So it's been a while since I last posted in here. I feel like it's time to talk (write) a few things out. I seem to be bugging everyone I know talking about this, and most don't want to hear it. So I figured I would just write it out in here to get it off my chest. I'm not expecting anyone to read the whole thing. It's pretty damn long.. lol I'm just writing it out for me.
Last year I was pursuing bariatric surgery (specifically, Lap-Band surgery) with a bit of passion. I researched and read everything I could find on the subject. I went to several symposiums and consultations with a few surgeons researching my options. In Feb of '06 I found a doctor and a facility that looked good to me. I went to their required symposium. Met the surgeon, the RN who works for him (who is also the coordinator), and also some post-op patients who where there for a support group meeting that night. I was much more impressed with them than I had been with the other surgeon I had met. They were all very nice, and seemed extremely passionate about their work.
I took home the information packet and began filling out the paperwork and looking at what I needed to do to make the surgery happen. There are a lot of hoops to jump through. You have to get a psychological evaluation, have a consultation with a dietician, get clearance from your primary care physician stating that you are healthy enough for surgery, possibly see a cardiologist, and possibly have a sleep study done. After all of that, you have to submit everything to your insurance company for approval. Then after that, some people have to go through a 6-month supervised diet before they can even be considered for approval. It is considered elective surgery, but since it is so beneficial, most insurance companies cover it partially, if not 100%. They just make it hard to be sure the patient is really serious about it, and to keep people from just signing up for their plans to have the surgery. I'm hoping that at least a majority of it will be covered.
Anyway. After several months of dragging my feet on all of that, I decided to try to do it by myself once more without the surgery. I started eating much less, and was feeling great. I could tell I was already losing weight after only about a week. Then a couple of weeks later, I lost it. I fell off the wagon completely and gained it all, and more, back. I still wanted the surgery, but I wasn't being very vigilant about making it happen. Then we suffered a major loss in the family and everything was forgotten. (If you know me well, or keep up with my blogs, you know what this was.) I got more depressed, and just ate and ate and ate to hide from the hurt. I was the biggest I have ever been.
Then Christmas of '06 I got a gift from my mom and sister to help me try again. They got me a month's worth of Nutrisystems food. It's a good plan. The food isn't great, but it's certainly edible. I told myself that if I failed with the Nutrisystems food that would be the last time. I'm tired of failure after failure. If I couldn't make it work, I would go for the surgery again. For about a month it was going great. I was enjoying the convenience of the food, and the feeling of not being full and lethargic all the time. I started taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. I never weighed myself, but I started noticing clothes were a little looser. I even ordered, and paid for, another month of food myself. Then something snapped again. I got to the point where the Nutrisystems meals weren't doing it for me. I would eat one, and it would just make my cravings stronger, so I would end up eating something unhealthy right on top of the Nutrisystems food. Now I don't even bother with the Nutrisystems food anymore. I haven't even opened up the box with the second month of food in it.
I've described the cravings I get in a previous blog. It sounds like weakness to most people. They are wrong, and I'm not going to explain myself again. People who have never had a serious weight problem, or another kind of serious addiction don't understand, and probably never can. In fact, people with serious weight problems have dieted and tried to lose weight so much that they probably know a whole lot more about exercise and nutrition than any of the self-described health nuts out there. And we probably each have more willpower in our left pinky toe than 1000 gym rats combined.
That said, I started thinking about the surgery seriously again a little over a week ago. I dug out the info packet from over a year ago and went through it. Updated some of the info on the paperwork, and started doing more research online. I've learned a bit more than I already knew.
The best thing I have found, however, has been an online support group for people who have had the Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap-Band) procedure. They are even in the DFW area! Reading through the posts on that group has been extremely helpful and motivational. It's also reminded me of how hard it is to get support from those around me. My mom is the best of all of my family. She was hesitant at first, but has come around and is supportive now. My dad just kept telling me "why don't you just eat less and exercise more?" and "I wish you wouldn't have surgery", but he too is actually coming around now that he realizes that I am going to do it no matter what he says. haha He wants me to stay at his house while I recover from my surgery. That will be helpful. Both him and my step-mom are RNs, so they can take good care of me if something comes up. Several of my friends are pretty supportive, but they don't really understand what I'm going through either. Plus they all have other stuff going on in their lives so I can't really talk to them like I can someone who gets it.
