Is it time for a Time to Heal for bariatric patients?

This past week I came across two excellent blog posts by Jone’ Carpenter, a cancer survivor. In the posts, the blogger spoke of her life after a summer 2010 diagnosis of breast cancer and her journey over the past 18 months. Although cancer has not touched my life, I can relate her story to my October 2008 heart attack, triple cardiac bypass surgery, subsequent recovery and months in cardiac rehab.

What was most striking about her story was her determination to defeat her cancer and move her life forward in a very positive manner. Shedding the negativity and negative influencers while surrounding herself with positive, supportive people helped her achieve goals and grow as a person.

The above paragraph sounds very much like something that weight loss surgery patients should be doing to assure their personal success. Bariatric post-ops may not have battled cancer and endured painful sickening medical treatments, but they need to bring focus to their new lives. Without a clear vision on where they are going, the life changes enabled by bariatric surgery can easily be negated with poor diet, exercise and life choices.

The blogger spoke of her involvement in the A Time to Heal cancer survivor recovery program. I did a little digging and found out that his program was founded by Drs. Stephanie Koraleski and Kay Ryan ofOmaha,Nebraska. The program helps cancer patients regain their physical, emotional, and spiritual health after cancer treatment. The program’s sessions encompass physical fitness, educational training, group discussion, and relaxation techniques. Sessions conclude with patients expressing their affirmations and intentions. It appears to be a very holistic, patient centered approach to recovery.

The components of the A Time to Heal program very much align with the needs of a post-op bariatric patient. Sadly I have not seen this type of organized program at any weight loss surgery center. Patients are given minimal support after bariatric surgery. Periodic office visits with nutritionists, surgeons, and counselors are sporadic at best. Not all bariatric centers have active and engaged support groups. These lightweight programs can not begin to reach the level of post-surgery support that the A Time to Heal program offers.

Is the fact that the medical community sees bariatric surgery in a different light than they see cancer and cardiac surgery? Does the medical community see bariatric surgery as an elective non-life threatening surgery that is often classified as a cosmetic procedure? I think there is definitely some bias within the community.

I would like to see bariatric centers implement a 12 week bariatric surgery recovery program. I witness in message boards and in support group meetings the need for more supervised program after weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery failures often point to failures to make life changes and live a healthier, more active life. A Bariatric Time to Heal program would encourage and reinforce the positive changes that need to happen in a post-op’s life. It would engage patients in defining their personal success and learn from the personal successes shared by fellow members.

You can read Jone’ Carpenter’s blog posts from the Summa Flourish, a women’s health blog from Summa Health System, by clicking on the following links.

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4 Comments

  1. Calvin November 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Found your website/blog via Cruise Critic. You are spot-on with the need for an on-going, follow-up support group for lap band patients. My partner had his procedure done at a major university hosptial and was then (for all intents & purposes) left to fend for himself. I’ve done everything I can to support him, but having a professional program geared to mentoring the patient through the required lifestyle changes would be optimal.

    In the process leading up to surgery they did all sorts of teaching. As good as they were with that, and as much as I appreciated the proactive learning, it wasn’t enough for my partner. He needed the follow-up mentoring. Consequently, he has been frustrated and nowhere near as successful as he needed to be.

    Post-surgical care for lap band patients desperately needs to include adequate follow-up. Changing 30, 40, 50+ years of eating habits from one moment to the next is not akin to flipping a light switch. The mental, emotional, and physical quotients all must be taken together as a whole for the patient to succeed.

    I was quite taken aback that a major university hospital, claiming one of the highest success rates in the country, would leave their lap band bariatric patients so ‘alone’ after surgery. Even more disgusting was that they had a support group for gastric by-pass patients, but not for lap band. And that group was totally dysfunctional, controlled by a domineering patient who only wanted to hear herself prattle on about her wild success as she negated and verbally walked all over any struggles others might be facing.

    Glad to have found your blog. Bless you for presenting it.

    Reply
  2. admin November 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Calvin, Yes, weight loss surgery centers, even those at major medical centers like the Cleveland Clinic, do an extensive pre-op program that is so encompassing. However, after surgery patients are left to fend for themselves. There are office visits and support groups but no organized program.

    As a Lapband patient myself, I agree that people need guidance and some organizations in their first pre-op months. That is when new habits need to be established and old bad habits banished. I suspect the reason for this neglect by surgery centers is insurance coverage. They still do not understand the amount of life changes that occur with this surgery and the need to help it take root.

    Best of luck to your partner. Feel free to pass my contact information on to him. Id he needs to talk t someone, I am open to talking to anyone.

    Reply
  3. http://yahoo.com February 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I personally contemplate how come you branded this blog post, “Is it time
    for a Time to Heal for bariatric patients? | Beariatric”.
    Regardless I personally enjoyed the post!Thanks for your
    effort,Royce

    Reply
    1. Tom Bilcze February 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks for your comment. After I attended Jone’s presentation, I saw that the “Time to Heal” program could be applied to much more than cancer survivors. A program such as this would benefit bariatric post-ops. Many WLS post-ops have no support mechanism after surgery. The organized approach of the Time to Heal program could be shaped to help the struggling bariatric patient.

      Reply

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