Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Weight Loss Surgery Changed My Life

I wrote this blog post on December 9th 2011, just over a year ago. I am going to write edits to my story in pink(some things change over time), I hope you enjoy! If you get squeamish, skip paragraph 6!

The most challenging experience I have had so far, is having had weight loss surgery or WLS (I would no longer say "the most". Having WLS was hard, however, having a miscarriage and the resulting depression because of it was just as hard, if not harder). I have had to relearn how to eat and I am having to learn how to exercise. I may never love it, however, in order to succeed in this journey I will have to do it(I love exercise and eating isnt that dificult if I follow the rules my surgeon set for me). I have learned the true causes of my weight gain. I have one of the finickiest pouches, and I get sick a lot(not so much anymore, well as long as I, again, follow the rules). I have also learned that if I want to succeed I need to do what I need to do to get there, that means take my vitamins, drink my water, eat my protein, along with getting my exercise.

I wasn't always fat. Thinking back I started gaining weight, lots of it, around eight years of age. I got sick that summer, and I couldn't do what healthy kids did best, play. Of course after spending all summer sedentary, a habit formed, and stayed. Eventually I got bored of just sitting on the couch looking at the television, and needed something else to occupy my time. Enter food, my dads chips, the spaghetti ingredients sitting in the cupboard, leftovers, cookies, soda. If it was edible, well edible and appetizing, it went down my throat and into the abyss of my stomach. The habit of shoveling food into myself remained well after I met my husband. I can remember driving to see him I would stop and buy a bag of chips, no, not a small one, a big one. The full family size bags of chips, and I would inhale that on the 15 minute drive, then quickly discard the evidence before we were together. When we got married we decided we wanted to start a family right away. My doctor referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist because I had some fertility issues. The reproductive endocrinologist told me “at 300 lbs I cannot safely get you pregnant, you and the baby will more likely die if I were to get you pregnant.” My heart sank. He then said, “come back and see me when you are closer to 200 lbs.” I was crushed. I thought ‘fat people have babies every day, he is lying to me!‘ Today I realize he did me a huge favor, I will never be able to repay him for that.

A couple of months after the reproductive endocrinologist told me he wasn't willing to help me get pregnant, I was volunteering at the Global Success Center, and I met a woman named Angie. She was always bringing cookies and cakes and brownies, and of course, I did what fat girls did best, I ate them. One day she explained why she did this, she said “I can't eat this stuff anymore because I had gastric bypass surgery, but I love to bake for people.” That night I went home and started doing research on gastric bypass surgery. I found many people on YouTube who were vlogging about their surgery journeys and experiences. I discussed WLS with my husband, but he insisted I didn't need it. However, I knew that I did, and the next day I made an appointment with my primary care doctor who referred me to see the bariatric surgeons.

I had my first visit/orientation on April 7th 2009, about 3 weeks after the appointment with my primary care doctor. It was at this orientation that my husband saw that surgery was my best option. The nurse who was running the orientation and the dietitian told us “The pre-op diet starts today, everything you lose from now until that first doctors appointment counts toward the total weight you will need to lose to have surgery.” I took that to heart and I did start my pre-op diet that night. By the first appointment I had with my surgeon, 1 month later, I had lost 7 lbs of the 23 he had asked me to lose.

I was terrified of having surgery, terrified of the breathing tube, the catheter, and also the "stabbing" I would undoubtedly endure as they tried to find a vein. But mostly I was afraid to die. The day of surgery I was "stabbed" 3 times before they got a vein that would hold up. I can still vividly remember sitting on the gurney outside the operating room thinking “I can still change my mind, right now I still can, I don’t have to do this.”. I also got a catheter and a breathing tube that day. The breathing tube I have no memory of, and the catheter, well not so much either. My recovery was fairly quick, I was back to normal before the end of the week. I was one of the luckier ones in that aspect.

Now, unfortunately, not everything can be as perfect as a Calla Lilly. I throw up a lot(again, not so much any more, now I get more nauseated and just an overall ick feeling). Like I mentioned earlier, I have one of the finickiest pouches. When I throw up I cry, therefore, I really hate throwing up. Who am I kidding, I am sure everyone hates throwing up. There are many reasons things that will cause me to throw up, dumping syndrome is by far the worst reason. Dumping syndrome is a reaction that the body has to sugar after weight loss surgery. When “dumping” I get hot flashes. Flushed, sweaty, pain in every muscle in my body, racing heart, heart palpitations, headache, stomach ache, and a really uncomfortable feeling. Always ending in throwing up and being extremely weak and tired (now I usually dry heave instead of throw up). I always remind myself I am one of the lucky ones, most WLS patients don’t get dumping syndrome. Dumping isn't the only WLS side effect I have, though. I am also losing my hair, that should stop in a month or so, and I have a thiamine deficiency.(I still feel like I am losing more hair then I should, but hey, I am not bald yet! lol and I am no longer deficient in thiamine. I do however have iron deficiency. This has been a fun one(NOT) I have had 2 iron infusions, and thankfully my iron is holding its own, flip flopping between low normal and low.)

I have been told by my best friend that I cheated, and my family (mother and brother) have told me I took the easy way out. When someone says to me that I took the easy way out I ask them “what’s easy about having surgery, what’s easy about throwing up almost everyday (at a point I was), what’s easy about anything I am doing to gain my life back?” When someone tells me I cheated I say “yes, I did. I cheated death, because I could have died, weighing 286 lbs, having surgery could have killed me but it didn't ” I don’t know if these people are speaking out of jealousy or not, but I had the opportunity to change my life, and I took it. It is a journey, it is a climb. I will forever be a different person because of it!

I don’t know what the future holds for me, I don’t want to know either. Having weight loss surgery has taught me that no matter where I go or what I do, I have the tools and the knowledge to be just fine. It has taught me that I can make grown up decisions and be my own person. I have learned even though people think that I took the easy way out or cheated, I didn't  Nothing about having WLS is easy, I have to work for every pound I lose, if I don’t I will gain it right back. I don’t know that I will ever be able to have kids, but hopefully I will. I don’t know that I will make it to my goal of 130 lbs(I think it is odd that I put a goal weight here, I don't ever remember setting one), but I am sure going to try! I have learned that if I want to succeed I need to stop being my own worst enemy. Most importantly, I have learned that the Lord is with me, and with Him I can do anything.

Love and Hugs,


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