Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anyone having issues?

Last night I attended my first WLS Support Group meeting since 2006. I am seeing a new surgeon, my third since surgery, and he wanted me to attend his meetings to see if might help me. He had inquired about my support group attendance post-op during my initial appointment. I explained that the hospital where I had my WLS was two hours from where I lived at the time, and so I was only able to attend a couple meetings. I typically either had class, was in the hospital, or recovering from a hospitalization during that first year post-op.

Then I moved to Miami.

After finally getting the recommended surgeon to take me as a patient I was REQUIRED to attend a certain amount of “support meetings”. The requirement and lack of meeting structure lead to a room of new post-ops wanting to get their attendance paper signed and leave. There were no topics, no speakers…just a group of people and a psychologist asking “anyone having issues they would like to discuss?”

Either no one would reply, or the same question would be asked every month…by someone new “am I losing enough weight?”

To someone in my situation, the meetings were not worth the time. I got my support online at And honestly I did. Even when I attended the two meetings at my original hospital I felt out of place. First, I was usually the only one in attendance that had my surgeon, and second I was the only one who had such a large amount of weight to lose…this correlated with the surgeon issue since my surgeon typically operated on the “high risk” patients. And most people weighing over 500 pre-op have mobility issues, or in general don’t get “out and about” as often as I did. I’m not sure that is the exact reason, but from 3 different surgeon's support meetings at 2 different hospitals I have yet to find people who are in a situation similar to mine…even without the lymphedema and lipedema.

So back to last night…

My first issue was that the meeting was held in the same hospital where I admitted for my DVT, I have not set foot in that hospital since then. The parking garage to hospital entrance is a bit weird, and as I was following the path I had flashbacks to being in pain and near tears trying to “find the hospital” 6 years ago.

While waiting in line at the security desk I played “are they here for the meeting too?” I get my visitor sticker and head to the conference room. But first I stop and get a bottle of Diet Sunkist at the snack bar. It was the BBGC in me…and I was thirsty.

So I get to the conference room and sign-in. The group leader, the surgeon’s nutritionist, was getting out his recent delivery of calcium chews. I say “oh, I have those at home they are good. But I haven’t tried the raspberry.” He was very nice, and I was impressed that there were samples at the meeting. There was also FOOD. Cheese and fruit platter for the win. I had run an errand before the meeting and while I had eating a protein bar before leaving my house, a few hours had passed since.

I sit next to another lady and ask her when she had surgery. “5 weeks ago”

Oh no…here we go….or so I thought. To my surprise there were 2 other patients there who were 7 years post-op, like ME. Unlike me, both appeared to be at goal.

The topic for the evening was “how to read food labels”. I was the star pupil by knowing that serving size the most important piece of information on the label. Next he passed out samples of the calcium, raspberry is pretty tasty! Then he opened the floor to general discussion “anyone having issues?”

A new post-op is having issues tolerating food and wonders if she is losing weight fast enough.

I raise my hand, and say I’m having the opposite issue. I can tolerate everything and that after my initial 250lbs loss, I’ve started to regain. I also let the nutritionist know I had an appointment to see him next month.

I forget his response to my issue, I think because he was interrupted the male 7-year post-op patient who said. “You know what I’ve noticed is there a correlation between members who regain and members who don’t attend support group meetings.”

I guess it’s better than him calling me out for my Diet Sunkist.

Trying to not sound defensive, I said “I’ve noticed that many people in my situation are often too embarrassed to seek help from their surgeon or a support group.”

Then the nutritionist said, “O.k. are you all ready to go next door?”

Next door? Huh? Oh, the post-ops go over the pre-op seminar and answer questions. Nice.

Honestly, I didn’t mean to not go, I stopped to ask the nutritionist what he would like for me to bring to my appointment then once I got next door, I saw all the other post-ops on stage, announcing how long it had been since their surgery and how much they had lost. OMG I was definitely NOT going on stage, especially since I weighed MORE than many of the pre-op patients. And, of course, I had not had surgery with that doctor so I really shouldn’t appear to be one of his products.

So as I listened to everyone’s stats…the average amount lost was 130lbs. That’s how much I’ve lost, even with the regain; I’m still down 130lb from my highest….at 7 years out.


  1. I was asked not to go back to the local surgical group after I told the group that calcium carbonate wasn't acceptable, nor were the protein shots that the proctor (the PA) was espousing.

    Apparently, though, the next meeting she said that the group had changed their recommendations...

  2. I have to agree meetings are heavily pushed with my surgeon but in the last 2 yrs they have worked hard on separating +1yr post ops with newbies. I still get pissed at the high and mighties so I quit going. I am also more educated from the Net than most of the nutritionists.
    After a meeting where 1 person said "I didn't have this surgery to eat potato chips." I said well if I was perfect in my diet like that I wouldn't have needed surgery. Asses - I haven't been back. If you can't talk about your issues with food they aren't going to get resolved besides they don't want anyone talking about the negative side or it will hurt "business".

  3. The nut told me and another patient from OH that he had someone decide not to have WLS after he told her she might dump on Cinnabons. She didn't want to risk it. Now BOTH of us said wow, we could still enjoy one, or split with someone, but would have never picked a Cinnabon over our lives. It's a hard balance of being normal, but still doing one is perfect...but an occasional treat is different from say having it as a daily breakfast.