Tag Archives: morbid obesity

Living For Myself

illusionSometimes it is hard to tell when you are living according to your own dreams or when you’re living for your own dreams.  For years, I allowed the opinions of others to be more important than my own.  What other people thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself.  This was an enormous mistake.

Of course other people are always going to try to impose their will and expect you to live according to their expectations.  I was a shy and insecure child, who turned into an insecure teenager.  I had low self-esteem and I always looked to others to for approval.  I also had a habit of surrounding myself with people who needed to put other people down to make themselves feel more important.  So, myself esteem was really in the toilet.

Living like this almost destroyed me.  I weighed 315 pounds at my heaviest and my body was really suffering the effects of long-term morbid obesity.

Fortunately, I realized my life was going in the wrong direction.  I cut out of my life the people whose vision of who I am did not match up with who I thought I was.  I stopped associating with and seeking the approval of anyone who had to try to make me feel bad to make themselves feel superior.  I started befriending people who treated me with the respect I deserve.

In some cases, the end of a friendship was mutual.  In other cases, I was not able to cut a person out completely, either because they are married to  a friend or family member, or closely connected with one of my groups of friends.  The difference between now and before, I know who I am and how I feel about myself.  I can keep their negativity in perspective and give their opinions no consideration whatsoever.  In short, I do not listen to them or allow them to affect my own self image.  What they think of me or how they treat me says more about them than me, in my opinion.

None of this was easy.  It is never easy to end long-time friendships, or distance yourself from people you care about.  I learned that I had to care about myself more and that if they cared about me at all, they would have to learn to accept the new me on my terms.  Some of them, I’m happy to say did. Others did not.  Those friendships have either gone by the way side, or I only associate with them on special occasions.

Once I made the decision to care about my own opinion over the opinion of others, I was able to make choices that helped me improve my life.  I feel and look better than I have in years.  I am happy.  And for the most part, I feel I am making better choices.  I’m not all the way there yet.   But when I look back at where I’ve been and realize how far I’ve come, I know I can get there.

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Letting Go

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When you make big changes in your life with the intent of making improvements, you have to be willing to let go.  You have to let go of the bad behaviors that are holding you back.  Let go of people in your life who have a negative impact.  Let go of old ideas you have about yourself that hold you back.  You have to do all of this so that you can let in all of the new things that will enter your life once the changes have begun to take effect.

Letting go is not easy.  It is easy to stay the same and do the same thing everyday.  Change is scary.  Even good changes can be scary.  The known pain and sorrow is easier to deal with than the unknown whether it is good or bad.  The problem is, this is no way to live.  If you’re not willing to make changes to your life, things will only stay the same or continue to decline.

Changing your own behavior, stopping the bad, starting the good is key.  For me, the change took a long time.  There was a lot of fear, pain, and anguish in letting go many of my bad choices.  I didn’t start the process on October 24, 2012.  I started the process a long, long time before that.

I spent nearly one year prior to my surgery planning and preparing for the surgery, but I would argue that the change began before then as well.

I am not certain I can pinpoint an exact moment in which I had an epiphany thinking, “Gee, I need to change my life!  I think I’ll start today!”  Nor  can I pinpoint what precipitated my finally taking action, but I would say it was more a slow build than a bright shining moment of clarity.

I knew I my morbid obesity would eventually kill me.

I knew my high blood pressure was out of control.

I knew I was borderline diabetic and would most likely one day cross the line and become an actual diabetic.

I knew I could not walk very far or very much.

I knew I had asthma and could not breathe well.

I knew my family and loved ones worried about me daily.

I knew I was unhappy with the status quo.

Making changes required a lot of letting go and it took me a long time to do that.  I had to let go of many bad behaviors.  I let go of my gaming addiction.  I let go of many of my bad food habits.  I let go of my many fears that kept me unable to from doing what was necessary to become healthier.

I’m not sure how I found the strength or inner fortitude to finally let go other than to say my will to live was stronger than my fear of change.  It did not all happens at once, but it happened.

I cannot say that all of my problems went away with this change.  Far from it.  I still struggle every day against my inner demons.  I still struggle against the urge to over eat.  I still struggle with my ability to avoid my problems instead of facing them.  I have made a lot of progress, yes.  But I know the journey is not complete.

It may never be complete.  I may have to work against my own fears for the rest of my life.  The difference is I now know that I can beat them and the rewards are well worth the battle.

OMG They So Totally Fit!!

