Your Results Will Vary.

I remember when I began the process leading up to weight loss surgery. I read everything I could find about it, talked to people about it, and joined online groups so I could learn even more. I had plenty of ideas about how much better my life could be if I lost weight. I envisioned the clouds parting and the sun finally shining down on me.

I was apprehensive, though, and I had a lot of questions, because I was afraid and I wasn’t sure if I could make it through all the required hoops. I mean, besides all of the medical tests, I had to be on a supervised diet for six months and I needed to lose weight before surgery. Like a lot of folks who face that obstacle, I was discouraged and got cold feet. I thought, If I can lose that weight, then maybe I don’t need to do something as drastic as surgery, after all.

Yeah, no.

Then there was the liquid diet after surgery. How would I manage that? And how would I make (and stick to) an eating schedule? And how would I get all my water AND all my protein AND all my supplements? (There are only so many hours in a day, you know.) And that’s only the first couple of weeks! What will I do after that??

Those who know me <ahem, Mr. Stuck> know that I worry about things — mostly those things I can’t change. My mother used to warn about ‘borrowing trouble’ and I seem to do it a lot. I had myself in a complete lather with all the ‘what ifs’ I came up with in the months and weeks before surgery, not to mention afterward. I concocted all kinds of scenarios, some more believable than others, but I worried about them all.

What if my hair falls out? What am I going to do about saggy skin? What if the surgery doesn’t work? What if I’m left with strange digestive troubles? What if I don’t lose weight? What if I develop some weird side-effect that nobody’s ever heard of? What will I do at parties — restaurants — friends’ houses? How do I eat without drinking? What will I do without coffee? How soon will I be at my goal weight? What if I never get to my goal weight?

What if I fail?

And then there were the WLS support group stories. I listened to people who couldn’t eat without throwing up, those who could no longer handle certain foods, and those who had constant digestive issues. I heard people worry about how they would balance their own dietary needs against those of their families. I heard people worry about if they should ‘come out’ about their WLS, and if so, to whom. And I noticed something.

I noticed that everyone was worried about something. Everyone had questions, even if they never voiced them. And I noticed something else. For every question, there were as many answers as there were people. None of those answers were ‘wrong,’ and none were ‘right.’

The common theme was, Your results will vary.

Just like there is no such thing as a typical WLS patient, there is no such thing as a universal result. Each person’s success hinges on their personal health history; the time and effort they invest; follow up care; exercise; spiritual, emotional and mental factors; their support network; their commitment to a healthier life; and a host of other elements that can change every day.

So while I urge you to read and learn and talk to folks and ask questions throughout this process, I also encourage you to understand that there are a million things that will affect how this surgery changes you, and while some may be somewhat predictable, most are not. You may find, as I did, that the issues you have after surgery are not the same things you worried about beforehand. I will guarantee, though, that you will learn some things about yourself that you might not have realized before. That may not be easy, but it will be valuable.

Your perspective and your insight change with your physiology. You will reassess what is important — your blood pressure? Your goal weight? Your waist size? Your activity level? Your relationships? These things will all change, and so will their significance to you.

On the other hand, there are things that WLS doesn’t change. It doesn’t give you the ability to avoid consequences. It doesn’t make your food issues disappear. Let me say that again: It doesn’t make your food issues disappear. It doesn’t automatically make you a “skinny person” (whatever that means) for life. It isn’t a free pass to get away with something. It doesn’t erase the bad habits you have developed over your lifetime. It doesn’t give you a great personality, a better job, more friends, or instant happiness.

It gives you another chance – a fresh start. It gives you an opportunity to take stock of things and make adjustments. So use it. Just remember one thing:

Your results will vary.

Smilin Bo

 

 photo credit speedpropertybuyers.co.uk/ and Leo Hidalgo

Unintended Consequences.

I started to write a post about how my life with hearing devices is going (and I was on a roll) when I looked something up online that pointed me in a slightly different, but more interesting, direction…

While researching a condition called Hyperacusis, where a sensitivity to certain sounds (also called a lowered Loudness Discomfort Level, or LDL) causes discomfort or pain, I discovered something:  I have a set of symptoms that correspond to a recently discovered (well, around 2000 or so) neurological disorder called Misophonia, or Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S).  I’ve had these symptoms for many years – so long that I can no longer recall a time I didn’t experience them.  When I hear certain sounds, I get an immediate, irrational, extreme fight-or-flight reaction: rage, panic, severe anxiety, hate, and disgust…over something as simple as someone whistling or clicking a pen.  Sometimes even visual stimuli can cause the same reaction as auditory triggers.

While we all have certain sounds that bother us, this isn’t like that.  This is a reflex; I can’t stop it from happening, nor can I control it.  My stomach tightens, my heart pounds, I feel provoked to fist-shaking anger, and I cannot ignore the sound.  It is so distracting to me that it becomes my sole focus.  My best bet would be to avoid the stimuli (‘triggers’) that cause the problem, but that is not always possible; in fact, it is rarely possible, especially in a work or social environment.  

Every day is an opportunity for trigger sounds, in every environment.  I go to a meeting, and someone is absentmindedly clicking his pen.  I go to the store, and the teenager in front of me in line is snapping her gum.  I go to the movie theater, and the people behind me drive me crazy with the wrapper on their snacks.  As much as I try to keep my emotion in check when it happens, I usually fail miserably and end up glaring at the person making the sound.  Most of the time, the person doesn’t even realize they’re doing it and has no way of knowing how violently it affects me. I feel guilty and embarrassed to have such strong reactions to such innocuous noises, and I know that it makes me seem cranky or bitchy, but I can’t help it.  

When I was young, my mother’s whistling spurred me to inexplicable anger every time I heard it – it was as if she had provoked me to fight.  She couldn’t understand it, and I couldn’t explain it. Whistling was something my very musical mother truly enjoyed, and she did it without thinking.  If I could, I’d go somewhere else, but that wasn’t always possible.  She tried to comply when I’d ask (or angrily tell) her to stop, but it made no sense.  To this day, I loathe the sound of whistling.  Likewise, the sound of chewing gum, especially with ‘snapping’ or ‘cracking’ noises, sends me into orbit; for that reason, I have always told my kids that if they have gum, I don’t want to see it or hear it.  

Through my (limited) online research, I discovered that I am not alone in this affliction. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is a defined set of symptoms and has been suggested for classification as a discrete psychiatric disorder in the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum, for the purpose of official diagnoses and treatments as well as better recognition and research by the professional medical community.  It was first identified in the research and treatment of tinnitus.  It is neither a result nor factor in hearing loss; rather, it seems to relate to the limbic system, the structure of the brain that controls emotion and behavior.  A small number of studies and reviews have been conducted, but research seems to suggest that misophonia may be a result of dysfunction in the same cortices of the brain where Tourette’s is also indicated.  There is also data to suggest it might be a form of Synesthesia, a neurological condition where stimulus to one sense gets not only the correct response in that sense, but a simultaneous reaction in another sense; for example, some people ‘hear’ colors or ‘taste’ sounds.

I am thrilled that there is a name for what I have suffered with for most of my life.  I don’t know where it came from or whether I will ever find relief, but it is good to know that my wildly disproportionate reaction to certain sounds is not a result of me being unreasonable and bitchy.  It is not because I am in a bad mood.  It is not because I am controlling, selfish, angry, judgmental, or annoying — although I might well be all of those, they are not the reasons why I might throw you out the window if you decide to chew ice or crack peanuts next to me.

Just sayin’.

 

photo credit timparkinson