teacupnosaucer

Afraid to Die

29 posts in this topic

I know I need this surgery to avoid future health complications and that it will improve my quality of life drastically. I've read up on the risks and what can go wrong, and while I know complications can be pretty terrible, I'm not afraid of the possibility of them.

What I *am* afraid of is dying early because of this. I have two young daughters and I am absolutely terrified of leaving them behind. I know the risk of death is less than 1%, but a part of me is absolutely SICK with worry that I will wind up being that .1 of a percent. I keep trying to talk myself out of my fear by reminding myself that that is an overall rate that includes people who are older than me, people with conditions (including higher BMIs) that make surgery more dangerous etc...

But I still can't convince myself it's going to be okay.

I guess I'm looking for some kind of realistic reassurance. Does anyone have a further breakdown of the .1%? Are there published rates for people of certain age ranges, weights, etc? Or how about just quoting me some stuff that has a HIGHER chance of death than this surgery? Stuff I do every day without even thinking, even?

Help!

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I don't have any wise words or statistics to share. But I absolutely had the same fear going into surgery with two little kids (3 and 5 at the time). It's scary. It's surgery. But I knew I had to do it. For me and for them. 

Best decision I ever made for myself. 

Res Ipsa, Cheesehead, AB2B and 3 others like this

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4 minutes ago, GAviv said:

I don't have any wise words or statistics to share. But I absolutely had the same fear going into surgery with two little kids (3 and 5 at the time). It's scary. It's surgery. But I knew I had to do it. For me and for them. 

Best decision I ever made for myself. 

Thank you so much for sharing. I know that getting through this will give them so much of a better life, in ways I can't even envision currently, but even the very small chance it could go wrong.... ugh, I just can't bear the thought of it. 

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I asked my surgeon "how many he had lost?"  More curiosity than anything else.  He has done well over 3,000 surgeries and he told me he  has lost one.  After surgery a patient with severe sleep apnea took a nap without using his CPAP and under pain killers and didn't wake up. You can be sure I used my CPAP while I was on pain killers.

 

I think the risk factors ultimately come down to what the individual's health is when they go into surgery.  My surgeon has said he won't do surgery on someone with "severe" heart issues because the hospital he uses doesn't have a cardiac ICU.  He refers those patients out (nope no idea what "severe" means.)

I don't regret the decision.

 

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57 minutes ago, bcd said:

I asked my surgeon "how many he had lost?"  More curiosity than anything else.  He has done well over 3,000 surgeries and he told me he  has lost one.  After surgery a patient with severe sleep apnea took a nap without using his CPAP and under pain killers and didn't wake up. You can be sure I used my CPAP while I was on pain killers.

 

I think the risk factors ultimately come down to what the individual's health is when they go into surgery.  My surgeon has said he won't do surgery on someone with "severe" heart issues because the hospital he uses doesn't have a cardiac ICU.  He refers those patients out (nope no idea what "severe" means.)

I don't regret the decision.

 

I would have never considered just asking my surgeon! I suppose it's a fair question to ask, isn't it? I think next time I see him I will buck up and try. Maybe it will help me feel that much more confident in my decision. Thank you for the idea!

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2 hours ago, teacupnosaucer said:

 

What I *am* afraid of is dying early because of this. I have two young daughters and I am absolutely terrified of leaving them behind. I know the risk of death is less than 1%, but a part of me is absolutely SICK with worry that I will wind up being that .1 of a percent. I keep trying to talk myself out of my fear by reminding myself that that is an overall rate that includes people who are older than me, people with conditions (including higher BMIs) that make surgery more dangerous

I guess I'm looking for some kind of realistic reassurance. Does anyone have a further breakdown of the .1%? Are there published rates for people of certain age ranges, weights, etc? Or how about just quoting me some stuff that has a HIGHER chance of death than this surgery? Stuff I do every day without even thinking, even?

Hi Heather, I'm also a Heather by the way. I searched early on for a similar breakdown of that meagre percentage mortality but really didn't get very far. I've read many accounts and seen a number of documentaries where patients have died after WLS. Noting that all survived the surgery but some died within days. In all cases the accounts I came across where "super morbidly obese" at the time of surgery. Like you my BMI is on the lower end. In fact if my bypass wasn't a repair of a very old surgery, there is no way I'd even be considered for WLS in my country. On one of my many visits with my surgeon (and before I went under the 35 BMI) I asked him if I needed to stay above that magic 35 BMI figure. He laughed at me and said a definite "No". He said the closer to normal your BMI at time of surgery, the better the odds. He also advised regular aerobic exercise for heart health prior to the surgery. This was a quite specific discussion in my case as weight bearing exercise like walking isn't possible for me at present.

