I choose to live
When Robin announced this opportunity to post our stories, I was so excited. Finally, an avenue to let others with the same challenges I faced know that they can overcome theirs! I was thrilled. Until I actually opened this site and started to think about it. I could feel the tension building up inside of me, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to say. Anyone who has not been through this weight loss challenge, hasn’t got a clue about how difficult it is. How mentally it beats you down to tears. It’s hard to do. And even as I type this, I am not so sure I want to reveal to the world what a mess I made of myself, my life, and of my future. It’s scarey. And even now, I feel the need to cry building up once again.
I’m an average woman, 55 years old, overweight most all of my life, and at the age of 52 found myself a whopping 319.5 lbs. My big “Aha” moment came when I fell asleep in the middle of the day, driving about 3 blocks away from home trying to get somewhere…right there in the middle of the 6 lane road, sitting at a red light, I FLIPPIN” FELL ASLEEP. A week later I was in front of my doctor. I will never forget our first two comments. Doc: “What can I do for you today?” Me (as I started to cry): “I don’t want to die. Please help me fix my body.”
Over the next few weeks, I learned I suffered from Type 2 Diabetes, acid reflux disease, sleep apnea, an enlarged heart, the onset of kidney failure, lumbar spondylosis, anemia, asthma, arthritis of both knees, hyperlipidemia, and an extensive list of very embarrassing female disorders…all caused by morbid obesity.
There was only one fix for me. Gastric Bypass surgery. People that haven’t had the surgery, or are not involved with this procedure think it’s the easy way out..it’s not really healthy. I find myself shaking my head and feeling so sorry for them when I hear it spoken. WLS (Weight loss surgery) is the hard way out. The surgery, sure, it was easy. Lay on the bed, take out the stomach, make it a pouch, sew you up and VOILA….you’re thin. What a joke. Not even close.
The surgery is the easy part. Preparing for it took 8 months. 8 months of testing, education, psych evals, more testings, dieting, proving to myself I could and would be committed to this lifestyle change. On June 9, 2009, my life changed. Surgery performed at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. I was up and walking within a few hours. I was on my way.
What you don’t find out until after surgery is how your body will respond. I followed every detail. I drank an ounce here, an ounce there, sipped water, ate this, ate that, only what was on my menu; nothing more, nothing less; took my supplements, drank my protein shakes, had my mush. I was on my way!!! I was determined I was going to lose weight. I was going to win the battle over my body.
But something happened. My “Aha” trigger point. Two weeks after surgery, my husband and I had an argument. I was hot. I was so upset. He was at work. I was at home, kids at school. I was not cleared to drive yet, so was stuck inside. I walked the house, over and over and over. I was so angry. And then it happened. I went to the refrigerator, opened up the door and stood there looking at all the food. I will NEVER forget that day. As I looked at all of it, I realized something. I slammed the door closed as hard as I could and screamed loudly, “there’s nothing in this house I can eat!!!”. Those words rang through me as nothing ever has. I immediately went calm and can still hear myself whisper, “Oh my gosh, I’m a comfort eater.”
For the first time in my life I realized, sincerely knew, I was not overweight because of my family background. I was not obese because of the luck of the draw. I was fat because I was miserable and I found solace in the pleasure of food.
At my next doctor’s visit, I was very honest and told the surgeon what I realized. He was frank with me and told me based on pre-surgical tests they determined I had only 5 years left to live. Post surgical, I had already added 20 years to my lifespan. Blood tests revealed Type 2 diabetes was gone. I was normal. Within 2 months, sleep apnea was gone. My blood tests were all normal. Every single one of them. That’s the good news.
I had a hard time eating. Because I followed everything to the detail, I started having problems that the doctors had not seen before. I became a prime example of what happens when you do it 100% right. It was great.
But something wasn’t quite right. I reached my goal of 135 and then 133, 130, 128….it kept going down. I’ve stopped at 118 and kinda wobble between 118 and 122. I am having trouble eating. I don’t like to eat. It bothers me.
Mentally, I still grab size 10 or 12…try them on and grab 8, then 6 and 4. I wear a 4 or a 6, depending on who makes the garment.
I’ve had two facelifts. Way too much skin. My surgeon was great, you can’t see a single scar. The first surgery was hell. You know the one, removing the skin from the skull and pulling it up. That was painful. The second one was excess eye lid. That was easy. And I love my eyes. I wanted to wear contacts again, but a side effect of the surgery is dry eyes. So it looks like no one gets to see my eyes but me. But…I can see well. And I’m happy.
I still have a few surgeries to go, but I’m not sure I want to do them. Bat wings. That nasty skin behind the upper arm. I think I will stick with long sleeves; a woman’s best friend. And the extra skin in front. That’s nasty, but then I’m 55 and don’t go running around in skimpy clothes, so I can cover that up.
So what’s so difficult now? I don’t eat. I drink water all day. Sometimes I go nuts and have juice or koolaid, then spend 30 minutes laying down wanting to cry because of the pain the sugar causes to my pouch. I love pasta. But it hurts too. Steak. Wow, I love steak. I can eat it okay, but only little bits at a time. I won’t throw it away. Sometimes I eat on it for days..one piece.
I consume about 600 calories a day…when I push it. I take 7 vitamins, and nasty horrible disgusting (it should be illegal) liquid potassium. See, my body doesn’t absorb the vitamins anymore. I was told whatever my body doesn’t ingest within 10 minutes of my consuming it, just leaves my body.
I get light-headed on days I don’t eat. Then I force it and end up laying down. Mentally, I still have some work to do. When I go to a buffet, I load down my plate, take everything in large quantities. Then my husband shakes his head and asks if I really think I can eat all of it. I say I will try. I take 4 or 5 bites and wrap the rest. I take it home. Usually, 2 or 3 days later, I throw it away.
I make dinner for the family and sit down usually with a glass of water. I just can’t eat what they eat. It’s hard to buy for one person. Fresh vegetables are a must. Canned vegies are nasty and make me ill. Russet potatoes, I love them, they hate me, I get sick eating them. I love butter and EVOO. Margin makes me ill. So does dairy. So does bread. Fish works well. I wish I weren’t allergic to shrimp.
The thing about this surgery is that it really is not easy. But I’m glad I did it. I can walk all day and my knees don’t hurt. I can stand for 6 – 8 hours (I did it while working) and it didn’t phase me. I can do whatever I want to do. I have control over my body. I’m still learning. I’m still working at it. There is so much else to tell. And there just isn’t enough space in here to do it. 3 years of pain, of challenges, of fighting, of crying, and overcoming massive odds. I’m not the only one that’s done it, thousands have. And we just sit quietly watching everyone else, listening, trying to change our lives and doing it.
I love life. I am so happy now. Would I do it again? Yep. Without giving it a 2nd thought. Live is good. No…life is great! And if I can help anyone, even if CNN chooses not to post this. that’s okay. Anyone can contact me anytime. I’m here to help. I’ve been there.
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