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Gastric Bypass Surgery and Recovery


FistFullaRoux
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FistFullaRoux,

Color me scared shitless too.

My wife had the Duodenal Switch Gastric Bypass six years ago and has lost (and kept off) over 200 lbs. There is no question that bariatric surgery is risky, dangerous, and should only be done as a last resort. A co-worker of mine who also had DS (in part through the influence of my wife) just had an episode of intestinal blockage. Very scary - life threatening. She was rushed to the original surgeon who did her procedure and he saved her life. Afterwards, I asked her if she had any buyer's regret over the procedure (as I often do) and she still said no.

The risks of the surgery should be considered in light of the risks of being 391 lbs (my wifes's ultimate weight). I believe DS has extended her life. I know it has improved the quality of her life (and our life together) dramatically. We've had two babies since her surgery. She is not a "foodie", and honestly I don't know if you can be one after bariatric surgery. There are things in life more important than food however.

Sending positive thoughts and wishes to you and your wife. Thanks for the warning.

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Reading this thread through tears, a grim reminder to all of us who suffer with excess weight to walk more, eat less, and try harder to figure out ways and means of avoiding such drastic procedures!

FistFullaRoux, none of us can truly imagine what you and your wife are going through, but as you see, you have touched our hearts and we will all be sending thoughts of speedy and full recovery! I'll pass all the info. along to the person I know who has had a gastric bypass ... I'm sure to eat smaller portions as well!

Remember the power of positive thought!

Sivia

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I too wish your wife well. I know the risks of this. October 4, 2005 my darling sister Christine had gastric bypass surgery. I wrnt to the hospital to see her that night and am so glad I did. Two days later she was dead. The surgeon who did this used to brag that he never lost a patient. No more. My sister knew the risks. I urge anyone thinking of this to go to a large teaching hospital even if it means leaving home. Make sure that aftercare is as important to them as the surgeon. This guy NEVER once contatced my mother, me or any of my family members after Chris died. He is still doing them and the hospital still puts ads in the paper flacking this. Oh God, be careful. Please make sure that you do not try every other method to loose weight. I have lost more than 100 lbs by adopting a low carb lifestyle. Please be careful. My heart aches EVERY day. Chris was 43.

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There is a newer, safer solution that's in clinical trials now. It's a stomach pacemaker that's implanted under the skin and creates a sense of fullness. It's a safer option and fully reversable, and the anatomy isn't changed. It would offer a safer alternative to the procedures used today, and it would be a great option if it's proven to work. Here's a link:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/...40429055503.htm

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Previous thread here - http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=35979

My wife had gastric bypass in February of 2004. She has lost 179 pounds and until last Friday was healthier and happier than she had been in her whole life.

Last Saturday, she fell down. It looked like she caught her foot on a welcome mat, and we didn't pay much attention to it. The next day, she fell again, after complaining of numbness in her feet and legs. She fell twice on Monday, saw her doctor Tuesday, and was admitted into the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday, she couldn't get out of bed without assistance, and couldn't even sit up for more than 15 minutes. Thursday, her hands began to go numb

Doing some reasearch on my own into this, I found a study (link here) released in October of last year, saying that up to 16% of gastric bypass patients had developed neuropathy secondary to the gastric bypass surgery. It's due to the malabsorption built into the surgery by the bypassing of 3 feet of small intestine. Since the surgery is not reversable, the options are very limited.

My healthy, happy 37 year old wife is in the hospital now, and will stay for about 3 weeks while they boost her body with nutrients fed in through a central line. She will probably go home with a permanent feeding tube, even though she can eat normal food. Problem is, now she can't eat enough. The surgery is too effective for her.

My wife will have to relearn how to walk, since the nerves in her legs have basically shut down. She has no noticeable muscle tone from the knees down, and can barely move her foot. She walked 70 feet yesterday, with the assistance of 2 physical therapists and a walker. She was dancing 2 weeks ago.

Thank God we saw this early, and it is still fixable at this point. She developed this very quickly, with no warning, and it could have progressed very quickly to paralysis or death. The nerves were not damaged too bad, and thankfully her doctor recognized that something was really wrong.

If you know anyone who has had this surgery, even if they are doing well now, warn them about this side effect. It is only being undestood now, and it is treatable when caught early. Once the nerves have been damaged past a certain point, it is permanent.

