ValerieKGorman

Hungry all day every day, I'm 5 days since surgery

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Since day 1 I have felt an intense hunger (feels like when you say, "I'm starving!!") that only occasionally gives me temporary respites. I'm not giving any thought to food whasoever, but the pain is real and difficult to deal with.  None of the medical staff understands why I'm feeling this way, all the way up to my surgeon who is a top-of-the-line bariatric surgeon who has operated on hundreds upon hundreds of patients. I've been on prilosec to help with excess acid since day 2 as well as anti-cramping meds, pain meds, and anxiety meds.  Still the gnawing, miserable hunger stalks me.  I've researched online.  Turns out my reaction is uncommon as there is little information out there for someone so newly off the operating table to be battling strong hunger day after day.  I've read that a full size stomach has hunger pangs when the interior of the stomach is inflamed and it touches together. A non-inflamed normal stomach supposedly won't feel "hunger pangs" when it touches.  I've also read (and been told by the surgeon) that since my stomach is mostly gone and my nerves are severed, I am NOT feeling hunger pangs no matter what it seems like.  I read this on an older Thinner Times post:

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Be aware that while you may "feel hunger", it's really your brain, not your guts.

You can retrain yourself, Pavlovian style, to start your bad habits all over again. It's really, really crucial that you sort out the head games and get yourself intimately familiar with what you're actually feeling. Please don't rationalize "I'm hungry!" to yourself. It's so easy to do, and it can be disastrous.

Repeat after me: "I am not hungry. It is physically impossible for me to feel hunger."

Ever hear of phantom limb syndrome? People who lose limbs get this quite a bit. Someone who has lost an entire leg might feel an itch or a pain in the leg that isn't there anymore. When you start cutting up nerves, you get all kinds of weird responses.

You're getting hunger pangs from the part of your stomach that DOESN'T EXIST. This is your HEAD. Not your stomach.

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So maybe it's phantom stomach syndrome.  Boy do I hope it is because this is miserable.  I don't feel like this surgery is helping me lose weight at all, It is only my sheer grit and determination that is keeping my on my clear liquids only as I feel like I am basically starving myself...like I'm taking an anorexic approach to weight loss. I do feel comfort knowing that I couldn't consume food no matter how starving I am so I guess in that respect It's helpful. I feel gypped: the benefit of the vertical sleeve is the removal of the fundus meaning ghrelin...at least for a couple of years. I've not gotten that benefit at all.  

But I'm trying to tell myself, "what I feel isn't hunger, it's phantom hunger and once my brain realizes that my stomach is no longer there I will not feel this way anymore." Boy I hope that's right.  I don't know how I can go through the rest of my life feeling this way and have any hope of losing weight.    

Feeling frustrated, discouraged, and very very hungry... :(

    

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Well, I assume your top-of-the-line doctor never had surgery? I have. I'm almost 6 months out. I had the same hunger after surgery. REAL, stomach-growling, genuine hunger. Like you, I was disappointed! But guess what? It only lasted 2-4 weeks (I can't remember how long anymore)

My personal theory is that maybe it takes awhile for ghrelin to work its way out of our systems. Or perhaps that's when the inflammation subsided. I was afraid to ask anyone, because every thread (elsewhere) I read said "Oh, it's head hunger." Well, it wasn't. I can tell the difference between those now. I've read about a lot of people having the same issue early out. Let me just reassure you that it goes away. If you are allowed purees at this stage, chili was a life saver. 

I just want to reassure you that what you are experiencing is normal and it will go away! The first two weeks were a pain but it's temporary. You are on your way to better health, you got this! It will subside!

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5 minutes ago, Murk said:

Well, I assume your top-of-the-line doctor never had surgery? I have. I'm almost 6 months out. I had the same hunger after surgery. REAL, stomach-growling, genuine hunger. Like you, I was disappointed! But guess what? It only lasted 2-4 weeks (I can't remember how long anymore)

My personal theory is that maybe it takes awhile for ghrelin to work its way out of our systems. Or perhaps that's when the inflammation subsided. I was afraid to ask anyone, because every thread (elsewhere) I read said "Oh, it's head hunger." Well, it wasn't. I can tell the difference between those now. I've read about a lot of people having the same issue early out. Let me just reassure you that it goes away. If you are allowed purees at this stage, chili was a life saver. 

