It feels like my weight has always been an issue for me. I’ve blogged about it a few times, addressing it with self-deprecating humor. Poked fun at myself and my struggles. It’s probably the one area of my life where I haven’t been completely and brutally honest. I’m married to a guy who buys his shirts in a “smedium” so they fit nice and tight. I endure the fitness jokes about his “gun show”. I’m very often the author of the jokes. I’ve actually had people ask if he was my son. MY SON?! For the record, he has waaaaaaay more gray hair and wrinkles than I do. Although sometimes the hairs that sprout randomly on my face/body pop up gray, and one time even sort of ombre, starting out dark but gradually softening to a silvery gray color. It was quite pretty, but I still plucked it. Now everyone reading this will be checking me out for wayward hairs…awkward. Anyway, I digress…
I’m the fat girl married to this specimen of hard work and determination (he’ll probably be upset I didn’t ask him to whip off his shirt and pose for a more recent pic cause surely his biceps and pecs have grown…as have his love handles *snicker*) As he reads that last bit, he will gasp in outrage, run to the closest mirror and inspect his “love handles” and then I’ll spend the rest of my weekend reassuring him that he doesn’t actually have any… I don’t mean to make him sound vain…well, I mean… Listen, we all have our issues.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband works hard to achieve his goals and he’s NEVER EVER made me feel ashamed about my weight. He loves me and even though I’m literally twice the woman he married, he’s never made me feel ugly or unwanted.
I don’t want to focus on how the weight piled on, but on what happened once I decided enough was enough. I was surprisingly healthy for someone who weighed at my heaviest, 287 pounds. It feels shocking to write that number down. I wish I had pictures, so I could better measure my progress as more than just numbers on a scale, or the size of my pants, but when you hate how you look, you go to extreme measures to avoid looking in the mirror or having your photo taken. The most recent photo I could find was from 2012, and I was probably about 270 pounds in this picture.
I didn’t have high blood pressure or diabetes, although it was probably only a matter of time before I was plagued with one if not both. My feet and ankles stayed swollen. I didn’t fit comfortably in movie theater seats or restaurant booths. I wore a size 26 pants and 22/24 tops. My biggest issue was my dysfunctional uterus. Yeah, that’s actually the term they gave me in the hospital. Even my uterus was dysfunctional. Oh boy. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that sometimes I felt like a walking crime scene. I had maybe 4-5 days out of the month where I wasn’t sporting some type of feminine hygiene product. I had problems with cysts and experienced a few very scary weeks when I thought they might be cancerous. Low iron was often an issue which contributed to my constant exhaustion and low energy. Short of having my uterus and/or ovaries removed, the best overall treatment was losing weight. I discussed it at length with my OBGYN and she recommended weight loss surgery.
I had considered it before, but it felt like cheating. I just needed more discipline, more self-control. No one ever lost weight sitting on their couch and eating Chick-Fil-A, pizza and chocolate. Did they? If you know someone…? I’ve tried every diet that exists, but if I didn’t drop at least 2 pounds a week the 1st month, I’d give up, discouraged yet again and probably adding 10 more pounds. Over and over again the cycle repeated itself. I spent one whole year training for a 10k and eating healthier only to lose a mere 15 lbs. FIFTEEN pounds. Over a YEAR. I can’t begin to describe how defeated I felt. I discovered that insurance would cover the surgery, and after many discussions and much prayer on the subject, I decided to go for it.
It’s a process. It took over 3 months from the time I decided to have the surgery, picked the exact kind of surgery and the surgeon, until my surgery day arrived. Insurance requires you meet with a mental health professional and a nutritionist. Surgery is not the quick-fix I thought it was at all. You have to demonstrate an eagerness and diligence for eating healthy and staying active prior to surgery. You don’t necessarily have to lose weight, but they don’t want you gaining more weight. The months preceding the surgery shouldn’t be treated as a free-for-all, eating anything and everything in your path. I’m an emotional eater, so one of my challenges was to reprogram my brain to not use food as comfort or filler. It was important to implement strategies to deal with those moments and understand my triggers. The surgery would only be successful (long-term) if I changed the behaviors that got me here in the first place.
I decided on Gastric Sleeve surgery. It seemed to have the least post-surgery complications and didn’t seem as invasive as the Gastric Bypass, if making four incisions on your belly and lifting your liver to get to your stomach can be considered “less-invasive.”
They make you feel out this questionnaire which felt like 100 pages and then they plug your answers into a computer and get some kind of assessment on your personality and state of mind. At my last appointment with my therapist, she told me we wouldn’t need to meet again unless she had concerns over the assessment or I initiated an appointment, so imagine my panic when I got a call to set up a meeting with her prior to my surgery.
Apparently, and this will be shocking to many of you, I have an issue with authority. She was concerned this might pose problems with me when it came to following post-op instructions. I quickly explained that while yes I am the kind of person that questions EVERYTHING and I never just do what I’m told without understanding exactly why and only IF I agree, when it comes to things like death, I can be surprisingly acquiescent. I wanted to be successful more than I’d ever wanted anything else in the world. I never wanted to see 287 pounds on the scale again, and I certainly didn’t want to end up a statistic…
TO BE CONTINUED…