It is nothing she did wrong. It is nothing that could have been avoided with extra vitamins. It is the reduced absorption of calories and nutrients that is the root of thins. It's sort of related to Beriberi.

I'm scared shitless. If they are just figuring this out, what else is down the road?

I want to make 3 points that haven't been made. I am not a doctor - but I have a reasonable degree of medical knowledge for a lay person. I know enough to know what I don't know. (And I apologize in advance if some of what I say is blunt or in any way offensive.)

My first point is that specific neurological problems can be very difficult to diagnose - both in terms of what they are - and in terms of what caused them. It is entirely possible that what your wife has wasn't caused by her surgery - but is the result of something else (and - indeed - you haven't said that the doctors have said that the bypass surgery caused her current condition). Doesn't mean that her treatment will necessarily be different (it's said that there are 200 neurological diseases and only 3 can be cured) - but it might be. Therefore - although I'm sure you have confidence in your doctors - I would get a second opinion concerning her condition at a major medical center with an excellent neurology department. If this involves travel - so be it (we went to Mayo in Rochester a couple of years ago just to get a consult with one of the best heart valve surgeons in the country - it was money well spent).

The second is that if your wife is a candidate for rehabilitative therapy (which I assume she is from your message) - it is very difficult to get the best care (which is very intensive) at home. Therefore I suggest looking at the best rehab places you can find (my father-in-law had fabulous rehab following a bad stroke - and the rehab people were able to bring him back to about 80% of normal - which was kind of a miracle in our opinion). I am not sure whether speed is of the essence in terms of therapy for your wife's condition. I know it is in the case of stroke victims (they usually get back most of whatever they're going to get back within about 6 months or so). This is something you ought to discuss with your doctors.

The third is that while the internet is terrific for certain things - in the medical area - it leads people to think they know as much as doctors. I have a cartoon on my bulletin board - it's one doctor talking to another - and he says "With the internet, my patients come self-diagnosed, have second opinions and already belong to a support group." Don't use the internet as a substitute for getting the best medical providers you can get for your wife. And once you get those medical providers - listen to them - and forget about trying to "play doctor". My husband may need back surgery - and everyone in the world seems to have an opinion about that ("I read all about this on the internet" and "you want minimally invasive surgery" - or "you want an artificial disk" - etc.). When we were sitting face to face with an excellent neurosurgeon - discussing our options - we realized that all of these opinions from a bunch of lay people - although well-intentioned - were nonsense.

I wish you best of luck in this difficult quest. Robyn

P.S. I spoke with my husband this evening. He's a lay person who knows more about medicine than I do (he's a retired medical malpractice lawyer). He has heard the University of Alabama Medical facility (which I believe is in Birmingham) spoken about in good terms. So that's a place where you might start in terms in getting that second opinion.

And if you get into the neurology stuff - well it's useful to be able to deal with ambiguity. There's not a whole lot that's cut and dry in neurology (as opposed - for example - to having blocked coronary arteries and getting a bypass). Just find good doctors you trust - and listen to them.

Edited by robyn (log)
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Regarding doctors pushing this surgery, I think I read in a recent New York magazine that many surgeons are dropping out of doing this due to the very high malpractice insurance costs related to the high rate of complications. A former work colleague of mine had bariatric surgery and was in a coma for two weeks following the operation (he eventually recovered).

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Previous thread here - http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=35979

My wife had gastric bypass in February of 2004. She has lost 179 pounds and until last Friday was healthier and happier than she had been in her whole life.

Last Saturday, she fell down. It looked like she caught her foot on a welcome mat, and we didn't pay much attention to it. The next day, she fell again, after complaining of numbness in her feet and legs. She fell twice on Monday, saw her doctor Tuesday, and was admitted into the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday, she couldn't get out of bed without assistance, and couldn't even sit up for more than 15 minutes. Thursday, her hands began to go numb

Doing some reasearch on my own into this, I found a study (link here) released in October of last year, saying that up to 16% of gastric bypass patients had developed neuropathy secondary to the gastric bypass surgery. It's due to the malabsorption built into the surgery by the bypassing of 3 feet of small intestine. Since the surgery is not reversable, the options are very limited.

My healthy, happy 37 year old wife is in the hospital now, and will stay for about 3 weeks while they boost her body with nutrients fed in through a central line. She will probably go home with a permanent feeding tube, even though she can eat normal food. Problem is, now she can't eat enough. The surgery is too effective for her.

