Thursday, March 2, 2017
A Typical Weight Loss Surgery Horror Story
I have not had the gastric sleeve, but my sister has and this is her horror story. In the month after her May surgery, by Dr. Chua of Aurora Sinai in Milwaukee, my sister (Jane) came down with flu-like symptoms. Although she contacted her primary physician, who was aware of the recent surgery, and I believe she had an office visit with Dr. Chua, nobody showed any concern about infection. This is despite the fact that EVERYBODY knows that infection mimics flu-like symptoms and it was nowhere near flu season. Nobody ever did any scans post surgery to determine of there was any issue with the healing of the internal surgery area - even though I have since learned that other patients had experienced similar issues to what my sister was about to go through.
It turned out (after three ER visits in three days, despite the fact that I said I was worried about infection from the very first visit) that a staple hadn't held and that food/fluid had been leaking into her abdomen from the stomach causing a MASSIVE infection. By the time Aurora Lakeland in Elkhorn paid any attention to this she was almost dead. She barely made it through and it was literally touch and go for WEEKS!! AND that hospital wouldn't even treat her because they don't do bariatric surgeries - she had to be airlifted to Milwaukee.
What followed were numerous surgeries, months in ICU and then regular hospital (from July 4th weekend into October), an induced coma with her hands strapped to the bed so she wouldn't inadvertently pull out tubes and wires, being intubated for breathing assistance, additional infections, memory loss of that entire time, and leaving on a feeding tube. She has been on that feeding tube for over two years now.
Oh, she's thin alright. woohoo. But she gets her food from a bag hanging on an iv rack and has to grind her meds and flush them through the feeding tube line, as well as a drain that collects Fluid from her abdomen and open wounds that need daily care. She has NO muscles left. She probably couldn't walk a block if she was allowed to.
She came home from that hospital stay with a GIANT open wound the length of her abdomen - I mean it was big enough for me to stick both my hands into - and a wound vac installed in it to constantly vacuum up the fluid and goop that goes along with healing. That fluid drained into a plastic container that hung from tube(s) coming out of her abdomen - which she had to have with her always. It was all very painful and really gross.
That was just the first hospitalization. By January she was back in the hospital with another massive infection that had burned through her diaphragm and into her lungs. This time she spent her time in pulmonary ICU. You see they told her to start trying to eat - that they thought the holes in her stomach had closed, but they didn't do regular scans to verify this....again! They were wrong. Again.
Only this time her primary physician, Dr. Rosol of Aurora Lake Geneva, had diagnosed her with pneumonia over the phone and had given her a prescription not even strong enough to deal with pneumonia. So when she didn't get better, by the time the Aurora ER took her seriously she was again near death. This time they had to do lung surgery AND abdominal surgery to clear out and treat the raging infection caused by fluid and matter leaking from the stomach into everywhere.
So apparently this type of thing isn't that uncommon with this surgery, nor are the "fistulas" that develop as a result of this complication from this type of surgery. If the tissue around this fistula isn't so damaged that it can heal on its own it could take years. If it's damaged - as hers was from all that infection - there is no sewing it closed and it doesn't heal on its own. Imagine being on a feeding tube for the rest of your life - never tasting food, never enjoying a meal or a drink or a dessert or a holiday with your family again. Never a chocolate bar, or a bowl of Cereal, or a salad, or a glass of juice. NOTHING. All because someone convinced you that gastric sleeve surgery was the answer.
So if you are considering this surgery, don't. It's just not worth the risk. I know, if my sister could go back, she would choose fat over this lack of a life any day of the week. I grew up thin and am now fat and I would NEVER EVER EVER have a surgery to reduce my weight. Although I haven't been able to be disciplined enough to do it I know the only solution is eat less, move more. Two steps. The only solution.