A Patient’s Story: What is Weight Loss Surgery Really Like? (Pt. 1)
My life before weight loss surgery.
This is the first article in a series of personal accounts about one woman’s experience with bariatric surgery.
I’ve spent my whole life yo-yo dieting. I was previously in the Navy and I would eat less to make weight, and then slowly the weight would creep back. I was always active–even at my heaviest. I would walk, do yoga, swim and still couldn’t lose weight.
My weight took me away from living my life.
Every time I ate, it was very painful. I would find myself eating more junk food because those foods were easier on my stomach than healthy foods. I found myself planning around bathroom stops, because my IBS was out of control.
I was consumed with can’ts.
I can’t do this or I can’t eat that. This food will upset my stomach or I won’t be near a bathroom. It was very embarrassing to be at a special event, like an anniversary dinner, and have to run to the bathroom because the food would go right through me.
I internalized a lot of negative talk.
I watched as my kids also gained weight, but I couldn't say anything or help them, because I wasn’t at my best.
I didn’t realize how much time I spent at doctor’s appointments.
I was in my 30s and I had an entire drawer filled with medications. Those medications created a domino effect. My health issues and prescriptions caused other issues and more weight gain. I had migraines, sleep apnea, pre-diabetes and so many aches and pains. I got winded just walking up the stairs in my home or bending over to tie my shoes. I couldn’t keep up with my kids.
I didn’t know that bariatric surgery was an option for me.
I never wanted to be tiny, I just wanted to be healthy, strong and prescription-free. I thought you had to be much bigger than 240 pounds and didn’t know that doctors use a formula to calculate your height, weight and medical risk factors to decide whether weight loss surgery will be beneficial for you. I didn’t know that insurance could cover the surgery and appointments. I didn’t know that you could come for a consultation or information session to find out more, and decide at that time to move forward or not. I didn’t know that there were several steps you had to take, like seminars and therapy, before surgery was approved.
It isn’t easy, there’s a lot of preparation.
I spoke to a friend who had experienced bariatric surgery. I learned from her that it is challenging, but worth it. There is a lot of accountability required before surgery. I felt a lot of shame going into the surgery. Many people believe that it is the easy way out. But would you shame someone for taking medicine for their diabetes or getting a cast for a broken arm? I see bariatric surgery as a similar tool. This surgery and Dr. Meyers have changed my life — he is amazing.
Do you want to live positively?
I kept going back and forth about whether I should take care of myself or others in my household. It is the classic dilemma for a mom, putting others above yourself. But I wanted to be off medications and out of this negative cycle. I wanted to be there for them and not consumed by my weight and health.
Read the second and third articles of the series.