Imagine taking a funnel and putting it in a drinking glass. The funnel represents your stomach, the glass represents your intestines. Imagine filling the funnel with something the consistency of a thick applesauce (which is ideally the consistency I should chew all food to before swallowing). The applesauce shouldn’t flow freely through the funnel into the glass, it should slowly kind of drip into the glass. Now imagine having the applesauce in the funnel and then pouring some water into it. Obviously, the contents are going to flow much faster through the funnel into the glass. Same with my new stomach. If I drink anything 30 minutes before or after eating, food will empty from my stomach into my intestines faster than the intestines can handle (because in addition to shrinking the stomach, the intestines were also shortened are re-routed to prevent as much absorption). And when the intestines start to freak out because the food is coming to fast, it causes dumping syndrome. Same when I consume too much sugar (the limit is typically 10 grams per meal). The intestines can’t process it fast enough and they freak out. It causes nausea, sweating, fast heartbeat, and occasionally vomiting and/or diarrhea (which luckily I have yet to experience).
So think about the funnel in the glass visual again. This time imagine the funnel being full of the thick applesauce substance. But even though it’s full, you keep adding more to it. It still is just slowly dripping through the bottom, so it just keeps stacking up so-to-speak. Before you know it, there’s no more room in the funnel. Now, any food you add to it has nowhere to go but…up. One small bite can make the difference between feeling fine and all of a sudden feeling like you have a small boulder stuck in your lower esophagus. It’s hard to take a deep breath or move without feeling super uncomfortable. This also happens MUCH more quickly if you aren’t properly chewing your food.
So far I have only had one real instance of the first problem (dumping syndrome) and I didn’t throw up – I just felt like garbage and came very close. But the second scenario happens a few times a day. I’m still learning to accurately gague when to stop eating. Like I said, sometimes it’s just the difference of one bite. Or not chewing long enough, even though you’ve already been chewing for 30 seconds.
So if you are considering gastric bypass, just know that it’s not all shrinking dress sizes. If you don’t like to monitor your portions pre-surgery, it only gets more intense afterwards. If you hate having to log foods and read labels, post-surgery you need to accurately track all fat, protein, and sugar that passes through your lips.
But even when I take the tiredness, nausea, racing heartbeat and/or boulders in the esophagus into account, it has totally been worth it. I’m down 61 pounds from my highest weight and today I was able to sit behind the steering wheel of my husband’s tiny Nissan Sentra and turn the wheel without my belly being a hindrance.
Yep. Still not regretting my decision.