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.
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.