Where the heck have I been? I know, I know I have not updated my progress for a while. I have been trying to frantically prepare for my upcoming surgery. Emphasis on frantically.
First thing’s first. My surgery date has been moved to October 24. I must have an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. The soonest I could get an appointment for that was Friday, October 5. The results from those tests will not be back in time for me to have the surgery on October 9. In addition, if I have any bacteria in my system, I will have to be on antibiotics for two weeks. So, the surgeon’s office thought it prudent to put off the surgery until later in the month. So long as there are no further complications, there should be no further delays in the surgery.
I have to admit, I am relieved that the date was put off. I know, reading my blog, one might be under the impression that I am really ready for the surgery, that I have am mentally prepared for the changes the surgery will bring. Allow me to disabuse you of that notion. The truth is, I am an absolute mess.
This is how I have been feeling lately:
The past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with a lot of pretty difficult stuff. I am very nervous about the surgery itself. I think that goes without saying. Everyone who has ever had any kind of surgery is usually nervous before the surgery. That is not what has really been the cause of my stress recently.
The immediacy of the surgery has me thinking a lot about my life, my health, my weight, my relationship with food, and many other problems. I have spent a lot of time analyzing why I eat, how I became so obese, why I have allowed other people’s words, what they think of me, and their behavior affect how I feel about myself, and the life I feel I’ve lost because of my obesity.
I have been looking at pictures of myself from high school and college when I was much, much thinner. In most of the pictures, I was not even a little bit overweight. Nonetheless, many people around me, people I loved and trusted, did not hesitate to tell me how fat I was. Everything I ate was analyzed and criticized publicly by them. I was often told that I had such a pretty face, and what a shame it was that I was fat. As I looked back, I became angry. I was angry at every person that ever called me fat when I clearly was not. I was angry remembering every time others tried to shut me down by telling me I was fat and ugly as a way to deny me of my voice, self-confidence, opinion, or to make them feel better about themselves. But mostly, I was angry at myself for believing them. I could not see that I was not fat even when I only weighed …. pounds. I could not see that I was pretty or cute when they called me ugly. I was angry at myself for not having a thicker skin or the sense to realize that their words said more about the kind of people they are than about the kind of person I am.
Then there is the whole food issue. I know that I have written before that I am sure saying good-bye or even see ya later to some of my favorite foods will be something that I can deal with. I am still certain that I can but that has not stopped me from freaking out. As my surgery date looms in the immediate future, I have been stressing out over every single meal. I have kind of over done it with some of my favorite dishes. I cannot lie. And I have experienced great anxiety over not being able to eat the kinds of foods I have grown accustomed to and love. Food has been a great friend and comfort to me over the years when people have not. Food is always there. While people may treat me like I am nothing, not worthy of being friends with, not worthy of dating, food does not.
I am also a good cook. I love to cook, actually. I love delicious food. I love experimenting with recipes, spices, flavors, sauces to make food even more delicious. I love eating something at a restaurant or a friend’s house and going home to try to re-create the dish. When someone tells me they are allergic to or cannot have a certain food they previously enjoyed, I love experimenting with ways to make that food so that they can eat it. I can make my favorite dishes and feel a sense of completeness and satisfaction that I have trouble finding in other aspects of my life. I can share the food I make with others and I find an acceptance I do not often find in my relationships with people in general. I am almost always complimented on the food I make. I am rarely complimented on clothes or how I look.
Changing my relationship with food is scary. I recognize that it is necessary, but that does not mitigate the stress I have experienced recently.
This has all caused a lot of anxiety, depression, and stress that has been almost paralyzing. I find that I become unreasonably stressed out over the smallest things. I had to go to a four-hour nutrition class this week. The class was held at Inova Fair Oaks hospital, which is twenty miles from where I live. I do not have a car. My sister was meeting me there. She lives almost thirty miles from me. The hospital is between us.
I took a bus and the metro to get there. Well, actually, the route required that I take three buses and the metro. And there is a good deal of walking involved. Because of my weight, I have a lot of pain and difficulty walking. That caused me a lot of stress. I was afraid that if i missed anyone of the buses I would be late or miss the class. I also did not know where one of the bus stops was located. As a result of the stress I experienced over this, I was up most of the night before. I only had three hours of sleep. Nonetheless, I managed to get up on time and on my way. I talked to my sister most of the way during my journey to the hospital. Thank God for cell phones.
When I got off the second bus, I was lost. The directions that I printed off of the metro website were confusing. The directions read like, “walk a short distance and turn left onto Stringfellow road. Walk a short distance and turn right onto Lee Jackson Highway.” The problem was, I was already standing on Lee Jackson Highway. If I turned left onto Stringfellow, that would have taken me away from Lee Jackson. I was explaining this to my sister. She had just pulled into the hospital. I read the directions to her and she was also confused. I was standing at a major intersection on a highway and had no idea where to go. Finally, she told me to stay where I was and she came to me. It turns out, I was two lights from the hospital. I made it to the class on time. Everything worked out OK.
Oh and the bus stop? Turns out, it was across the street from where I had been standing. I was unreasonably stressed out for no reason.
That is just one example. I have thousands more and many of them much more mundane. I have fought to overcome my fear and stress each time and most of the time I have been successful. Certainly, when it counts, I have been successful in overcoming the fear and managing my anxiety.
I am lucky though. I have the world’s greatest sisters. I have talked through everything I am going through with them. They are both so supportive and they are both my biggest cheerleaders. My youngest sister, especially really seems to understand my tortured relationship with food. We have had some very frank conversations about food.
I do not want to leave you with the impression that I have been sitting around all day, every day crying under the covers. Some days maybe, but not all of the time. Yes I am afraid of the surgery, terrified in fact. I am afraid of the changes that are about to happen to me. I am worried about not being able to eat some of the things I love.
Mostly though, I fear remaining a prisoner of my obesity and health problems. I fear not being able to do the things that I love to do because I am too fat or unhealthy to do them. I already live that every day and I do not want to any more. In order to move forward and have a different life, I need to make different choices. That is why I am having the surgery.
I know that I can do this. As difficult as the past few weeks have been, I feel it will all be worth it. So, please forgive my short hiatus. I promise there will be more good posts to come. So, I will leave you with this adorable cat picture. I do not have any specific cat stories to share with you, so this will have to do for now: