Weighty Matters

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Weighty Matters – Coming to Terms

on February 8, 2012

Welcome to Weighty Matters, a blog where I’ll talk a lot about obesity, dieting, weight loss surgery, body image and all kinds of fun stuff.

Some people might wonder why, and I’d be one of them, but for several weeks creating this blog and writing about my journey and experiences seemed like the right thing to do for myself.    If you and others get something from it, so much the better.  My intention is to be as honest as I can about every topic I post — brutally honest as necessary.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in a lifetime of obesity, my ability to deny and lie to myself and others about my weight and body issues is limitless.  I’ve come to believe that “rigorous” honest is the real path to survival.

Why now?

That’s easy.  Two weeks ago, on January 25th, 2012, I had weight loss surgery.  Specifically, I had a procedure called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.  Simply described, the surgeon cut away and removed 70% of my stomach, leaving me with a pouch about the size of a small banana.  At most, a stomach that size can hold about five to six ounces.  That’s less than a cup.  Highly restrictive and less food means less calories so I’m on my way to significant weight loss — for good this time.

Transforming from a life of unhealthy, destructive eating and excess weight to a healthy, more mobile and, yes, thinner Mary is going to be quite a journey.  Keeping this blog as a journal will help.  At least that’s the plan.

Although I’d shared my decision to have surgery with my family several months ago, and let me just do a shout out to them right now for their unqualified support of that decision, they didn’t ask me why I’d now made the decision.  My sister-in-law asked me right before my operation.  I was very clear on my reason.  I’m 54.  I don’t want to be disabled or dead by the time I’m 60.

My over-abundant avoirdupois has impacted me for most of my life, although the extent has increased in recent years.  I could function better at 30, carrying around the excess pounds.  Now, physically, my body’s beginning to break down.  It is more difficult for me to walk and even harder for me to go up stairs.  If I spend too much time on my feet, my joints complain for hours after.  Slowly, surely and without respite, being morbidly obese is compressing the normal, wonderful activities of life into a very narrow box.  There are increasingly more things that I can’t do at this size either because my own body can’t physically handle them or because external factors (think theme park rides as an example) aren’t equipped for the shape and load.

I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type II diabetes.

Seriously, do I need any more reasons?  Of course not.

After years of resisting the idea of surgery, last summer I opened my mind and heart and started doing research.  I’d always feared gastric bypass and felt like the Lap Band option was something that I could find a way to eat around.  Still I was determined and if those were the only options, I would have picked one and continued on the course.  I’d not heard of the sleeve gastrectomy (aka VSG) and when I did, the more I read, the more convinced I became that this was the choice.

I asked my primary care physician to help me find a reputable surgeon in Miami.  I wanted someone with lots of experience, a doctor who didn’t view bariatric surgery as a sideline.  The South Florida television channels are alive with ads from a plastic surgery center touting same day lap band procedures and I flinch whenever one airs.  It just seems too much like some people could view bariatrics as a cash cow.

My doctor gave me a name.  I attended the surgeon’s next informational seminar and then proceeded to a one-on-one consultation.  Now comfortable with the surgeon, I started on the process of doing all I needed to in order to have the surgery in January.  Having come to terms with the decision, I told my family and my bosses.

The journey began and it seems like it’s been a long, involved trip.  Suffice it to say that before undergoing major surgery, one must first be poked, prodded, examined, tested, scanned, scoped and evaluated.  Luckily, with the exception of the conditions I mentioned before, all of which I’ve been treating for a few years, all of my tests came back positive.  The various doctors signed off and approved me for surgery and the countdown began to January 25th.

Now, two weeks later, I’m not in pain.  I feel stronger.  Best of all, I’ve lost 31 pounds.  There are many months and miles stretching out ahead, but at least I’m on my way.

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