The Gastric Band and Diabetes

Question Below Submitted By:  

Lonicera The Bandit (a patient from Bristol, UK)

Having bariatric surgery is such an enormous step, such a brave step. Most of us need a lot of support throughout the journey. Sometimes it is provided by well-informed websites such as this one, where you can both learn and interact with others, and sometimes what we need is a human being who will listen to us.

I read the questions from bariatric patients on this website and on the blogs, and most suggest the same basic problems:

– They haven’t read up enough about what happens to their bodies after bariatric surgery

– They are impatient for results and have unrealistic expectations. When they are not met straight away they assume the surgery has failed;

– They are in some sort of pain and what they need to do is go straight to a doctor rather than consult with people like us who want to help, but are not health practitioners.

It is pretty much the same for all of us. You have to:

– 1. Educate yourself about weight loss surgery. Be curious.

2. Make the right food choices. Don’t cheat recognize that you are cheating on yourself.

3. Listen to your body. Don’t hold back on consulting with health practitioners.

4. Be patient. Don’t be in such a hurry, or so unforgiving on yourself. This is by far the hardest one.

5. Look for inspiration there are many successful bariatric patients.

6. Take part in some form of therapy. Write about it or speak about it… preferably both.

Some people who write here or who have their own blogs will inspire you. I salute them because they have a special gift: the ability to succeed AND to transmit convincingly the simple and beguiling concept that if they can do it, you can too.

Oh I wish I could do this. But what I CAN do however is to explain my own experiences, in case they are of any help or at least a warning on what not to do.

I am a diabetic and had gastric band surgery in December 2008. I lost 25 kg over the next 18 months, then stopped, and it’s slowly creeping back on again.

Why? Well, in part because I don’t listen to my own advice see 2 above but also because I have the extra challenge of trying to control my blood glucose and liquid intake in addition to the number of calories I consume. I must eat regularly but the right things for my diabetes, yet avoid band-unfriendly foods. I must drink plenty of fluids to avoid kidney infections tied into my diabetes.

All this is not impossible, but it is hard work and it entails thinking constantly about food and meals (and the plaintive and inevitable daily comment But you must have SOMETHING from my partner).

For the last year or so I have been too restricted, but I wanted to continue because I thought that the discomfort would be worth it in the end. It wasn’t. I have been unable to eat the normal meals I used to, where vegetables played an important fill-up role, because I can’t keep more than a spoonful down.

The over-restriction left me hungry; I would attempt to deal with this by drinking semi-skimmed milk, or milky drinks with sweeteners, but gradually chocolate crept its way back into my diet, and biscuits from the local shop in the hospital where there is a little shop very near to my desk. Cereal was fine, and I have had a lot of the sugary varieties.

Consequence? Blood glucose up, weight up.

I went back to my bariatric team who looked after me for two years after the op and they recommended a 0.75cc fill. Too much as it turns out, because although it was wonderful to be able to eat proper meals again with plenty of vegetables, it was too easy and quantities are now too high. And the biscuits (cookies) are a hard habit to break, although I have been partially successful.

The trouble with high glucose in the blood is that although in theory you control it with insulin, in practice it stays on the high side because of your natural fear of hypoglycaemia, or low sugar levels, which make you feel really ill (briefly, until you eat sugar) which means you tend to err on the low side when injecting yourself with insulin.

Quite apart from the long-term detrimental effect on your body, on a day to day basis you feel incredibly tired and sleepy, and desperate for a nap most of the time; very early mornings are a drama. Even my favorite hobby of writing stories for my blog has slowed down as a result.

I will be having a 0.25cc fill again sometime soon to try and bring it back under control.

So of the six suggested action points above, I can categorically say after 3.5 years with the band, five of them are faithfully followed but the second one is my sticking point, without which the rest are worthless.

I have studied the possibility of the other bariatric operation a gastric bypass but have concluded that it is not for me, aside from the extra expense, as I would not be covered by medical insurance in the UK. One brave step was enough.

Lonicera The Bandit

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