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REALITY CHECK: Yes, it does happen.


Reality: It Does Happen.

Today’s posting is going to be pretty raw, but then…the content is pretty raw. This is serious business and, well, there really is no good way to say it. Some of you will reject what I’m saying with a “It can’t happen to me,” reaction; others of you will say, “There she goes again. Overreacting.” I can’t change that. But, I can hope to reach those of you who are willing to set aside your feelings about the subject long enough to hear the truth.

Let me begin by saying, those of you who know me well, know how passionate I am about people having the information they need to make wise and healthy choices. I am rabid about doctors telling patients what they need to know to live healthy, balanced lives after weight loss surgery. I am fervent that, while I am not responsible for the behavior of others, I am responsible for:

1) Informing them if their behavior is dangerous, and
2) Not reinforcing the behavior by turning a blind eye.

Many people are afraid to say something if they know they can or will be judged negatively for saying it. Fortunately, I am not one of those people, because what I am about to say is coming to you from a place of utmost love, concern, compassion, reality, and yes…distress. It would be easy to feel helpless, but I refuse to do that, because I know my words have the power to help.

So, here goes:

Yesterday, I received a text from a woman I’ve known for many years. We worked together about 12 years ago, but have stayed in touch (albeit sporadically) since then. She has always lived her life unapologetically, boldly , fearlessly and without excuse. Though we didn’t always share the same perspectives on things, we didn’t have to justify our choices. We just knew who we were. She is one of the most talented, expressive and “larger-than-life” people I have ever known, and have always felt that my own daughter is cut from the same cloth. She is Bohemian, eclectic, edgy, ferocious, feisty, in-your-face, over-the-top, brash…and yes, even crass. And you know what? It’s always fit her.

Eight years ago, my friend had weight loss surgery (RNY) and shed nearly half of her body weight. I heard through the professional grapevine that she looked incredible, and…I’ll be honest: I was envious. Fast forward about 2-1/2 years, and I contacted her to ask her about her experience as a post-op. She said, “Rather than telling you on the phone, let’s get together and I’ll give you the unvarnished truth. I’ll tell you stuff you won’t hear anywhere else.” She was right. She was honest, forthright, and again — unapologetic. She said it was the best decision she’d ever made, though the life was no picnic.

That was the last time I saw her (in person).

And then, yesterday morning, at 6:30 a.m., I received a text message asking me if I wanted to drop by for a visit. (???) She said she was at a local hospital (had been for a week) and was a “captive audience.” She then said something very mysterious. She said, “I want to share something with you so you can bring it to your ‘students.’ It’s important and it has to do with WLS…it’s a direct outcome that no one ever talks about.”

My mind raced. “What could it be?” I wondered…I gently asked, “Is it…emotional stuff?” “No,” she laughed. “I’m not in the psych ward!” I was relieved and thought, “How bad could it be, then…?”  I pondered…

And I went to therapy. Thankfully, I went to therapy BEFORE I went to see my friend.

I stopped by Home Depot on the way because I thought I shouldn’t go empty-handed. No matter what she was in for, she’d enjoy some flowers.

I arrived at the hospital and, with only a tiny amount of trepidation, headed to her room. Which, it turned out, was in CCU. That’s right: Critical Care Unit. Now, I have had a LOT of experience with this floor. My dad died there 3 years ago. My brother nearly died there several times. My dear friend (one of my first loves) nearly died of cancer there.

The instant the elevator doors opened, I was filled with that familiar dread. You don’t get good news on this floor. But — I soldiered on because I knew I had to be there for her. There was a profound reason she had called me.

As I made my way past the secured doors….all the way to the end of the hall, I remember thinking, “Wow! Corner room. It can’t be *that* bad…” Don’t ask me why I drew this conclusion. I don’t know.

I walked in and spotted a woman sitting in a chair. I was relieved because, I thought that was my friend, and she looked great. Ahh, but it wasn’t my friend; it was her cousin. I had only to divert my gaze to the form in a reclining chair to see the woman I hadn’t laid eyes on in 5 years. If I hadn’t known who I was going to see, I might not have recognized her, because the person in front of me was completely foreign. Her hair was matted and thin; she looked gaunt and pale; she had black and blue marks beneath her eyes and on her arms, and she had the proverbial wires and tubes protruding from beneath tape on her hands and chest.

This was not what I was expecting.

On any level.

She greeted me in her usual way: “Welcome to the penthouse! Sorry I can’t get up, but I’m in liver and kidney failure.”

As I type that, my heart leaps to my throat again, and I am fighting back tears. These are stinging tears of anger and injustice. “Why was this happening?” I demanded in a brain that couldn’t began to wrap its arms around the situation that presented itself.

