The title of this post makes it sound like I just jumped on the wagon of a new fad diet, but this story is a lot more involved than that and starts a lot further back than just last week.
On Monday, June 26th, I underwent a roux en y gastric bypass, a procedure which aids in weight loss by bypassing a a portion of the stomach and intestines altogether. This was a decision I did not enter into lightly. I spent a long time thinking long and hard about it, even before I approached my doctor to talk about weight loss solutions.
We discussed all my prior attempts – Weight Watcher’s memberships, the gym, what worked, what didn’t, what changes I made that I kept and which fell by the wayside and why. I’ve been trying on and off for more than six years to return to a weight where I felt comfortable in my own skin.
Not a number on the scale. Not a dress/jeans size.
But a place where I still had 1) energy to do things I wanted to (or needed to) do, 2) was not hindered by dozens of little ‘indignities’ 3) and when I could walk up a small flight of stairs without being winded.
A place where I was happy being me.
It’s those little ‘indignities’ as I call them that really weighed me more than anything else.
Like, being able to sit down, cross legged on the ground for a family picnic and not have to have help up. Or crawl, like a toddler, with my fat ass in the air, to a place where I could support myself up. That’s one of the main reasons I played on the ground with my daughter, but hardly every my son. Why I stood when everyone else sat on the ground. Embarrassment, and the inability to do it myself.
Or the TMI things like how much effort goes into being clean after having a bowel movement. I won’t go into those details. If the sitting on the ground thing is embarrassing, then that certainly is. Let’s just leave it at – it takes more than a few pieces of toilet paper to do it.
The little indignities really add up after a while, but they don’t amount for all of what went behind this decision.
There is also the stark reality that I am 5’2″ short, over 230 lbs on a good day (my highest was 248 a few years ago), have been asthmatic since I was eleven years old, have a dislocated hip, and arthritis in my back. On top of that, both sides of my family has a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thyroid issues. I take asthma medicine now and it’s hard enough because there are four of them.
But as I watch my mother gradually taking more and more medications for her every-growing list of health problems, I realized that this would be me someday. Not four medicines, but forty. Well, maybe not literally forty, but pretty much close to it. The thought of it, the thought of being in my 60’s and 70’s, on upwards of twenty pills a day and still overweight? Still suffering the little indignities whose list keeps growing. Still not able to go poop without taking a shower afterwards. Still not able to get up off the ground by myself. Still not able to be a human being.
This is what I told my doctor, and she gave me information on weight loss, exercise, and sent in a referral to a bariatric doctor. It took six months to actually see the doctor, and another six month to have surgery. Time in which I did more exercise (mostly in the form of walking with my Fitbit), had to attend meetings with doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, and support groups. A lot of meetings. I have folders full of information, lists of foods and diets, side effects and risks.
As prepared as you think you are for something to happen, you never really until it happens, and this was a very big, life changing and permanent decision for me. And even with the doctor’s assurances, there were complications. The doctor did his best to minimize them, and that was a good thing. It could have gone so much differently.
My complications were due to me having a lot of scar tissue, from when I was a baby. You see? As a newborn, I had something called an esophageal fistula, which basically means that my esophagus was not attached to my stomach in the correct way. I had three major surgeries in the first three days of my life and then spent a month in the NICU. But that was in 1975, and forty-two years later, I had a LOT of scar tissue. Which the doctor was concerned with, because if he couldn’t cut through it, he might have to do the bigger, open-chest-cavity surgery on me to perform the bypass.
I feel I have been blessed that the doctor who performed my surgery is one of the best in our area and very knowledgeable and caring. He went into my surgery prepared to do whatever he could NOT to have to fully cut me open. And luckily, he did not.
However, he did have to cut through layers of scar tissue which had been torn and reformed so many times that it was basically adhering to my stomach.
So… what was supposed to be a 2-3 hour surgery (routine) was a six hour surgery and not so routine. And those three extra hours have set my healing back a lot.
First, having spent 6 hours in surgery, 2 and-a-half hours in recovery sleeping… I had spent too much time on my back and in one position… and this exasperated the arthritis in my back. I woke up from recovery, still groggy and barely awake, and in so much pain in my BACK. Not the places the doctor had cut and stitched. But I had a hard time explaining that to anyone because they had me on many narcotics that I couldn’t communicate well.
I needed to sit up, or stand up, and it was HOURS before I could explain to anyone that this was my problem. It was 3 am, when the nurse finally listened enough to understand, and helped me sit up. She also promised to call the doctor and get me an anti-inflammatory medication for my back.
But that day on my back was a huge set back in my initial healing process. I was too sore to lay in bed, too sore to sit up in the chair, definitely too sore to walk around the hallways like we were supposed to. I was just… sore everywhere.
So, instead of going home the following day like I was supposed to, I stayed for a third day and almost a fourth. But at the last minute on the 28th, the doctor decided to let me go home, released to my own devices.
At home, I’ve been slow going. I haven’t been able to sleep in my own bed, because I can’t lay in a comfortable position. But every day I am getting a little better. It might take me a little longer to recover than I would like, or expected, but I am going to, and I am going to be fine.
One day at a time.
I’ll be blogging about my new weight loss journey here, using the tag Weight Loss Journey. I’ll be showing off pictures, talking (the much hated exercise) and sharing goals as I make or break them. I’ve also been keeping a hand-written journal since the day after the surgery. I may transcript pages, or scan them to share, if I feel like it and if it pertains.
I’m honestly just making it up as I go along.