome, really, it is. You however are not better than those of us who turned to surgery, you aren’t morally on some high ground or superior bc your stomach is unaltered and you have this amazing will power that you’re so proud of. Nope. Not at all. One little factoid: bariatric patients probably don’t eat much differently than you...you’re literally on the same diet...you’re doing the same thing. You may also want to really think about where those feelings of superiority are coming from because, sorry, but that’s not normal. When I see a really fit person, I’m proud of them and think what they’ve done is great. No ill will, jealousy, or anything. When I see someone much bigger than me, I don’t think I’m better than them, not even close. We all have struggles in life, and judging folks is unnecessary.
Once upon a time, many moons ago, I too thought bariatric surgery was the easy way out. I was dumb. Judgmental and dumb. I’m here to admit I was a moron. If that’s where you are right now, welcome to the club, you also need a come to Jesus.
So before I tell you about my experience, I’ll tell you a bit about what this surgery entails. I personally had the gastric sleeve, so I can’t speak for those who have full bypasses or anything like that. In the sleeve, all they do is go in laparoscopically and cut out 2/3rds of your stomach. No rerouting of intestines or anything. Stitch and staple that sucker back up, and send you on your way...to another hospital room lol. You have a giant wound on the inside of you, and they likely had to move your liver around and prop it up for the surgery, you also have 4-5 small incisions on your tummy...they wanna watch you for a while mmmk?
Before you get there though, you’ve likely been through some stuff. I’ve only dealt with BCBS, two kinds, state and federal, so I can’t speak for other insurance, but I’m in a lot of groups and this is all extremely common across the board. You only qualify for bariatric surgery if your BMI is 35 with two comorbities, which means things that can kill you like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. There are a few. Or if you have a BMI of 40, no comorbidities needed bc you’re now considered morbidly obese. Coverage for surgery varies, not many types of insurance pay in full. Typically you’re on the line for at least $5,000-8,000 if they partially cover it, $20,000-30,000 if it’s not covered at all. It’s getting more accepted though bc they’ve realized it’s better to pay for it than to cover medication and healthcare for an obese person for life, a life that will likely end in a major expensive disease.
So what happens leading up to surgery? You typically have to be on a doctor supervised diet for 3-6 months to prove that you can lose weight. You have to weigh in each month, and if you gain weight or miss your appointment you have to start all over again. They are pretty strict bc this is a major surgery and life change. They usually require low carb and to replace one meal a day with a protein shake. You have to pay for all of these visits, yes even if your surgery is 100% covered like mine was. It’s usually whatever your copay is ($20-30). Within these 3-6 months you are also required to have more separate appointments. You have to meet with a nutritionist 1-3 times, that’s a separate fee, usually $70-100 per visit.
You have to meet with a psychologist to get cleared for surgery mentally. This is a pretty important one. If you have a severe food addiction (typically if you are over 300 you are in that category) or a binge eating problem you do not qualify for surgery. You will have to go to therapy for some months to address that. The reasoning is that people with those issues are not successful long term with bariatric surgery and usually gain it all back. This of course can happen to anyone, but that group is at a higher risk. So what happens in these psychologist appointments varies greatly. I’ve been to two different ones bc I qualified 2 years ago and then found out I was pregnant. The first made me fill out an extremely long scantron personality test, graded it, then we talked about it and my reasoning for why I got to where I was and why I thought the surgery would help. His cost was $500, these appointments are not covered by insurance either and you are at the mercy of the psychologist and whatever prices they want to charge bc they are the ultimate sign off on surgery. The second one I went to to re-qualify was $200. I sat on his couch and got the cold sweats as he asked me a million questions and wrote down everything I said on a legal pad...this took over an hour. He asked me about my grades in elementary school all the way through college, all the extracurriculars I’ve ever done, how I met my husband and all the background of his life including all the jobs he’s had, how my parents met, where we’ve lived, what they’ve done for a living, my brothers and what they do, my best friends, how long I’ve had them, what they do for a living and where they live, all the jobs I’ve had, any conflicts I’ve had, about my kids and me as a parent, on and on and on. I thought for sure he’d call the white coats to come give me tranquilizer in the neck and that I’d wake up in a padded room. Turns out nope! Lol. His exact words were, “I hate to break it you you Morgan but you are absolutely normal and I can find nothing to write down other than obesity. So I hope that doesn’t offend you.” Huh? I thought he wasn't supposed to use words like normal, but I appreciated it lol. This is literally what I said to him: “offend me? Sir, I own a mirror, I’m well aware I’m a fatty. That’s fine with me. I thought I was going to be hauled away in a straight jacket after this conversation.” Luckily he laughed, signed my papers, and I went on my way...back through the creepy waiting room full of the same loud white noise machines I use to put my daughters to sleep at night. Still wondering if those are to muffle the screams. Then I went shopping bc I felt weird.