My wife will have to relearn how to walk, since the nerves in her legs have basically shut down. She has no noticeable muscle tone from the knees down, and can barely move her foot. She walked 70 feet yesterday, with the assistance of 2 physical therapists and a walker. She was dancing 2 weeks ago.

Thank God we saw this early, and it is still fixable at this point. She developed this very quickly, with no warning, and it could have progressed very quickly to paralysis or death. The nerves were not damaged too bad, and thankfully her doctor recognized that something was really wrong.

If you know anyone who has had this surgery, even if they are doing well now, warn them about this side effect. It is only being undestood now, and it is treatable when caught early. Once the nerves have been damaged past a certain point, it is permanent.

It is nothing she did wrong. It is nothing that could have been avoided with extra vitamins. It is the reduced absorption of calories and nutrients that is the root of thins. It's sort of related to Beriberi.

I'm scared shitless. If they are just figuring this out, what else is down the road?

I want to make 3 points that haven't been made. I am not a doctor - but I have a reasonable degree of medical knowledge for a lay person. I know enough to know what I don't know. (And I apologize in advance if some of what I say is blunt or in any way offensive.)

My first point is that specific neurological problems can be very difficult to diagnose - both in terms of what they are - and in terms of what caused them. It is entirely possible that what your wife has wasn't caused by her surgery - but is the result of something else (and - indeed - you haven't said that the doctors have said that the bypass surgery caused her current condition). Doesn't mean that her treatment will necessarily be different (it's said that there are 200 neurological diseases and only 3 can be cured) - but it might be. Therefore - although I'm sure you have confidence in your doctors - I would get a second opinion concerning her condition at a major medical center with an excellent neurology department. If this involves travel - so be it (we went to Mayo in Rochester a couple of years ago just to get a consult with one of the best heart valve surgeons in the country - it was money well spent).

The second is that if your wife is a candidate for rehabilitative therapy (which I assume she is from your message) - it is very difficult to get the best care (which is very intensive) at home. Therefore I suggest looking at the best rehab places you can find (my father-in-law had fabulous rehab following a bad stroke - and the rehab people were able to bring him back to about 80% of normal - which was kind of a miracle in our opinion). I am not sure whether speed is of the essence in terms of therapy for your wife's condition. I know it is in the case of stroke victims (they usually get back most of whatever they're going to get back within about 6 months or so). This is something you ought to discuss with your doctors.

The third is that while the internet is terrific for certain things - in the medical area - it leads people to think they know as much as doctors. I have a cartoon on my bulletin board - it's one doctor talking to another - and he says "With the internet, my patients come self-diagnosed, have second opinions and already belong to a support group." Don't use the internet as a substitute for getting the best medical providers you can get for your wife. And once you get those medical providers - listen to them - and forget about trying to "play doctor". My husband may need back surgery - and everyone in the world seems to have an opinion about that ("I read all about this on the internet" and "you want minimally invasive surgery" - or "you want an artificial disk" - etc.). When we were sitting face to face with an excellent neurosurgeon - discussing our options - we realized that all of these opinions from a bunch of lay people - although well-intentioned - were nonsense.

I wish you best of luck in this difficult quest. Robyn

P.S. I spoke with my husband this evening. He's a lay person who knows more about medicine than I do (he's a retired medical malpractice lawyer). He has heard the University of Alabama Medical facility (which I believe is in Birmingham) spoken about in good terms. So that's a place where you might start in terms in getting that second opinion.

And if you get into the neurology stuff - well it's useful to be able to deal with ambiguity. There's not a whole lot that's cut and dry in neurology (as opposed - for example - to having blocked coronary arteries and getting a bypass). Just find good doctors you trust - and listen to them.

Well said.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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FFR - deepest sympathy - please know that even the agnostics are thinking of you and your wife.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Fist, add my prayers to the rest.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I want to make 3 points that haven't been made.  I am not a doctor - but I have a reasonable degree of medical knowledge for a lay person.  I know enough to know what I don't know.  (And I apologize in advance if some of what I say is blunt or in any way offensive.)

My first point is that specific neurological problems can be very difficult to diagnose - both in terms of what they are - and in terms of what caused them.  It is entirely possible that what your wife has wasn't caused by her surgery - but is the result of something else (and - indeed - you haven't said that the doctors have said that the bypass surgery caused her current condition).  Doesn't mean that her treatment will necessarily be different (it's said that there are 200 neurological diseases and only 3 can be cured) - but it might be.  Therefore - although I'm sure you have confidence in your doctors - I would get a second opinion concerning her condition at a major medical center with an excellent neurology department.  If this involves travel - so be it (we went to Mayo in Rochester a couple of years ago just to get a consult with one of the best heart valve surgeons in the country - it was money well spent).

