I have struggled with my weight my entire life, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t “obese” in school, but I was always bigger than the majority of girls I knew, by a lot. Once I was out of school, my weight continually increased and the dress sizes just kept getting bigger and bigger. The weight yo-yo’d as relationships came and went, until finally physical injuries, marriage, babies, thyroid issues, and ultimately another physical injury caused getting to a healthy weight to become like some crazy golden ring that I could envision, but I could never fully reach.
Back in the early 2000’s, my husband left on his first long deployment since our marriage and, like so many other Navy spouses, I was determined to use that time to focus on my health and finally lose the weight. I joined Weight Watchers and during the nine months that he was gone, I lost about 60 pounds, and I continued to lose another 20 pounds after he came home. Not only was I eating “better” (I may have been eating diet ice cream sandwiches for dinner, but I was staying within my points) but I was also very active, I was walking/jogging miles at a time on a regular basis, plus I had joined a dojo and was practicing kick-boxing at least once a week, but then I developed bursitis in my left hip which gave me continual sharp, shooting pains that would get worse as I exercised, disrupting my sleep and my daily mobility. I went to the doctor, who referred me to a specialist at a large, well respected hospital in the local area in which we lived, and he told me that the only way to get rid of it was to lose weight — oh and to also stop my current exercise routine and start jogging in a pool instead — I was deflated. I had worked so hard, yet it wasn’t good enough. I tried to continue working out, adding in some stretches that my primary physician and given me, but the pain was becoming intolerable. Eventually, I completely slacked off, I stopped walking, I quit the dojo and finally, as the weight started rising again, I quit Weight Watchers. I’ve re-joined Weight Watchers about three more times since then, with little to no success, I’ve tried to push through the pain of my hip and continue to exercise, but I find that the next few days, I pay for it greatly.
I am lucky though, unlike some of my new friends, other than a thyroid issue and my bursitis, I do not have any co-morbidities, all-in-all I am pretty healthy. However, I was starting to see signs of bad things coming — my blood pressure was slowly rising, I was achey all the time, I was getting winded more easily, and I couldn’t fully enjoy getting out and doing things I loved, like photography, without encountering physical barriers.
I am 46 and I am on the cusp of a drastic decline in my quality of life if I don’t do something now. I started my journey last November, my endocrinologist and I not only focused on my thyroid levels, we focused on my weight, we worked on my nutrition, we even tried diet pills but they only made me sick. Finally, she asked me if I had ever considered bariatric surgery and after a lengthy conversation about options, she suggested I see a surgeon and discuss the possibility of getting the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), aka “The Sleeve”.
I started all the paperwork in January, and since I work full-time and started graduate school in January, I knew I had to have the surgery in the spring/summer or I’d have to wait until Christmas. Had it not been for the insurance company initially denying me in March due to the fact that they didn’t approve of my doctor’s notes, I would have had the surgery in May, but instead, we pushed through and I was “sleeved” last Monday, 6/26.
I know that not everyone supports or agrees with weight loss surgery. Many people feel it’s the easy way out and those who lose that way don’t deserve to be proud of themselves. I will be honest, I was once a nay-sayer about WLS, I didn’t want my body permanently altered, I didn’t want a piece of plastic/metal in my body controlling the amount of food that I could intake and most arrogant of all, I wanted to do it without the help of surgery. Fast forward 6+ years, and here I am . I realized that there were other options besides bypass and lapband, I liked how the sleeve surgery removes your excess and makes your stomach the size it’s supposed to be. I have also learned that it’s not “the easy way out” you still have to watch what you eat, you still have to exercise and you still have to take all things in moderation. The surgery doesn’t fix your relationship with food, it just gives you a tool so that you are better armed to make smart decisions.
That being said, I have had moments during the pre-op stage of nothing but liquids when my family is eating tacos (which I ) and I am sipping on yet another protein shake, that I playfully curse my surgery, but since June 19th, I have lost a total of 16 pounds, and I know this is just the beginning. I don’t have a final weight goal in mind, my goal is to be healthier, more active and to go out and do things, like the photography that I love, without getting winded – oh and to not feel achey all freaking day because of the extra weight and stress being put on my joints. I am more focused on how I feel vice what number is on the scale.
Surgery was Monday, June 26, 2017, and so far, I have had a great experience — no nausea, no vomiting, no dizziness, but I am trying to be super careful because I am a big baby and hate throwing up more than anything else. I have tolerated everything that I’ve tried, yogurt, applesauce, the cream from Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar soup (OMG, so good!) and even though I am frightened, I really look forward to starting to get my protein from foods again, vice shakes, powders, and drinks. I give my surgeon all the credit, he did a fabulous job. I also had a large Hiatal Hernia (which is common and I assume was the reason I would get heartburn occasionally) which he repaired while he was in there.
I was only going to share my journey with those closest to me, but that goes against my nature, I am a sharer (possibly a borderline over-sharer) and I have to stay true to myself. I am also a writer at heart and have a strong desire to journal my experiences, if for no-one else but me. If you disagree with my decision, that’s fine, but it’s my decision, ultimately I made the choice to go this route for me and me alone, and I am excited to see where I go from here!