Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications: My Week Of Horror

When I started this blog, I promised to tell the good, the bad and the ugly: everything from gastric bypass surgery complications and misery to “wow” moments. What has happened to me over the last two weeks has been both bad and ugly.

It began on Tuesday, October 14th. I had some abdominal cramping, like perhaps I had a bad case of diarrhea. It came and went through the day. But around 11:00 PM, it intensified and stopped going away.

It felt similar to labor – and hurt about as bad. The pain came in waves, crested and receded just like contractions. At around 11:30 I called in to the surgeon’s office and paged the doctor on call. I was told to go to clear liquids and get an appointment to come in first thing in the morning.

But the pain got worse, and around 4:00 AM I started throwing up, too. I called the doctor again and was told to go immediately to the ER.

So Which Gastric Bypass Surgery Complication Is It? None Of The Options Are Good…

I arrived at the ER at about 4:30 on the morning of the 15th. Doubled over in pain, begging God for mercy and throwing up with such force that I literally peed all over myself. But my local ER was designed in the pits of Hell and is run by Satan himself. I knew at this point what the possible gastric bypass surgery complications were, and each of them could kill me of not dealt with swiftly. Still, I sat for 4 hours in the waiting room, throwing up and crying in pain, before being seen.

There were people who’d been waiting there 16, even 20 hours. I truly felt like I’d been sent to purgatory. They were all running their mouths, too, threatening to call the media, complaining loudly and constantly. My husband said it was all he could do to keep from standing up and yelling “Shut up!!!”

They really had a fit when I started vomiting badly. A nurse even came out from the back and handed out masks so that people wouldn’t catch stuff from each other. But they could not be bothered to take away my bucket of puke and give me a fresh one.

Side note: Every hospital should have 2 ER’s. One for people with no insurance who use the ER for every little thing (clogging it up for the rest of us) and one for real emergencies.

After several more pages and some seriously frayed nerves, the doctor on call arrived and took me back. We’re thinking blockage of some kind, they want to do a CT scan. My doc orders pain and nausea meds for me at around 8:15. I’m still just crying and begging God for help. Fortunately, I’m not throwing up as much.

Two hours later I’m in a room on the juvenile floor (aparently the only place they could put me) and I finally, mercifully, recieve some medication – but not before having to pitch a fit to get it. The head nurse from my doc’s office comes in and says that in the future, I should be in contact with them before coming to the ER as rerouted intestines can have all kinds of problems, and that I should have been taken immediately to the surgical recovery floor my doc uses. My husband and I told her that we had, in fact, done just that, but someone somewhere dropped the ball.

Have I mentioned that my local hospital sucks?

Twisted Bowels – Not A Rock Group, But One Of The More Serious Possible Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications

Finally, my surgeon came and checked me out. He said the problem was almost certainly that my bowels were twisted. In fact, the CT scan was pointless because no matter what it showed he’d want to operate anyway, so he cancelled it and scheduled me for surgery as soon as he was done seeing patients at the office. He would try to do it laproscopically, but couldn’t promise.

I was (mercifully) too drugged to care at that point.

Went into surgery at around 4:30 – 12 hours after arriving at the ER. Apparently, my intestines were in quite a mess and were very difficult to straighten. My doc did attempt laproscopy, but had to convert me to an open surgery. I have a wound from my belly button to my sternum.

But surgery was successful. I came out with 46 staples holding my stomach together. Apparently, I will live.

How Internal Hernias And Twisted Intestines Occur As A Gastric Bypass Surgery Complication

My doc explained how this happened. When gastric bypass surgery is performed, the re-routed intestines are tacked in place to fatty tissue. But then, you lose 125 pounds.

He said it’s like having holes in your stomach – open areas that intestines are free to move about in. And sometimes they do – getting all twisted up like mine.

Since coming home I’ve done research. Approximately 3-5% of all gastric bypass surgery patients will develop internal hernias and twisted intestines. Considering the explanation from my Doc as to how it happens, I’m really surprised the number is that low.

More sobering was the number that said up to 38 – 40% of everyone who gets intestinal hernias/ twisted intestines (whether they had gastric bypass surgery or not) dies from it.

There is much more of this story to tell. The operation itself wasn’t the end for me, or even the worst part. But that’s all I can write right now. Over the coming days I’ll continue telling the story.

But for now, know this: if you decide to have gastric bypass surgery, your insides are changed forever. You have different risks and potential problems than the rest of the world. Never ever ever take anything to do with your digestive system lightly. Any problem you have in that area must be evaluated by your surgeon’s office.

