Weighty Matters

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Looking Back at the Lead Up to Surgery

on July 27, 2012
A dear friend of mine has been investigating having weight loss surgery.  The process has been a bit of a rollercoaster in recent weeks.  She told me that she’d appreciate hearing more about how my thinking about the surgery changed and grew stronger
over the six months I waited between when I made the decision and when I actually had the procedure.  This really resonated with me and I had to give it a lot of thought before answering.
It’s kind of ironic because tonight is one of those nights when I don’t feel particularly well.  I impulsively bought a tiny frozen quiche at the food store tonight because I wanted something different other than what I’d been eating all week for dinner.  I only ate the filling mostly, giving the crust to the dogs.  However, shortly after I ate two small cookies but I ate them too quickly.  The combination of eating too fast and eating two rich things in one meal time is bothering me.  I’ll be okay in a little while, but right now I feel kind of blechy.
Which synchs well with what I want to say in answer.
Some of you who have been with me at this blog from the beginning and who might have read a post I did on Reinventing Fabulous back on March 3rd will be familiar with some of the stuff I say here, but I’ve tried to summarize, and other musings are new.
Anyway, about a year ago, I experienced a big defining moment, or maybe it was really a redefining moment.   I’d mostly given up on myself in terms of ever losing the weight.  To some extent, I’d grown resigned  to becoming increasingly disabled and dying young.  However, on a day at the sandbar when I could not physically pull myself into my boat without backing it up to much shallower water, something shifted in my soul and I knew that I wasn’t ready to give up.
That’s when I decided to have surgery.  At the time I’d never heard of the procedure known as the sleeve.  I only knew of the lap-band and the gastric bypass.  I never once considered the lap band because I know myself well enough to get that I couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t easily find ways to eat around it.  So, I was resigned that it would be the bypass, despite the misgivings I’d always had about malabsorption, etc.
Once I decided to have the surgery, it was never a question of maybe.  I believe the only thing that would have stopped me would have been if one of the test/evals came back that I couldn’t tolerate the operation and anesthesia.   It was only a matter of deciding which surgery and when.  Honestly, as soon as I heard about the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), I was elated.  This sounded like the perfect solution for me.  The more that I heard, the more excited I became.  When I had my consult with the surgeon for the first time last September and listened to what he had to say about it, I was even more encouraged and excited.
This feeling stayed with me for the ensuing months.   I swear to God, I never once doubted the rightness of the decision.  Except for maybe a few slight twinges the night before the operation, I also never doubted that I’d survive the surgery and be fine.  Was I unrealistically confident?  Should I have been more worried?  Who’s to say?  That’s just how I was and, thankfully, my confidence was rewarded with a smooth procedure and no post-op problems.
*******Warning.  I’m about the drop the F-bomb a couple of times.**********
Now, did I have any emotional fears about what this huge, irrevocable change would mean in my life?  Oh hell yeah.   They are pretty much the same fears that sometimes beset me now.  They can all be summed up with the overriding question, “Will I fuck up again?”  Take that as the main question and then there are other, subsidiary, doubts.  What would it be like to not turn to food when I was upset/angry/sad/lonely/dissatisfied?  Could I give up the old eating habits for good?  Was I strong enough to choose happiness and health over my disease?  Was I brave enough, determined enough, sure enough to give up the food?
When I began to experience the emotional self-doubts, I had to reign in my own feelings before they ran rampant and stopped me before I began.   I could have told myself that I was afraid of having surgery or afraid of anesthesia.  I could have opted to give myself one more try at dieting away my weight.  I could have rationalized myself right out of my decision, but something in me knew that if I did any of that, I was signing my death sentence.
So, the answers to all of my doubting questions?  Well, let’s see.  Will I fuck up again?  Will I lose all of my weight and then eventually gain it all back?  Maybe, but I’m doing my damnedest not to give in to that old destructive behavior and pattern.
What is it like to not turn to food when I’m hit with emotions?  Often, it’s darned uncomfortable, but I’m developing other coping mechanisms rather than give into the addiction.  Eating over my feelings is not an effective way to process.  It never was.  The only way out is through.  Sometimes I slip, but so far I’ve been able to get my shit together and not fall into lengthy relapse.
Can I give up my old eating habits for good?  I don’t know.  I can only give them up for this meal, this snack, this day.  I have to make the choice every morning.  That’s my approach.  Clearly earlier this evening, I didn’t make the healthiest choices.  I wasn’t awful, but it would have felt better to not combine two rich foods.
The same approach applies to the remaining questions.  I cannot right now say that this success is forever.  I don’t have a crystal ball or the power to see into the future.  I can only do what I need to do right now, today, then get up and do it again tomorrow.
I don’t know if this is helpful to any of you out there who might be considering weight loss surgery, but it’s my process.  Your mileage may vary.  I particularly want to be clear that I do not judge if you or someone else starts the process and then changes her mind and decides to go some other route than surgery.  I absolutely don’t want anyone to interpret my thoughts/feelings about my choices to mean that I’m invalidating their different choices.  Someone else might experience the journey in a completely different way.  I certainly would not presume to say that my experience is the only way or the right way or any other way than the one that was right for me to follow.
Weight loss surgery is a big decision and a large, complicated undertaking.  Plus, it’s only the beginning.  The hardest work starts after the surgery.  That’s when we begin to implement the changes that we intend to embrace for the rest of our lives.  Just typing that makes it all sound overwhelming, so I go back to what I learned in OA.  One day at a time.  I only can do this one day at a time.
I’ve had six months of one day at a time and, thankfully, those days are adding up to something pretty incredible.

4 responses to “Looking Back at the Lead Up to Surgery

  1. Mary Stella says:

    Skye, sorry that you’re having problems. If one day at a time isn’t easy, shoot for one meal at a time. A favorite quote of mine is that it’s better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the dark. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big, thick column of wax with large wick or something the size of a baby birthday candle… the act of bringing even a tiny bit of light is what matters.

    You can shine, girlfriend!

  2. Jill says:

    As always, your depth of honesty and self revelation are an inspiration Mary. Love you and so psyched for your continued transformation!

  3. Skye says:

    What a very honest and thoughtful post! One day at a time is not easy … I haven’t been doing it well at all with eating. Or anything lately. But at least it allows you back easily: Today I will do better.

    I’m so glad you found what worked for you and that you are doing well. You sound like you have a very realistic perspective on it all, including yourself and how to deal with crap instead of with food (I’ve always felt that dealing with crap by having sex was a good call, but I’ve not often had that option). 🙂

    Great post. This is another one that could go up on ReFab. Or be a guest post pretty much anywhere that someone is dealing with making huge changes in their lives.

    You continue to inspire me, girl.

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