Advocating for yourself with health professionals after Bariatric Surgery

Advocating for yourself with health professionals after Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery brings many benefits to the vast majority of us who decide it’s the best option but it does bring some restriction and boundaries. These restrictions and boundaries are mostly around food and our intake but there’s also some important health related things that we need to take on board and ensure we stick to. Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on the health professionals we deal with to know all the ins and outs related to our weight loss surgery.

Bariatrics is a specialist area in healthcare and while more and more health professionals are becoming aware of it and learning about it there’s still some important stuff we need to stick up for ourselves on. We can’t rely on the wider health profession to know what things don’t work well with our tiny tummies and modified digestive tracts. It’s important we engage well with our bariatric team before surgery to learn the ins and outs of what we have to be careful of in our post-op life. I won’t detail what all these little things are as they vary by procedure, surgical team and country.

I have some really simple examples for you. These are things that my surgical team has made me aware of and aren’t to be taken as medical advice. The first time I was prescribed antibiotics after my RNY Gastric Bypass the direction was to take the tablets with food and a large glass of water. I asked the doctor what she would prefer I take it with, food or water, because my tiny tummy can’t do both at once. Pay attention to the little details because something as simple as taking antibiotics may need to be modified. I’ve also come to learn that probiotics don’t agree with me post gastric bypass so I avoid taking them in conjunction with antibiotics now.

When I was pregnant the second time and because of complications in my first pregnancy my midwife advised me that I should be taking high dose calcium and an Asprin every day. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to take Asprin after my bypass so told her that I couldn’t, she really wanted me to so I had to get my bariatric nurse to send her a letter to outline why. I did take the high dose calcium but had to pass on the Asprin because of my tiny tummy. Also, when I was pregnant I could not do the Glucose Tolerance Test to screen for gestational diabetes because I knew the mix of a high sugar drink, drunk quickly on an empty stomach would make me dump. You can read more about Dumping here if you’re not familiar with what I mean. I was able to do a fasting HBA1c test instead so I was still able to be screened for gestational diabetes, it just had to be done in a different way.

One of the most amusing (in a totally exasperated way) things I’ve encountered in the health system since my bypass is how a bariatric diet is not specifically catered for when you’re staying in hospital. There’s a range of meal plans you can choose but a bariatric diet is not one of them. When I was in for my c-section I was lucky to have a health-care assistant who had also had bariatric surgery themselves and was able to and really enthusiastically helped my pick the best food option for me to be on. I cannot for the life of me remember which one it was but it while not being perfect it was the most suitable. The good thing about having a tiny tummy is that even if a meal has bits that aren’t something you’d usually eat there’s enough good bits to get you through without them.

It’s really important to advocate for yourself and speak up if you are being advised to do something that doesn’t work with your bariatric surgery. In most cases an alternative can be sought and figured out. As bariatric surgery becomes more common and especially as more people within the health system have it themselves the baseline of knowledge out there will increase. If you’re unsure if something is okay in relation to your bariatric surgery then check it out with your surgical team. Even if another doctor/nurse/specialist etc has reassured you it’s okay it won’t hurt to ask your surgical and be completely sure.

Have you had something like this happen after your bariatric surgery? Was there an alternative that was more suitable for you? Comment below and let me know, I would love to hear about your experiences.

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There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Sarah at 6:34 pm

    I’ve had 2 babies post op and i found it really scary going into hospital with my first- majority of staff didnt know what meds i could or couldnt take.

    Bariatric pregnancies are scary- there aren’t many midwives who know much about this and unfortunately for my previous pregnancies i had a less than ideal mw.

    Im currently pregnant with my 3rd and have found the holy grail of midwives! Finally i feel like i am “safe” and dont need to be on guard re medications etc.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:39 pm

      I’m glad things are looking up for your third pregnancy, congrats! I was lucky my midwife’s backup had sleeve surgery so while she didn’t know everything she was at least a bit familiar with bariatric surgery.

  2. Nerida Cross at 7:08 pm

    Great article Melissa. I’m constantly having to explain that I can’t have anti-inflammatory medications as pain relief because of having a bypass. I often find that I end up giving the doctors a medical lesson on how a body works post bariatric surgery, like I’m there to teach them rather than get medical advice! Engaging with your bariatric team pre and post surgery is a definite must and being prepared to stand up for what you actually need. I have had to do that with my GP on occasions and he was the one who referred me for surgery.

  3. Krista at 12:47 pm

    I’m still in hospital post sleeve – my surgeon said to me that they aren’t set up for a bariatric diet, so I’d just have to find something I can eat. Nurse has suggested broth, but I was quite surprised that having literally just had the surgery done in this hospital there is no support!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 1:02 pm

      I had to take my own optifast into hospital with me after my gastric bypass. It’s outrageous that they don’t have it figured out for immediately after surgery yet. I hope you manage to figure something out that works for you and fits your nutrition guidelines for the time being.

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