the Dani Hart story (Gastric bypass with a FOBI pouch)
At 49 Dani was healthy and happy with a thriving art business and much involvement in family and community. Although she weighed 279 lbs at 5í2", her love of exercise had kept her healthy. She has a joyful nature, vivacious, and bright.
But like all large people, she felt life would be better if she could lose the weight. Having tried all diets, nothing seemed to work.
Then one day on TV, she saw what looked like the perfect solution for her. Carnie Wilson, smiling, having lost 150 lbs. Carnie in her interviews made her gastric bypass surgery and life after surgery look so easy. Dani thought, "I can do this too!"
Shortly after seeing Carnie Wilson, Dani saw an ad in the newspaper for a bariatric surgeon in her town.
College educated, Dani did not jump into things but researched as best she could. Like many other people, she assumed that since there was no negative information about the gastric bypass, it must be relatively easy. She contacted the surgeon in the ad, and gathered more information.
From her surgeon she obtained the phone number of a contact who had had the surgery. Her contact confirmed the Carnie image. Yes, things were wonderful, her life was charmed, this is the best thing she ever did for herself. Dani heard the same story from the support groups and from the internet mailing lists.
Dr X was a good choice for bariatric surgery. Heís a regular member of the ASBS. He doesnít have a website but the comments about him on "obesityhelp.com" are generally positive. He is described as a quiet man, sometimes on the terse side who can do his job well. Dr X only does two surgeries, the RNY gastricbypass with a FOBI pouch and the Vertical Banded gastroplasty (VBG).
Because Dani had no health problems, Dr X felt the insurance would not pay for the surgery so he stated on the form that she was under medication for hypertension even though her blood pressure was normal and she had never taken any medication for this. Dani was concerned about the "what if" this wasnít for her. Dr X assured her that if she changed her mind, the gastric bypass could be easily reversed. She scheduled her surgery in Oct of 2000.
She went home in a few days, no complications.
Dani is a textbook case Ė one the surgeons like to brag about. She never had any repeat surgeries, no bowel obstructions, no scopes. And in the 10 months following her surgery, eating about 300 calories a day (the Fobi pouch is extremely restrictive, built so it doesnít stretch much), Dani lost 120 lbs and then her loss stopped. She also lost an inch of height and became 5í1". Eating 300 calories a day was also due to the chronic vomiting and nausea.
The problem with Dani was simple. Her quality of life was extremely poor. There were physical and emotional problems due to malnutrition. She found she didnít have the energy to do her beloved hiking in the mountains and as time went on, she didnít have the energy to work her business. She ended up losing her business.
She vomited constantly Ė the silastic ring was too tight, one doctor told her. As time went on, the only thing which went down with any success was broth. She also found out that if she ate any more than 500 calories a day, she started gaining weight back.
She became lactose intolerant and hypoglycemic. Having developed a thyroid problem, the doctor found her difficult to treat because she was not absorbing her thyroid medications.
Her hair continued to fall out and looked lackluster. She found herself spending more and more time in bed because she felt so poorly. She decided to go to her PCP. They tried many things, hormones, anti depressants. Nothing helped. Her PCP told her that he could not see her living any longer than 5 years and probably had less life left to her. She was in the throws of starvation.
She considered taking her own life at one point, an action so alien for this formerly joyful soul, and it was then that she decided to seek for a solution.
Dani searched for an answer:
so-called friend. On the last conversation, this friend said "If you say anything more, negative about the gastric bypass then Iím going to come over and hit you." We have not spoken since."
Dani called Dr X, her WLS surgeon and asked about a reversal (takedown). Dr X refused to talk to her and said all her problems were in her head. She attended a support meeting and asked if anyone knew any surgeons who would do a takedown, explaining she needed one to save her life. She was cruelly attacked by those at the meeting, called many names, including liar. Standard treatment for anyone who dares to say the surgery isnít nirvana.
But after the meeting, a couple of individuals came up to Dani and said "Iím glad you said something in there Ė I am interested in a takedown also".
Dani finally found a surgeon in another state, to do her takedown. He insisted she go through a battery of tests in order to convince the insurance company that the takedown was necessary. Starvation, fatigue, and no quality of life are not considered reasons to make a takedown necessary. Since all the tests came out ok, she and her surgeon decided that constant nausea and vomiting is something which would make a takedown necessary and would not show up on any tests. Insurance paid.
LIFE AFTER TAKEDOWN
The surgeon who did Daniís takedown has done 11 reversals and is a skilled surgeon. He said that 2 hours of the 7 hour takedown procedure, were spent removing 18 months of adhesions from her stapled stomach.
Dani still has repercussions from her gastric bypass but is no longer starving. And now, her thyroid medications DO take effect. She finds that in order to maintain her weight because of a severely damaged metabolism, she cannot eat more than 1000 calories a day and averages 700-900 calories most days. She no longer vomits daily but does vomit once a week or so.
She has felt her energy return and is starting up her business. She has been able to return to her hiking in the hills. She has written a book about her her gastric bypass experience and take-down (see below!).
Update: 2007: Dani has a healing ministry ("healing touch") and is involved in many other things. She still feels repercussions from her bypass but is very glad she had a takedown because it gave her, her life back. She has helped many patients who are in trouble and had no where else to turn.
Article by SueW, based on extensive interviews (and a long friendship) with Dani Hart.
order Dani's book, I WANT TO LIVE.