She said, “Sit down. I’ve got a story for you. It’s something you need to share with your people. You need to get the word out there because doctors aren’t saying it.”

She has cirrhosis of the liver and it is bad. My friend needs a liver transplant or she will die.

Why did this happen? Easy. Because no one told her that 1-2 glasses of wine would kill her. Before surgery, she enjoyed drinking. She’ll tell you — she loved mixing exotic drinks, living high and celebrating with her friends. After surgery, she did what she was told: She cut back on her food and drank IN MODERATION. After all, there is nothing wrong with a little wine. It’s harmless and sophisticated. Besides, if someone tells you you CAN’T DRINK, then it becomes “forbidden fruit…” and we can’t have that. We can’t turn something “acceptable” into a tabu. Once we do that, we start to label people and say that they are “bad and wrong.” And — If we’re not careful — we begin to call them addicts, which only means they are “lazy,” and “out of control.” So, best to just avoid that slippery slope by telling people that alcohol is okay after weight loss surgery: IN MODERATION (naturally).

Makes sense. After all, I was the modicum of moderation at 320 pounds. I had no problem with the “less is more,” concept.


BUT, not everyone is like me. And, that is why I was told (quite sternly, I might add) that, after surgery, I would no longer be able to…


That’s right. These behaviors would…Well…I think the concept is that these behaviors would…Oh yeah, I remember: Make me hungry, possibly create an obstruction AND potentially stretch my pouch. We couldn’t have that, because then it would defeat the purpose of the surgery and I would regain my weight.

As opposed to drinking *a little* alcohol which — if I was told NOT to drink it — could: KILL. ME. Did you follow that logic? I was NOT told NOT to drink alcohol, even though it could kill me, but I was told told NOT to chew gum because it could get stuck, allow more air into my pouch, or — God forbid — make me hungry.

Do I sound angry? I hope so, because I am. I am angry by the cavalier attitude of many doctors who are afraid to draw a line in the sand about alcohol consumption, but have no compunction putting the fear of God into me about gum, straws and soda.

But, should I blame the doctors? Is it their fault? They play a large role in the problem for shirking their responsibility to educate patients about things that can and will kill them, but what happens after that?

I blame a community that reinforces and CELEBRATES the “freedom,” “joy,” “sophistication,” “gleeful abandon,” “merriment,” “enlightenment,”….”fun” of — not just drinking, but drinking to the point of sickness. Why doesn’t the community say something? Because (I am told), you “can’t tell someone what they should and shouldn’t do.”

Oh, really? How come you’re telling me that, as a post-op, I need to take vitamins, monitor protein, and steer clear of processed foods that are high in sugar and fat content? How come you can tell me that I must exercise — and then exercise more? Why is that acceptable?

Oh…perhaps it is because we cannot expect OTHERS to do what we ourselves are not wiling to do? Sure, that’s it. I can’t tell you not to drink because I have an occasional glass of wine and — (this is rich) — we’re all adults here.

Well, I have a strong opinion about that. We may be adults chronologically, but many, many — okay — most of us are damaged children. I’ve said it before, I didn’t become obese because I was emotionally stable. Abuse. Neglect. Addiction. Horrible things. Traumatic things that we tried to eat away because it was all we could do to survive.

What is alcohol, then? Why is it something to turn to when we are “on vacation,” or “celebrating a holiday” or having a “special occasion”…?

Short answer? IT’S. NOT. OKAY. It’s a drug. Plain and simple. And I am not judging anyone who uses it. I am warning you. It kills. If you have had weight loss surgery, and haven’t had a drink — “YET” — don’t start. If you’ve experimented — STOP. If you’re doing it regularly – GET HELP.

That’s it. Nothing more. If you don’t like what I’m saying, I understand. I don’t make the rules, and there is a lot of conflicting OPINION out there. But this is fact: After weight loss surgery — particularly after gastric bypass — we are rewired..bypassed…altered. Where do you think that alcohol goes when you get that immediate “high”…followed by an “all-too-fast” low?

Hey, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give you the specifics in medical terms. But, my friend can. She can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about organ failure. She can tell you in great detail how it feels to have a body that will not process toxins, so it holds onto them..in her legs…around her abdomen…She’ll tell you how she gained 30 pounds of poison in 1 week. And then she’ll tell you about all of the inconclusive tests that were run, how her veins collapse from all of the poking around and dehydration. She will tell you how the first doctor who came to visit her called her a drug addict and alcoholic. She will tell you how they can’t seem to get her meals right, so instead of cottage cheese, fruit, peanut butter and celery (which is what she requested,) she gets spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a burrito. Oh, plus “diet pudding,” that she has decided is really just lemon flavored petroleum jelly.

