My Experience Having Gastric Bypass Surgery
My name is Amada Anderson. I am 36 years old and I live in Glendale, New York. I had the gastric bypass procedure done by surgeon Dr. Saunders at Bellevue Hospital on April 11, 2017. It was covered by my insurance Metroplus.
I have dealt with being overweight all my life. When I was 11, I was a size 11. When I was 22, I was a size 22. My highest weight was at the end of 2013 when I hit 430 pounds. The following year I lost 100 pounds in 8 months doing a program called the Dukan Diet and I could keep most of it off, but then life happened. I got engaged, and the following year I got married. A few months after that, my husband lost his brother and then quit his job. We were struggling financially. I was working a lot as a New York City tour guide, and while on my way to give a tour in the East Village, my right knee gave out from under me going up the subway steps. I heard a loud pop and I couldn’t put any more weight on my knee. I ended up in an ambulance for the first time and then made appointments to see an orthopedic surgeon and my primary care doctor. The doctors explained that I had a slight tear in my kneecap, and the only way I could relieve the pressure was to lose more weight. They gave me a cortizone shot and I was back to work in a week. Two weeks later, my left knee went out and I had to go get a shot in that knee. I decided that it was time for me to consider bariatric weight loss surgery.
My primary care doctor told me that my insurance would cover it. He gave me a recommendation and I had to show up for an orientation at the hospital. They hold them every month. When we arrived, I was nervous. I felt scared. There were a lot of people there. At this point I was walking with a cane and my husband still wasn’t working, so I was hoping for a miracle. I would do anything to get back to work and feel better.
The orientation consisted of a presentation covering the differences of each surgery and the outcomes from previous patients, the insurance that they took, and how long it could take to get approved. They covered the realistic expectations so that the next steps would just be to making appointments to meet with the surgeons and staff.
Once I registered and said I was interested, they ran my insurance and scheduled several appointments for me, which include: nutrition, psychological counseling, esophageal screening, family planning, nurse/wound teaching, etc. They make you keep every single appointment as check-offs for submitting to the insurance companies. Once you are scheduled, they also will set you up with a pre-op diet where you are introduced to a lifestyle change of eating 1200-1500 calories a day.
The three types of surgery that Bellevue offers are: the lap band, the sleeve, or the gastric bypass. The lap band is a device that is inserted and can be removed after weight loss has been achieved. It’s nothing that is as life-altering or permanent on the body. The sleeve is when they do microscopic surgery and cut half of your stomach away so that it basically is the size of a banana. They say that it has a 60% overall weight loss success. And then the other option, and the one I wanted to have, is called the Gastric Bypass. The gastric bypass is when they basically make your stomach into the size of an egg and they reroute your intestines so that food will be digested faster. The bypass has a success rate of 70%.
I had several life-altering events that took place between my consultations and my surgery.
When I met with the surgeon he was very friendly, observant, and understanding. He told me that if I wanted to have the bypass that I would need to lose 20 pounds. This didn’t seem to be much to me considering that I have been able to lose weight before. 20 pounds versus 210 pounds seemed easy. However, it seemed the universe had other plans for me. The next month I had to go out of town for a convention, and then the following month I went home to be with my father who was scheduled for lung cancer removal. While traveling, you don’t always get the options to eat healthy. But somehow, I knew I could still get back on track once I got home.
Somehow my surgery was delayed and this gave me a few more weeks to try to lose more weight. When I started the pre-op liquid diet, it was March 2, 2017. I weighed 375. By the date of my surgery which was April 11, I had lost 31 pounds. So, I hit my goal and he gave me the procedure I wanted.
The day of the surgery we arrived early. I wasn’t supposed to drink anything after midnight. They weighed me. They got me prepped. And next thing you know I was being wheeled away into a surgery room. I woke up very groggy but the staff worked around the clock to make sure that I was comfortable. Because of my insurance, I was in a room with three other people where we shared one bathroom. It was very overwhelming, but I was only there for a few days. They weaned me off the morphine and got me up and walking around. They provided me with instructions and a detailed diet plan to follow.
For the first two weeks, you must stick to liquids. I was really bloated and could only sleep on my back for the first month. Eventually you move on to soft mushy foods, always eating protein first. Then you graduate into more solid foods, and by the end of three months, you can basically eat salad and vegetables and everything else.
Dr. Saunders reminded me that this was my year, and I needed to keep clear of stressful situations and triggers that might make me slip up on my diet. The whole staff has been very supportive. They have a Facebook fan page where you can read other people’s success stories and find out about upcoming weight-loss support meetings.
So far, it’s been three months and I have lost an overall amount of 82 pounds: 31 with pre-op and 51 post-op. Everyone loses weight differently. I am under 300 now and I feel good. My knees don’t hurt anymore and I am out and about walking around, giving tours and working doing what I love.
If you are considering surgery for weight loss, I highly recommend Bellevue Hospital.