Presented by Dr. Monica Ganz and Nicki Ganz
Nicki was 17 when Monica had RNY gastric-bypass surgery in 2002. Since then, Monica has lost well over 300 pounds.But it wasn’t until a holiday trip a few years ago that Monica realized how her drastic weight loss affected her daughter.
“She walked into the house and hugged my sister, and she hugged her for a long time,” she remembered. “When she was done, she said, ‘Now that’s a mommy hug; I don’t get those anymore.”
Monica says she went to the bathroom and cried and then realized that she had been morbidly obese her daughter’s entire life. And Nicki had to adjust to losing the mother she always knew.
“It took me a really long time be OK with mom sharing clothes with me,” Nicki says.
Monica jumps in saying, “It was so exhilarating to be able to wear my daughter’s clothes that it never occurred to me how it would affect her. It took my husband to say, ‘That’s Nicki’s; you may not wear that,’ for me to realize what I was doing.”
Nicki admits that she still doesn’t like sharing clothes with her mother, especially if she thinks they look better on her mom.“
She’s always bigger than me in my eyes,” Nicki says. “Having her buy clothes the same size as me can be devastating.”
Mealtime has also changed for Monica’s family. Though she still cooks for the family, she doesn’t eat everything she makes. She also will often need to leave the dinner table to avoid overeating.
“It’s rare that we have a full-length dinner with the whole family anymore,” Nicki said. “It’s usually just me and my dad left at the table.”
Monica says you have to be careful about the speed in which you make changes for the children. You can’t abruptly limit everyone’s portions just because you’re eating differently. Food changes need to be gradual, especially if the children are older. Younger children are more resilient and accepting of change. You can’t take an older child who you’ve let snack on chips and junk food without oversight and then take it all away from them and expect them not to resist the change.
The whole point, Monica says, is that this process doesn’t only involve us. Many of us think it’s all about us, because surgery is the first thing we’ve done for ourselves. But it involves and affects our children, spouses, siblings, parents and friends.
“Find out what works for your family and stick with it,” Monica said.
She also cautions against over-informing children. Only give them the information they need; otherwise, you may scare them.
“Older children have a harder time with the transition,” Monica said. “When they are in their teens and 20s, you’ll face jealousy and other emotions. It’s very scary from their perspective. The image they’ve always had of their mom doesn’t match what they now see.”
Nicki mentions her trouble with picking her mom out in stores anymore.
“Before, I just looked for the biggest person around, and that was usually Mom,” she said. “Now, I have a hard time finding her.”
Many pre-ops fear lost relationships, which Monica addressed by saying, “You have to remember why you’re doing this.”
Keeping the line of communication open is very important. Don’t just talk about your weight loss, Monica said. Make sure you talk about other stuff.
Nicki also talks about the difficulty adjusting to her mom’s increased activity.
“I wish she’d come back to the family,” she said. “She used to always be at home or around if I needed her. Now, she’s always on the phone or working or away from home. I feel like this new passion has now come first, almost.”