Gastric Bypass Surgery
A Health Dose of Reality
By Deborah M. Cofer
By now, you've heard the hype. NBC's Weather Anchor Al Roker is shrinking, over the last TK months, he's dropped a whopping TK pounds right before our eyes. Singer Carnie Wilson also dropped a hefty TK pounds. Both of these celebrities, opted for gastric bypass surgery to defeat the "battle of the bulge." A struggle that many Americans
According to the latest data, more than one half of the American population is overweight-and obesity is rising at an alarming rate. With all of the recent media attention on celebrities like NBC Weather Anchor, Al Roker and singer Carnie Wilson, who both opted for the gastric bypass surgery in order to defeat the "battle of the bulge", as a veteran of the same struggle and someone who also choose gastric bypass as the "weapon of choice" I am compelled the shed a new light of reality on this latest weight-loss craze that many view as the "ultimate" solution to this growing epidemic.
After trying for years to gain control of my weight, I underwent this five-hour procedure on June 8, 2001. At the time of the surgery, I weighed in at 298 lbs. My decision had little to do with appearances and much more to do with health. Like the View's co-host, Star Jones, my sense of self was not based on the numbers registered on the bathroom scale of the size of my dress. But, the years of excess weight had begun to take a devastating toll on my ability to function at levels I felt conducive to the quality of life I had always enjoyed. For me the gastric bypass surgery represented a last-ditch effort to correct the imbalance between my ailing physical body, my soaring spirit, and my sagging emotions. Today, 123 lbs. lighter and feeling the best I've felt in years, I feel a sense of responsibility to share my thoughts and experiences as a veteran of the gastric bypass surgery.
Unfortunately most people have been conditioned to view the weight loss process, as a function requiring, primarily, physical action. But beyond the weight loss experienced as a result of the surgery the psychological challenge of modifying dietary behaviors that did not "magically" transform after the surgery becomes a daily consideration that many people fail to acknowledge. Although, in some respects, I feel as though I've won the battle, on other fronts the war still wages on because there are still unresolved issues with respect to dietary behavior and lifestyle changes that I struggle to deal with everyday. With the affects of the Dumping Syndrome that can cause a host of not-so-pleasant consequences like nausea, vomiting, and light-headedness, when eating foods not recommended, the first five months provided the perfect motivation I needed to keep my eating in check. But after my body had completely healed I was able to resume "normal" eating behaviors (eating on the run, junk-food, fast-foods, etc.) the struggle to develop a healthy eating regime that works in conjunction with my fast-paced lifestyles and desire to remain healthy has become a major challenge.
Gastric bypass hasn't magically transformed my relationship with food - it's still my addiction of choice. But it is one I'm determined to conquer with the help of a good nutritionist. I just thank God that with the rerouting of my gastric system, my body is no longer able to absorb the excess fat in the way it once did and the reduction in the size of my stomach limits the amount I can eat. Much to my dismay the psychological factors that trigger unhealthy eating behaviors for me (high levels of stress, no time, and other emotional factors) weren't transformed. The reality is that the surgery doesn't eliminate the desire for food or restrict the types of food eaten, once the body has healed - which takes anywhere from five to eight months. Gastric bypass surgery only provides a physiological boost that helps the body better process and eliminate excess fat.
The plain and simple truth about gastric bypass is that along with the surgery comes a lifetime of personal commitment to making better food choices, exercising on a regular basis, complying with the necessary supplemental requirements, and committing to nutrition counseling. Sorry folks...the procedure just doesn't allow those who are weight challenged to bypass individual responsibility in the process of long-term weight loss.
For more information on the
gastric bypass surgery contact:
Lenox Hill Hospital
St. Lukes/Roosevelt Hospital
Mt. Sinai Medical Center
Montefiore Medical Center
Deborah is the Public Relations Officer for the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center in East Harlem. She is also Founder, President, and CEO of Let Go and Let God Ministries, a health educator, host of a weekly cable television program "EXHALE" currently under production and a monthly guest host of "Good News At Midnight" which airs on Radio Station 970 A.M. (every third Saturday, midnight - 2:00 A.M.) Deborah is also a motivational speaker and facilitator of "EXHALE" a weekly spiritual support program for women. Her first book "EXHALE ...Let Go and Let God" is scheduled for release in late Spring 2003. For more information Ms. Cofer can be reached at (212) 289-6650