The second is that if your wife is a candidate for rehabilitative therapy (which I assume she is from your message) - it is very difficult to get the best care (which is very intensive) at home.  Therefore I suggest looking at the best rehab places you can find (my father-in-law had fabulous rehab following a bad stroke - and the rehab people were able to bring him back to about 80% of normal - which was kind of a miracle in our opinion).  I am not sure whether speed is of the essence in terms of therapy for your wife's condition.  I know it is in the case of stroke victims (they usually get back most of whatever they're going to get back within about 6 months or so).  This is something you ought to discuss with your doctors.

The third is that while the internet is terrific for certain things - in the medical area - it leads people to think they know as much as doctors.  I have a cartoon on my bulletin board - it's one doctor talking to another - and he says "With the internet, my patients come self-diagnosed, have second opinions and already belong to a support group."  Don't use the internet as a substitute for getting the best medical providers you can get for your wife.  And once you get those medical providers - listen to them - and forget about trying to "play doctor".  My husband may need back surgery - and everyone in the world seems to have an opinion about that ("I read all about this on the internet" and "you want minimally invasive surgery" - or "you want an artificial disk" - etc.).  When we were sitting face to face with an excellent neurosurgeon - discussing our options - we realized that all of these opinions from a bunch of lay people - although well-intentioned - were nonsense.

I wish you best of luck in this difficult quest.  Robyn

P.S.  I spoke with my husband this evening.  He's a lay person who knows more about medicine than I do (he's a retired medical malpractice lawyer).  He has heard the University of Alabama Medical facility (which I believe is in Birmingham) spoken about in good terms.  So that's a place where you might start in terms in getting that second opinion.

And if you get into the neurology stuff - well it's useful to be able to deal with ambiguity.  There's not a whole lot that's cut and dry in neurology (as opposed - for example - to having blocked coronary arteries and getting a bypass).  Just find good doctors you trust - and listen to them.

Birmingham has an outstanding medical community, along with a teaching hospital. This is a great city to get sick in. :hmmm: We have consulted with 3 neurologists, 4 dieticians and nutritionists, 2 more bariatric surgeons, and 2 or 3 gastroenterologists. They all agree than the surgery is the root problem. The reduced absorption of nutrients is part of the gastric bypass surgery. The thought is "If we can make them eat less, and absorb less of the little amount they eat, they will lose weight faster." The body is supposed to find it's own level following surgery. It will know when to ask for food, and how use it more effeciently. This has not happened ith my wife. It is damn near impossible to eat the amount that would be required for her, considering the levels of vitamins and such that are being pumped into her right now.

Let me reiterate. Each doctor or nutritionist/dietician we have spoken to has said that the surgery IS the root cause of the neuropathy. Every single one. Her diet figures very little into this, as she could pop Centrums all day long, but the vitamin levels in her blood would still fall. She cannot absorb enough nutrients by mouth to avoid this. It's the way her body is made. The small intestine which was bypassed was more critical to her overall health than many people. The surgery is designed to do exactly what it is doing. The problem comes from her body not being able to find that balance where the food she puts into her mouth is enough to stabilize her.

We were fortunate that her neurologist has seen someone else with this recently. My wife is getting TPN, and is having a shunt put in tomorrow to remove the central line from her neck. She's going to have to deal with the Hyperalimentation for a long while, and has a greuling rehab ahead.

The good news is that she may be discharged from the hospital Monday, which means that they think the major life or death medical issues have been resolved, they have located the problem (by process of elimination), and she can start rehab in earnest. We're not sure if she is going to a rehab facility in town or if she would get home health care. We're fighting the insurance company about this at the moment.

Thanks again for all of the kind words and thoughts. We're not out of the woods yet.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Wishing you and your wife strength in the coming months. My thoughts go out to you both.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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  • 2 months later...

Been a while since I updated, and I figured this is as good a time as any.

The TPN is helping a lot. There has been slow but steady progress in the movement department. She still uses a walker occasionally at home, but mostly she can "furniture walk", meaning she can go a few steps as long as she has something to stabilize herself with. We use the wheelchair when we go somewhere, mostly for her peace of mind.