I now know that I can't wait around any longer. I'm not happy the way I am living, and it needs to change. Sooner, rather than later. I watched my teen years slip away from behind my depression and obesity. Now I'm almost 28, and my 20s are waning fast. I've watched them slip away as well. Telling myself every year that "this year will be the year I lose weight" and then seeing it slip by. I can't sit around like this anymore. I've made the decision to let nothing stand in my way of having this surgery. It is my only goal in life right now. It's the only way I can hope to have a normal life.
My first priority was to figure out how I was going to pay for the pre-op testing and evaluations. So I am dipping in to my savings account that I built up last year while I was working two jobs. I also think that there will be enough left in there to buy an elliptical workout machine to use. I've always wanted one of those, and I feel like I want to start working out again. That money was supposed to be for a down payment on a new vehicle, or a house, but I figure a down payment on a new life is a much better investment. If my insurance doesn't cover all of the surgery, I found out that I can borrow money from my 401k to help pay for it. That, with whatever I can get out of my parents, and/or finance, should be enough. But I will continue to hope that insurance pays. If it doesn't, it will really complicate things.
It's going to be a few days before I can actually get access to my savings, so in the mean time I'm going to start scheduling the appointments I need. I need to do this TODAY. I'm going to call the psychologist and set up my psychological evaluation, so they can make sure I can handle surgery and a restricted food intake. Then I will schedule a consultation with the dietician my surgeon recommends to go over what my pre and post-op diet will consist of. I also need to call my PCP and make an appointment to get medical clearance for surgery. If he wants me to see a cardiologist, or have a sleep study done, I can start getting those set up as well. I've never had heart problems that I know of, and I don't have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, so I doubt I'll have to do those.
The only thing that might be a real limiting factor is that I JUST quit smoking a little over two weeks ago. And to quit I used nicotine gum. One of the tests they do to make sure you're fit for surgery is a urine test that looks for nicotine. They say you can't have smoked in the last 6 weeks at all, or it will show up and they'll make you wait. I just hope that by the time that rolls around, the nicotine will be cleared out of my system. I'm not chewing the gum anymore, so that clock is ticking.
I really want to be at the stage where they are submitting my information for insurance approval. That will mean I've done everything I can up to that point, and the ball is actually out of my hands. If they need me to do a supervised diet first, then I can get started on that ASAP. If not, I can start scheduling a date for surgery.
I'm super excited about the new life I will gain, but a little scared too. Most people who have been through this talk about how much everything changes. You don't just change physically. All (ALL) of your personal relationships go through a change. Some people lose a lot of their former friends. Some people become closer to their friends. People who don't know would be amazed at how different people treat you when you're obese. A lot of people either just assume that you're a stupid loser, so they completely ignore you, or they don't even give you a second thought. You would think that being bigger would make you stand out, but it actually does the opposite. I've grown up as the invisible man. The guy people don't pay any attention to. The people who do see me, assume that I'm just a joke and don't take me seriously. I've lived with this throughout my entire "remembered" life. I notice it now even more at work. People assume I'm stupid so they never give me a chance. If someone needs help with something, they look around for someone else. They ask for others. Will I be able to handle not being invisible anymore? I won't be able to hide behind my fat anymore. It won't be there to comfort me, or to blame when something goes wrong. Same with food. I won't be able to eat like I do now when I'm happy, sad, depressed, stressed, relaxed, angry, mourning, celebrating or just needing to feel comforted. What will I find to replace that when it's no longer an option.
At the same time, I'm so optimistic. If so many other people can succeed at this, I can too. I have a lot of tools available to help me. (Support groups (both online and in person), family, friends, knowledge, etc.) I can only imagine what it would be like to not have all that fat there with me constantly. To look down and see my belt as I buckle it without using a mirror. To climb a few flights of stairs without getting so winded that I can't talk for 5 minutes afterwards. To have more than just a few items of clothing that actually fit well. Even if clothes are big enough, they still usually don't fit right. There's a constant physical discomfort there that I have become accustomed to living with. I can only imagine what it would feel like for that to be gone. To sit down in a chair and not have to adjust my shirt to get somewhat comfortable. To go to a restaurant and not have to worry that the booth will be too small. To be able to pick from the normal sized clothing, and actually know that it will look good on me. To be able to sit down to a meal and know that I won't overdo it. To actually feel in control of my eating and my life.
These are all things that I can only imagine right now. Things that other people take for granted. I want to know what it's like to be healthy. I want to get in shape and do fun things. I want to date people who are interested in me, not just people who have a fat fetish. I want all these things for myself. Somehow, I think I deserve it after living this way for so long. I can't do it alone, but I can't sit around waiting for someone else to do it for me either. I need to make this happen. I need to make some calls today and start scheduling these appointments. I need this.