I've always been bluntly honest on my blog. I feel like if I am going to be open and honest with the process of pre and post WLS surgery then honesty, truthfulness, and overall advocacy through education is the way to go. I've never been a person to hide what I'm feeling (though I try and fail) so I'm going to take today to air something that has hit home for me in a very sensitive way.
Prior to looking into surgery over thirteen years ago, it may have crossed my mind at 17 or 18 that WLS was an "easier" not easy way out, but that girl so many years ago did not have the last thirteen years of life under her belt. Going back to 2010 and the process leading up to applying for for WLS I think back today, the day before my Surgervisary of 1 year post WLS, on the why I went to search after getting bariatric surgery in the first place.
On 6-1-2010 I wrote the following in the opening of my blog "I realize that I am a morbidly obese woman sitting here at my desk writing this and to whomever may read this either will agree with me or will vehemently think I am ignorant and should stop typing and go do the insanity work out series. But what most people don't realize at least they may or may not realize about my weight and myself is that no insanity video, carb limiting diet, or specialize dinners are going to cure my obesity ALONE. I am no longer scared to state that I, Lissa, am in the morbidly obese catory. My BMI is 49.9. I am 5' 4" and weigh 286. It could be a few more or a few less lbs but this is what I place on the doctors forms. That is the easy description of who I am, but that is definitely not how I define myself totally. There is alot more to me than just my weight, but for the focus of this blog this is my weight loss journey, my rationalization, and the experience of hope."
I realized I needed to make a change and I went after it. I wrote "this all changed for me about a month and half ago. I had finally got frustrated enough to ask my doctor to put me on weight loss medication. Not alli cause it didn't work, I wanted something that would help my weight. I was ready to try anything to not become 300 lbs. So in May of this year I made the appt with my doctor and in a teary mess she told me no to meds, but she told me yes to weight loss surgery.I was shocked. I've wanted this for so long to have weight loss surgery, but never did I think a doctor would okay it. She told me with my history of PCOS, attempts and failures, and now being a full fledge diabetic that I needed to do this. I came home to my husband in all and excited. I was excited for the first time in my life!"
In May of 2010, I had no hope. There wasn't a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. There was no pill that could be given to me to help me succeed or no amount of exercise I was doing that would make me lose any weight. I was frustrated. I was upset. I was hopeless and so in fear of more health problems, greater risk of a heart attack and other health problems arising - I broke down in my doctor's office. I broke down in front of my husband. I broke down on the phone with my father. I didn't know where else to go, but through breaking down those walls, I brought to light my fears, my dreams, my lack of confidence in myself, my body, and my marriage all because I was morbidly obese and gaining co-morbidities by the doctor's appointment.
First I had the idea of trying to add diet pills into my life. I had so little hope that I thought a pill could cure me! I looked into pricing, effects of the medication, and what it could do to potentially harm me - but that wasn't enough deterrance. As I sat with my husband and poured out my heart I stated that I felt hopeless and then asked him about how he would feel about me pursing WLS as an option. I remember the look in his eyes. He knew I was hurting an he knew that there was nothing he could do to fix the hopelessness I was in and I remember his answer...talk to the doctor about it and if she thinks it is ok then we'll look into it. I remember breaking down a week later in the doctor's office and feeling so "sick" and "so tired of being sick" and feeling ashamed that no matter what I did wasn't enough to be healthy. I also remember her reaction as she looked up at me handing me tissues, let's look into it and telling me she thought I was a good candidate for it and that she knew it could help save my life. I realized on May 17, 2010 that my life would be forever changed if I went after this route.
I researched like crazy about the different forms of surgery. I read blogs, journal articles, personal perspectives, doctor's pitches, and countless websites. I dug for the horror stories. I dug for the success stories. I had done enough research to know that I could be informed and understand the jargin. If I was going to look into altering my body, I wanted to be damn sure that I knew what I was getting into. My husband and I went to see a seminar at Vanderbilt on the 25th of May of 2010 and that is where I met Dr. Clements. It was at that seminar that I started to become aware of what the surgery would entail not only on a physical level but an emotional one. It was during that seminar that I had decided that I wanted this. I wanted to "be healthy and extend my life" and that it was possible if I allowed myself to adapt and change. From this session I had to additional meetings with the Vanderbilt Surgical Weightloss Clinic and met with Dr. Clements with my husband by my side. Ulitmately it was my decision to have the surgery but it was at these additional meetings I realized how this was NOT the easy way out.