In other words, having this surgery affects the rest of your life in more ways than one. The whole point of this website is to know what you’re getting into so you can make a sober, intelligent decision. Don’t just jump into it wanting to be skinny.

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6 Responses to Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications: My Week Of Horror

  1. Debbie Miller

    Just did a search for this problem….why? cause I am sitting here 10 years post my bypass and a few days out of hospital from twisted intestines. I know have a gtube (tube outside my body to my old stomach) This is how I get my nutrition now, cause when intestines twisted, so did my little stomach pouch. So I cant take in nutrition thru my mouth cept liquids. Sucks and Im not feeling to good right now bout anything.

  2. I had my surgery 3 yrs ago, Right after I got out of the hospital, I had to be taken back, brcause od pain. I don;t remember alot. Most of this is from what my sister and husbsnd. But I got a blood clot where they joyned the small and large intestine which caused everything to back uo into my lungs and I was in a medical induced coma for about 3week and then trasfered to a setp down rehab care, they realy tried to kill me. I was only to be there for a week or two I ended up ther for almost 2 months. But whith everthing that happened I would do it again this time I make sure that I have a scane befoe I leave the hospital,

  3. I had the same issue only 7 1/2 months after my surgery and literally two weeks after getting married. I had a nightmare experience with the ER as well. They sent me home. TWICE. Fantastic part of being a woman they can try to easily dismiss pains in your abdomen as ovary problems. My ER doctors after scans and ultrasounds decided I had a “cyst that ruptured causing my intense pain” all because I am am woman. Fantastic… I made it clear to tell them over and over that I had By-pass surgery and they still decided not to investigate further. After hours of crying hunched over on my couch I tried another ER and they were even less help. They insisted I see an OBGYN in the morning before they would do anything else. Now I know they almost gave me a death sentence. So I cried all night, waited till morning and saw that OBGYN who confirmed I had no “womanly issues” and immediately started looking for a surgeon to see me right away. Luckily he found one. It was still hours before I actually got to see the surgeon. At that point it had been over 24 hours since the pain started.

    Obviously I am still here so they got to me just in time. The surgeon said my intestines had turned purple from being twisted for so long and had they waited even another hour I would have died and or lost that section of bowels. I was out of work for nearly a month recovering. This was the MOST pain I have ever felt in my life. SO much worse that the actual gastric by-pass surgery was.

    To my horror two months later I started having the same pain again. I went to the ER at yet another hospital. This time they actually admitted me. I got my initial surgeon from my by-pass surgery this time. He found adhesions from the “fix” to untwist my bowels that left me with a 5 inch scar. Basically the scar tissue decided to wrap around my intestines and the pain was so close to the last time I knew it was going to lead to another surgery. Thankfully this was able to be done laparoscopically. I went back to work after a day.

    Even after all that I would still go through everything again. It has been a rough ride but I have more energy and my health complications that I risked in my near future have been dodged. If you have pain be demanding even if you think you sound crazy because your life is in their hands and you need them to think it is IMPORTANT!

  4. I went many years without insurance so believe me I know how you feel. I was certainly NOT talking about anyone who really needed to be there. And it is true, because I’ve been on both sides of this fence, you wait MUCH longer and get much lower quality care if you’re there without insurance.

    Yeah, I know, ER workers will post now to complain about that but it was definitely my experience.

    I stand by what I said tho. There were a ton of people there who did not have emergencies. There always are. There should be a two-tier ER system: one ER for those who have real actual emergencies and one for those who have to use the ER for basic medical care. And yes, I’ve been in both groups. I had to go to the ER once with a bad case of the flu that had gotten me dehydrated. I just needed an IV with some fluids and some nausea meds because nothing would stay down. This was not an urgent emergency, but I couldn’t go to a regular doctor for it. But I should not have been in the way of someone having say chest pains or something.

    Thats all I was saying.

  5. I understand that you were in extreme pain, but I have zero insurance… I have read everything you have written but when I came across the paragraph about people without insurance “clogging up the ERs”….wow. I’ll admit some people DO go to the ERs for every little thing and you really, REALLY needed a doctor…but I just don’t see how their problems mean nothing, even without insurance. I work two jobs, my husband works two jobs, and we don’t have insurance.

  6. Oh, how awful! I never knew they tacked our intestines to our fatty tissue. They never tell us that losing too much weight too fast is risky. I hope you’re recovering nicely. You’ve been through so much. You deserve to be healthy!