Then you have to also have a primary care physician, your main doctor, sign off saying they agree you need this surgery. My first doctor 2 years ago said I was too young. The surgeon had to literally override her and it wasn’t easy so I hear. Then I moved and got a new one who signed this time and she was very excited for me.
Then you have to have an EGD. It’s an outpatient procedure but they do put you to sleep for it. It’s an exploratory procedure to make sure your digestive system doesn’t have any issues, and they also use it to make a “map” or game plan for surgery. This is extra money too. Both of mine cost $150. Yep both, all of these things/appointments are only valid for a few months, so if you stumble or take a break from the process you have to do it all again. If they find issues, you have to go to a GI doctor and have those addressed before surgery.
They also take blood labs during all of this. If you have a vitamin deficiency they will prescribe you stuff you have to take up until surgery. If they find issues, off to a cardiologist you go to address those before surgery. These labs cost me about $200 bc they are special bariatric labs, not just your normal every day ones. I had them done at two different places, with two different insurances. Quest one time, and the surgeons office one time, both still $200.
Then you typically have to have a sleep study to make sure you don’t have sleep apnea, as that’s dangerous during surgery. I didn’t have to have one, but larger patients, 300+ almost always have to. I have no clue how much it costs.
Then you have all of that submitted to insurance and wait to see if you’re approved. This can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month. They are required to answer in 1 month. In addition to all of the above, you have to have papers that demonstrate you’ve lost weight before. Weight watchers papers, weight loss center papers, etc. You have to have been successful on a diet before, it’s a red flag that you won’t be successful after surgery if you’ve never been successful before. I personally have lost around 100 pounds 3 times now and kept it off for a year here and 2 years one other time. I had this surgery so I could stop yo-yoing bc it’s bad for your heart and this surgery will hopefully be like a “pause” button. I gain extremely fast. People always say, “well you didn’t gain it overnight so don’t expect to lose it overnight.” You must not have met me or the people who gave me my genes. I seriously gained 60 pounds within a couple months once. So the surgery will help me not turnaround and be like oh Crap I’ve gained 60 pounds! It’ll be more like oh Crap I’ve gained 20, time to calm down and get life right Morgan. 20 is much more manageable. You also have to have a history of weight from your primary care doctor or somewhere. To prove that you have had this problem long term and didn’t just gain recently to get surgery.
All of those things compiled, then you wait. Once you are approved, you then get to set a surgery date. Then comes the real fun!
You are typically put on a 2 week liquid diet pre-op to shrink your liver so it’s not in the way as much during surgery. Think about that. Only liquids, usually sugar free liquids, no solid food. No chewing, nothing. For TWO whole weeks. Disgusting and pretty difficult. Then you have surgery and guess what?! More fun! You are again put on nothing but pure liquids, clear liquids for the first 2 weeks, sugar free only and clear broth, then full liquids for another week or two, so fat free creamed soups strained, zero chunks. So depending on your doctor, you could be on nothing but liquids for a solid 5-6 weeks. Torture. Not for the faint of heart. I dare all you nay sayers to try it for even just a few days. After that we are supposed to be on a low carb diet for life...much like lots of fit folks...so we are basically doing the same thing as all you fit people, we just have a bit of extra help for the first year. After a year all bets are off, it’s up to you and the habits you’ve made to keep it off bc at that point your stomach can progressively fit more and stretch.
