I get a lot of email from my readers. A few weeks ago I got touching story about Kris. She agreed to write her story for all of us to know, her feelings and complications in life, before and after Gastric Bypass. This is Kris:
My name is Kris and I am a food addict and alcoholic. I have become quite familiar with that saying because I attend 12-step meetings approximately 4 times a week. I had roux-en-y gastric bypass on Dec. 26, 2000. I had no physical complications post surgery, but the emotional/psychological implications have taken a toll. I lost 1/2 of my body weight (I started at 300 and went down to 145) within a relatively short amount of time. Before I knew it, I was spending money wildly and went bankrupt. Next came the relief of alcohol. I was not an alcoholic prior to gastric bypass, but addiction transfer and depression had taken control.
I was a college graduate, professional woman, and successful at almost everything I tried. I could not understand how I could become a completely out-of-control drunk after being arrested for OWI/DUI on June 23, 2006. I drank daily for three years. I drank until I blacked-out. In the morning, I swore I would never drink again until the afternoon cravings controlled my every thought. I thought that I had just lost all self-control after a visit with my WLS surgeon in December 2005. I asked him if my WLS had anything to do with my alcoholism—he denied any connection. Furthermore, I experienced all over body PAIN, even though I was dedicated to taking supplements. By September 2006, I would go through periods of such excruciating overall body pain that I had difficulty walking and completing normal daily activities. My head was in such a fog, felt dizzy and nauseated all of the time, and had such difficulty concentrating, I felt as if I was going crazy. Doctors did not seem to have much concern about the pain. They said that it was probably fibromyalgia.
In August 2006, I entered substance abuse treatment, but continued to have intense cravings for alcohol, began putting on weight, and still suffered from horrible pain and no self-control. I have periodically relapsed with alcohol within the past 1.5 years. In October 2007, I started seeing a psychiatrist. I, of course, went through all of the lengthy psychological exams, and was diagnosed with alcoholism and mild depression. He immediately put me on 20 mg of Prozac. In December 2007, to help control the continued alcohol cravings, added a drug called ReVia (an opioid-blocking drug, which is also approved for reducing the cravings of alcohol). Amazingly, I no longer had any body pain within one hour of taking 50 mg of ReVia, and the depression also lifted much more than the Prozac alone. However, after 18 hours of pain/alcohol craving relief, the effects of ReVia would begin to wear off. ReVia (at 50 mg) is only approved for short-term use. Since I knew that there was some way to relieve the pain and alcohol cravings, I began to research what was going on in my body.
My personal belief is that since the vagus nerve is cut during RNYGB surgery, there are long-term psychological effects. I have also put most of the weight I had lost after surgery back on since working on trying to control other impulsiveness problems, thus my PCP didn’t feel the need to run blood tests because I should be getting all of the appropriate nutrients from food.
While searching for an answer as to why I do not feel pain while taking ReVia, I ran across a study on the effects of alcoholism and thiamine (Vitamin B-1) deficiency.
I am not in the medical field, wasn’t getting much help from my PCP, but also knew that I needed to be my own advocate if anything was going to improve. I then continued researching thiamine deficiency, and also found that gastric bypass can also cause thiamine deficiency. (Some of you may have been educated about this fact during surgical prep/follow-up, but this was all new to me.) I had always kept up on my daily multi-vitamin, calcium citrate, B-12, B-100 complex, and iron.
On February 16, 2008, I began taking large doses of GNC B-1 and Big 100. Within 24 hours, I started to feel “normal” again. I now have full 24-hour pain relief, can once again concentrate on something other than food and alcohol, and do not feel nauseated all of the time. I also lost 10 pounds in three days (from fluid retention). I now only take recommended doses and continue to feel good. Needless to say, I will be making an appointment to have my full lab tests run within the next week. Hopefully, these positive results will continue.
The most important thing that I learned is that it is not hopeless. Continue searching for answers, and make sure that you are your own advocate!