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Posted Oct 21 2010 12:00am

Woman-screaming Dear WLS Pre-Ops and Newly Re-arranged Peeps:

If I can make you one promise about post-op life, it would be this:  you are going to have a freak-out moment.  Or ten.  It will happen, and it's natural. Ask any further-out post-op if they went through the same thing, and the answer will likely be YES.

I get a lot of emails with many of the same freak-out moment questions, so I thought it might be a good idea  to write up a Top-10 list, so that you'd know that what you're feeling is normal, and that YOU are normal.  I also canvassed some other post-ops for their thoughts, and here is what I hope will be some reassurance that it happens to everyone, and that you'll make it through whatever freak-out moment you might be stuck in.  Enjoy! (ps:  feel free to add your own here!)

10.   "OH-EM-GEE, I am going the be the ONLY person this surgery doesn't work for!!!"  Yes, we've all thought/said/screamed that.  You've just had your guts re-arranged, and maybe you didn't drop 21 lbs this week and think that is the end, you're done, fine'!  Nope.  It's going to work, you just have to be patient and know that stalls are regular blips in the weight loss surgery process...which brings me to...

9.  "THE SCALE HAS STOPPED MOVING!!"   You didn't lose any weight this week? WHAT?!?!  Wait a second, you lost 20 lbs week one, 9 lbs week two, and then NOTHING?  Did you eat a box of donuts?!  NO.  Your body is adjusting.  Drastic weight shocks the system, and sometimes you'll have huge weight loss numbers, sometimes you'll have minimal, and then sometimes you'll have NO weight loss (GASP!).  It happens.  TO EVERYONE.  The scale will move again, it will!

8.  "I'M NOT ABLE TO DRINK 64 OUNCES OF WATER A DAY AND GET ALL MY PROTEIN IN! I'M GOING TO DIE!"  Let me be honest with you:  it's super-super-super important to keep as hydrated as possible, because dehydration tends to be one of the main things that lands post-ops in the ER post-surgery.  That being said, I don't know many people who drank gallons and gallons water in the first month or two.  You do the best you can.  Keep water by your side and take a sip every few minutes.  Just make sure you keep putting fluids into your body.  Also important to note:   I am a post-op patient, not a doctor, so any advice (read:  personal thoughts and opinions) I give you should be triple-checked with your medical professionals.

7. "I AM NEVER GOING TO EAT THE THINGS I LOVE AGAIN!"  As a 2.6+ year post-op who can eat pretty much anything in a nice little quantity now, I'm here to tell you:  you'll be able to eat again.    I thought for sure the foods that I loved would never touch my lips again.  WRONG.  In fact, now it's more of a problem for me NOT to eat those things.

6. "I CHEATED, AND NOW I'VE RUINED EVERYTHING!"  I cheated too.  And look, I still lost the weight!  Do I encourage cheating?  NO.  Do I encourage admitting that you are a human that makes mistakes?  Yes.  We all are.  It doesn't mean you're a bad person, it doesn't mean you ruined anything.  It means we sometimes make mistakes, and that hopefully...we learn from them.

5. "I STILL GET PMS!  I STILL GET WATER-WEIGHT GAIN ONCE A MONTH!"  Ok, this is clearly just for the ladies.  To this day, I gain and lose 5 lbs every month in water weight gain.  That never changed.  Mother Nature still likes to stick it to you, so don't freak out, ok?  Give it a week, and then you'll have a nice happy loss!

4. "UM, I DON'T SEEM TO UH, POOP THE SAME AS BEFORE."  Yeah, I'm just going to put this right out there, because changes in bowel movements is pretty common too.  I'm not going to give you specifics, because me envisioning you envisioning me pooping does not really paint a pretty picture. But just so you know, that changes too.  

3. "SOMETHING GOT STUCK!!!"  Yep, most likely, something is going to get stuck.  And when it does?  HORROR.  PAIN.  Be prepared, because it's probably going to happen and you're going to freak out beyond words.  When I was in the soft food stage, I was eating some very thinly sliced ham and THOUGHT I chew, chew, chewed and it got stuck.  And I felt like I was having A HEART ATTACK.  In fact, I called my mom and asked her to call me back in 30 mins and make sure I was still alive.  It was hella scary, but I found out it had happened to a lot of my friends just be prepared.  And when they tell you to chew, chew, chew, BELIEVE THEM.

2. "I THINK I MIGHT BE "DUMPING!"  Not to be confused with item #4, you HAVE heard of Dumping Syndrome , right?  Almost everyone I know who has had weight loss surgery has food intolerances of some sort.  For me, it's beef - specifically (and sadly) steak.  My body cannot process it.  Sometimes when we eat things our body doesn't like, it lets us know with pain or with Dumping Syndrome.  This can be particularly unsettling because there's a whole slew of reactions that come along with it:  nausea, vomiting, sweats, diarrhea, dizziness, heart palpitations...sounds fun, no?  Once you go through it, you'll never want to again and you'll avoid those foods - no matter how much you love them.  

1. "SOMETHING FEELS WRONG!"  Complications happen - they're real.  And while you may be freaking out, it's also important that you learn to trust your instincts and take yourself to an ER if things really don't feel right.  Most times, it won't be anything dramatic, but way better to be safe than sorry.  At first, every little thing might be freak you out, but remember:  your anatomy has changed and you're re-learning how your body feels and works.   Trust your instincts and get seen if something feels extra-funky.

This is obviously a list of the freaky freak-out moments.  There's even more AMAZING freak-out moments that happen to:  "I can shop in regular sizes!"  "I can fit in a booth!"  "I don't need a seatbelt extender on the airplane!"  And when THOSE things happen, you'll want to scream it from the rooftops.  The happy moments really eclipse the slightly-scary-in-the-beginning ones, so be prepared for a whole lot of happy freak-out moments ahead of you!

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