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Alia and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This is not a child’s book, but I am having childish problems. I am exhausted; I’m tired all of the time which I attribute to being Bi-polar and to a vitamin or nutrient deficiency somewhere. I am not getting enough of something. I went out to my car for my usual nap on my lunch break and ended up practically comatose.

I came back into work to make myself a protein shake and it’s turning into an epic fail mission because I’m now experiencing turbulent tummy. Yall, I just want to go home and get back into my bed like this day never happened. I am so exhausted; I’m always exhausted. Today has been a tricky day in terms of foods. I had a ham and swiss croissant for breakfast after my vitamins and it was, like most foods, hard to swallow. I don’t remember having this degree of difficulty swallowing foods before surgery. Things go down my esophagus and they are stuck there, blocking burps, so I have to beat my chest or my back like a baby that needs burping. It’s sooo unattractive for a lady to do that like a lumberjack male trying to coax out a burp, but if I don’t, I would literally keel over. You might be thinking, “eat slower,” I can assure you that I have tried taking miniscule bites, chewing more slowly and thoroughly, and even swallowing less at a time. Things still tend to get stuck right at the intersection of too-low-to-be-choking and too-high-to-hit-stomach. Sometimes, I have to call it back up (think python when threatened.) I hate it. Hate it.

Thanks to Dr. Google I have a name for this: Dysphagia is a medical term for difficulty swallowing. In Gastric Bypass surgery a small gastric pouch is created at the upper normal stomach. This small pouch (less than 1 ounce immediately following surgery) results in a significant reduction of food that can be consumed in one sitting. Dysphagia is caused by eating too fast or not chewing well enough. Therefore, food backs up in to the esophagus and causes chest pressure. It is important to spot eating and drinking if the patient has dysphagia otherwise regurgitation (see python reference,) and vomiting may ensue.

Dysphagia can be avoided by following eating guidelines: Chewing well, small bites, pausing between swallows, not mixing solids and liquids and stopping when full. If dysphagia persists after 4 to 6 months after surgery or worsens, gastric stoma stricture has to be ruled out.

So…I have been eating too fast, or at least, swallowing too fast. This is a process, I have said that before. I really have tried to slow it down, I will have to work harder on that. What I love about this experience is that it truly forces lifestyle changes that I tried, unsuccessfully, to make habit in the past. I can either eat much more slowly than I have been, or I can continue to have extreme pressure in my chest after eating and food stuck in my esophagus… I’m going to choose the former for $500 Alex.

Little things make a difference. For example, I have completely given up on soda. IF I really wanted soda, I would just buy soda water and add crystal light. Sure, I walk past the vending machine and stare, longingly, at the Coke and Dr. Pepper, but I don’t want it badly enough to risk hyperglycemia! Subtle things have changed as well, like the amounts of sugar I like in my teas, juices, and foods. I water down orange juice and sweet tea and I make extremely weak Kool-Aid, but I have always kind of liked it that way.

I think it’s cute that my portions are so small, and honestly, other people do too because it causes them to be more mindful of how they eat. I told my coworkers the cold, hard truth: that we shouldn’t be eating any portion larger than the size of our fists. I eat on salad plates now or saucers, to make sure that I don't overdo it, or you can buy plates for bariatric patients (see right.) All I did was have surgery to put my stomach back to the right size, and alter my digestion (of course.)

If you are considering, or have had bariatric surgery, I would encourage you with this thought: There are those that would call this a cop out. You will know that’s not true from the moment that you start cutting portions on your own leading up to surgery, you’ll know that’s true when you start your 2-week liquid diet, and you will, especially, know that not to be true once people start saying, “I couldn’t do what you’re doing!” Then, you’ll know it’s worth it when the weight starts coming off and people start saying, “You look great.” Hold out for it. It is worth the lifestyle changes. I might be uncomfortable momentarily, but it means nothing in the grand scheme of things.


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