So, a few weeks ago I think I said that I ordered a couple of pair of jeans online.  My old pants, ranging in sizes 26-28 are too big and really starting to fall off of me. I ordered two pairs of jeans, sized 24 short.  (Yes, I’m short.  I’m 5’1″.)  I have been very concerned that they would be too small.

It’s one thing to have your current clothes feel roomy and slide off of you.  It’s quite another to comfortably fit into the next smaller size.

Well, I tried on both pair and they both fit perfectly.  I never thought I’d be so happy to fit into a size 24, but I am so happy to fit into a size 24!  For one thing, it increases the number of pants that actually fit me properly from zero to two.  But they are also 1.5 – 2 sizes smaller than the pants I was wearing before.

Whoo hoo!

I also bought a very snug support garment for my top from Spanx.  Wow, what a difference that makes!  The Spanx top also offers a little more support than the binding garment they gave me at the hospital, plus it is a lot less bulky.

Tonight is the Christmas party for my writer’s group and I will be donning my new and improved jeans, my Spanx top and a size 24 blouse as well.  Yay me!  (Although, that’s probably more information than they wanted to know.)

Oh, and btw…check out my new weight loss!  46 pounds down baby!

New jeans:

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Three

Three more days.  I have to admit that I am getting very nervous.  This past Thursday I noticed that some  of the anxiety I experienced a few weeks ago was starting to rear its ugly head again.  I was not as crippled by that anxiety as I was the last time I wrote about it, but I was definitely feeling tense.  I recognized it right away, started talking about it, and started taking some action.

I know that it is normal to be nervous before any surgery, especially one  that will be as life-changing as a gastric by-pass.   My challenge is to not let that nervousness prevent me from doing what I need to do to get ready for the surgery.  There is no chance in my mind that my nervousness will prevent me from going through with the surgery.  I have come too far to turn back now.

I want this change.  I need this change.  I just know that I cannot continue to live the way I have been.  Being morbidly obese is difficult.  It is painful.  It is killing me.  I have dangerously too many symptoms that could eventually materialize as heart disease.  My feet and legs hurt a lot much of the time.  My back constantly hurts and makes walking and standing difficult if not nearly impossible. Being morbidly obese is not a prescription for living.  It is a prescription for an early death.

I want to live.

The First Steps

The first steps to planning for a gastric by-pass surgery are obvious.  You make an appointment and meet with the doctor.  Explore the different procedures available and choose the one that you and your doctor feel will fit your needs best.  What?  You say.  There’s more than one procedure? Yes, there are several.  I did not know this going in.  I thought there was just the gastric by-pass and the lap band.  Turns out there are several procedures.  Wiki has a great entry on gastric bypass procedures.

Once you have decided on a procedure, then the real work begins.  

Unless you are paying with cash or on credit, you are probably, like me, relying on your health insurance company to pick up the tab.  Most insurance companies have a few requirements you must meet.  You have to have a bmi over a certain limit.  This can vary depending on your insurance.  They also have a mandatory waiting period and nutrition counseling.  My insurance company requires six months of nutrition counseling.  A bit draconian?  I thought so until I realized what else is required.

The doctor and/or the insurance company may also require a sleep study to test for and treat sleep apnea, clearance from your primary care physician and possibly a heart doctor if you see one, a psychological review, tests done by an endocrinologists, and any other medical tests they feel are necessary based on the general health of the patient involved..

Seems like a lot, huh?  It is.  This is a big surgery.  A life altering surgery.  If the doctors and insurance companies do not make sure a patient can handle it, they would not be being fair to the patient.  The surgery also changes forever your relationship to food, your body shape, and can affect your self image.  You go into the surgery thinking this is exactly what you want.  The reality is, it can be much more of change than you are mentally prepared to handle.  Many patients suffer depression for months, sometimes years after the surgery.

So, where am I in this process? 

I have visited the sleep center three times already.  I have been doing the nutrition counseling.  Trust me, none of this is particularly easy.  I have not done the psychological evaluation yet, but that is next on my list.  I also had my yearly physical.  Once I have finished the nutrition counseling and complete the psychiatric evaluation, I have to contact the bariatric doctor’s office again and find out what else they want me to do.  It took me longer than I had planned to get started on some of these things, but I should be ready to start planning for the surgery by the end of the year.

A New Choice A New Direction

I have struggled with my weight all of my life.  The struggle began long before I was overweight.  In grade school and high school I was not fat, but I felt that I was.  Worst of all, many of the people in my life told me that I was, just reinforced my already out-of-wack self perspective.  When I look back at my childhood pictures, I wonder not only why I felt that way, but why anyone would tell me something that was so patently untrue.

