As I write this I’m two days away from the…
One of the most daunting things I found when I was considering gastric bypass surgery was dumping syndrome. It was the biggest post surgery unknown that really made me wonder hard if it was the right choice for me. Only about 20 percent of gastric bypass patients will be affected by dumping so it was not necessarily a given after surgery.
A dumping episode is triggered by eating the wrong foods, namely ones too high in fat or sugar. I saw this as a huge bonus to the surgery because I was hopefully going to end up with a physical mechanism that would keep me away from things I shouldn’t be eating and are not recommended by my dietician to eat post surgery.
How gastric bypass surgery works is through two main mechanisms or ‘tools’ if you like. The first is malnutrition and that is having a much smaller stomach than you did previously. The other part of the tool is having part of the highly absorptive bit of your intestine taken out of action too which is the malabsorptive aspect of the tool. These together are what cause that initial fast weight loss.
Over time the stomach readjusts (not back to normal size but certainly a bit bigger than it was immediately post-op) and the intestine re-shuffles its self and its function and you gain some of the absorptive capacity back. Because it is the beginning portion of the small intestine that is taken out of action the valve between the stomach and the small intestine also goes with it.
Dumping syndrome happens when food that is too high in sugar or fat hit the intestine before its been metabolised very much by the stomach. This happens because it can easily pass through since the valve is not there to stop it anymore. This sudden influx of fat or sugar can be too much for your intestine to handle and so you can react in all manner of ways to it.
I have had a true episode of dumping once since my surgery. I, for whatever reason, and I can’t even remember now ate a few too many lollies than I should have (and it wasn’t many trust me). About half an hour later I got hot and I mean very very hot to the point I started dripping with sweat. I got shaky, my heart was noticeably racing and my head felt really strange and fuzzy. This was not at all pleasant and in the end I had to go to bed and basically sleep it off.
It’s a bit needless to say but I haven’t done that again because it is not an experience I would like to repeat. Occasionally I will have something I don’t usually have and have a couple of times got a warning where my forearms get really hot and I can tell if I don’t stop I’m going to have a full-blown dumping episode.
This first dumping episode happened for me over a year out from surgery and it completely took me by surprise. I have taken a very softly, softly approach in working up through the diet stages post-op and have been very careful in what I eat for fear of dumping and especially at first hurting my new teeny tiny tummy. Are you a post-op gastric bypass patient and do you experience dumping syndrome? What kinds of food set it off? If you are still pre-op is this something that is helping to influence your decision on whether to ave surgery or not? I’d love you to comment below and share your experience with me.