4 weeks ago, her neurologist wasn't completely happy with the rate of recovery, so she had a feeding tube put into the old stomach (which is still attached to the plumbing, still secreting the gastric juices) to help bump up the nutritional intake. She had problems with it from day 1. In theory, the old stomach should have been able to take a slow but steady stream of Glucerna. In reality, the tube leaked, almost none of the product was digested, and the surgery site became necrotic and infected because the surgeon tied the "clamps" that hold the tube in place too tightly - cutting off the bloodflow to the skin. The feeding tube was removed 10 days ago, and we are still dealing with the infection. Antidepressants are now a major part of her daily routine.

All in all, it's still your basic nightmare. There are bright spots sometimes, but it's been a long road, and we aren't seeing the end of it yet.

She's been unable to work for 13 weeks now, because her company does not have, and won't provide, facilities for medical waste. Her employer will not let her work as long as she has to carry around a gallon of solution and a pump, with the needles and everything else. Diabetics within the company are expected to take care of what they need in private, and not dispose of anything at work. They can put the used needles back into their kit, and drop them into a disposal container at home.

I just thank God she hasn't developed a soap opera addiction sitting at home all day.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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FistFulla:

You have no idea how often I think about your wife, and I'm so greatful you checked in with us here. Please tell her a wholelotta people are pulling for her.

In the last two weeks two people I know have undergone this procedure. It takes all I have in me not to point them to this thread.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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FistFulla:

You have no idea how often I think about your wife, and I'm so greatful you checked in with us here. Please tell her a wholelotta people are pulling for her.

In the last two weeks two people I know have undergone this procedure.  It takes all I have in me not to point them to this thread.

Hell, show it to them. I'll give you my email address so I can communicate with them. Not that I am against the surgery. I understand that there are many benefits, and most of the people who have had it have gone on to a better life, increased lifespan, had kids, landed a guy or girl (depending on their goals), improved their self-image, etc. I started this thread so people can learn about one of the more difficult experiences. You can only make an informed decision by knowing of the good, bad, and ugly. I am not against the doctors who do the surgery. I am not against the surgery. But I can't really sit by with good conscience and pretend that these side effects and others do not happen. Not everybody gets to have the perfect experience.

It's a major surgery, and an elective one at that. I wouldn't want to have the surgery, then find out about something that could happen 18 months later. It may not change my mind, but it has to be part of the decision making process. And if it did happen down the road, at least I'd be kind of prepared for it.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Fist, thank you for the update. I've been wondering how y'all were doing, and praying for your wife's recovery when I had the spare moment.

Is your wife able to do her job now, except for the company's unwillingness to accommodate her equipment and waste needs? If so, I think you need to do some checking into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)...and then, if it fits as well as I suspect it does, start discussing that law with her employer.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Fist, thank you for the update.  I've been wondering how y'all were doing, and praying for your wife's recovery when I had the spare moment.

Is your wife able to do her job now, except for the company's unwillingness to accommodate her equipment and waste needs?  If so, I think you need to do some checking into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)...and then, if it fits as well as I suspect it does, start discussing that law with her employer.

Basically, her employer finds it easier and cheaper to pay her to stay home, for now at least. We are very fortunate in that way. She's still getting paid, she hasn't lost seniority or aything, other benefits (including insurance, thank God) are still covered and in force. It's just annoying to her that she couldn't go back, even if she felt she could.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Fist, thank you for the update.  I've been wondering how y'all were doing, and praying for your wife's recovery when I had the spare moment.

Is your wife able to do her job now, except for the company's unwillingness to accommodate her equipment and waste needs?  If so, I think you need to do some checking into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)...and then, if it fits as well as I suspect it does, start discussing that law with her employer.

Basically, her employer finds it easier and cheaper to pay her to stay home, for now at least. We are very fortunate in that way. She's still getting paid, she hasn't lost seniority or aything, other benefits (including insurance, thank God) are still covered and in force. It's just annoying to her that she couldn't go back, even if she felt she could.

Ah, that's better. Too bad she can't telecommute, but it sounds like her employer is more understanding than I'd thought.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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hey roux - i'm so sorry to hear about all this madness. I really do hope y'all pull through this like champs. I know you must be really be freaking out at the moment. Is insurance at least, not giving you a hassle?

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Just discovered this thread. WOW. Count another (spiritual) Jew among the crowds sending nothing but good vibes to both of you for a fast(er) recovery.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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