I just want to reassure you that what you are experiencing is normal and it will go away! The first two weeks were a pain but it's temporary. You are on your way to better health, you got this! It will subside!

Murk I can't be more grateful for your post...I would hug you if I could.  You have given me hope!  I think that is the worst of this is not the unrelenting hunger (which is LOUSY) but the thought that this may be my lot the rest of my life.  Thank you so much for sharing your own story with me.  I'm just going to ride this out an hour at a time until it goes away.  Thank you thank you Murk. 

 

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Are you on liquids only right now or are you allowed purees? I was allowed purees on day 3 and I noticed that certain purees helped stop the hunger sensation better than others. Notably chili, cottage cheese or refried beans. If you are on liquids only, I can totally see why you are starving and that will improve with purees! Hang in there!

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14 minutes ago, Murk said:

Are you on liquids only right now or are you allowed purees? I was allowed purees on day 3 and I noticed that certain purees helped stop the hunger sensation better than others. Notably chili, cottage cheese or refried beans. If you are on liquids only, I can totally see why you are starving and that will improve with purees! Hang in there!

I am on clear liquids until Tuesday I think.  Then full liquids for 2 weeks (cream soups, cream of wheat, yogurt, and protein drinks).  After that will come purees.  

Murk, my question for you is, did you completely lose your appetite after you recovered from these first weeks of hunger hell?  VS is supposed to take away all hunger (which I was so stoked about) and I'm hoping that is still in my future but maybe because my reaction to surgery is like this I won't get that benefit.  How about you??

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I have lost my appetite for sure. If I get busy doing things, I can completely forget to eat! But I do suffer from wanting to eat out of boredom.

Foods still taste good, so just because you don't have an appetite doesn't mean you don't want to eat. But no appetite sure helps.

I think if I had been strictly liquids like you are, it would have been really HARD due to the hunger sensations. But tough it out, it will jump start your weightloss and it doesn't last long. Cream of wheat and yogurt will really help I think, once you are able to eat that. Let us know how you are doing as time goes on!

 

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I also had the real hunger feeling. It didn't last as long as Murk. Reaching the pureed foods stage will help for sure! I also no longer have any hunger unless I am really low on protein and then my body let's me know. 

It will get better, hang in there! 

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34 minutes ago, kayls814 said:

I also had the real hunger feeling. It didn't last as long as Murk. Reaching the pureed foods stage will help for sure! I also no longer have any hunger unless I am really low on protein and then my body let's me know. 

It will get better, hang in there! 

Thanks for letting me know! It's so HELPFUL and ENCOURAGING to know I'm not alone and that it will get BETTER.

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52 minutes ago, Murk said:

I have lost my appetite for sure. If I get busy doing things, I can completely forget to eat! But I do suffer from wanting to eat out of boredom.

Foods still taste good, so just because you don't have an appetite doesn't mean you don't want to eat. But no appetite sure helps.

I think if I had been strictly liquids like you are, it would have been really HARD due to the hunger sensations. But tough it out, it will jump start your weightloss and it doesn't last long. Cream of wheat and yogurt will really help I think, once you are able to eat that. Let us know how you are doing as time goes on!

 

So good to know that being hunger-free will come my way soon.

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Dumb question but when you are hungry have you tried drinking?  Hunger and thirst are sometimes easily confused in the mind...

good luck Valerie!  

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1 hour ago, Cheesehead said:

Dumb question but when you are hungry have you tried drinking?  Hunger and thirst are sometimes easily confused in the mind...

good luck Valerie!  

Yeah I'm drinking all day long. It pushes back the hunger for less than a minute then it's back. So I take another swallow. And again and again and again. It's certainly helping me stay hydrated. I just woke up and the hunger is so strong I want to almost double over. I will get through this!!!