Deaths during surgery are more often related to the  general anesthesia risk than the actual surgery you are having. So maybe if you need some kind of breakdown of the low figure that die on the table, you might want to search out the risks for all surgeries rather than looking simply for mortality statistics applying to WLS. I guess this risk is highlighted by the rule that exists at my local rural hospital and is pretty standard in Australia for rural hospitals. The rule is that no surgeries of any kind can be performed on any patient with a BMI >45. They also won't allow surgeries to be performed on those with heart complications. These rules are about risk minimisation. So even without seeing any actual statistics, I've totally allowed these general rules, along with my surgeon's confidence that I'll survive the surgery, to give me the confidence to stay on the surgical path. He's not as confident when it comes the other surgical complications, but that is because my surgery is revisional rather than a first surgery, but even so he is confident that any post-surgery complication can be fixed.

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 Congratulations on your decision to get healthier. I knew that there are real possibilities for complications.

the best advice I can give you is to follow your surgeon's advice to the letter. There have been people on this forum who write in to brag about how they advance their diets early, eat junk frequently and then complain they are not losing and/or getting nauseous all the time.

if you have been given a bunch of instructions,  place sheets in a binder and read it all carefully at least twice. Highlight things that you are unclear about and ask your surgeon about your questions. 

After surgery call a member of your surgical team if you don't feel well, not able to get enough fluids down, or new pain, or anything else you are experiencing.

After the surgeon does her/his thing, you need to become your own advocate.

Before my surgery( the sleeve), I asked how many "leaks" did his patients have along with a bunch of of other questions.He has done over 3,000 weight loss surgeries and he smiled and said "one". He put his arm around me and thanked me for all my preparation questions.

Ask any or all questions but being prepared is a great place to start.

best....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Spunkycat

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I asked my surgeon the day of.  He said no one had died on the operating table.  I was so scared I wrote goodbye letters to my adult children, just in case!  (2 of the 5 knew I was having surgery).  I was so scared I told myself it was too late to run when I was in the OR.  I've had no complications, and very little pain after surgery!.  

I should add I was 51 and had a multitude of health problems.  I think part of the .1 percent are obese people have health problems, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes... blood clots are a good reason to get up and walk in the hospital and they put those pulsing things on your legs to help keep the blood moving..

You'll do good!

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1 hour ago, Spunkycat said:

 Congratulations on your decision to get healthier. I knew that there are real possibilities for complications.

the best advice I can give you is to follow your surgeon's advice to the letter. There have been people on this forum who write in to brag about how they advance their diets early, eat junk frequently and then complain they are not losing and/or getting nauseous all the time.

if you have been given a bunch of instructions,  place sheets in a binder and read it all carefully at least twice. Highlight things that you are unclear about and 

Before my surgery( the sleeve), I asked how many "leaks" did his patients have along with a bunch of of other questions.He has done over 3,000 weight loss surgeries and he smiled and said "one". He put his arm around me and thanked me for all my preparation questions.

Ask any or all questions but being prepared is a great place to start.

My surgeon was very patient with me over all the questions I asked, and went into detailed explanations. Once I'd finished the questions (most were procedural and specific to my situation) he just looked and me and very gently and reassuredly said "do you really think I haven't already thought about these things and discussed them with the MDT before you came up with them." I hadn't given it a second thought if I'm honest. I suspect I assumed they just had a cookie-cutter approach to all patients. Turns out that the facility I'm using discuss all surgeries in a Multi Disciplinary Team meeting before they will approve patients to be listed for surgery. While some surgeries are straightforward with little discussion, mine seems to have been dissected ad nauseum.

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Thank you so so much for the reassurance, everyone. I was telling myself lots of things but it somehow means more to hear it from other people? Haha. I'm definitely going to discuss my fears with my surgeon. He's a really nice, positive guy so I know he'll tell me what I need to hear. 

The long and short of it is... I want and deserve to have a chance at making this change and I am done being afraid!

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I decided this was a second chance at life, I was done being afraid.  I'm terrified of water-my hubby is an avid scuba diver.  Using my weight and health problems as an excuse I refused to even consider it always giving my health as an excuse (I couldn't get the dr. To sign off).  So once I lost my health problems I told hubby it was time to learn-he's a PADI instructor.  So we checked one thing off at a time and I did it.  I found I love diving!  (Well, maybe not as much as my hubby as he is also into ice diving)..  I am no longer afraid of flying..if given the chance I would like to try zip lining (not fond of heights) but I'd do it!  On our vacation last fall I wanted to try sail boarding but with bad ankles figured that was a no go..i no longer care what others think of me either.  I wear a swimsuit in public, I wear clothes I like and don't care what others think.  I no longer am afraid of having my picture taken.  