This is also where the mental health issues come in. Your hormones go crazy from surgery, girls typically get bad long periods right after (sorry guys, TMI). So if you have unaddressed binge eating, depression, etc. It can become a major problem early on or long term. It gets pretty grim. On the online boards I’ve seen plenty of suicide talk. Bariatric patients are also at short and long term risk for transfer addiction. So alcohol addiction, drug addiction, gambling, shopping, etc. So this is why it’s important to address all that before surgery.
You typically move on to pureed foods like baby food, then soft chunky foods the next week like tuna salad, then slowly week by week you add in flaky fish, chicken, beef, etc. The entire reintroduction process takes 6-10 weeks. So pre-op diet to real food takes about 3 full months, all while watching people around you eat. And if you had a food addiction, guess what? It’s been proven they are stronger than alcohol and drug addictions. Guess what else? Every other addiction you can avoid the trigger, food addiction...you HAVE to eat food to live. You’re literally always surrounded by your trigger. For life. Also why it’s important to address those things beforehand.
We can’t have carbonation, use straws, or use NSAIDs (Advil, Naproxen, etc) for life after. Some wiggle room as people cheat and tolerate things, but those are the typical rules. Oh, and your hair falls out around 3-5 months out, a lot of it. There’s nothing you can do. They say vitamins and protein help, but it’s inevitable.
Other fun fact: yeast infections are very common after surgery, yes even men! So you could be recovering, miserable, and also get a yeast infection. It’s bc they pump you with tons of antibiotics during and after surgery. Messes up the good bacteria and your PH.
There’s a ton of more complications, I’ll let you google them though.
As for me, it hasn’t been so bad. I don’t mind people eating around me, I’m honestly rarely hungry. Looking at food makes me mostly nauseous, so I haven’t been jealous of food. I occasionally want a cheeseburger, but that’s about it. Other than that I’m basically force feeding myself gross food and hating all foods and their smells. One of the most common reasons patients end up back in the hospital is bc of dehydration. It’s tough to get anything down, even liquids. I was determined not to be that person though. But guess what? I was! Not bc I didn’t try though! We were recommended to get in at least 30 ounces of fluids per day the first week. I was more than doubling that and my doctor was really proud. So when I got sick, we didn’t catch the dehydration right away. Bc an irresponsible parent took their sick kid to a birthday party, my girls got sick. So then I did, first week post-op. We all got 5ths disease! Kinda like the flu. Yay us!
Side note: don’t be that parent, everyone hates those parents. Your kid isn’t going to die bc they miss a birthday party. If you have a crusty nosed kid without allergies, or you know they recently had diarrhea or a fever, follow the 24 hour rule. It really is 48, but since so many people suck 24 is typically ok these days. DO NOT be a jerk and bring your sick kid places. It’s rude and people hate you for it. We can spot your snotty kid from a mile away and are giving you massive stink eye. My mom is also the director of a school, drugging up your kids in the morning so it doesn’t wear off until close to carpool time and hoping nobody notices they are sick...they know that trick...they think you’re a horrible parent...don’t do it. What’s also new in the last few years is parents ignoring phone calls while at work for a few hours so they won’t have to leave work to pick up the kid they know is sick...you’re a crummy parent. You chose to have kids...be a responsible parent for the love of God. You brought them in to this world, that means you will have to take off of work or find baby sitters or miss fun things, deal with it like an adult. Bc guess what? Your snot nosed kid could kill someone. It can be brought home to an elderly grandparent who ends up with pneumonia, a newborn sibling, an immune compromised person who has cancer or just had a major surgery. Don’t be a jerk. We’ve come across two sets of jerks the last month. One set knowingly gave our entire family, grandparents and all, a bad stomach virus. It hit Brett on a business trip while he spent an entire day in airports...puking in public toilets...embarrassed and feeling awful, and super furious. It almost pushed back my surgery which could have cost a lot of money. And the second was 5ths disease which not only dehydrated me bc of the chills and sweats, even though I was downing 64 ounces of fluids per day, but also gave me a super itchy rash while I was recovering. Talk about miserable. Also probably gonna get a sweet hospital bill for that bc it wasn’t a part of surgery.
