Small Bowel Obstruction, Illeus, Bleeding Ulcers, Chronic Anemia, Scar Adhesions

Question Below Submitted By:  

Julene (a patient from Greenville, SC, USA)

I am a 48-year-old female who underwent Roux-en-Y Gastric ByPass surgery in 2005. On the date of surgery I weighed in at 243 pounds and I l lost my first 100 pounds within 6 months. Although there has been some fluctuation in my weight (mainly when I fail to take my levothyroxine/Synthroid for my Graves Disease condition) I tend to remain at around 142 pounds and went from wearing a size 22/24 to a size 8/10. I have gained up to 176 pounds and lost down to 119 over the last 11 years. The main problems I have had have been the sheer number of additional surgeries I have had to undergo since my surgery and due to those, a terrible battle with an addiction to pain medication which led to divorce and separation from my children, job loss and subsequent problems keeping employment, family problems/disappointment, various 1-week to 4-month stints at hospital detox centers, inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, and Christian based rehabilitation homes and halfway houses, issues with self-esteem, depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, alcoholic tendencies and five DUI’s (three under the influence of pain medication and two under the influence of alcohol).
The Surgeries:
In June of 2006 I had to have my Gallbladder removed due to a build up of sludge and gallstones that were causing severe abdominal cramping and gassy, oily diarrhea. In December of 2006 I had my first Small Bowel Obstruction on Christmas Day and was in the Emergency Room, admitted that night and in surgery by the next morning. I had the same surgery to untwist my intestines just two weeks later in early January, 2007. In June of the same year (2007) just six months later, my bowels twisted again and again I was admitted through the local emergency room and having emergency surgery within hours. To make a long, miserably painful story short, over the next eight years, I underwent Open surgery for complications related to Small Bowel Obstruction four more times – two of those to remove painful scar adhesions on my lower intestines. I am unable to have any abdominal surgery laparoscopically any more due to too much scar tissue build-up (which ironically can only be removed by additional surgery, which causes more scarring). In total, counting the original Bypass surgery, since September of 2005, I have had eight abdominal surgeries, experienced and been hospitalized for weeks at a time with three episodes of Chronic Pancreatitis, am Chronically Anemic (my Hemoglobin consistently remains at a level of 7 where a healthy female of my age should rest in the 12-14 range), I have two .25 mm bleeding ulcers on my anastamosis which cause daily pain, discomfort, cramping and internal bleeding if I don’t keep them treated with Omeprazole, Pepcid or Protonix (some expensive medications). I have had over 30 CAT Scans (each worth 3 years of background radiation) and will probably develop some type of cancer, have had 6 blood transfusions, 3 iron transfusions, and one very painful magnesium transfusion. Due to the issues associated with being constantly suffused with Hydrocodone, Dilaudid and Morphine (Opioid pain medications) before, during and after surgery I became dependent on opiates and this dependency has subsequently been the cause of my divorce from my husband of 16 years, caused untold pain and suffering in my children since the time they were 10 and 8 years old (they are now 19 and 18), I have been fired from multiple high level as well as lower level positions (I have a Master’s Degree and have a background in Marketing, Public Relations and Fundraising but have had to settle for waitressing and cashiering jobs due to my history of drug abuse and problems maintaining employment long term), have caused my family – especially my parents and children terrible fear, shame and worry, have lost every friend I have ever had (even 25 year-old friendships) due to my chronic drug and alcohol addiction and the actions it caused me to take (lying, stealing, sneaking around trying to obtain my drugs of choice) and am now basically homeless, work as a waitress at a 24-hour diner, live in a city 1 1/2 hours from my children and ex-husband, 2 hours from my parents and am alone in a city with no friends or family, and am facing possible jail or prison time in relation to my latest DUI charge. I wish I had stayed “Fat and Happy” even though I know at 245 pounds I was pretty miserable then too. However, I never would have lost my marriage (my husband was opposed to the surgery in the first place), my children never would have seen me high or drunk, my family would not be ostracizing me as they are now, I would still have my friends, my beautiful 2500 square foot home, my car, my job and my life. If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, I NEVER would choose to have the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery and would work harder to lose weight through diet and exercise and be satisfied with even a 50 pound weight loss instead of 100. I am not any healthier than I was at my heaviest – in fact like I mentioned above, due to all the CAT Scans and continued complications, I will probably die of either some type of cancer, malnutrition, internal bleeding, or sepsis relatively soon. I regret this decision more than any other decision I have ever made – it surely changed my life – and not in a good way.

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