Disclaimer: The stories on this blog touch on difficult issues and experiences.
One of my biggest reasons for wanting to have bariatric surgery it was because every time I've tried to lose weight before I've never been successful with it, and this time I want it to be different.
I officially started the process this past January, and it's been a six month process of insurance verification. Like at that point, I was officially in the program. It took me a while to decide if I was going to do it, I've been thinking about it for a long, long time. I met with the weight loss center and told them I was ready to go and that I wanted to have the surgery and asked what I had to do to get it.
You go through millions of appointments, like it takes literally forever to get through all of the appointments. You have to go to an initial appointment with a bariatric dietitian, and then you start with a bariatric doctor, and from there, she puts you on a prescribed diet according to your insurance. So I had to do a three month diet and a follow up with a dietitian for three months. And once that process was over, then I could do the bariatric surgery finally. So it took four to five months to basically see the surgeon.
Once I saw the surgeon, then he was like okay so what do you want to do?" And I said I wanted the sleeve. I met with him, and he went through his whole spiel, and I was like, "I have to level with you. I'm an OR nurse, I am going to ask you a million questions." And he was like, "Why didn't you tell me that in the first place?!" So then he was like, "Okay, what questions do you have?"
So I asked what his infection rate was, what his leak rate was... I asked him every question I had, and he answered them all. He was really great. So he was good to go, I had already had all of the studies done that I needed to have. So I had to submit to my insurance for approval. And once I did that, I got the approval from the insurance, which I know is fortunate because not everybody gets it. Usually it takes longer, usually six to 12 months to get approval. So once I had the approval, I had to go to more classes to get ready for the strict diet and nutrition changes. And then I could schedule my surgery. So it was a total six month process to really, truly get scheduled for surgery.
In high school, I always thought I was fat, and I was compared to everyone around me. But I wasn't exorbitantly fat. Like I don't think I was obese, just overweight. I mean I felt obese because all of my friends were stick thin and I had more fat, but I didn't think about it really. I didn't understand it and I didn't give it much thought because I was happy. I didn't care. I had all of my friends, and we were great, and I didn't care about it. Like, I was 150 pounds in high school. I still remember the day we were at band camp and I walked up and I had my hair down and all of you guys were like, "Oh my gosh you look so pretty you've lost so much weight!" I just never really thought about it. And I guess I could have, but I didn't. I grew up in a house of love and support, and my weight never hindered me.
So then I got into college and started drinking, obviously, everyone drinks in college, right? So I'm sure that helped me put on weight. I was studying to be a nurse and concentrating on school, not concentrating on what I was eating. And never really developing a good eating and exercising habits in high school really hindered me. My family wasn't super active.
For me, I did marching band because it was enjoyable, not because I knew exercise was something I should be doing. I always grew up and thought exercise was something you did because you enjoyed it. But very few people actually enjoy exercising. It's something that some people have to incorporate into their life. And I didn't unfortunately learn that until, basically now. SO I think, not to make an excuse as to why I became the way that I am, but I certainly think that helped to bring me where I am now. I just didn't feel like I needed to exercise. All of these things kind of built up and developed over the years.
So then I went to nursing school, gained a bunch of weight there because I was super stressed out. Met Jeremy, and our relationship in the beginning was super intense and difficult. It was not the normal start to a relationship which I think helped us grow immensely. We started out rough, but he was someone I knew I wanted to be with. I just knew through my heart and soul that this was the man I was supposed to be with. So we finally morphed into the couple that we are today and we're extremely happy. I have everything in my life that I could ever want. I have a house, I have a job, I have cars, I have my husband, I have my family...I have every single thing that a person could want in life. And I was still finding myself unhappy. And I just couldn't figure out why.
I've never been unhappy, I've never been a negative person, and I was like, "Why am I stuck in this funk?" I just couldn't bring myself to realize why. And through more self searching I was like, you know what, I feel miserable. I feel fat, I feel unhealthy, and because of the active person that I used to be, like back in high school, thinking back to those years I was just like...what has become of my life? I can't do hardly anything that I used to do. Thinking about even trying to do half of the stuff I used to do is like a joke to me. There's no way I could do it. And it could be me in my head making excuses, but regardless, that's where I am now. And I've finally had enough of it. This is not who I am, this is not who I'm supposed to be. I have everything I could ever want in life and it's time for me to join the party. I just didn't feel like...I felt like I was a bystander to the happiness in my life. I felt like I should be happy but I wasn't. I was just thinking, "What is wrong with me? There's no way this could be. I finally have everything I wanted and I'm not happy." And it's because of my weight holding me back. So all of that kind of pushed me towards this.
