22nd March 2009
I've had what I can only describe as a very sad awakening this week .... because I have been trying to do what I can do to raise awareness here in Australia in regard to post op complications I have been looking around to see if I can find some other Australians in a similar situation to me, and during this experience I have joined a couple of other post WLS forums.
So far I have tried an Australian group .... but they were not interested in having a member of their group that was having complications. I eventually found a very large international group that quotes having 200,000 members, so I figured that this group was large enough to get a well rounded view on just how many people are doing well and how many are not.
Well I couldn't believe how large this community is ... and how many different forums there were on offer. Most of the group forums were for newbie's who were supporting each other through the first 12 - 18 months post surgery and some who were 5-10 years out, but there were groups for people with complications, and also a veterans group of long termers. I decided to pop into a few different groups just to see what everyone was talking about ... and what I found was that it didn't matter what side of the post op coin you belonged to ... people were all talking about complications and most of them were fairly serious complications. After dipping my toes in many different ponds ... I found myself feeling very sad and concerned because there were a whole lot of people who were so deliriously happy ( and the word delirious was definitely the operative word here) about how much weight they had lost ... and how much it had changed their life .... but most were having several
ongoing surgeries to fix up serious problems and a very large number were dealing with the onset of symptoms associated with post gastrectomy syndrome, especially in the 1-5 year post op range. In the past week, I have not read one post in any of these forums where there was anyone who was not experiencing substantial health issues post op. The delirium I encountered
was what concerned me the most, especially when I was reading post after post of people who were so ecstatic that they were thin ... but being thin had put them through 3-6 after surgeries and a host of "debilitating" daily health problems. I then decided to drop into the chat room associated with this group ... I introduced myself and straight away I had others introducing themselves and asking me what surgery I had and how many years I was post op. Everyone was very surprised when I said I was nearly 30 years post op and straight away they wanted to know how I was doing. So I made my answers very brief and honest, basically said I wasn't doing very well at all, had a lot of long term post op issues ... and immediately the mood in
the chat room changed ... and I was actually subjected to some very rude and abusive comments. I wished everyone a good day and left the conversation. Most in the group were under 5 years post op and I thought well, ok even though they were mentioning their own complications they obviously felt that these health issues would subside eventually.
So I headed off to read some posts from people who were 20 + years post op ... all of these people were suffering with very serious long term complications and ongoing health issues but .... they were talking about having new WLS surgeries done on top of what they had already been so unsuccessful with. Wow ... this just blew me away. All were very ill, did not regret having the surgery done and were prepared to do it again. The general feeling being that they obviously got the wrong kind of surgery in the first place. What made it even sadder was that there was a girl in their who had posted a story about her father, he had WLS in the very early 70's ... had spent 15-20 years of his life horribly ill prior to dying. But because he had 20 years thin he had no regrets ... sadly his daughter did have regrets about his surgery ... because she lost her father and what time she did have with him was not quality time. No one had commented on her post ... know one wanted to know or acknowledge it ... not even the other long termers.
I returned to the home page of this very large online community ... and the most prominent feature on the page was an ongoing slideshow of before and after photo's ... and I realised that the end results ( the thin factor) was all that anyone wanted to focus on. Anything that happened between the before and the after shots was not relevant, nor was anything that continued
after. Thin .... no matter what the cost.