Then, she will tell you that she can’t tell her boyfriend the truth of her circumstances. Because it would be too painful. FOR HIM.

Think I’m judging you for drinking? Okay. If you must.
Think I’m judging HER for drinking? That’s a little harder to justify. Don’t you think?

Here’s the bottom line: My friend called me because she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else in our community. Yes, she feels betrayed by doctors — but more importantly, she can’t understand why this community celebrates alcohol consumption. She knows that I am vocal advocate for living a healthy and long Bariatric After Life™ — and she is right. So she asked me to carry her message forward.

If this post stops even ONE PERSON from drinking. If this post encourages even ONE DOCTOR to speak to a patient about alcohol after WLS. Then, the potential backlash will all be worth it. Heck, even if that doesn’t happen, I will not stop speaking this truth because the guilt of knowing that I COULD have done something, but didn’t would be too much to bear.

Thank you for reading and I sincerely hope you choose life over that next drink.

God bless.


1 cntryrose { 06.10.12 at 10:17 pm }

Thank you for posting about this. While I'm not a drinker, while in the company of a few other Bariatric friends recently I did have a few drinks. I don't like the way I feel afterwards…so from now on its iced TEA for me, or water with lime.

Yesterday I was at my surgeons seminar for prospective new patients and the subject of alcohol consumption came up. He talked a long time about the affects of alcohol after surgery, it's not pretty as your friend has found out. I'm so sorry for her, and I hope this blog does reach, at least,mine person and turns them around. There's a reason we all had this surgery, and we all need to keep that front and center of our daily lives.

2 bariatricafterlife { 06.10.12 at 10:43 pm }

Thank you for reading, understanding and commenting. We can save lives. I believe it from the bottom of my heart.

3 Tammy { 06.10.12 at 10:21 pm }

interesting that my doc's dietician said it was okay to have a drink on a special occasion, but only once or twice a year. I have had maybe 2 drinks after surgery and neither set well so I just don't – I will do a non-alcholic drink from time to time, but really I'd just rather not, it's easier that way. So sad and sorry to hear about your friend and you are so right in what the doc's emphasize for you to do and not do.

4 Connie Stapleton { 06.10.12 at 10:37 pm }

I am standing (well, as best I acc considering I’m in the car) giving you a standing ovation. You are courageous, honest, and a trail blazer. I’m always proud to be associated with you, but never more (yet) than at this moment. I second everything you wrote. God Bless your friend – and, speaking of God, I believe her contacting you was what I call “a God thing.” Thank you for bravely speaking out! And remind me never to offer you gum again!

5 Susan aka mamasue { 06.11.12 at 4:34 am }

Connie this is what I was talking about at your meeting Tuesday. I was telling you of a friend that drinks and wonders why she has not lost any more weight and infact has gained some back about 10lbs. I keep telling her it is what she is drinking. Yes we need this reality check as much as anything else. We can lead someone to water but can not make them drink the water… But we can give them the knowledge and wisdom not to do these habits. I think we do need to check ourself and with everthing else that we learn to keep us healthy we need to hear that drinking will affect us more that it would if we did not have the surgery… why have the surgery if we are going to drink ourselves to death. To me that is stupid. But we ate ourselves to death in our old life… So is it right to do either now. No I say!! Why put our bodys through that again… I feel very strong about this. Cari I hope that your friend gets better and see's the light and changes her lifestyle.. I send her blessing for a new life and hope that this will help others with their WLS life.

6 Candice Thompson { 06.10.12 at 10:52 pm }

I will respond more, but right now… I am circulating this post! For now… my most humble thanks!!

7 Yvonne McCarthy { 06.10.12 at 11:35 pm }

I used to drink a glass of wine a couple of times a year and I too just didn't like the way I felt. I just don't drink anymore. Even though alcohol didn't "do it for me" I'm grateful that I didn't have to find out that it did. I don't need the empty calories anyway. The moment anything starts to make our lives unmanageable (like food did) we must step back and take another look at what we are doing because I've seen many post-ops end up in rehab for alcohol and/or drugs. It is a slippery slope for sure.

8 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 12:10 am }


9 Deborah H { 06.10.12 at 11:52 pm }

Thank you, Cari, for sharing your friend's story. I appreciate the honesty!

10 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 12:10 am }

It wasn't easy, but she entrusted this to me, and I felt compelled to carry the message. Thank you for understanding and appreciating it.

11 Carrie Bell { 06.11.12 at 12:12 am }

Cari, I have been a rebel all of my life. When I developed diabetes 15 years ago I knew it was serious. But I was still young, and worked 70 hour weeks and lived my life wide open. I would pay attention to the D later.