Over the past ten years, I've tried to lose weight. I've tried a million different ways. Every time, I've lost a bit, like 30-40 pounds, and I eventually gained it back. And I would lose it again, and gain it back. And I've done that literally probably 8 or 9 times. It's frustrating. I've worked really really hard over the last four years to maintain my weight, and I was able to. I lost about 35 pounds, and I've stayed the same weight for the past four years now. But, I was trying extremely hard just to maintain. So I didn't know what else I could do, physically, to get me where I need to be. I have a significant amount of weight to lose, and I'm stuck.
As a nurse it's extremely difficult to admit when you need help. You're always there for people, you're always there to help them and you're always there to support them through their worst times. And the fact that I need that is kind of embarrassing to me. I feel like I should be able to handle my shit. Being in this body makes me feel like...I feel like obesity is a disease. I truly do. I feel like it creeps up on you. It's kind of like a bad relationship. It creeps up on you and you put up with it, put up with it, put up with it until all of a sudden it's all you can think about. And it's pervasive in your life. It's such a negative force. It just brings you down.
And I was finally like, fuck it. I'm done. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm just done. And I knew I needed to do something and I needed to do it fast. I want to have kids, I want to have a family, I want to raise them in an environment that's supportive for them and that supports their growth and health. And I feel like if I did that now, I wouldn't be that role model for them. I feel like I would be repeating old patterns in my life. That I would just be teaching them the same things that I was taught, and I don't want to do that. I want to get healthy. And like, my husband is so healthy and active. And he runs around and does all of this stuff all the time and I just want to be able to keep up with him. I want to be able to withstand a day walking through the park with two kids and me not getting tired or wanting to sit down. With the amount of weight I need to lose, there's no way humanly possible for me to lose it all on my own. I know my limits and I know it's not going to work.
My surgery is scheduled for September 11th, one week from today. The sleeve is basically like taking your stomach and shrinking it. Basically they put a tube down your throat and staple your stomach off. So they take the majority of your stomach and they staple it off and take it out so you're left with a pouch or a sleeve. It's the size of probably a banana. That's the actual surgical procedure, they do it laparoscopically. It takes about 45 minutes and then it's done. You stay in the hospital for a day and a half, so for a full day after surgery. Once you're doing fine afterwards, like the next day if you're not having nausea or anything they'll send you home. It's not gastric bypass, it's a different procedure. It's basically the first part of the gastric surgeries, it's been done for a really long time. It's crazy everything they can do nowadays.
I'm excited usually, and I'm definitely a little nervous. I can't help but think about literally everything, and as an OR nurse it's particularly bad because I know literally everything that happens and goes on during surgery so it's a lot of "What if this, what if that..." I've just forced myself to not think about it at all. I will not allow myself to think about any of the negative. I'm just seeing it as a positive, that it's going to be great, I'm going to have the surgery and no complications. I've really been thinking about my goals and what is driving me to do this and keeping all of that in mind.
I was a firm believer that if this was supposed to happen, it would. And everything up to this point has worked out, like even down to fitting in my appointments with my work schedule. And if I have complications or get sick afterwards, then it was supposed to happen. Everything will happen the way it's supposed to happen.
I'm on a diet now, I've been on a two week liquid diet. I can't eat anything but liquids, and I've lost ten pounds. But it's kind of weird now that I'm losing weight to think like, "Oh, I'm not going to see that weight back." I don't know what to think or feel about it yet. This is uncharted territory for me. People ask me what my goal weight is and I just tell them I want to feel healthy and active and be able to run around and dance and be crazy.
Participant Update: Since this session, this participant has lost 55 pounds and is recovering well. She is back to work and has not had any major complications.
When asked, she said, "If I could tell my old self anything it's that if you're not seeing results, you have to try something new. Don't let it hold you back, just do it. Go for it. You never know what could happen."