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4 minutes ago, Cheesehead said:

I decided this was a second chance at life, I was done being afraid.  I'm terrified of water-my hubby is an avid scuba diver.  Using my weight and health problems as an excuse I refused to even consider it always giving my health as an excuse (I couldn't get the dr. To sign off).  So once I lost my health problems I told hubby it was time to learn-he's a PADI instructor.  So we checked one thing off at a time and I did it.  I found I love diving!  (Well, maybe not as much as my hubby as he is also into ice diving)..  I am no longer afraid of flying..if given the chance I would like to try zip lining (not fond of heights) but I'd do it!  On our vacation last fall I wanted to try sail boarding but with bad ankles figured that was a no go..i no longer care what others think of me either.  I wear a swimsuit in public, I wear clothes I like and don't care what others think.  I no longer am afraid of having my picture taken.  

sounds like you are living your new life to the fullest! I hope I'm able to take advantage of my surgery the same way you have. makes the pain and risk worth it!

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Definitely ask your surgeon. And if he says he lost one, he should be able to tell you why, was it comorbidities? 

I went through the same exact thing. My daughter's father has been iffy on and off and so I definitely want to live a long life for her. But I was so scared I would die on the table. 

I finally did more research into my program and the surgeon and talked to him, and he made me feel so much better. 

Just think of all the fun things you can do with kids when you are lighter! And you will be a good role model too. 

A few weeks before my first surgiversary, someone close to my family had a heart attack in her thirties and died. She had two kids who lost their mother to obesity. It just hit home for me that I had done the right thing. It was so damn tragic. 

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I was afraid of the surgery risk, but I far more afraid of dying of a heart attack or stroke if I did not lose 130 pounds of extra weight.  The weight loss surgery surgery risk, as long as you use a first rate hospital (i.e., not a non-name clinic in Mexico), is really really small - you probably are more at risk of dying on your drives to and from the hospital.

Still I was scared of dying during the surgery.  That having been said, having my surgery was the best decision of my life (besides marrying my wonderful spouse). 

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Thanks everybody. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes both run in my family so I'm definitely using this surgery in the hopes of avoiding both. 

3 hours ago, Res Ipsa said:

you probably are more at risk of dying on your drives to and from the hospital.

haha considering I drive to a hospital that's three hours away, and I'm doing a lot of it in Alberta winter weather/road conditions this is actually probably 100% true LOL! 

my mom (an RN) has been saying since day 1 that the 1/1000 includes sooooooooo many variables that are not an issue for me and that therefore my risks are much lower than that average. Some statistician needs to give me a perfectly tailored number LOL ;) 

it's nice to know I'm not alone in my fear, though. when you see that other people have felt the same way and come out on the other side whole and healthy and happy, it really does put the mind slightly more at ease. I know a year from now I will look back on this fear and be so thankful I didn't let it hold me back!

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i was more scared of what would happen to me if I didn't go through with it! 

I had a lot of problems high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and uncontrolled diabetes also a bmi of 44.

didn't think that would have a good out come 

Edited by Bigfuzzy
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Page 3 (journal page 161 right hand column) of this linked paper might help clear up some of your concerns regarding which patients are at higher risk.

The Obesity Surgery Mortality Risk Score (OS-MRS) by DeMaria et al. (23,24) identified 5 preoperative risk factors that predicted increased risk of 30-day morbidity and mortality after RYGB. These included advanced age (>45 years), ‘‘super-obesity’’ (BMI >50 kg/m2 ), hypertension, male gender, and pulmonary embolism (PE) or surrogate (23 [EL 3, SS]; 24 [EL 3, SS])

https://asmbs.org/wp/uploads/2014/05/AACE_TOS_ASMBS_Clinical_Practice_Guidlines_3.2013.pdf

Edited by Aussie H
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2 hours ago, Aussie H said:

Page 3 (journal page 161 right hand column) of this linked paper might help clear up some of your concerns regarding which patients are at higher risk.

The Obesity Surgery Mortality Risk Score (OS-MRS) by DeMaria et al. (23,24) identified 5 preoperative risk factors that predicted increased risk of 30-day morbidity and mortality after RYGB. These included advanced age (>45 years), ‘‘super-obesity’’ (BMI >50 kg/m2 ), hypertension, male gender, and pulmonary embolism (PE) or surrogate (23 [EL 3, SS]; 24 [EL 3, SS])

https://asmbs.org/wp/uploads/2014/05/AACE_TOS_ASMBS_Clinical_Practice_Guidlines_3.2013.pdf

thank you so much for this!

