The Bariatric Adventures of…

After doing a lot of research, asking a lot of questions, and talking to a lot of people, over the last several years I decided in February of this year to begin the process of undergoing weight loss surgery.

I started the program on February 10. Aside from my husband, I didn’t tell anybody, because I wasn’t ready for the questions, or the inevitable “You’re taking the easy way out?” that at least one relative would ask.

The program begins with a minimum of three months meeting with the Registered Dietitian. At the initial group consultation, all of us beginning the program were given books detailing serving sizes and nutrition info, along with a personalized dietary/caloric intake sheet on which to record our food.

I was determined to get through the program as quickly as possible since I’d already been waiting for several years to even begin the process. I was already mentally prepared to make whatever changes were necessary.

I don’t normally share medical details on the internet, because internet amirite?

But just to illustrate for you why surgery is not the “easy” way out, and why it is a necessary tool for many overweight patients:

I was on 1500 calories a day, plus 30-60 minutes exercise every day. Because I have other health issues such as pre-diabetes and PCOS, during that three month period I lost a whopping ten pounds.

At my size (my highest weight ever in my life was 384), for that low calorie number, and that much exercise, the fat should have been literally melting off of me. But it wasn’t. Otherwise I would have said “screw surgery, I can do this on my own.”

So, I got through the three month program (some insurance companies require six months), and the Dietitian cleared me. After waiting with bated breath, I finally got my appointment to meet the surgeon and surgical ARNP who would help me find my way through the rest of the process.

After talking to the ARNP and the surgeon for a couple of hours and going over my weight history and weight loss attempts and such with them in detail, the surgeon finally cleared me for the procedure itself. Then I waited with bated breath to hear from scheduling so I could get dates on the calendar.

I am going through the University of Iowa for my procedure, as this is where the procedure was pioneered originally. They have been just the best. Every person on the team has been empathetic and compassionate, and this is probably the first time I haven’t been made to feel like being overweight is entirely my fault and I should have known better.

It’s easy to assume that if someone is overweight then they did it to themselves, or are just too lazy to do the work. But that is just ignorant thinking perpetuated by various media, and a lack of education. The fact is that genetics have a lot to do with a person’s propensity for weight gain and how easy or difficult it is for them to lose weight.

Weight loss surgery is definitely not the easy way out. I will be restricted to a liquid/puree diet for three weeks before surgery and two weeks after. Then I might be able to start introducing soft foods, and gradually work my way up to real food again. There are also a huge number of things I can never have again because my digestive system will no longer be able to digest or tolerate them.

I opted for the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy which is less invasive than a bypass. Instead of creating a “new” stomach, they will simply remove about 80% of my stomach and leave a vaguely banana shaped pouch. Basically food will not stay in my stomach as long because it’s smaller, and therefore won’t be quite as digested as it normally would be in a regular-sized stomach.

So even though the temptations will still be there to occasionally eat dessert, or occasionally drink a margarita, I will have to totally abstain. Some things, even in moderation, will cause me discomfort that just isn’t worth it.

I read a study wherein it was discovered that weight loss surgery patients became too intoxicated to drive on a single shot of hard liquor (think vodka, tequila, etc). In another study, patients were given “sugary” foods, such as soda and fruit juice; basically foods with 20 or more grams of sugar per serving. It caused severe discomfort and basically took “goes right through you” to a whole new level.

I’ve mentally prepared myself though, and I’m ready for it. I have a small bucket list of four items I want to have one last time before I swear them off forever.  My pre-op class is on July 28 and the procedure itself is in Mid-August. I’m excited and nervous at the same time.


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