My Dad and my brother both had diabetes as well. They didn't pay attention either. None of us felt good, but no one was gonna tell us what to eat. Well, Daddy died at 66 from a form of cancer attributed to diabetes. My brother slipped into a diabetic coma because he had destroyed his body by not even attempting to control his blood sugar levels, much less quit drinking alcohol. He was 44 when he died. I've gotten control of my blood sugar finally, but I didn't figure out my lessons in time. I've been disabled for 5 years now and diabetes is the root of most of the high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, neuropathy, Charcot foot, and a hole the size of a golf ball in my foot that hasn't healed in a year. I knew the standard line all the medical field tells us, Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage if blood glucose levels remain uncontrolled. Really? It all sounds rather benign doesn't it? Oh, I've got years before I need to worry about any of that. Right?

WE ARE OBLIVIOUS! Look how long we have been told about the dangers of smoking tobacco. How long have we known about unplanned pregnancy, STDs and HIV? We have a whole generation of children growing up on processed food and no exercise and we know their life expectancy is gonna be less than the previous generation. Oh isn't that a shame, but that's not going to happen to me…Really?

I agree with everything you wrote about being given information, giving it to us in no uncertain terms. But until we pay attention, realize there are consequences to each choice we make, and take responsibility for making a difference, nothing is going to change. I wish I knew the answer. I pray to God I haven't left it too late in my life. And I thank God for people like you willing to keep fighting and educating no matter how strong the tide flows against us.

I am glad to meet you Cari. You make me think.

12 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 12:19 am }

Carrie: Thank you for your story. I am glad you are taking care of your situation now and will pray for your reclaimed health! I am glad to know you, too 🙂

13 Anna { 06.11.12 at 12:26 am }

Thanks for posting this. I had RNY and I don't recall anyone telling me not to drink alcohol. I don't even remember that ever being talked about. I guess I'm just blessed because I made a pledge years ago to never drink again (because my father was an alcoholic and I think I have the same genetic tenancy). But I honestly DO NOT remember anyone ever telling me that… in all the classes I took. I don't remember it at all. Thanks, Cari.

14 Marie { 06.11.12 at 1:31 am }

Thank you Cari for this wonderful eye-opener! I stopped drinking 26 years ago because it WAS and IS a problem for me. I am the High Priestess of Addiction Transfer. Swapped out booze for cigarettes, then food, shopping, etc. I'm still stuck on the food even though Im' almost 5 yrs out. The root of this is I still don't think I'm worthy of good HEALTH. Been diabetic for 43 years, in therapy before and after RNY because the things that made me reach for food didn't stop just because my plumbing is rewired. THAT is another soapbox! Doctors do NOT tell people they should continue therapy post-op. We didn't gain weight because we're all well adjusted, happy on the inside and glucose stable! I hope your friend gets the liver she needs. I hope someday I can accept my body the way God made me, and stop resisting a disease that can kill me faster if I'm not on top of it. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for making us aware. That's the first step to change! — Marie

15 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 1:44 am }

God love you, Marie. This truly is a battle, but one worth fighting. I hope you will find a way to believe that about yourself because I already do, and I just read ONE comment from you :-* We are all fragile humans, but we deserve to know the truth. Thank you for sharing your truth. I know how much this hurts. Thank goodness for therapy, though, right???

16 divataunia { 06.11.12 at 1:33 am }

First, I am SO sorry to hear about your friend and I can't even imagine walking into that situation. I am not a big drinker, but I do enjoy a cocktail every now and then. I'm definitely going to start researching this, and will think twice before ordering in the future. Thanks for posting this. It couldn't have been easy, and I applaud you. Big hugs to you and your friend (who should also be commended for sharing her story. Please send her my thanks.)

17 Pauline { 06.11.12 at 2:01 am }

Excellent eye opener Cari. Thx. I will pass this on to everyone I know.

18 Kathy Bender { 06.11.12 at 3:35 am }

Thanks so much for the post. I'm 8.5 yrs out. I feel that this is another example of support support support. We have to continue support for each WLSP. This information could be passed on to someone in a support setting and that person that is having that extra drink, or even one drink in this case, one more sugary food item that puts them in a diabetic coma because it was ok the last time I ate it, or to just bring awareness of the cross addictions… Thanks for bringing this to the WLS World attention. Hugs to you and your friend. (I will get to meet you someday)

19 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 3:49 am }

Thank you for saying so, Kathy. I couldn't ask for anything more than for a support group meeting to pick it up and run with it. I hope it happens :-)Sent from my iPhone

