Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sick Gastric bypass patient - not so rare


Malissa Jones of the UK first made the news in 2008 when she became the youngest person to have a gastric bypass in her country. At the time, she weighed over 400 lbs and by her own admission, had a taste for candy and not the greatest food choices. (She told the news, she's consumed 10 chocolate bars in a day!). Typical teenager but with her genetics this type of teen eating did not work. So she had become very obese. Malissa complained about being teased and bullied in school but she apparently had some health problems also. She had trouble breathing and when she was 15, she went to the ER with chest pains which is why the NHS decided to do a gastric bypass on her when she was 17 years old. Typically they don't do bariatric surgery on anyone younger than 18 years old

Her surgery did not initially go easily for her. She was in intensive care for 36 hours but she did survive and began to enjoy her honeymoon year.

In February 2009, she was again interviewed. In a blog which reprinted a news article, now no longer available, it was reported that she had lost over 200 lbs and said that this surgery had saved her life. She weighed around 196 lbs and took a size 14, a great improvement over the size 28 she used to take. She talked about night clubbing and discovering a whole new world. "I've had a lot more boyfriends because I feel much more attractive and confident.", she told the news reporter. She mentioned that she was saving up to have the loose skin removed in a private surgery (it was not covered by the NHS).

But sadly, Camelot wasn't going to last for her.

By December 2009, apparently been unable to save up for the $40K surgery she required (Lower body lift, tummy tuck etc) to remove 28 lbs of loose skin which remained after her quick weight loss, she was not a very happy camper. Life continued on a downward trend, when she became pregnant at the age of 20 but they had to take the baby prematurely because they feared that carrying fullterm might be too risky for Malissa. Henry, a little boy did not survive.

Malissa recently made the news again. She now has been diagnosed anorexic - she weighs only 112 lbs (she's 5'8") and is unable to eat more than 300 calories a day. The news stated she was afraid to eat but she said in addition to being terrified of regaining, she suffers pain and sick stomachs when she tries to eat more food.

There are a number of gastric bypass patients I've met like this - who are unable to eat a couple of years after surgery. This inability to eat is sometimes combined with a phobia of food in general as is the case with Malissa.

One might ask why NHS doesn't give her a reversal and perhaps they have done that, but a reversal won't help the fear of food she has developed since her surgery. Again the NHS is worried for her life. She's much too young to die but this time around there is no surgery which can save her life except intensive psychotherapy.

This is not as unusual a case as providers would like us to think it is. I've actually, met quite a few patients who suffer from something similar to Malissa.

And in a 2001 news article, clinical psychologist and eating disorders expert, JoAnn Mann,RN, told the Fresno Bee,

***"I've seen massive infection, I've seen people hospitalized for malnutrition. I've seen people obsessed with food. I've seen people unable to stop vomiting. I've seen people develop massive eating disorders, I've seen people who are terrified of gaining weight. Terrified. It runs their lives." ***


Dr Jen Berman,a Los Angeles psychotherapist and an expert on eating disorders, has counseled many gastric bypass patients over the years. She told the news media that some patients have developed eating disorders and are afraid that if they eat too much, they will be sick.

***"I have seen people become terrified of food. They feel like their body is out of their control because they lose the weight so fast. I have seen people develop terrible phobias of gaining weight or losing weight." (IBID)***


SO Malissa Jones isn't alone in her food fears, but her road back to health will be a long lonely one, and much harder to trod than it would be had she remained overweight.

Definitely a case (one of many) when the cure is far worse than the original disorder.

7 comments:

Christine said...

I had gastric bypass in 2005 and I too went thru the anorexia thing. I went down to 70lbs. at 5ft. tall and the doctors told me I was going to die. I finally overcame the intense fear of weight gain and have gotten back to a healthy 130lbs. Yes this is a little more that I should weigh but I don't dare go back on a "diet" for fear that it will spiral out of control again. I now have osteoporosis and stay anemic and dizzy and weak in general. My teeth are shot and I get intense pains in my stomach who knows why.I have returning kidney stones and life is not the wonderful thing they told me it would be. I have found that with or without surgery you have to do the same thing to loose and maintain weight loss. You can walk away from a diet but this is forever. You will always fight nutritional issues and I doubt I extended my life span and I sure am not healthier. If I had it to do over I would run the other way!... Christy

SueW said...

Christy, *HUGS* to you! Know that sharing your story will help many others!

SueW said...

ralphswurld commented:

"My friend is having thoughts on going through a bariatric bypass surgery. She's 380 lbs at the age of 20 and very bothered with her weight. She tried every possible way to lose weight but it didn't work for her. With this article, she can decide better to go through a surgery or not."

Thanks for your comment!

Dozydee said...

I had a gastric bypass in 2011. I had problems from the beginning and kept returning to the surgeon who did the bypass. I eventually had an endoscopy and they found nothing restricting my stomach. The surgeon kept telling me to just eat!
After another year he eventually did another endoscopy and found that there was indeed a restriction which he said he had fixed. I still can not eat and survive on soft crisps and coffee. My intake per day is about 300 calories! If I do try eating I am sick after two mouthfuls. I have no energy, my nails and hair just flake or break. I suffer with persistent migraines. I tried to go back to the surgeon but was told I had been taken off of his list. I do not know what to do anymore. I had tried to ask my GP for help but was told just to persevere. I am now at my wits end!!!

Dozydee said...

I had a gastric bypass in 2011. I had problems from the beginning and kept returning to the surgeon who did the bypass. I eventually had an endoscopy and they found nothing restricting my stomach. The surgeon kept telling me to just eat!
After another year he eventually did another endoscopy and found that there was indeed a restriction which he said he had fixed. I still can not eat and survive on soft crisps and coffee. My intake per day is about 300 calories! If I do try eating I am sick after two mouthfuls. I have no energy, my nails and hair just flake or break. I suffer with persistent migraines. I tried to go back to the surgeon but was told I had been taken off of his list. I do not know what to do anymore. I had tried to ask my GP for help but was told just to persevere. I am now at my wits end!!!

Sue Joan said...

Dozydee, sounds like you are a good candidate for a takedown. Sadly, the only advice I can give you, is to call gastrodocs and WLS surgeons until you find someone willing to do a takedown (reversal) for you ..get a note from your PCP that it's to save your life, and likely insurance will pay for it. I've known many folks who have successfully gone this route and totally got their health (and life) restored. Sending a hug!

Sue Joan said...

From Lee Woo:

It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.