The hospital is NOT a spa. Sure, your insurance company pays far more for your stay than a week at a five star hotel would cost you, but this is not a spa. Like most hospitals, it doesn’t resemble those on popular television shows.

In the past almost every hospital had a nursing program associated with it and there was a steady supply of good nurses available to help weight loss surgery patients. Unfortunately, now there is a nationwide nursing shortage and because of this, there are fewer and fewer nurses who are available for patient care. As medicine became more complicated and nurses were required to do far more than pass medicines, take vital signs and make beds, the education of nurses went from hospital-based programs to university-based programs. This was one of the first steps that vastly limited the nurses available for floor duty. What does this mean? Once a nurse teaches a weight loss surgery patient to get out of bed, it is their responsibility to keep getting out of bed and not wait for someone to help them unless they have some very specific needs. There are no nurses waiting around to help you do what you can do for yourself. Family members can, and should, help weight loss surgery patients with some of their needs—but there are defined limits to this.

When you push the button for the nurses, do not expect them to be right there. Twenty minutes is the average amount of time for a nurse to respond to a call, longer in some hospitals depending on how sick the other patients are.

Most gastric bypass weight loss surgery patients will have a pump installed so that they can administer a narcotic for pain relief— called PCA for patient controlled analgesia. This works very well and allows you to administer a specified dose of narcotic on frequent intervals. Do not let family members push this, only you should push this button. If you wake up, push the button and fall back asleep—only to wake up in pain again, you are probably doing fine. In fact, if you are sleeping a lot you should probably get out of bed and do some laps.

Family Members

—It is ok to love em and leave em

Family and friends can be of great assistance to you while recovering from weight loss surgery. They can help you move out of the bed and encourage you to walk around more.

However, at nighttime I insist that family members return to their homes or hotels to sleep. Your room is the last place I want family members to be sleeping. The reason is simple: a family member will get very little sleep in a hospital. You have 24-hour nursing care, something they will not have at home. It is important for family members to get some rest so they can help take care of you when you get home—where there are no nurses to help. A number of years ago I did a fair bit of trauma operations. One night a young lady was admitted after being in a car accident. She required an operation to repair a liver injury. The procedure wasn’t too complicated but the husband spent every waking hour at his wife’s bed. Five days later I was on trauma call again and the husband became my patient—he fell asleep in his car and ran off the road. He was lucky. He just spent a very sore night in the hospital, but it could have been avoided.

You need sleep after weight loss surgery and when family members are there you get far less rest.Limit visits to twenty minutes at a time, and if you plan on being there longer, go to the lounge and let your beloved sleep a bit. Finally, some weight loss surgery patients are in more pain when a family member is present than when they are gone. We don’t know why this is, but for some people it is absolutely true.

Family and friends are a great support. They can assist weight loss surgery patients with getting out of bed, they can encourage them to walk, and they can even spot trouble before a nurse can. But remember, you will be needed even more at home—so, love ’em and leave ’em. Get your rest—your time is coming.