20 beckbaseball { 06.11.12 at 4:15 am }

I rarely comment on blog posts, but I have since stepped out of my comfort zone to say when things totally resonate with me. I am not a drinker as this vice I laid to rest 17 years ago. I still struggle with food. My liver will remain fatty if I don't do it some service, and OBESITY is the #1 cause of cirrhosis of the liver – combine that with alcohol as my family so often has (and diabetes) and one is asking for death sooner rather than later. I am happy you posted this heart – wrenching tale. I would give my kidney if that would help your friend. I would do anything to see happy and healthy win out over so many other negative things. That is why I partner with OAC and WLSFA and so many other organizations to spread the word. Thank you for sharing this one. May the Creator bless your dear friend – aho (amen in my Native language)

21 Julie D { 06.11.12 at 10:54 am }


THANK YOU. I am a substance abuse professional who is also a gastric bypass patient. I have worked very hard to sound the alarm with WLS patients, only to have my words "moderated" by medical professionals. I KNOW the damage that alcohol does to our altered bodies after surgery. We have no functioning pyloric valve, so raw ETOH (alcohol) hits our livers and our brains at nearly full force..

I think that because we, as a culture, minimize the damage that alcohol does to the general population, we are somewhat hard wired to minimize the effects of alcohol after surgery. Telling people not to drink for their health is simply un-American. Someone "may" choose not have surgery if they thought they couldn't drink. Frankly, a person that feels so strongly about a drug shouldn't be having weight loss surgery in the first place.

Anyway, I could go on and on. I have spoken at many WLS support groups about alcohol and bypass. Almost every talk I give is "moderated" by the health professional who is in attendance. So, thank you for your honest and story-driven account. Maybe one more person will choose to do the right thing for their health. It is not a moral issue…. it is not an issue of "rights"…. it's an issue of self-preservation. Be well, dear Cari!

P.S. My agency has a page on transfer addiction. It is linked to my reply.

22 Ann { 06.11.12 at 11:44 am }

all these comments are from people who dont drink….. are there any from people who do drink after surgery ( I had lapband 3 yrs ago)……. I drink more now than I did before ( it was close to zilch before ) but i am careful what I drink and how much…. so how does a person know what is too much…. what are signs/symptoms that its too much…. what is "in moderation"

23 Steve Nicander { 06.11.12 at 2:58 pm }

Alcohol is a drug, PERIOD. And people die from it's consumption without having the surgery, so what makes anyone think that it would be any different once you have severely reduced the size of your stomach and bypassed it !! The truth is that WLS patients have at least a 50% MORE chance of becoming severe alcoholics or addicts to drugs. That's true, it is fact. Even though it doesn't take as much to cause effects, it still causes twice as much damage. I have seen two of my friends with WLS become regular and often drinkers of alcohol after their surgery to the point of it glaringly becoming a problem. I myself was a suicidal alcoholic for nearly 20 yrs. What I mean was that I was purposely trying to drink myself to death because I was so severely overweight, nearly 650 pounds at peak. I drank over a fifth of 100 proof alcohol every single day for more than a decade and why I am still here is sometimes still a mystery. Who knows maybe to relate this now to you. I quit in 2007 cold turkey. In late 2009 I started my own weight loss journey w/o surgery, nutrition & fitness and have since then lost almost 400 pounds all naturally. It never would have happened if I hadn't stopped drinking … it IS a poison, it DESTROYS brain and blood flow, it slowly starts to KILL you !! So if you think having a couple drinks now and again after having one of the most complex inner surgical procedures done today is alright?? Then just remind yourself of this woman and probably ten thousand like her in this country right now that might not survive another year. Sorry for being so raw and real but being a former addict myself, I just want people to understand how enormously dangerous it really really is.
God Bless and Be Well

24 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 4:37 pm }

Your story is UTTERLY riveting, Steve. Thank GOD you are alive to be the torch-bearer against alcohol consumption. I was thinking about this when I was getting ready this morning: If we knew that eating too much and not moving enough would make us obese and eventually kill us, would we stop eating so much and start moving more? Hmm…just as someone pointed out above, even though the cigarette packages warn against cancer, people still smoke; even though eating the wrong things can cause high-blood pressure, etc., people still eat. Even though people KNOW that alcohol kills…they still drink. I guess I will file this under: EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY…for tomorrow, I WON'T die. After all…it can't happen to *me.* Thank you for sharing your powerful story, Steve, and I am proud to be a part of the fight with you!

