As Christmas grows ever nearer (23 days as of this post), I have been fielding a few questions about Christmas gifts. What, people are asking me, does one get for a pre- or post- bariatric surgery patient? In the service of Christmas Gifts That Don't Suck (TM), I would offer up the following suggestions:
1. Clothing: You've seen the complaints here on almost a weekly basis. As the weight loss starts happening, the clothes stop fitting. So quickly that many patients (myself included) just stop buying clothes entirely, out of frustration with the concept of wearing something once then giving it away. This eventually leads to sagging pants, tent-like shirts, and underwear that falls off. Some even suffer from the issue of shoes no longer fitting. (Not a problem I have had, but one that is driving Lor crazy, for example.) So, pay attention! Buy a piece or two that is a size below what your patient should be wearing currently. It will be snug for a bit, then it will fit for a glorious week or two, then it will sag and eventually be donated. If you are afraid to guess at sizes, a gift certificate to an inexpensive clothing store like Old Navy might be your best bet.
2. Supplements: It may not occur to many, but the post-surgery life is flooded in supplements. I, for example, am taking a Multivitamin, an Iron supplement, Biotin, and Osteo-Biflex (a joint health product). That is, like, every single day. Though the grocery bill does diminish a bit after bariatric surgery, the supplement bill goes right through the roof. So, get your patient a month or two worth of one of their supplements. If you aren't comfortable picking brands, grab 'em a gift card to a local GNC or even a CVS/Walgreens type of store. This is the one time that buying a gift certificate to a drug store will not be viewed as a lame last-minute gift idea.
3. Dining Out: Our lives after our surgeries are filled with cooking 3 meals a day, every single day. We no longer go out to eat much, because we are afraid of wasting food. Also, the majority of the places we used to go are what made us obese in the first place. So, take your patient out for lunch or dinner - but take them somewhere they would have never gone before. No burger joints or salad bars, please: try places like seafood and sushi restaurants (sashimi is 100% allowable under most nutritional plans), steak houses, and barbecue pits are all great ideas for high-protein, low-carb dining. Your patient will get a meal with a loved one, plus leftovers to take home. (Trust me, there will be leftovers.)
4. Adventures: The great majority of bariatric patients are recovering from sedentary lifestyles where very little time was spent trying new things. Both physical health problems and embarrassment over their size kept them at home, on the couch. Now that they are taking steps in the right direction, help them out! Get them a hot air balloon ride. Take them to an ice skating rink. Buy a month's worth of dance lessons. If you ever heard them wistfully wish they could try an activity while they were overweight, now is the time to strike - get them through the door of that studio/dojo/museum/whatever. Better yet, go with them - nothing defeats fear of the unknown like having someone to share new experiences with.
Hopefully, somewhere in here is an idea or two you can use for the friend or loved one that has gone through bariatric surgery this year. As they are trying to come to grips with this new life, free from the bonds of chronic obesity, you can show them you support their life-altering decision with nothing more than a thoughtful gift. But act quickly - you only have 22 shopping days left!
No Fruitcakes, Please,