Surviving “Hell Week” – The First Days After Gastric Bypass

Walk. Sip. Rest. Repeat.

That’s pretty much your mantra for the first week of life after Gastric Bypass surgery.

You can barely fit a half cup of liquid into your new pouch, yet you’re supposed to cram 64 ounces of water and 60 grams of protein into it in the course of a day. You hurt like hell, yet you’re supposed to walk as much as possible. Good thing they sent you home with good drugs.

Then, there’s your sudden withdrawal from food. Your brain doesn’t quite know how to process this new lack of hunger. And your emotions are all haywire.

Personally, I felt like I’d had the surgery — why wasn’t I skinny already? And why in the name of everything that’s good must every protein supplement be sweet? Shouldn’t protein taste like chicken? Shouldn’t you at least have that option? That’s what I thought.

Here are some of the things (besides good drugs) that helped me through that first week of hell:

  • Sip small. I quickly found that I could fit a lot more liquid into my pouch (without feeling painfully stuffed) if I took teeny tiny sips.
  • Burping is everything. With such a small pouch, and constant sips, you get air. Air hurts. So forget the manners and burp as much as you can.
  • Walk as much as you possibly can. I did laps around my dining room table. Slow laps, mind you, but laps. And walking while sipping helps the burping – see, it all works together!
  • Be prepared for the after-effects of anesthesia: loud or sudden noises really bother me any time I have surgery, as do crowds. It goes away after several days.
  • Mood swings. Big ones. Prepare yourself and the family. No, there really isn’t a reason why you’re crying, and for that matter there doesn’t have to be. Just go with it, you’ll be happy again in a little while.
  • Remember that this, too, shall pass. And no, it wasn’t a mistake. You made this decision in your right mind for good reasons, and even if you can’t remember them right now, they were valid. Just hang on. It will get better.
  • Head hunger. It sucks, but it’s there. You see a commercial and all you can think of are all the things you can’t have. But as soon as you sip your broth, you’re stuffed. It’s all a part of your big Divorce from food. Go ahead and mourn it. Just remind yourself that there’s a reason you did this.

In another week or so, you’ll be feeling much better. Weight will start dropping off (even though you may feel like it’s going slooooowwwly, when you add it up you’ll be surprised) and pretty soon you’ll get more energy.

There will still be day-to-day struggles. But the worst (barring complications) is over.

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29 Responses to Surviving “Hell Week” – The First Days After Gastric Bypass

  1. i am 5 days out of g.b. lost 5 lbs. in 5 days. i feel a little strange, but good overall!

  2. I am one year post bypass surgery and have done well. I’m very worried about gaining the weight back because everyone says the first year is easy in terms of weight loss, but I found none of it easy. For the bloggers who are tired, don’t worry about it! I was incredibly tired and really discouraged for at least one month post surgery. Your body and mind are going through massive change. Our society expects people to jump back up and go back to our busy lives right away, but give yourself a break, take naps, exercise gently at first and a great energy level will come eventually.

  3. I am also glad I found this site. My surgery date is 3/22. My biggest challenge now is keeping off the 10 pounds my dr told me to lose, while my brain is saying “oooh, eat this, it may be your last chance!”

  4. Hello. I am going to be assesed for a gastric bypass.I weigh 34 stones. I used to weigh 46st 1lb. What happens after the op. How long is it before I could look for a job, does the fat come off quickly? this past 2 monthe I have been moving towards a liquid diet to prepare for this journey. I hope that I qualify but I am scared. I am male, age 55, but have missed out on life. Where do I start when less big. How do you cope being free? This is a scary journey, is it worth it?…I hope it is because if I get offered it I am taking it……Big Jim

  5. THANK YOU!! I have read many of your entries and I love it. My surgeon has me on liquids 4 weeks PRIOR to surgery. Its driving me nuts, I feel completely deprived, tired, and depressed. Now, at least I know that this is perfectly normal. Hopefully going through this pre-op will make hell week much easier.

  6. Rhonda- I had surgery the same day that you did and I am the same way! I am just tired all the time! They took blood and ran a bunch of tests at my last appt but said that everything looked great! So then why am I always so tired??

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  8. Hello all. My surgery was 1/27/11. It has been three weeks today. I still feel as though I have very little energy. Is this normal?

