This last month for all of us at the CODS Clinic has been a special attempt to get out and meet our bariatric surgery patients. Know them beyond just the interactions we have with them over medical reports, followups post their weight loss surgery and over an informal cup of coffee that we all love. And we set out by organizing small coffee get-togethers at various locations all over the city as an off shoot of our regular versions of Coffee with Muffi – by hosting Coffee with CODS all across different suburbs of Mumbai.
This was a very enriching experience for me in over the ten different sessions of Coffee with CODS as I learnt so much about my patients other than just their health and food intake. While chatting over a cup of coffee, patients tend to lose their inhibitions and discuss life events, family, holidays which also gave me a better insight of their lifestyle.So many couldn’t stop talking about their new found life: from being a home bound house- wife to trekking the Himalayas; from made-to-order clothes to walking into a store and fitting into a size 8; or from always standing behind the camera to now facing the camera! The stories were unending and overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s also best to meet your patients outside of a clinical setting as it gives you an opportunity to interact with them on a more personal level.One such story I will not forget in a long time – is of a father of a bariatric surgery patient who has lost 40 kgs post-surgery at CODS. He began receiving calls from people in the neighborhood telling him that his son-in- law was seen roaming around with another lady! He has now given up explaining to people that it is not ‘another woman’ but his own daughter who has lost weight! It has now become an inside joke within the family.
For some, the Coffee with CODS was their first step to make new friends and just an excuse to step out of the house. An elderly couple we met were so grateful that we were having these get-togethers because it gave them a reason to get out of the house and meet other people. The wife, who is our weight loss surgery patient, rarely moves out of the house because of her weight. But after attending the first Coffee with CODS, she was so happy that she attended the consecutive 2 meets as well.
The other reason we decided to go to different parts of the city is because patients post weight loss surgery often use the excuse of ‘too much travel time’ and miss out on critical follow up sessions with the team. I met a 5 year weight loss surgery patient at another Coffee with CODS in Bandra who hadn’t come for her follow up for almost 4 years. She was disappointed that she had had regained about 8 – 10 kgs of her weight. While chatting with her,I got to know that her only movement involved moving from one room to another in her house. In addition while at the coffee meet she ordered a sizzling chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream. I noticed that slowing and steadily she finished the entire brownie. I casually told her that the reason behind her weight regain could be because of consumption of such high calorie foods. Her instant reply was that she had skipped her lunch so she was allowed to indulge in dessert!
That incident made me realize how much patients under – report in regards to their food intake post weight loss surgery.She was not alone. I noticed how many of our patients over-sweeten their coffee, adding not less than 2 sachets of sugar in a regular sized cup. Others were brave to order cold coffee with added cream and icecream while interacting with the team of nutritionists!
As nutritionists, it’s an underwritten rule that we follow that we should always add another 20% extra to what our patients eat. But now after watching them in action at so many Coffee with CODS sessions, I have decided and resolved to be even stricter with my patients and factor these invisible excesses.
What however, truly was the icing of the cake for me was when I watched patients in Chembur make new friends. They decided to create a walking group on whatsapp so they can exercise together. I love knowing that people come to our Coffee with CODS as bariatric surgery patients, but leave as friends!
We have a week of Coffee with CODS till the 17th of September and I would really urge all our patients in Mumbai to come together and meet with us and other patients. We promise you, it will be fun.