Longevity after Weight Loss Surgery

I have a weight-loss surgery twin, Amy. We met in our surgeon’s office in Miami, the day before our surgeries. I was nervous and talking even more than usual; she was nervous and quiet to the point of being standoffish. We had the same exact surgery on November 4, 2008: a Biliopancreatic Diversion with a Duodenal Switch. She had a superfast recovery, even making her hospital bed the next morning and walking the hallways. I was in so much pain that I kept nodding out from all the narcotics. She left early to go back to Texas, missing her 7-day post-op appointment. I stayed — and got a prescription for dilaudid because I was still aching in pain.

We’ve stayed in touch ever since then, talking on the phone at least once or twice a week. She eventually got over her standoffishness, I eventually let her get a word in edgewise. Together I think we’ve lost about 300lbs.

We both have side effects, although they are polar opposites. I think it speaks to the nature of our surgery, which is that our intestines are re-wired to work differently/hardly at all. We both follow our vitamin regime, which includes all the fat-based vitamins, as well as calcium and iron, and get our labs done regularly. We’re both doing okay. And yet, Amy is always nervous.

There’s not a vast amount of research on our surgery; it hasn’t been around for that long. Scientifically, it’s the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. And that’s really all it says. Go forth and lose weight — thanks to malabsorption! Amy is incredibly anxious about the long-term implications of malabsorption, especially with regards to vitamin K and calcium, assuming that we’re going to get old and brittle and frail. And I’m… not. Actually it’s not that I’m not worried about it, it’s just that I don’t think I can do anything about it.

As I’ve mentioned before, life at nearly 300lbs is a giant suck. Had I stayed at that weight, I know I’d have issues — diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart problems, the list goes on. With this, I may someday have brittle bones, or I may have some issues with clotting — or I may have no more problems than the average woman who lives to be 90 (which is my plan). I’m doing my best to mitigate the malabsorption by taking my vitamins and getting my labs drawn, but I accept that I may have complications. I’ve already been hospitalized for dehydration that was never really explained or fixed, I’ve already had a hemorrhoid-turned-fissure-turned-fistula that needed surgical repair, I’ve already gotten iron infusions, I’ve already made less breast milk for Porcelain — all because of the surgery. And I also credit it with making that pregnancy last 42 weeks and Porcelain weighing less than my other full-term babies.

It’s a trade off. I give 20 vials of blood every few months, and take 30 pills per day. I can run around and chase my kids and carry Porcelain everywhere and shop at H&M. I’m going to live to be 90.

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