  9. all the comments are very helpful. my surgery is 2/28, very close. im nervous but very ready. this website has been so helpful to me. thanks

  10. I am having RNY on March 11. I am worried how I will get thru the pre-op 14 day liquid diet? Any suggestions? Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  11. I have a question for those of you with gastric bypass surgery.
    Is anybody there with rheumatoyd arthritis and the surgery improved your condition? I am asking because I have severe RA and my surgeon told me that with gastric bypass my condition will improve .

  12. This website has been a great wealth of knowledge for me. I had RNY on Monday, Feb 7th, 2011. The first few days were rough, with pain and all. Now I am home and trying to get all the liquids in. That is the hardest part. I’m taking small little sips, and walking, but have no energy whatsoever. I’m looking forward to getting past this and moving on.

  13. Ellen, glad to see you are not having any problems. I keep hearing that walking soon after surgery and being persistent about it is a key. Thanks for your comment. I’m scheduled for a 2/21/11 RNY. :)

  14. Hello all..how wonderful to have found this site. My surgery was the 31st of January. I have not had a problem one, except I “think” I want to eat. Walking and even went back to work 4 hours a day as it has been mostly just sitting. I keep thinking did they really do this? I had the lapband almost 4 years ago and it did nothing and I mean nothing for me. I think all these comments will help!
    Thanks for the support!

  15. I had surgery on Jan 27th. Iam almost 2 weeks out and I think I am doing really well. I go in for my first post-op appt. on Wednesday. I haven’t really been hungry, just really really sick of broth. For someone who has never been a fan of soup, it’s been a trying week! Today was my first day trying soft mushie foods. I attemped scrambled eggs for breakfast… not so good! Tuna for lunch was ok, and the kids wanted spaghetti for dinner so i mashed it up and ate it with them. So far I’m doing good… but we only ate an hour ago. My biggest worry right now is that I don’t really feel full. How do I know?? With the eggs, it hurt… I am guessing I didn’t chew them up enough, cause holy crap did it hurt. But I have been fine since then. I worry that if I don’t really know what full is supposed to feel like that I will eat too much and won’t lose the weight. But as it stands, at 11 days post-op I have lost 20lbs. I am happy with that… wish it was more, but I know more will come off! Thanks for listening… and a Huge thanks to Lisa, the info you have put on here has been so helpful.

  16. i am so grateful to be reading these words. i go for my bypass in march – just barely a month away. i too suffer diabetes, high bp, heart issues and the rest. thanks for letting me know what i will be going thru.

  17. Thank God for Amanda’s post! Everyone I have read about says they were not hungry…had to force themselves to eat..hated the smell of food. Well, I had my surgery (roux-n-Y) Jan 27 so am nine days post op. I am hungry and food still smells good. I am following the program 100% but it is depressing to think I am hungry now and makes me worry that this will make my success not as good. Was so glad to read Amanda’s that she is hungry — sorry — but finally, someone else.
    Days 3-5 post op I was pretty depressed but get better each day. Last took pain meds on day 3. I am walking 20 minutes two times per day. Anyone else out there still hungry after surgery?
    Good luck everyone!

  18. I had the sleeve done on 1/18 and thought I was the only one to experience these problems. Thanks for everyone’s honesty I wish I had read this earlier.

    The only thing that is a BIG problem for me is crushing my medicines. They are so nasty and bitter that it takes time to get over the nausea from them. YUCK!

  19. I also had the it done 8 days ago but i feel i still eat to much or could later on. Ive lost 39 pounds in the last month and 7 lbs since my surgrey last week. Is this normal to be hungry and eat alot still?

  20. oh yeah i was 147 kilos when i started this a mth ago have lost just under 3 stone

  21. hi
    i had my surgery 7 days ago, i was the norm i suppose woke up pain,morphine sleep pain morphine for 1 day then sent home with dissolvable paracetamol ok i t upper hought i cud do this with just paracetamol but oohhhhhhhh no after i arrived home an hour later major pain in my upper abdomen so quick call to my dr and liquid morphine administered hmmm that was nice no pain the next day i started on the milky drinks and soups found having been a person that cud not really take alot of dairy products in the am i am finding the first build up drink of the morning really hard and a funny point for us women cannot eat when i am wearing my as it feels like its stuck and i feel terribly sick so off with the bra at meals times (good job i am not going on any dates atm as this cud be hard to explain to potential bo lol) any way i digress day 1 was hard to complete all the fluids the powers that be say u should have so i didnt i moved on to day two day by day everything gets that little easier and i can assure u i have suffered no mood swings (so far) just really happy to see my fat finally going soft and mushy my son think i am a marsh mallow women at the moment anyway remember in your heart the benefits for us are much better then the kfc or burger king u may be missing or the discomfort u are feeling think about all things u can do with you children i for one am looking forward to hitting the theme parks in the summer with my boy and actually fitting into the seats yesss!!!!!!!!! it is very easy to list all the yuckky things and bad reasons why u should not have the op a bash and thinking about why u SHOULD good times ahead my friends xxx

  22. Exhausted. Cannot get enough sleep. Walking? Yes I am. I am so bored. Why is all this weight still here? Did I do the right thing?