They didn’t think I was dehydrated bc of the amount I was getting in. They thought it was a blood clot. My resting pulse was 128! So I got to have a cat scan. It took 6 different needle pricks to get a vein. 2 from one nurse, then they sent down for the surgery nurses. They had to use huge needles bc the cat scan contrast is thick and it needed to be pushed through the line really fast, a 20 if that means anything to anyone. The surgery nurses finally got a vein. The cat scan nurse came in and said it wasn’t in the right place. So they sent for the anesthesiologist, and he finally got it! Then I got the cat scan, let’s just say that was hot and unpleasant. Nothing showed up so they gave me fluids and what do ya know! I felt like a new woman, like I could run a marathon lol! I was dehydrated, I was just losing all of those 64 ounces every day through sweats from the fevers breaking. Good times. Fun day at the hospital.
Moral of the story...don’t be a jerk with germy kids mmmk? That party/event/whatever isn’t worth it. Don’t be selfish. You could kill someone. 5ths diseases cause miscarriages, among other things. So don't be dumb. Thanks. Glad we got that cleared up.
Anyhoo, I’m on day 19 since surgery. I’ve lost 30 pounds. Mostly in my face and boobs lol. My nose shrunk and my eyes opened up, like I was a pregnant woman or something lol. It’s been weird, it’s been tough but not too bad. I never had any pain medication. I didn’t believe Brett when I woke up after surgery and he told me that. So I asked the nurse and she confirmed. I’m an alien. I was even up walking around doing everything myself an hour after each birth...with a stitched crotch...swatted the nurse away who tried to help me shimmy into those sexy mesh undies lol. I can’t explain it, so don’t expect your experience to be the same. I don’t feel pain easily, which is a blessing and a curse.
The worst for me was the gas. They fill your whole chest cavity with gas during surgery and it has to dissipate after surgery. No it doesn’t come out in farts lol. It’s mainly burps and just dissipating through your skin. It’s really uncomfortable. It gets up into your shoulders and it’s common to think you’re having a heart attack. You have to walk walk walk it off, even when you’re too tired to walk bc you’re living off of 200 calories, gotta get up and walk it off. That lasts about 2-3 days. Then it’s all good...until you come in contact with germy Kids lol.
Anyhoo, it’s been a pretty ok experience for me. I'm pretty tired still, they say that lasts 4-6 weeks. My surgeon is awesome so I only have 4 incisions on my tummy, each teeny tiny, about the size of my pinky nail. No regrets. I did it to be here longer for my girls. I’m SO sick of sugar free stuff it’s not even funny, but I’m ok. Drinking 64 ounces of water daily has made my skin baby soft lol, so get on that ladies!
The hardest part has been not being able to pick up my girls. They are 1 & 2 and I can’t lift them for 6 weeks. So it’s hard to be around them bc they cry about it and don’t understand. It’s rough. So I’ve been away from them for a bit, it’s easier this way, but I can’t wait till July 30th, I’m going to pick them up and squeeze them for as long as they’ll let me! So probably 30 seconds. I’m so thankful both grandmas have pitched in majorly, I have no clue how I would have safely done it without them.
So to end this wayyy too long post. Easy way out? You can shove it. I’d even say I’m probably a bit tougher than most for having been through this.