Throughout my teen years, my weight fluctuated between 120-135.  When I went to college, I think I weighed about 130.  When I left college, I weighed 160-180.  By my mid-twenties I was over 200.  

Recently, I weighed in at 298.  Wow.  I have tried losing weight, oh I don’t know…every day of my life?  Yeah, that sounds about right.  Part of me thinks that if I had never been so weight obsessed that I never would have gained as much as I did.  

Now I am beginning to feel some of he negative effects of being obese more than I ever have before.  I have high blood pressure, asthma, food allergies, and back problems.  Walking is difficult, standing in one place is excruciating, and I am very concerned about overall health in general.

I have spent the past two years really struggling to get my weight and health under control, I do not seem to be making much headway.  

November of last year, my sister came to me to tell me about a girl she works with.  This girl experienced extreme weight loss over the course of a year or so.  My sister finally asked her co-worker how she did it.  Her friend was surprisingly open about what she did.  

Apparently, she had something called a lap-band procedure done.  She had a small band placed around part of her stomach and part of her stomach removed.  And she exercised like a madwoman.  My sister wanted me to have this done.  I was wary, but with the health problems I had been having, I was pretty open to nearly any idea.  I talked to this girl and went to her doctor.  

I made the mistake of going to this doctor by myself.  I should have waited until my sister, a friend, or someone else could go with me.  But, I did not wait.  The people at the office were very nice.  But I left there feeling somewhat uncomfortable.  I was excited about the thought of doing something to help with my weight problem, but I did not really connect with the doctors at this office.  I felt as if they were more interested in selling me a particular program, and not so much interested in finding the right solution for me.  I felt as if I was being pushed into choosing the most expensive, most invasive, least healthy procedure they offered.

Now, I know several people who have either had a gastric by-pass or a lap band procedure done.  All of them are very happy they made the decision and say that they have no regrets.  One of the women even tried gently nudging me in that direction a few years ago, but I was not ready to consider it as an option.

After leaving that first office, I went to my primary care doctor.  I set up an appointment with her specifically to discuss my options.  She made a couple of recommendations of doctors nearby that I could talk to.  I still had concerns thought.  You see, they were connected to the hospital in my neighborhood.  I had a bad experience there recently and really did not want to go back there for any reason, especially an invasive, life changing surgery.  I’m sure the doctors she recommended were just fine, but I was wary.

Over the next few days, I thought about my options  I was sitting in my bosses office one day when a girl from a different department walked into his office and sat next to me.  I had been thinking of her recently because I knew she had the gastric by-pass surgery.  She now worked from home and came into the office very rarely, so I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her.

I don’t know how she felt inside, but I know that outside, she looked great.  She had lost a lot of weight, which was part of it.  But honestly, now she had a happy glow about her.  So, when she sat down, I stopped what I was saying to my boss and turned to her and said, “I’m glad you’re here.  I need to talk to you.  It’s kind of personal, so feel free to tell me to shut up if you don’t want to talk about it.”

Obviously, she knew what I was talking about right away with that kind of an intro and she just looked at me and said, “Ask me anything.  Nothing’s personal anymore.”

So, I told her everything I had been through recently and my thoughts and reservations and I asked what she had done.  She told me what procedure she had done, who was her doctor, and how she felt.  She gave me the name and number of her doctor and told me that I must go see him.  She loves him and everyone in his office.  She said they are the nicest people and absolutely changed her life.  She had no regrets and would do it again.  She was also honest about some of the problems she had experienced after the surgery and how she managed.

I went to see her doctor and my experience was exactly as she described hers.  They were very friendly and basically held my hand through all of the options and helped me pick what they feel would be the best procedure.  Of course, its the procedure this particular doctor specializes in, but I didn’t feel the hard-sell like I did at the other office.  But I also feel as if I would have chosen this procedure over any other because it negated many of the concerns I have about gastric by-pass surgery.  It is invasive, but less drastic than several of the other procedures I have looked at and, best of all, if I have serious complications, it is reversible.  

So, I have come to a decision.  I decided to have the gastric by-pass procedure done.  This was not an easy choice.  Nor is it an easy process.  What I have been going through is nothing like I thought it would be.  You don’t just meet with the doctor one week and prep for surgery the next. There are many steps and it is rather complicated.

I have decided to blog about my experience to help me explore some of the feelings I am having and to basically discuss the process I am going through.  I have not had the surgery yet, and probably won’t until closer to the end of the year.  In the mean time, I have a lot of preparation that I did not expect to have to do.  It is going to be a long journey from where I am now to surgery, weight-loss, and good health.  I hope you will join me.