    Yes, I did. I lost 20 pounds preparing for surgery. I am doing great. I am just in shock that I did this and that it was the right thing. I saved my life–diabetes, high cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. I am going to make it. I have a wonderful husband who did Roun-Y four years ago and he lost 170 and is doing great. He is supportive and hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

    Thanks for this blog.

  23. Pingback: 8 days post-op and feeling down - ThinnerTimes - Gastric Bypass Forum, Lap Band Forum, and Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy Forum

  24. I am picking between this and brain surgery. I really can’t decide which one might be worse. Meh.

    Thanks for your blog. And, btw, my first comment on the life after gastric bypass page (the one with the video) was directed towards another commenter.

  25. hello, i had my surgery on nov. 10. i dont feel any pain , but eating is very hard for me. i can not stand the smell of food. i have never had surgery before, n this is a life-changing experience. please send comments and suggestions. i really wish i could drink a sprite, it always calms my stomach, dang it..

  26. My first week was rough but week 2 was a breeze for me. The first few days were painful and unpleasant. Those first few days I had NO hunger at all, but on day 2 they told me to start drinking and took out my IV so I made myself and it was a pain but I quickly adapted. I didn’t really have mood swings, but as a result of being bipolar I was and still take lithium carbonate, which levels everything out. Eating and drinking were kinda hard that first week as I had to adjust to having a new stomach but now I barely notice. It does get better, but Gastric bypass isn’t easy. I feel really fortunate as I have had almost NO big issues with it so far.

  27. Hi there, I live in the UK and had my bypass on 3rd August, so I am 5 days in! I can’t tell you how much it helped me reading your stuff – I thought I was prepared but really was not. My surgeonwas excellent as was the hospital (I went private as I have had years of abuse from the NHS about my weight loss failure and was not prepared to jump through their hoops), however, more info about how these post op days would feel would not have gone amiss! I had referred pain in my right shoulder and incredibly painful gas (or wind as we call it here). I am also sick of lying on my back as I am a natural side/front sleeper, I have been coughing from the need to burp, which in turn has been hurting my diaphragm. But each day I am gradually feeling better! I found that accupressure point treatment worked well for these things and if anyone was going nuts with pain and discomfort then trying this or acupunture would be a good idea. I needed my partner to do the points as I could not bend to reach them! I am also lucky in that he will help with other nice treats like foot massage and back rubs – be kind to yourself and get support from others! Many thanks for your great site.

  28. Wow, that was exactly what I was going through and you said exactly what I needed to hear. I had the Roux-ny Bypass 6 days ago and it’s been the hardest thing, next to having 4 c-sections. I’m 34 and felt this was something that would help me in my life and my family. I weighed 245 and knew I had to lose the weight, but dieting and exercise alone wasn’t working. My mom had the surgery done 4 years ago at 63. We’re a lot a like when it comes to our feelings about food and I didn’t want to wait until 63 to feel physically good at last.
    I must admit after this surgery I kept hoping it was a bad dream, that I really hadn’t gone through with it and if I had one wish, I would wish not to have had the surgery. I felt a lot of anxiety. My husband and Mom have been giving me a lot of support and if it wasn’t for them telling me “no, you did make the right decision to have the surgery”, I would still be crying, “I’m such an idiot”- well I’m still crying just not all the time. But I have to remember I researched this, I prayed about this and I had the best Surgen and Medical post op support you can get. I felt good about the decision. And yes, this to shall pass, I just have to remember that. One obsticle I’m experiencing is having a 1 year old and not being able to pick him up and hold him has been really hard. I have to wait 6 weeks before I can lift him.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they meant a lot to me. – lol Aimee

  29. Pingback: 7 Reasons Gastric Bypass Surgery Is NOT The Easy Way Out | The Daily Files

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