Tuesday, March 11, 2014

last night's bariatric workshop

Last night I attended a post-op bariatric workshop.  It was given by my doctor's office.  I was a little hesitant at first, because I'm not really into the whole support group thing, but I figured this would be OK since there would be talks about different subjects, like nutrition, plastic surgery, etc.  It turned out to be somewhat like a support group, but there was talk about many different subjects.  A representative from Bariatric Advantage was there handing out samples.  I filled up my bag with all sorts of goodies:  shake mixes, vitamin packs, a water bottle, calcium, vitamin crystals to mix with water, protein bars, a tote bag, etc.

The workshop was in a Q&A format, after the doctor's initial talk.  People asked questions, but some also shared their stories.  I noticed quite a few people talked about how they have no support at home, or they lost friends because they gained the confidence to say that the friendship wasn't working anymore (friends were unsupportive, jealous, or just wanted their drinking buddy back), or the husband stills calls the wife "fat," or they're not allowed to talk about their surgery around mom.  People said that after they lost weight, co-workers would tell them they look like they have cancer, or they look sick in general.  One man said that, before surgery, he would see his relatives every few months and someone would comment that he had gained weight.  After the surgery, not one of them commented that he had lost weight and looked great.  There was even a story about two sisters who stopped talking, because one had the surgery and lost the weight, while the other one was still heavy.  Apparently she couldn't take seeing her sister succeed so they stopped talking.  The list goes on.

I think the one that annoyed me the most was the woman who said she heard someone say that she had "taken the easy way out."  This one annoys me to no end.  Lucky for me (or maybe THEM), no one has said this to me.  I don't understand how someone can make such a statement when they haven't walked a mile in my shoes, or even done the research about the procedure to know what it involves.  Yes, I got lucky and don't seem to be having an emotionally tough time, don't have any complications (yet), and tolerate all the foods I've eaten so far.  But it doesn't mean this is "easy."  I had to go through three months of pre-op preparation:  sleep study, several rounds of lab work, upper endoscopy, ultrasound, psychiatric evaluation and counseling, and gall bladder removal.  Then I got denied by insurance and had to appeal.  Someone then cut me open, rearranged my guts, and made my stomach the size of my thumb, because I can't keep the weight off; I needed this surgery to help me with that. Then I was on all liquids for a minimum of three weeks.  In the months after surgery, it's practically a full-time job to make sure I get all my water, protein, and vitamins in for the day; make sure I chew thoroughly to ensure I don't get any food stuck; monitor my sugar intake; measure and weigh all my food; and log every bite that goes into my mouth.   And I'll be on vitamin supplements for the rest of my life.  The weight is falling off now, effortlessly, but in another year or so I will be just like every other person who struggles with their weight.  The only difference is that I will have a tool that will help me control my intake.  Yes, it was drastic.  But it was totally worth it.  I don't want to die of heart disease, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis like my mom did at the age of 71.  If there's a tool available to help me, why wouldn't I want to use it?  I think that's pretty smart.  And I thought it through thoroughly over the course of 10 years.  It's not like I woke up and said, "Hey, I think I'll go get my guts chopped up today."
OK, rant over.

Listening to these stories last night made me very happy, and thankful, that my family, friends, and especially my husband, are so supportive of me.  I'm not sure how I would be doing right now if I didn't have that.

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