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2 hours ago, teacupnosaucer said:

thank you so much for this!

My pleasure. I just happened to stumble across this today while researching something totally different. Okay for us, but hopefully no older, hypertensive, super obese men with prior DVT and OSA are reading this thread looking for the same reassurances we were.

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4 hours ago, Aussie H said:

My pleasure. I just happened to stumble across this today while researching something totally different. Okay for us, but hopefully no older, hypertensive, super obese men with prior DVT and OSA are reading this thread looking for the same reassurances we were.

Even these five risk factors are not major risks. I had two of these factors - age and gender - and yet my risk overall was extremely low, especially as compared to my risk of a heart attack or stroke if I had not lost my extra weight. 

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Just now, Res Ipsa said:

Even these five risk factors are not major risks. I had two of these factors - age and gender - and yet my risk overall was extremely low, especially as compared to my risk of a heart attack or stroke if I had not lost my extra weight. 

If you actually read the whole document it pretty much says that. I believe that the majority of surgeon's aren't offering surgeries to people just to make quick $$$, and therefore wouldn't even offer it to people unless the risks associated with not having the surgery didn't outweigh the risks of having it.

In my case and that of teacupnosaucer our relatively low BMIs have us searching a bit differently wondering whether we really should be taking the risk. In my case it's a bit different because as my surgeon said I don't have to have the surgery but that mean living with the complications of my previous surgery.

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On 2017-01-18 at 2:10 AM, Aussie H said:

If you actually read the whole document it pretty much says that. I believe that the majority of surgeon's aren't offering surgeries to people just to make quick $$$, and therefore wouldn't even offer it to people unless the risks associated with not having the surgery didn't outweigh the risks of having it.

In my case and that of teacupnosaucer our relatively low BMIs have us searching a bit differently wondering whether we really should be taking the risk. In my case it's a bit different because as my surgeon said I don't have to have the surgery but that mean living with the complications of my previous surgery.

this is exactly it, Aussie. the first surgeon I met said that he didn't think the benefits outweighed the risks for me. the second surgeon I saw was more sympathetic to my situation and agreed that getting surgery would greatly improve my quality of life... but I can't help but wonder if the first doctor was right because self doubt is a pain in the you know what LOL

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1 hour ago, teacupnosaucer said:

this is exactly it, Aussie. the first surgeon I met said that he didn't think the benefits outweighed the risks for me. the second surgeon I saw was more sympathetic to my situation and agreed that getting surgery would greatly improve my quality of life... but I can't help but wonder if the first doctor was right because self doubt is a pain in the you know what LOL

Personally I'm looking at this from the point of view of my highest weight, not my current weight, and my surgeon similarly discussed this. My highest was 139kg (303lb). At that point I did have sleep aponea. Like many others I've lost and regained many times over and over 100lb as well. I've never been able to maintain weightloss, although each regain has been less than the previous loss. I suspect the reason for me is my refusal to accept sleep aponea. When I feel myself slip back into that zone a new diet begins. I also have some quite advanced arthritis in my knees and feet (one foot already requires surgery) and publicly funded surgery here requires the patient to maintain a BMI <30, so I know I need to get my BMI below that and keep it there.  While I'm doing all in my power to get it there, I know keeping it there is going to be the real hurdle for me. I don't meet my surgeon's criteria for what he calls "virgin weight loss surgery", but he has indicated that while it is necessary to fix the problems resulting from my initial surgery, it has the potential to put an end to the ongoing yo-yo dieting which has many health risks itself.

Yes.....self doubt sucks! I have it all the time. If it weren't for the physical issues I have from the previous surgery I wouldn't even consider it now, and no-one would perform it either. In my case I don't see it as a choice, so I try as much as possible to not consciously think about the actual surgery that I know is going to happen sometime in the very near future. Instead I'm just focussing on making myself more healthy in preparation for what I'm about to put my body through. It also makes the waiting for a scheduled date much easier to handle.

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I was totally afraid of dying on the table.  I have younger children and a husband I adore. I also had a relatively low BMI. People would ask me if I "really needed" the surgery. All of these things can get you to thinking and amp up the anxiety.  I'm really glad I pushed through and did it. I hope you are too. 

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Thanks for all your support and suggestions, everyone! I talked about my fears with my surgeon and directly asked him if he'd lost anyone. He knocked on wood and said no, and then we realistically discussed risk factors etc. Feeling ever so slightly more confident now!

Goes to show... JUST ASK!

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