My appointment with the endocrinologist…

And the amazing stuff I learned while there!

When I was a brand new post-op I started using Coral Calcium – I’d heard it touted by many people, several of whom were WLS (but not DS) post-ops, and thought, hmmmm…. I’ll give it a whirl. I did – and my 3 month labs revealed something – my PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels were elevated. We have 4 parathyroid glands – they are embedded in the thyroid gland, and they help regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in our blood. If your body has too little calcium, then it triggers your body to actually harvest calcium from your bones – where there are large stores of calcium, of course. This of course, is a bad thing – none of us wants osteoporosis. Not to mention, that if it is prolonged, it can affect your kidney function, and even lead to kidney failure. Not good.

So, on advice of my PCP and Dr. B, I switched over to Calcium Citrate. Coral Calcium is just, really, glorified calcium carbonate. I picked up a bottle at Costco, and went on my merry way. At my 6 month labs, after 3 months of taking my calcium daily, my PTH level was back to normal. Phew.

I did pretty good taking it between then, and this past May –when I had my hernia repair/abdominoplasty done. I just flat out did BAD at taking any of my supplements – I think 2 whole months went by that I didn’t take ANY calcium.

Now, if I were a milk drinker, that would have been one thing. But, for the most part, I’m allergic to milk products. I am able to eat cheese, and now – since my DS, can finally eat ice cream. But that’s about it. So not much calcium coming from my food, either.

My 1 year labs at the first of July showed a MUCH more elevated PTH level. So, my PCP insisted that I go see this endochronologist. His name is James Neifing – he’s totally a riot – and was very positive about WLS and the DS, specifically.

One of the things that I found so astounding about sitting down with him (aside from the fact that he’d totally read everything I’d sent him a couple of weeks earlier about my health history, the DS, and how it works) was that the labs actually MEANT something to him. When I’d gone over them with my PCP – who, by the way is totally cool, and has been my number 1 supporter – it was more like, “oh, okay, well this one is low… And look at your cholesterol level! Wow! ..and this one is normal…” With Dr. Neifing – it was like this…

“Hm… So your Vitamin D level is low, too. Very low. What kind of foods that are rich in Vitamin D are you eating? How many ADEKs a day are you getting in? Interesting, your phosphorous level is low, too…” Or, “In light of your malabsorption of fats, then, we need to make sure that you get X number of I.U.s in of such and such…”

Honestly, I was surprised. So, this is what he told me:

I’ve got to get serious about taking my calcium. I need a minimum of 1800 mgs daily in pill form – on top of whatever I get in through my diet. And the more I can get in through diet, the better. (Although, it would take 15 cups of fresh broccoli to get that much! Owie!)

“How many of your calcium tabs do you REALLY take a day?” He asked.
I said, “Oh a good day? Or a bad day?”
“Be honest.” He said.
So I told him – on a bad day – none. He asked how many bad days I have a week. I told him – more than I should. So, he looked me in the eye and said, “Zero is not enough. Two are not enough. Four are not enough. Six are what you MUST have every day. 1800 mg MINIMUM. Got it?” No condemnation – just conveyed the facts – clearly.

I may need to take a special, super high density version of Vitamin D for 3 months, since it’s so rock bottom.

My LDL (good cholesterol) level is too low – way too low. (Which, interestingly, CAN lead to a heart attack!)

I thought, “Ah ha! I need to eat more avocados!” So I said, “So what do I need to eat more of to raise it?”

He looked at me and said, “There’s nothing you can eat to raise it. There’s only one thing you can do to raise it.”

“Really? What?” I asked.

“Aerobic exercise.” He said – totally serious. Then, with a slight grin. “This is going to rock your world, isn’t it? You’ve been sitting on your butt losing weight like there’s no tomorrow – and now I’m telling you you’ve got to exercise. Welcome to the world of we mere mortals, Mrs. McBride!!!” Then he laughed. Honestly, so did I! Talk about rocking my world!

So, yes, I am to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. He said 4 or 5 times a week would be better, tho.

I also have to go for a bone density scan.

So, they took about a gallon of my blood, and will call me with the results. Then, depending on the results, I may have to include that mega Vitamin D. Of course, I was made to raise my right hand and swear that I would take my SIX Citracal daily. Of course, he doesn’t care which brand – just a minimum of 1800 mg Calcium Citrate daily. BTW, if anyone has a doubt, he did say, “Of course, you know NOT to do Calcium Carbonate – it just won’t cut it for you as a DS post-op.”

Our bodies are so amazing, aren’t they? They get even more so post-DS, of course, but it’s just fascinating how it’s all interconnected and how one thing has bearing on another. Just kind of makes you all think we were designed, ya know?!

Okay – so that’s the scoop. I’ll keep you updated.



BPD/DS July 2, 2002
Dr. Aniceto Baltasar in Alcoy, Spain
SW: 365 lbs, BMI 64
CW: 182 lbs, BMI 32.2


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