Over 18 months ago, I had weight loss surgery – a gastric bypass. My reasons for this are in a previous post, here. In the first 14 months, I lost almost 50kg.
Damage vs Pain/Difficulties
I was very up and down after that and my mental health suffered. Being depressed, my weight gain continued as well. I wasn’t worried as the weight slowly kept creeping on as I was convinced that it couldn’t cause anymore pain. But that where I was wrong. And it took me a long time to realise that although all the added weight (ended up being around the 50kg mark over 5 years) probably didn’t cause any extra damage, it most definitely caused me more PAIN. The extra weight put so much extra pressure onto my back as well as my joints and just my overall self. I stopped doing even more things as I was just in so much pain and had to increase pain medications and try different ones more often.
Did my weight loss help my pain levels?
Yes, it has helped my pain levels and amount of flares. It hasn’t ‘fixed’ anything. But, by losing weight, I was able to start moving more again. Slowly, but surely. Over the 12 months after the surgery, with NO changes in any of my pain medications, the following happened:
- I was slowly able to move more easily with less pain as time went on
- I was taking less and less breakthrough medication until I was only taking it when I overdid something silly
- I started getting stronger little by little
- I managed to do some voluntary work through the P&C at the school that our girls were attending at the time for 7 months before I had to stop initially when my daughter needed me more and also because my pain medications eventually started decreasing
- The extra pain that would come and go, like joint pain eased off completely
- And losing weight helped me feel more happy within myself. Feeling more positive mentally helped my overall mindset improve, which in turn helped me to feel more comfortable and confident within myself. This encouraged me to do more and get out more.
What came next pain medication wise?
After the first 12 months post op, about 45kgs lighter, I was taking almost no breakthrough medication and doing a lot more physically than I was before. But this also meant changes to come with my pain medications.
In the past 7 months, I have slowly managed to taper down firstly with my Fentynal Pain Patch from 50mg patches, to currently 12mg patches which last 72 hours. It hasn’t been easy. I have had to add Endone back in for breakthrough, and have been up and down with that throughout this time.
It was hard (sometimes heartbreaking) finally being able to do things again, then to feel like going back to square one as I reduced my main pain medication. I wanted to know why I couldn’t just stay the same and live a more fulfilled life with my husband and children.
But after dropping, going through hell, then it finally balancing out each time, I can see the benefits of less side effects. The next step my pain specialist would like to do is to change back to a different patch I was on a few years ago. One that lasts 7 days at a time (Norspan) and can further reduce the equivalent dosage gradually. Her goal is for me to be pain medication free .. that would be nice. But in reality I need to be able to get out of bed each day having 2 children.
Weight loss has helped me to an extent, but will it help you?
Only trying and giving it a go will tell you that. There are many, many invisible and visible illnesses/conditions etc out there that weight would not effect at all. If it were that easy we would all be ‘fixed’ in no time.
Personally, I knew it would help me mentally and I had prepared myself as much as I could for the fact that even if it didn’t help my pain at all, I would be in somewhat of a better place mentally. I know myself, so I was content with and accepted that.
Although I am sure I would have been disappointed it it didn’t help at all. And I guess at times I still am a little that my pain is still here .. but hey, it is called chronic for a reason. That acceptance is a whole other story.
Weight loss surgery for some is extreme .. but would I do it gain if I had my time over? YES. With the medications I was on, the pain I was in and the lack of physical movement/activity due to pain and side effects of medications, I would more than likely have just ended up bigger, more overweight and unable to get moving again.
One last thing …
Future surgery and options. Should the medical field evolve enough and have a surgery solution or help for me and my back – then my neurosurgeon will be prepared to operate without all the other risks that are added with obesity. That is a bonus too.
Have you had experience with chronic pain and weight loss helping? Please get in contact if you do not wish to leave a comment on here.
Disclaimer: This is just my own personal experience with weight loss and chronic pain. Please see you own Doctor regarding any type of weight loss.