Overcoming Gastroparesis: My Endobariatric Story – Part 2

What my local doctors think…
They’re in shock. My gastro doctor couldn’t believe it because I have had such a battle with this for about 4 and a half, 5 years now. Upon doing the gastric emptying test again, and it was upon my request. Insurance didn’t pay for that. I was willing to pay the almost $3,000 to have that done because I wanted to see where I was at. He couldn’t believe it. He said your stomach is emptying the food as if you’ve never had this before. He was in shock, and honestly, he said he could not tell me 100% you’re in remission, but if you were my daughter, and I looked at these tests, I would not even know that you had it prior to this. To me, that was just amazing.
My family doctor still at a little bit of arm’s length, kind of not wanting to admit that some of the issues, as far as the gastroparesis goes. I walked in the doctor’s office the other day. He had not seen me in a while, with my husband. He was floored at the weight loss. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe, like I said, I’m off the high blood pressure medication, the diabetes medication. He just couldn’t believe it. Bragged and bragged about the weight loss. He said, “You not only look better, I can tell you’re feeling better.”
I was very sick. I had a lot of issues going on. I might have been smiling on the outside, but I hid my sickness so well from people. I didn’t let people know how miserable I was. I would be sitting in church, and the excessive thirst that I had from the sugar levels being so high, I couldn’t wait for church to end just to get water. I was miserable. My vision, I couldn’t see, couldn’t see across the room. Even with my prescription glasses, my vision had completely almost went out on me. It was pretty bad. I’m a school bus driver. I have a CDL license, and my license was about to be taken away, for me to not be able to do my job anymore.
I knew in January, like I said, my husband had the stroke, I knew that I had to do something. I had a lot of people questioning me that knew about the surgery, why I wanted to try to lose the weight prior to the surgery. To me, I was like I want to make it until June. I felt like I was knocking on death’s door. I felt like I needed to do a little something to help me make it until June. I didn’t think I was going to be around much longer. I’m telling you just watching every single week. I’ve had a little stall. I think I’ve stalled 2 and a half, maybe 3 weeks. Other than that, I’m seeing numbers, it’s just coming down like every week. I only weigh in once a week.
Another thing that people need to know is about the support group, the Endobariatric support group. I feel like they’re my family. Truly, I feel like they’re my family. I have met some wonderful people. I cannot imagine being on this journey and not having them in my corner. When you’ve got friends and some family members that may be negative and that try to talk you out of having the surgery, even after you have the surgery, and they see that you’re being successful, there’s still that little … Every now and then, you’ll have somebody say something that just feels like a dagger going in your heart. You turn to your Endobariatric family, and they’re there for you. They’re there to lift you up, to support you. Like I said, I’ve met some amazing people through this group. I’m so thankful for the Endobariatric website as far as the support group goes. 


It changed my life…


It’s like now when I see people struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, and some that I know have the gastroparesis, it’s almost like when you see someone standing on the edge of the cliff, and they’re about to go over that cliff, your human instinct is to reach out and to save them. Now, when I see people that have the same issues that I have, my instinct is to reach out and pull them back in and to try to educate them and to let them know, there is answers out there. It may not be something that they want to do, but to let them know that that is an option. I may be a little bit different than some people, but the day I was discharged from the hospital, I was walking around the river walk. I was tired, but I didn’t feel like I had had surgery.
That was another thing. Other than some exhaustion, that was basically the only symptom that I had. I felt great. I was able to intake a little bit more water than most people do. I think that helped me. Honestly, the post-op diet wasn’t bad. I’m just shocked because I had a lot of anxiety about that. I was a food addict. I thought how am I going to go almost a month without eating solid food. When I tell you I was a food addict, that does not even begin to describe how bad my addiction to food was. A lot of people say oh I use food as a crutch because I had this emotion or that emotion. I can’t say that for me.
All I can tell you is I was always hungry. I don’t know how to explain that. I just was constantly hungry. I could eat, and an hour later, I wanted food again. I would look at my husband who’s lost like 160 something pounds over the last few years, and I’m like when you’re done with dinner, you’re done, but I can’t do that. It was nothing for me to go to bed with Debbie cakes sitting on my night stand and a Diet Dr Pepper trying to balance and equal that out. I just was always hungry.
That has been a major learning experience for me, that I’m not hungry like that anymore. I do get hungry, but after I take about 3 or 4 bites, I’m content. I’ve not cheated or anything since my surgery. I’ve been the type that I feel like it’s like an alcoholic. You don’t give an alcoholic a taste of beer. My choice, is I just choose to stay away from sweets because that was my trigger. I just choose to stay away from it and fill it with other stuff. Once I’m full, then I’m content.
I just feel like if I were to start eating sweets and stuff, I don’t know how that would be. I have bought some of the Atkins sweet treats, and I’ve done okay with it. Not everybody’s different. Some people can bake a cake with their family and have a little slice and be okay with it. I’m not. I just choose not to do that.


When you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery…


Just do your research. I know there’s other good doctors out there. I know that. I personally feel like when I was declined for my insurance to pay for this surgery, it was a blessing, because that … I’m going to cry. That led me to Dr. Alvarez. Without him, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m so sorry <wiping away tears>, but he changed my life. Without him, if my insurance had paid for it, I would not have met him. I would not have met this Endobariatric family and Susan and you and Brandy and those are the ones that rallied around me. I could name so many people on this side that has helped me. I’m not even going to attempt to do it because I will forget someone.
When Leo Campero, you know Leo, had his surgery with Dr. Alvarez, we spoke the night he was in the hospital, the night before he went to the hospital, and we kept in touch this entire time. He’s been an inspiration to me. You get to know these people. I would just encourage everybody, to do your research. Don’t give up. There is hope and answers out there. Just keep an open mind about it. I feel like people could really truly benefit from this surgery that suffer from these issues.


-Dee Head

South Carolina, USA