Patricia died of auto immune disease four years after her gastric bypass, April 2002.
I underwent my RNY surgery on October 27 1998, The operation was performed by Dr. Alston here in Memphis TN. The procedure lasted about 4 hours, and has changed my life in ways I never dreamed of not all of them for the good. This procedure was extremely hard on my system, and my recovery was slow, because of the weight I had to carry around while I healed. After the operation I was in the hospital for 5 days, then I was sent home, only to be readmitted less than 48 hours later because I just wasn't medically ready to be released due to uncontrollable nausea and vomiting. The first six to eight weeks after you go home you will more than likely be eating baby food, if you can eat at all, personally I found baby food terrible tasting and used a food processor to make my own.
I found that the most important thing I needed was the moral and emotional support of family, friends, and other people who had been through this, and could relate to the changes my system was going through and could help me prepare for and deal with them, check with your doctor and see if a support group is active in your area. Get your spouse involved from the start because the surgery will affect them emotionally almost as much as it does you, plus they can be a little more detached from the doctors comments and will not tend to disregard the doctors warnings as you may. Going through this affects all aspects of your life, it will probably cost you some friendships, but it will help you to build others, I say this because some of your "friends" now will not like the fact that you are getting slimmer and more active. Lots of couples have wound up getting divorces over this because they were not able to or just would not try to deal with the emotional changes something like this causes, but if you have a strong relationship now odds are it will only get stronger.
Not every doctor is familiar with this operation and it's follow up, if you are thinking of having the procedure done, find a doctor who has done it before if at all possible. A surgeon who is familiar with the procedure will be better able to guide you and help you get the most of it. Some doctors, I have been told, have actually told their patients they can continue with their lives as if nothing has changed, speaking as someone who has had this done I can tell you without a doubt "If you have this surgery your life will never be the same again." Several people I know or have spoken with online have had this operation and not changed their life style, meaning they continue to eat as they did before the surgery, they have had very little weight loss as a result. If you do not change your eating habits, and the way you think about food your success will be limited, and this is way to painful as well as physically and emotionally exhausting to waste it by not doing your very best to make it a success. I can only eat a few ounces of food at a time and must eat 4 or 5 small meals a day as opposed to the usual 3.
Some patients go through a phase immediately after the operation where they can hold nothing on their stomachs, this appears to be a side effect of having the small bowel redirected and takes some time for the body to adapt. I spent the first 9 months in misery, unable to control the nausea before I got it a manageable level, part of it has to do with learning how to eat very slowly and using a baby spoon and fork helps control your bites and speed. Some patients go through a dumping syndrome where your stomach empties quickly causing nausea and vomiting, but as you learn what you can eat, how much you can eat, and the way you have to eat this will abate some what. Your doctor may tell you what you can and can't eat, but frankly it is never the same for everyone, my doctor said I probably would not be able to eat seafood, and that is one of the few meats I can eat. I can no longer eat a steak or pork chops or any thing of that consistency, I can only eat beef if it is ground up and cooked in a sauce such as for pasta, even then it must be chewed to a liquid state in order to insure proper digestion. I can not drink a glass of milk with out getting nauseated because of the lactose, and if I dare to have a very small piece of dessert I must lay down as soon as I finish eating to reduce the stomach upset to something I can tolerate. In most cases immediately after the surgery the weight will fall at a rapid rate, but as you get smaller you will get to the point where your weight loss stops, this is a normal situation, boost your caloric intake a little and you will start to lose again. I personally hit several of these "plateaus" and they can be very depressing, but you just have to grit your teeth and bide your time, it will pass.
Many of the issues I had to deal with because of this surgery were emotional as opposed to physical. The best case of this I can think of is the fact that after I lost 100 pounds, my husband was not paying attention to me as I had hoped he would, and this was heart breaking for me, I had expected to lose the weight and become the center of his attentions. When this did not happen I became very depressed and angry, this caused a great deal of resentment between us and it was only through hard work and compassion that we were able to address the problem and move to solve it. We found out that he had a medical problem that was affecting his sexual drive and were able to get it treated, but that is not always the case. Several people I have spoken with have had the same problem with no medical cure to help solve the situation, or the spouse becomes jealous of the patients weight loss and can not stand the attention they now receive from friends or strangers. My best advice is to find a buddy through a support group if possible, someone you can talk to who has faced or is facing the same things in their life and can listen to you and help you through the rough stretches. One of the most difficult things to deal with on a daily basis is cooking for the family when I can't eat what they can. Going out to dinner can be a big challenge, because you set there watching people eating the foods you used to love so much and can never have again, and this can cause you to become angry and resentful. These are normal feeling because you are limited to softer foods, and almost exclusively vegetables when in the past food has been such a big part of your life. There will be some days that you can eat nothing at all, and then on other days you will eat constantly, this is normal and will not affect your weight loss. Days when I eat constantly it seems like my body is craving something, some days carrots will stop it, others it is something else, this too is normal, don't panic over this it may be your body looking for a certain vitiman or mineral. Don't be afraid to eat a cookie or a few chips, this won't hurt you, just be careful of the very sweet items as they will cause nausea, and don't eat a lot of surgar at all, this also causes nausea. Over a period of time (sometimes months) these feelings lessen, but they do resurface from time to time.