VIDEO: Detroit Lakes woman struggles after gastric bypass surgeryDETROIT LAKES, Minn. – At about 88 pounds, 40-year-old Shanna Bowman won’t look at herself in the mirror anymore.
She wanted to lose weight, but not like this.
By: Charly Haley, INFORUM
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – At about 88 pounds, 40-year-old Shanna Bowman won’t look at herself in the mirror anymore.
She wanted to lose weight, but not like this.
“It’s just skin hanging on bones that stick out, and it’s ugly. So I don’t look at it,” she said.
The Detroit Lakes woman had gastric bypass surgery 10 years ago. But after countless complications and more surgeries, Bowman is still waiting for answers to what will make her healthy again.
At first, everything was fine. She lost her weight and kept it off, as intended with the surgery.
But soon, Bowman became very sick and unable to eat.
She could nibble on food while standing up, but couldn’t eat anything sitting down without throwing it back up.
Local doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so Bowman was sent to the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in Minneapolis, where it was discovered that her stomach was the problem. It was healing in the shape of an hourglass, closing in the middle.
Doctors inserted a stint in June to reopen Bowman’s stomach.
That worked for about three days before Bowman started throwing up again.
In July, doctors went in to get the stint out, but couldn’t find it.
It had traveled through her intestine and ended up above her bowel.
Complications with removing the stint led to Bowman spending about a month in the hospital, continuing to lose weight.
In July, doctors inserted a feeding tube, which Bowman started using in September.
Bowman said she contacted the Mayo Clinic about treatment for her condition, but was told there isn’t anything the U of M Medical Center hasn’t already tried.
“That was very depressing and disheartening,” she said.
Dr. Timothy Monson, a gastric bypass surgeon at Sanford Health in Fargo, said complications like Bowman’s are “very uncommon” in someone who has gastric bypass surgery.
Monson, who did not treat Bowman, said the surgery has an 80 percent success rate, meaning 80 percent of patients successfully lose weight and show improved health.
Bowman has now been home in Detroit Lakes for about a month, where her medical condition is monitored daily and communicated to the U of M.
“I sleep a lot. I get cold a lot, and I get very, very, very tired,” she said.
“Emotionally, I have my days where I’m going to put up one heck of a fight, and other days where I just want to curl up in a ball and never leave my room,” Bowman said.
One thing that has kept Bowman going is her sense of humor. She and her boyfriend joke all the time about the situation.
She’s also grateful for the support of her family and friends.
“(My boyfriend is) one that doesn’t show his emotions a lot, but he’s been extremely supportive,” Bowman said.
Her mom tears up often. “She’s trying to be extremely strong,” Bowman said, “but it scares her, a lot.”
Bowman said her daughter refused to believe the situation at first.
“Fifteen-year-old girls need their moms around, and she’s scared to face it,” she said. “But her thing is, ‘Well, you can’t die, I won’t let you.’ ”
Christmas was difficult because Bowman’s family members felt bad eating in front of her.
“I said, ‘Don’t feel bad, I’m used to it,’ ” she said.
Bowman wants to eventually eat on her own. She continues to lose weight since being on the feeding tube, and still throws up often.
Her waist was measured at 21 inches when she went to the doctor Thursday.
“That’s actually pretty scary, once you think about it,” she said.
Bowman knows all she can do now is wait.
“You almost give up hope. Almost, but not quite,” she said.
A benefit for Bowman is set Jan. 12, her 41st birthday. She said she’s excited to attend the benefit from 2 p.m. to midnight at the Shorewood Pub, and is grateful for the support.
She takes comfort in knowing her situation could be a learning tool for others, and plans on donating her organs when the time comes.
“As much as I would love to see my daughter graduate from high school, go to college, get married and have children, I’ve had to face the fact that it’s a very real possibility that that’s not going to happen,” Bowman said. “I’ll fight all the way to the end, but I’ve accepted that I might not have that much fight left, and that’s OK.”
If you go
- What: Benefit for Shanna Bowman
- When: 2 p.m.-midnight Jan. 12
- Where: Shorewood Pub in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
- Info: Benefit includes food, music, a raffle and a silent auction. For more information, call Kari at (218) 234-7276. There is also a fund set up for monetary donations in Bowman’s name at all Midwest Bank locations.
Pippi Mayfield of the Detroit Lakes Tribune contributed to this report.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311