Let me give you a brief list of what I will FOREVER have had to change:
1. I cannot drink out of a straw because the extra air takes room away from food in my pouch and could stretch my pouch
2. I cannot drink anything carbonated because it could hurt my pouch
3. I can no longer ever have ANY alcholic beverage as it can damage the pouch, hurt the intestine, and ruin the elasticity of the pouch
4. I will forever have to take vitamins that absorb differently - i take 2 multi vitamins, 2 fish oil pills, 4 calcium citrate with D, 10,000 mcg of D3, biotine 5000 mcg daily, and 2000 mcg of b12 . these have to be balanced in between food and drink properly to absorb.
5. I will forever have to drink 80-90 oz of water daily. Dehydration causes massive issues for WLS patients
6. I will eat protein first and must consume 75 mg of protein daily (or more)
7. I will eat small portions from 1/2 cup to 1 cup at each meal depending on the type of food that I consume - ie meat like a steak or soups.
8. I must limit my caffine intake to 1 cup daily. Caffine can mess the metabolism up and WLS patients are extra sensitive to caffine.
9. I can no longer take advil or any other pain reliever besides Tylenol. It can erode my pouch.
10. I can no longer take extended release medications.
11. I must take liquid, powder, or chewable forms of medications.
12. I cannot consume more than 15g of sugar at any one time. If not I can dump.
13. If I throw up I need to be concious of how much and when because I could have a blockage, a tear, or erosion.
14. I must chew food 35 times per bite and eat slowly.
15. I cannot chew gum.
16. I cannot eat and drink at the same time. Drinking stops 30 min before a meal and can resume 30 min after a meal.
These are just a snidbit of the changes I have forever made. I would ask you - could you do it? Could you give up your dr. pepper or diet coke? Could you live on a schedule where you are timed to take vitamins, medicines, food, and drink every day? Could you measure, weigh, and look at nutrients in everything that goes in your mouth? Could you deal with body morphing? Could you deal with changes like this .... FOREVER?!?!?!?
Weight loss surgery is not glorious. You do not go into surgery, have your insides rearranged and appear as a super model in bikini in 3 days. There are days when you are so nauseous you don't want to move and you can't seem to sip any more liquid. There are days when you are constipated because your diet isn't high in fiber due to the type of food you consume. There are days where you watch wads of hair fall out of your hair and go down the drain. I've lived days where I look at my naked body and see 20 + lbs of hanging skin, flabby arms, and sagging thighs and am scared at how I am morfing. There is the frustration of not being able to fit into clothes because you keep shrinking. There is the emotional impact of just wanting to be the same for a day!!!! Those days aren't the days most hear about because it is the "easy" way out. Yes, easy...I don't know about you but I don't think what I've described is easy.
I will openly admit that when I hear others talk about "easy" part of weight loss surgery I get frustrated, sad, upset, and mad because most people are uneducated about it. It isn't as easy as a band around a tummy, a few snips and stiches and a day in the hospital. The aftermath of the surgery isn't glorious and it isn't glamorous. Shows like the biggest loser are unrealistic and some may feel they inspire and I'm sure they do, but for a girl who as struggled with her weight for 18+ years I don't feel inspired by a tv show that is unrealistic like biggest loser or the MTV show with the summer before college workout and lose weight. Let me be honest losing weight is individual. It is emotional. It is physical. It is painful. It is saving. It is worthwhile, but it isn't easy. Yet, this is my perspective so take it for what it is worth, but it is my mission...I feel in some ways to educate and advocate for the obese, the patients, those that want and need WLS because uneducated statements leave scars to an already scar ridden heart from the days of not being able to fit into a seat or not have a seatbelt fit on a airplane, the daily looks from those thinner than you, the words, the names that you are called, and the many sleepless nights. Don't scar others. Educate yourself. Ask questions - we will answer!