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"My experience with Dumping Syndrome" - Ana Cruz, fellow bariatric patient

"My experience with Dumping Syndrome" - Ana Cruz, fellow bariatric patient

Did that Dairy Queen frozen treat just give you hot flashes, cold sweats, and send you running for the bathroom? You may have experienced Dumping Syndrome. 

Prior to surgery I read sleevers don’t get dumping syndrome, but was this true? Keep reading to learn more about this peculiar but common occurrence after bariatric surgery.

After surgery I was on clear liquids for 4 days as per my surgeon’s guidelines and didn’t notice any discomfort. After the clear diet, I was cleared for the full liquids diet. (More on preop and post op diets in our other posts on Bariatric Pre and Post Surgery Diet).

I sat on the couch and took tiny sips of my Premier Protein shake. Within a matter of seconds, I felt dizzy. My body was cold and clammy, I was shaking. I felt as if I was having a low blood sugar episode. Then I started to hear my heartbeat as loud as ever in my ears, and my heart rate was elevated. The heart rate jumped from 60 to 120 beats per minute! The intense feeling lasted about 20 minutes and wore me out.

I did not vomit or had the urge to go to the bathroom; but every time I had something solid for the first 6 months post op, I would get these symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms were less or more severe and I had no idea what triggered the episodes. But sleevers don’t dump, right? I still get less severe symptoms sometimes even now almost 2 years post-surgery.

I told my surgeon about my symptoms a week after surgery, and he had no answer for me. My bariatric nurse didn’t know anything about this either. After endless hours of researching online, I came across a forum on the Bariatric Pal website, and a nurse within that forum addressed the topic. According to this nurse, anyone who has bariatric surgery CAN experience dumping syndrome because the Vagus nerve is handled during surgery.

The Vagus Nerve sends signals from the stomach to the brain to let it know we are full; it works like a satiety sensor. The Vagus Nerve has many other functions in the body. For more info, click here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318128.php

Some Foods Triggered the Symptoms More than Others

I noticed that anything remotely sweet triggered these symptoms faster than soft protein foods (fish, tofu, yogurt). It was then I discovered my new sleeve was highly sensitive to sugar. My relationship with sweets has never been the same.

In addition, I had a few “run to the bathroom” dumping episodes after greasier than normal foods. The first time I went to a restaurant a couple of months after surgery and had some dip I regretted it instantly. It was a terrifying experience because I had nowhere to hide and some of our friends didn’t know I’d had weight loss surgery.

Basics of Dumping

  • You eat something you shouldn’t and you either feel like death or have to run to the bathroom for emergency number 2 or vomiting.
  • It happens because your stomach contents “dump” into your intestines too soon or too abruptly since your stomach size has been reduced.
  • Gastric bypass patients have a higher risk of dumping.
  • It can happen to sleevers too.

Questions? Comments? Or want to share your own experience, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m also on Instagram as @ana_vsg_miami.

Do your kids ask about your WLS journey?

As weight loss surgery patients, many of us have children. One thing I have learned over the years after having bariatric surgery is how many questions kids ask. I have a five-year-old son and the farther out I get in my journey, the more I realize how curious he is about my weight loss surgery. There are some questions I have been prepared to answer while there have been others that I was not expecting. I think it is important to talk to our children about health and part of that is by explaining what weight loss surgery is and why we decided to have the procedure.

It can be difficult to know how much information you should share to your children about your weight loss surgery. I think it is important to remember that every child is different in terms of the level of maturity and the information that is appropriate to tell them. However, I have learned that even with a small child you can start explaining the surgery so they understand your behaviors. My five-year-old son has started to ask questions and it made me realize that I needed to have a conversation with him about my health. He has started to ask why he has to finish everything on his plate but I do not have to. He also wonders why I sometimes order the same things as him off of kid’s menus. I did not realize how much he was paying attention until he started making comments about how I cannot have sugar like other people can or else I can get really sick. It made me recognize that he was ready to have the conversation.

I first started by explaining how important it is to eat healthy and exercise. Luckily, he understands this concept quite well and knows that he can get sick and unhealthy if he does not take care of himself. I talked about how I have struggled with getting healthy my entire life and that I needed a toolkit to help me. Once I started talking about my toolkit, it started to click for him. We talked about how sometimes people just need a little extra help, and for me it is with my weight that I need help. Once I started with the basics, I told him that I had surgery to make my stomach smaller. I did a short lesson on how that worked, without getting too far in the details. Surprisingly, he seemed to understand. We then discussed how this affects how much food I can take in at a time. I think once he understood that my stomach was smaller, it made sense to why I could never finish my food. We talked about how I am really sensitive to sugar so that is why I can’t eat a lot of ice cream anymore. It really helped talking it out with him. 

The most important thing to me during this conversation was that he understood how important it is to put your health first. I do not want to hide behind my surgery. I think it is important to teach our children that sometimes we need extra help. This surgery is a tool and one that many of us need to be successful on our weight loss journey. There should not be any shame. We all parent differently, but I know we all want what is best for our children. I want to teach him that it is ok to ask for help if you need it. I also want him to understand how dangerous it can be to not prioritize your health. Now that he has a better understanding of my surgery and why I do some of the things I do, I think it has helped him take care of himself better too. 

Telling our children about the surgery can be challenging, but it can really make a difference when they have a little more education on the procedure. I feel like it brought us closer and it makes him more aware of what it takes to be as healthy as possible. If you have children, I encourage you to talk to them about why you had surgery so they can better understand you. It will really set them up for success by understanding how important you value your health and why they should strive to do the same.

Should you buy a smaller size?

Should you buy a smaller size?

After bariatric surgery, we tend to tell ourselves that we cannot wait until we are a certain size or a certain weight. We use it as a goal to get to and although I think it is healthy to have goals, it can sometimes be discouraging to only live by that way. For many years, I was in the habit where I would only buy clothes too small because I wanted to have a goal to fit into them. As motivating as this could be at times, I never felt like I could just be me. I was always trying to squeeze into a size too small and it caused me a lot of anxiety. I thought I was helping myself by giving myself a goal to fit into smaller size clothes, but instead I was creating a huge problem.

I used to tell myself that I would be able to wear shorts one day. It would be 100 degrees outside and I would be stuck wearing pants in the miserable heat because of my foolish mindset. My insecurities got the best of me and I always told myself it would happen one day, just not today. I hate that I have spent so much of my life waiting for that day to come. The truth is, I might not ever hit some of my goals and I think that is hard to admit sometimes. I am finally at a point in my life where I am tired of buying clothes that are too small in hopes that I will fit into them sooner than later. 

I have recently started to buy for my size that I am in right now and it has helped my confidence so much. I get so excited when I get new outfits and I am dressing for my body type now instead of trying to find something that makes me look the thinnest possible. I am just trying to enjoy my body where it is at right now instead of forcing it to be something it is not. So, if you are on a weight loss surgery journey, I highly encourage you to adjust your mindset. Do not just focus on what is next. Focus in on the now and enjoy your body type at all stages of the journey. I know it can feel frustrating always having to buy new clothes because you go through them so fast, but it is critical that you feel confident in your body right now. Do not buy a size too small if you are always going to be self-conscious about it. 

Being on a weight loss surgery journey is challenging, but exciting at the same time. I encourage you to enjoy every step of the way and be proud of where you are at right now. Don’t put off buying those shorts! Embrace your curves. Wear what you want to wear right now and love your body for where it is at in its current stage. You are beautiful no matter where you are at in your journey. Never forget that!