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In all actuality if this is just phantom limb hunger, nothing really is gonna help I just have to ride it out until my brain realizes what the heck is going on. I feel like today is going to be a real challenge because I woke up feeling famished and that hasn't happened before. Time to show myself how strong I can be. 

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I tried to eat more in the early days and eventually learned that it wasn't possible for my body to do it. Even the recommended food list and meal plan from my program was way more than I could handle. I periodically re-read it and it still isn't possible. Some people can and do defeat the purpose of their WLS, I couldn't if I forced myself.

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I just realized I'm probably on an acid med that isn't working for me. I'm taking omeprazole 20mg. Maybe if I could get a better acid reducer I'd not be so famished. I'm not having any reflux besides an occasional bit of heartburn. Any recommendations that I could bring up to the Bariatric person I'm scheduled to see tomorrow?

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Ask about increasing your omeprazole dose or switching to another PPI.  My surgeon has all of his patients on 40mg omeprazole mandatory for 2 months.  Even at that dose I'd get an occassional twinge that Maaloxx or Rolaids would knock back.  A friend of mine had bypass and omeprazole didn't work at all for her.  She takes protonix.

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7 minutes ago, ThinCVT said:

Ask about increasing your omeprazole dose or switching to another PPI.  My surgeon has all of his patients on 40mg omeprazole mandatory for 2 months.  Even at that dose I'd get an occassional twinge that Maaloxx or Rolaids would knock back.  A friend of mine had bypass and omeprazole didn't work at all for her.  She takes protonix.

I appreciate the advice. I'm on only 20mg. I meet a batiateric nurse tomorrow for my post op appt. I am counting the hours because I am soooo soooo hungry. 

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2 hours ago, ThinCVT said:

Ask about increasing your omeprazole dose or switching to another PPI.  My surgeon has all of his patients on 40mg omeprazole mandatory for 2 months.  Even at that dose I'd get an occassional twinge that Maaloxx or Rolaids would knock back.  A friend of mine had bypass and omeprazole didn't work at all for her.  She takes protonix.

I was on 20 mg of omeprazole for a few weeks and suddenly I was getting what felt like the insatiable hunger pangs too.  I asked my surgeon's NP about it and we upped my omeprazole to 40 mg.  I haven't had any problems since, knock on wood!  I'm glad to hear that it's not an unusual post-op dosage.

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Here is my standard response to this inquiry:

At only be a few days or few weeks what you are experiencing unfortunately it isn't true hunger.  The stomach is very swollen and angry and all the nerves were cut and messed with in there - things are not healed and thus not working properly.  The fact that we are on liquids so long pre-surgery and so long after surgery (dependant on plan of course) really can do the head in so the urge to eat something real is strong....but its an urge non the less.  It's not like you have to physically chew and swallow something in order to feel not-empty; liquids and especially liquid protein fills this roll perfectly fine.  And while the stomach is fine with this, all it cares about is something being in it, the head isn't so quick to agree with that as it is seeking a physical reaction to resolve a physiological feeling.  I am quite sure once you are off of liquids and can get some heavier things down your gullet this feeling will improve;  in addition to your sleeves healing over all.   Just have to give it some time and allow it to heal and hang tight.  I know it feels real but at this point only days out - I assure you it is not.  The sleeve cannot tell the difference between liquids and foods at this time, so if you are feeling the need to eat - drink more liquid (not necessarily more at once, just more often).  Not only all of that, but the sleeve gurgles/grumbles/rumbles all the time, still even for me at a year out now.  It will do it when your eating, when your not eating, when your drinking, when you sleeping - whenever, wherever.  Grumbling belly doesn't necessarily mean hunger and sometimes acid (a common con of the sleeve) can also make you feel hunger as it is roiling around in there.  So take your antacids as well even if you don't think you have reflux for a few weeks until you are all healed inside.

 

In summation:

Once you are on more solid food you will very likely find this dissipate. 
Sometimes just a change (dosage or a change of brands) in acid meds is all someone needs.   All I ever took was regular ol over-the-counter Pepcid.

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