Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
– Arnold Bennett

It’s five months into my post-op life, and I have made a few observations. Not only am I finding out that I do, indeed, have a collarbone and cheekbones, I’m remembering what it feels like to fit into a booth at a restaurant, fit into a chair with arms, and fit into the seat belts in the back of my car.

I’ve noticed a few other things:

  • Sitting is not as comfortable with less natural padding on my backside. I actually have bones there – who knew?
  • I don’t miss the beef we’re not eating. Never thought I’d say that.
  • I am really enjoying honey in my tea – and I was never a big fan of honey before.
  • My skin, which is looser now, isn’t as saggy as I expected it to be. I still have more weight to lose, so that may change.
  • I’ve also noticed that my skin looks a little ‘doughy’ and not so firm.   I think toning exercises would help. And sunshine. On the scale of One to Tan, I am firmly at “Elmer’s Glue.”
  • Even though I now have the arms of a flying squirrel, I still cannot fly.
  • I had hoped that the weight loss would improve the swelling in my legs. It hasn’t.
  • My hair is thinner and I lose more every day. I’ve always had a thick mane, so this is a little troubling, and I’m keeping a close eye on it. I take Biotin supplements to help combat the hair loss.
  • I’m a big fan of layering and scarves. Losing all that natural insulation turned me into an ice cube. I may be cold, but I am stylishly cold!
  • I had forgotten what my ‘real’ body shape looked like. Now, I can see it again in the mirror, but it’s all closer to the floor.
  • A brisk walk doesn’t leave me winded, and my daily stretching exercises at work are easier every time I do them. That alone gives me a smile every day.
  • Along with my prescription medication, I’m taking vitamins and probiotics. I don’t have any problems with digestion, or reflux, or any of that.
  • My hands look like my mother’s. And my sister has told me repeatedly that I look so much more like my mother now. I take that as a compliment and always have.
  • People look at me more. Not my body – I don’t care about that – but my face. And by people, I mean just people in general. The people I walk past every day at work and at the store; people I don’t know. They make eye contact with me now, where before, they seemed to make it a point to avoid looking at me.
  • People treat me differently. This is a tough one – every time I’ve lost considerable weight in the past, I’ve been disappointed and hurt by that hypocrisy. I’m trying to meet it head on this time.
  • I never get tired of compliments. I appreciate it each and every time someone calls me “Skinny” or tells me I look great. It really does feel good, and I am truly grateful.

You know what else?
I fit into people’s hugs a lot better now, and I like that part the best.

 

photo credit Thomas Leth-Olsen

 

Adjustments.

I used to say that I intended to go out of this life with the same stuff God gave me coming in: I still had tonsils, appendix, gall bladder, adenoids and reproductive organs.  Well, I still have all of those, but I exchanged my hips a few years back for a new, aftermarket set made of gleaming titanium.  So I guess I can’t say that anymore.  And in another week, I’ll give away something else: most of my stomach.

Next week, I’ll undergo the procedure known as a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), or ‘sleeve,’ in which a large portion of my stomach will be laparoscopically removed.

Image: Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy
http://www.virginiamason.org/SleeveGastrectomy

The decision was a long time in coming.  Despite a lifetime of being overweight and dieting, I had never considered surgery as a way to lose weight before a few years ago.  At that time, I had only considered restrictive gastric banding.  More recently, several friends and family members underwent bariatric surgery, and as I saw their results and spoke with them more, I began thinking it might be my best hope to return to a healthy weight.  Mr. Stuck had already been working toward his own surgery and healthy weight goal, so I had the added benefit of involvement with his process, too.

I did my ‘due diligence’ and read up on the types of surgeries available; who would benefit from what type; what co-morbidities would likely improve after surgery; risks and benefits; and long-term results.  I joined an online chat group to read real stories and questions.  I spoke with my doctor, who was enthusiastically supportive.  And so I made the decision to work my way through the prerequisites for surgery.

To have this surgery, I have had a psychological examination, sleep study, blood work, EKG, barium swallow, and 6 months of dietary oversight by a nutritionist (in which I lost 30 lbs).  I found out that I am an otherwise healthy obese person who has sleep apnea, but I don’t have elevated blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.  Contrary to popular belief, I am psychologically normal (who knew?).  I have a hiatal hernia, which means my stomach bulges up through my diaphragm, but I’ve never had more than mild symptoms from it.  Right now I am in the pre-surgery diet phase of two protein shakes and one light meal per day.  The day before the procedure will be full liquids.

Although I am healthy now, there are no guarantees I will remain so, especially given a familial history of cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure; and really, obesity increases my risk of everything.  I need to lose the weight to decrease that risk.  But I also hope that losing the amount of weight that I need to will also improve my health by improving my quality of life issues like arthritis, sleep problems, and general aches and pains.

There will be a lot of adjustments to make following the surgery, but I am committed.  Where I used to think that surgery was the ‘easy way out’ for weight loss as opposed to the blood, sweat and tears of dieting, exercise and discipline, I now know that it’s not ‘either-or.’  I will have the surgery and I will also diet, exercise, and discipline myself to change my relationship with food.  But I will have the tool of surgery to help me.

You could say that life is basically a series of adjustments, from the womb to the outside world; from a child to an adult; and from a single person to a couple or family, perhaps.  Some adjustments are easy, some are voluntary, and some are life-changing.  This one is has a little of all of that, and more.  I will be adjusting from obesity to health.

I don’t intend to bore you all with “I lost 3 more lbs!” posts.  I will write about it, yes, but maybe just to tell you about my flying-squirrel arm flaps or my hair falling out.  I may crow a bit when I’ve reached a milestone, and I may whine when I mourn for the Bubba Burgers of my past (I confess, I am addicted to cheeseburgers), but I won’t subject you to much of it, I promise.  And I won’t use the terms ‘fat shaming’ or ‘body shaming’ because I detest them.  But I will share with you some of the lessons I’m learning on my way to a healthy life.

I will never be thin, but I do hope to cross my legs again someday.
And sit on the floor and get back up again.
And sit comfortably on a plane.
And wear Spandex to Walmart.

juuust kidding.

 

 

 photo credit thenext28days and MotiveWeight