Veronica Claire: Grasping for normalcy after gastric bypass surgery
She twitched and squirmed in her seat with a nervous perplexity. Veronica Claire, 41-year-old mother of three, admitted to being timid, which is surprising because she’s absolutely breathtaking.
Though stunning from her wavy hair down to the booties that she wore, Veronica felt uneasy because frankly, sharing a secret is never easy to do.
Admittedly, Veronica looked amazing on the outside; however, the inside of her body betrayed her subtly, intuitively, and then all at once.
It was around 2011 when Veronica considered having gastric bypass surgery.
“I had body imaging issues [slightly obese], and I just wanted to feel better about myself,” she confessed.
Veronica glowed at the top of her career in Charlotte, NC. She wore the trendiest clothes, maintained the bold hairstyles, and to top it off, she was happily married.
Even then, Veronica displayed a witty and often times, comical demeanor that whistled a harmonious tune of contentment. Life was good and she seemed to be at ease.
During January 28, 2013, Veronica felt confident about the operation, and went ahead with the process.
“They [the doctors] told me what the procedure would be and they basically said that they would reroute my intestines, and give me a smaller pouch so I could eat less foods.
They [medical professionals] really talked about restrictions, the foods you can and cannot have, other than that, that’s pretty much it. You meet with a psychiatrist for about an hour to make sure you’re mentally stable to have the surgery and and you meet with a dietician…
They don’t give you any after care. They just prepare you for insurance,” she added.
Veronica consulted with three surgeons, and then forged on with a quest of reimaging her body.
“It took me six months to lose 100 pounds, and it just kept going down from there. I started at 300 pounds, and went down to 150 pounds within the first year.
Just as Veronica mentioned, the pounds melted off quickly, so it wasn’t until two years later that she suffered a complication, [unrelated to the bypass operation], and had to be taken by ambulance, to the hospital.
“They said it was routine for them to check my blood sugar. He [the paramedic] asked me was I okay, because my blood sugar was at 40 [Normal blood sugar for an adult 120].”
Hoping that the issue would stabilize itself, Veronica began monitoring the rare findings, and realized that something was terribly wrong, so she scheduled an appointment with a local endocrinologist, here, in Charlotte, and that’s when the physicians diagnosed her with reactive hyperglycemia because of gastric bypass surgery two years earlier.
Unfortunately, the onset for many abnormalities varies depending on the type of surgery a patient may have.
Statics says that many people who receive the surgery not only suffer from complications, but they take vitamin supplements for the rest of their lives to prevent malnourishment.
Veronica swallows a mixture of vitamins as well as prescriptions—that’s about twenty pills per day, just to live.
That isn’t the only thing that changed, “Veronica’s diet consist of dietary supplements in addition to vegetables, fruit, and liquid supplements. As for basic foods-- fried foods, the stuff that’s wickedly pleasing to the taste buds, she can’t eat any of it.
“My stomach is extremely small, so I can’t just go out and have sweet Danishes. I can’t just have a sandwich, and those types of things. I need more protein than carobs. My life is very abnormal [since the surgery].”
Suffering from severe stomach pains, Veronica prefers to stick to her rich diet of wholesome foods, and exercise vigorously so that she can maintain a healthier lifestyle, which is another downslide all together.
Veronica opted to have the surgery so she could look better and feel more confident about herself.
“People wanna say that you look good, but when you don’t feel good—I can’t tell you if there is a plus side. If a lot of people would be honest, they would tell you that you don’t feel like yourself, and once you change that anatomy, it changes a lot about you.”
Regrettably, Veronica uncovered more problems.
“I dealt with bulimia. They [the doctors] won’t tell you that when you restrict food, you’ll receive an eating disorder,” she said.
Forcing up vomit, with her finger, Veronica suffered an ailment quietly, and then candidly—afraid of being full… she was afraid of gaining weight again.
The mental breakdown proved to be catastrophic. “I’d stick my finger down my throat and bring the food back up… I had to seek mental health treatment,” said Veronica.
The clinic specializes in “bariatric” care and this is the only center in Charlotte, NC, that caters to bypass patients.
Under monitoring, a strict supervision, they [the nurses] watched Veronica, just to make sure that she didn’t heave.
“It got to a point that I would rather drink my food because I didn’t want to feel it sitting in my stomach,” she said.
Most bariatric patients have saggy skin, and they may develop other deficiencies dependent on the type of surgery they’ve received such as anemia, malnutrition, and osteoporosis.
Veronica states that the mental evaluation that people [she] acquired before the surgery was a small formality to get folks approved through their insurance, while capitalizing on the vulnerability of patients and their weight loss obsessions, which could potentially become life threatening.
When asked about the positive aspects of the procedure, Veronica thought for about twenty-five seconds before responding,” I guess my vitals are normal, otherwise, I can’t think of anything good because I was happier when I was fluffy.”
As we continued to talk, Veronica remarked in a solemn tone, “I wish I wouldn’t have done it.”
Veronica befriended others like her, who was either post operation or pre gastric bypass surgery. Though she offers support and encouraging words, Veronica still feels that she could do more, not to discourage men or women, but by letting them know the truth—that the benefits of altering a genetically engineered organ, is easier said than done.
Veronica is already maxed at her insurance deductible and its only January. Her medical allowance includes frequent visits to the hematologist, endocrinologist and psychologist, as well as a therapist, who all work together on her behalf.
“I feel like a sickly patient and a burden sometimes. I was happier and healthier when I was fluffy,” she admits in a dejected tone.
Veronica urges people to take into consideration that there are other weight loss methods outside of [bariatric] gastric bypass surgery. “If it isn’t life or death, I wouldn’t recommend the surgery. There aren’t any easy fixes.”
Veronica said that even the men she has dated [subsequent to divorce] were only attracted to her appearance… They wanted the vanity—they wouldn’t have approached her when she was fluffier.
After going through a divorce [because of the mental aspect of surgery], and battling many health issues, including failed relationships, Veronica is more courageous than she thinks.
Veronica offers a support group for women, who had surgery and those with other aesthetic and mental issues.
“I just want people to know that if you’re gonna do it and you don’t have the will to do what’s right; to take your supplements, and protein on a daily basis. To get your blood work every three months, you are now a patient—if you don’t have the willpower to do those things, just leave it alone because you are a lifetime patient.
I think that not only doctors misinform patients, but patients misinform others too because they want to look good, but they would never admit that they have more bad days than good ones.”