25 Steve Nicander { 06.11.12 at 3:12 pm }

Alcohol is a drug, PERIOD. And people die from it's consumption without having the surgery, so what makes anyone think that it would be any different once you have severely reduced the size of your stomach and bypassed it !! The truth is that WLS patients have at least a 50% MORE chance of becoming severe alcoholics or addicts to drugs. That's true, it is fact. Even though it doesn't take as much to cause effects, it still causes twice as much damage. I have seen two of my friends with WLS become regular and often drinkers of alcohol after their surgery to the point of it glaringly becoming a problem. I myself was a suicidal alcoholic for nearly 20 yrs. What I mean was that I was purposely trying to drink myself to death because I was so severely overweight, nearly 650 pounds at peak. I drank over a fifth of 100 proof alcohol every single day for more than a decade and why I am still here is sometimes still a mystery. Who knows maybe to relate this now to you. I quit in 2007 cold turkey. In late 2009 I started my own weight loss journey w/o surgery, nutrition & fitness and have since then lost almost 400 pounds all naturally. It never would have happened if I hadn't stopped drinking … it IS a poison, it DESTROYS brain and blood flow, it slowly starts to KILL you !! So if you think having a couple drinks now and again after having one of the most complex inner surgical procedures done today is alright?? Then just remind yourself of this woman and probably ten thousand like her in this country right now that might not survive another year. Sorry for being so raw and real but being a former addict myself, I just want people to understand how enormously dangerous it really really is.

26 Wendy { 06.11.12 at 5:06 pm }

I am about 2 years out and tried a couple of sips of wine for the first time. Made me feel lousy and tipsy on two sips. No more for me! This just reaffirms my decision. By the way I was warned preop to not drink after surgery

27 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 5:16 pm }

Hi Wendy! I'm glad you were warned (that restores some of my faith in the medical community…okay, an ounce – LOL), but more importantly, I'm glad you made the decision that it wasn't worth it. Health trumps everything else. Good for you 🙂 Wishing a long and HEALTHY life to you :-*

28 Yvonne McCarthy { 06.11.12 at 5:44 pm }

Steve I have known many of you! Congrats on freeing yourself from a horrible prison. I have also known alcoholics/drug addicts that got sober and switched to food that are now having WLS. I know I am a addict that abused food. I am grateful that I found a way to work on my head so that I would recognize any tendencies that could start to get out of control. I never really relax too much because I am aware that I am always subject to fall to cross addiction. Once we abuse food, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling …whatever…we are definitely set up to switch to something else. Our ability to find and feel happy comes from inside…it is not from any of those things. Also, until we work out what pain we are trying to bury with these things we may very well return to abuse something again. I'm also waiting for the medical field to recognize food as a real addiction. It will happen…just not soon enough for me.

29 Stacy { 06.11.12 at 6:23 pm }

Hi everyone I also had the rny I am 3 years in. I do drink alcohol on occasions and I have not had any complications. Yes you do feel tipsy quick but you get full and you stop. I have lost half a person also, the straw issue I was only told you can’t do after surgery. As I drink from a straw myself and have no issues. There is so many opinions and we try to take it in on the do’s and dont’s. I have gained weight by 10-15 pounds but I lose it again it’s a huge struggle when you think your gaining your weight back and all the memories of when you were big. I guess everyone has there own opinion and you go from there thanks for sharing your story

30 bariatricafterlife { 06.11.12 at 6:29 pm }

Hi Stacy: Thank you for reading and commenting. You are right, we all have a story and we all find what works for us. I think that success looks different to everyone and what works for me doesn't work for others, but that is what makes us…us. I am very happy that you are healthy and wish you continued success!Ultimately, no matter how we feel about alcohol, reading a story like my friend's just brings us all closer together, if for no other reason than we are forced to face the fact that the rules of mortality are not always fair.

31 Kitty { 06.12.12 at 12:53 am }

I'm glad I reread the post Cari because I was confused and couldn't imagine your friend would continue to drink if she was getting sick. But when I read it over, I equated her story with alcohol with me taking NSAIDs & Ibuprofen.

No one told me that I shouldn't take those over-the-counter meds post-op (RNY, 9yrs ago). Nope. Did not know that, so on occasion I would take Aleve or Ibuprofen, mostly for headaches. Could just as easily have been me going into liver failure because of it.

I could also many stories about my own transfer addiction(s), but that's not the point I wanted to make.

I wish your friend love, luck, prayers & peace.

32 Carla { 06.12.12 at 1:14 am }

Thank you so much for writing this! You absolutely will make a difference and save lives. People are never happy when they are told something they don't want to hear, however, silence kills! Keep doing the wonderful work you do!

