By Susan McDonald
By the time my doctor’s appointment arrived two days after the weight loss surgery informational session, I was pretty convinced I was going to have gastric sleeve rather than gastric bypass.I had done the research and even though the estimated weight loss by having the gastric sleeve was slightly lower than gastric bypass, I liked the freedom to indulge in a sweet snack without the fear of dumping syndrome, (this can occur in some gastric bypass patients when processed sugars pass through the stomach undigested).
I had done the research and even though the estimated weight loss by having the gastric sleeve was slightly lower than gastric bypass, I liked the freedom to indulge in a sweet snack without the fear of dumping syndrome, (this can occur in some gastric bypass patients when processed sugars pass through the stomach undigested).
I explained all this to the doctor, who had examined my medical history, taken my weight and blood pressure, and deemed me an appropriate candidate for bariatric surgery. She listened calmly while I talked about wanting to preserve my future right to a piece of chocolate.
Then she told me about a Yale University study that showed sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine or heroin.
“You know what you sound like when you talk about having candy or cake in the future?” she asked me gently.
Indeed. I sounded like an addict.
That revelation was somewhat shocking to me, even at my weight. I never made the connection from my love for eating to food addict. I started to realize that processed or refined sugars in cake, candy and so many other foods I enjoy (even the basics like breakfast cereal and BBQ sauce) had me hooked. Even when I thought I was eating healthier, foods like nutrition bars, flavored yogurt and fruit juices were feeding my addiction.
I left the doctor’s office that day with a list of appointments I needed to make to qualify for the surgery – I had changed my focus to gastric bypass after talking with my doctor – and with a new sense of purpose. These tests can vary slightly from one person to the next, but my list included:
- An endoscopy.
- A psychiatric evaluation.
- Two visits with a nutritionist (some people have three but I have demonstrated experience with weight loss programs).
- Cardiology clearance.
- Sleep apnea testing.
- Blood work.
- Medical clearance by my primary care provider.
Knowing some of these specialists take a while to get in to see, I tackled the list quickly and set up appointments over the next two months. Because I like deadlines, I had asked the office coordinator when I could expect to have surgery if all went well with the other appointments. She said early November. That date danced in my head as I trooped from one appointment to another.
Overall, the testing was easy enough and went well. I slept through the endoscopy, although just lying on the table looking up at the operating room lights and machinery gave me a wonderful feeling of anticipation of what was to come. I had a nice chat with the psychiatrist about my weight, my eating habits and my understanding of the future after bariatric surgery. Mainly, I think he wanted to feel confident that I understand this isn’t a cure for decades of poor eating habits, but more of a tool in my weight loss journey. I do! I also had to have a stress test to ensure I had no blockages and because I had tested positive for mild sleep apnea several years earlier and never followed through on treatment, I was sent to a sleep clinic.
The nutritionist was the most critical part, in my opinion, because she is the one whose advice will guide my success. We went over the post-surgery stages of my diet, discussed various options in each stage and evaluated my concept of portion size, which was quite off. I like parameters so seeing lists of foods I could safely eat was extremely helpful as I wrapped my mind around this new way of life and new relationship with food. I’ll be eating to live instead of living to eat.