A woman drops over 180 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery but now has to consume 5,000 calories a day to stay alive.
Julie Dunbar suffered a complication from gastric bypass surgery where her body has stopped absorbing nutrients.
She became malnourished and even close to death that she was rushed to the hospital. Doctors later diagnosed the condition and their prescribed remedy was for Julie to eat as much as she can.
Julie has to eat constantly throughout the day since her body can only ingest small amounts of the total calories she eats.
In a day, Julie would go through a half a block of cheese, a whole packet of smoke salmon, a dozen biscuits, cake, a curry, shepherd’s pie and bags of sweets. Sounds like heaven right?
But Julie says her constant need for food has become a chore and quite expensive.
“No-one believes what I eat on a normal day, our food bill is phenomenal. It must cost about $300 to feed me every week,” Julie says.
“It’s not enjoyable. It is a task really. It was enjoyable for the first week but now it’s a pain and I hate it.”
The 51-year-old pub landlady has to eat even though she doesn’t feel like eating.
“I can drop six pounds in a matter of days when I don’t eat like that.”
Julie decided to undergo a bilo-pancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch in December 2010. The operation involved removing part of the stomach, but the valve that controls food drainage was left intact. Removing part of the stomach is what makes it harder for the body to absorb nutrients.
Julie’s weight dropped quickly after the surgery that her sister Karen decided to go through the same operation.
The sisters happily started losing weight together. While Karen eventually leveled off at around 140 pounds Julie kept losing more weight. She looked like she suffered from anorexia.
“To me, looking at pictures of myself is like looking at a picture of an African child that is starving. I’m just bones.
“In the pub people looked at me and thought I was not going to make it. My face was like a skeleton and it was totally sunken in, there wasn’t an ounce of flesh on me. It was hell.”
Julie was rushed to a hospital where doctors put her in a nutrient drip to keep her alive. Doctors diagnosed her condition while she was in the hospital. Her digestive system was so small that she was unable to absorb any nutrients like Vitamin B12, Zinc, Copper or Magnesium, which humans need to survive.
To release more of her stomach, Julie went for two more surgeries in June and September 2010.
Although Julie has gone through surgeries to fix the problem, she still needs to eat a lot more than the average person in order for her body to have the right amount of nutrients.
Julie explained: “To combat the illness I need to absorb as much as I can from food.”
“A normal person would consume about 30-40g of protein a day, I need to take 125g in to get my levels up to where they should be.”