33 bariatricafterlife { 06.12.12 at 1:18 am }

Thank you, Carla. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in the trenches ;-*

34 May { 06.12.12 at 3:03 am }

I am 10 years post op for a gastric bypass. Thanks for this information. I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine, and was never told that it should not be done. Also, what Kitty says is so true. No one told me that Advil, Ibuprofen, Aleeve, etc should not be taken. I recently had ulcers due to the fact that our stomach is now so small that these over the counter drugs can cause serious damage to our altered stomachs. I was in the hospital for 5 days and had to have two blood transfusions due to the fact that my ulcer bled out. Now I suffer through my migraines knowing that my stomach cannot take these simple over the counter meds.

35 May { 06.12.12 at 5:54 am }

I am 7 months post op …..and im not a drinker never was, its so sad to read about your friend yet so glad that she decided to share it with you so that all the wlsp that do drink learn from all this , they tell you, you need support of people surrounding you, what i mean is if people who care for you and are close to you dont help you stay on track than i would rather not be supported by them, i actually was told not to drink from my surgeon and was also told not to take ibeprofen and advil, drinking is a social thing unfortunatly , so is eating , i have lost many friends and gatherings due to this, but i took this decision to buy my self a great longggg healthy life again , and im sooo happy im healthy i do go off track sometimes but i always have my goals there set to remind me that i did not do this operation to go back to old habits , i was 317 lbs and im now 230 lbs, all i can tell any one who is going to get this surgery done is that this is a lifetime contract , a second chance to a healthy life! good luck to ur friend and hopefully she will get her liver transplant and be healthy again !!

36 cindy { 06.12.12 at 6:42 am }

Cari, Thank you for your honesty and to your friend for sharing her story. It is important that we share information that is of vital concern to our health. I am thankful that I do not drink. I do have a relative who died from drinking alcohol and he was not a wls patient so it is even more important for us to stand up and share this story. I will direct the peeps on gastric bypass sparklers to your message.

37 Denise Adorian { 06.12.12 at 3:03 pm }

I was terrified to read on because My surgery is July 5th.The first few paragraphs instilled such fear.I thought,"Oh Lord,I hope this won't give Me horrible news about what I am going to do to My body on July 5th." What a relief as I read on to the wonderful warning never to drink alcohol.Thank you for that warning.I wasn't
going to anyways,but now I know not even to except a sip if offered.One or Two glasses can kill you-Wow- Thank you again

38 bariatricafterlife { 06.12.12 at 4:39 pm }

I'm so glad you hung in there to the end 😉 Fear is often based in uncertainty…unknowns…lack of information…now that you have the information, you don't need to fear 🙂 I'm thankful that you were able to take away something positive from an otherwise negative situation. You are going to do GREAT…the good news is, you don't NEED alcohol, anyway…it's not like air…or food 😉 Thanks for commenting!!!

39 Jastypes { 06.12.12 at 8:47 pm }

Cari, so sorry to hear about you friend. I developed alcoholism after gastric bypass surgery. I share my story wherever, whenever I can in the hopes that maybe I can help spare one person the agony I've gone through. I had one friend who came into AA before me, and one after me, both having developed alcoholism after RNY. They have been unable to put together any real sober time. I'm just celebrated 2 years sober, and I know how fortunate I am to have that time. I've met and spoken with other women who share this common experience. Alcoholism is lonely and scary, ESPECIALLY when it comes on so very quickly. We think it is not even possible! And that can impede the recovery process to a degree. Glad you put this out there with a great warning — If you have not tried alcohol post-surgery, DON'T. It's seriously not worth the risk.

40 bariatricafterlife { 06.12.12 at 8:57 pm }

Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on your continued recovery from alcoholism — AND obesity! That is a major accomplishment and I wish you joy….peace…and success!IYou know…I wish more people understood what you had to learn hard way, but like my daughter (ahem), some people have to experience something before they can believe it. Sad, but true.How many bariatric people choose to deny alcoholism even exists (for themselves or others) because they are simply too afraid to face it?Your life is a testament to recovery…keep sharing your story, that others might join you in health!!! :-*

41 Veronica { 06.13.12 at 3:24 am }

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but thankful you posted this story.

42 bariatricafterlife { 06.13.12 at 5:57 pm }

Thank you for your kind words, Veronica. I am honored to share her story and know it will save lives 🙂

43 John Kelly, MD { 06.15.12 at 9:33 pm }

Cari, bless you for putting the truth out. Truly any lasting change is an inside job and Docs must treat everyone with kindness and compassion. I hope more docs heed your call.

44 bariatricafterlife { 06.15.12 at 10:10 pm }

From your lips, Doc…from your lips…!Thank you for being one of the compassionate ones! It is my fervent desire that this subject will take “catch fire” within the bariatric practices and generate a groundswell of support and ACTION. Doctors are on the front lines with patients and even if they're uncomfortable talking about it — they must do it. People are dying because they just aren't getting the message. Hey, it's like giving your kids “THE TALK”…I has to be done, otherwise…they'll learn it on the street!…Thanks again for your time and support. I'm blessed to know you.

45 Gina { 06.19.12 at 2:30 am }

I had NO IDEA. Thank you for posting this!!!!!

46 bariatricafterlife { 06.19.12 at 7:20 am }

You are most welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting :-)Sent from my iPhone

47 Charlotte { 08.26.12 at 2:39 pm }

I have not yet had my surgery, I am at the stage of about 10 weeks out where I am getting all of the blood work and tests done prior to scheduling the surgery. __ I thank you so much for posting this story. I have always enjoyed a few cocktails now and then and I have been thinking along the lines of quitting for life. I made the decision to quit several days ago and made it happen without problem or issue. Then today, I read this story and I realize how important my decision was and how glad I am to have made it and done it.__I am ready to begin this After Life journey w/o alcohol. Thanks again.

48 bariatricafterlife { 08.26.12 at 7:41 pm }

I am so happy to know my friend's struggle has saved you from your own struggle…or, at least confirmed that you had made the right decision! I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and comment and would enjoy keeping up with you in your journey into the Bariatric After Life 🙂 feel free to connect with me on Facebook (bariatricafterlife) and YouTube (same 😉 and by email (cari@bariatricafterlife.com). I am very excited for you and know you will do well with your healthy choices :-)Sent from my iPhone…which explains the typos…

49 judy { 08.19.13 at 11:49 pm }

i am 10 years post op rny, facing revision, leaking staple line, 6 months out of rehab, please people know that this is real, alcohol can kill us so fast post rny, do your research… i am proof

50 bariatricafterlife { 08.20.13 at 12:13 am }

Wow, Judy! I am really sad to hear that…really sad. 🙁 it is tragic how many post-ops are told they can drink *a little bit* — because their doctor is afraid to tell them “no” to even one drink…At least you were able to get clean…Congratulations on “besting” that hard-fought battle. At least for today. I wish you continued recovery from both alcohol AND any upcoming surgeries you might require. Hang in there, thank you for commenting on this, and you can bet — I'll keep spreading the message about alcohol. XXX :-*

51 Meleani { 08.20.13 at 9:46 pm }

Cari — Hats off to you for taking a bold stand, on behalf of all WLS peeps out there, and on behalf of your friend – I am so sorry you have had to see someone you care about suffer and I pray she will find a donor and be allowed to continue her full life! I heard with my surgery that alcohol was basically a no-no, but no one was never adament about it like the other no-no's that you mention in your story. I have had an occasional miniscule amount to drink over the last four years since my surgery – maybe less than two or three times – never was a drinker – but your article certainly makes me realize that I will never, ever do it again, period. Thank you for ALL you do for us WLS'ers. :0) xoxo

52 bariatricafterlife { 08.20.13 at 10:13 pm }

Thank you (as always) my friend! I pray that others will get the message before it escalates to the level of my friend's condition.

53 brittanyjewell { 05.06.15 at 11:54 pm }

I appreciate this so much. I literally just left my Life Skills class where we discussed food consumption and the limited amount of time spent on alcohol is unnerving after reading this. Do you mind if I share your article on my blog?

54 bariatricafterlife { 05.07.15 at 12:24 am }

I would be honored if you would. I'm glad you found it helpful, Brittany! Thanks for reading and commenting.

55 Karen Townes { 05.08.15 at 2:36 am }

Thank for all the wonderful information.

56 bariatricafterlife { 05.08.15 at 4:53 am }

Thank you, Karen!!! Recovery is blessing I can't imagine throwing away.Sent from my iPhone

57 Chris { 05.11.15 at 3:45 pm }

Thank You for sharing. I am no longer a drinker, I used to own a bar. I sold the bar 10 yrs ago. I haven’t drank for eight. Don’t miss it but I am glad to have that knowledge. God Bless

58 bariatricafterlife { 05.11.15 at 4:58 pm }

Wow! Talk about courage to change what you can change in your life…from bar owner to clean and sober! Congratulations!!! Thanks for commenting.

59 CharlotteCR { 05.12.15 at 2:18 am }

I am a drinker…
I am maybe even an alcoholic?
I believe that God worked through you to reach me.
I have known for a long while now that I am drinking too much and too often.

I need to tell you about what happened when I read this Blog last week. I quit drinking that moment. I dumped out all of my wine, all of my tequila, vodka and mixers. I have not had a drink since that moment. It was exactly what I needed to give it up.

Thank you so much for caring enough to report the hard truths that we need to hear even though it is hard.

60 bariatricafterlife { 05.12.15 at 3:55 am }

I am so grateful that you chose life! God is good. 🙂

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