August 2012. That’s when it finally clicked. 19 years of being morbidly obese – at the age of 19.
Summer 2012 was one of much progress, but the decision that I made just as summer came to a close is one that will forever alter my life. This summer I went to the gym at least 5 days a week. Ellipticals, stair steppers, walking, Zumba, aerobics classes, and swimming. I put my all in this summer to prove that I could lose weight on my own. I started the summer at my highest weight ever, 360lbs and 4 months later I was down a measly 9lbs. At that rate it would take me 8 years to get to a normal weight. And trust me, this kind of motivation wasn’t going to last at that rate. The 9lbs made me happy. I had put in effort and I had managed to lose weight. However, if I want to get healthy and live a normal life free from insulin resistance and PCOS it would be essential to lose weight quicker than what my best efforts had ever produced.
During this summer, I learned a friend of mine had Lapband surgery. She was doing incredibly well and today is 10lbs from her goal weight, losing almost 100lbs. I started looking into the surgery and after the summer I had with the results I got, I decided it was time to go in for a surgical consult. When the switch finally switched and I decided to go in, I had only a little over a week before I was leaving the country for 2 months. Luckily, the hospital in Erie was incredibly accommodating and actually got me in before I left for a one on one seminar and a surgical consult with a surgeon.
The surgical consult was not what I was expecting. I had been looking at Lapband for months and had made the decision that it was the only choice for me since it was the only option that was reversible and was the least invasive of the 3 choices. However, my surgeon did not agree that this was the choice for me. He suggested the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Reasoning being that I was young and implanting a foreign body in my body could cause many problems say 40 years from now. Additionally, I have about 200 lbs to lose before I am “normal” – though my personal goal is not that low. Lapband has shown these kinds of results but it is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination. Also, being in college going between cities 600 miles away would make the frequent drs visits for Lapband an extensive process. I walked out of my surgical consult completely heart broken. All I could think was this is what I wanted. This is what I had convinced myself was the answer and now I see all the reasons why it’s not.
Once I got over the depression and anger I had towards the situation. I finally started to research the sleeve surgery. Honestly, I had never looked at it before because it was a permanent, body altering procedure where they actually remove the stomach. I said no to anything that permanent. The next week I was traveling to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania to move my belongings into my dorm and then coming home again for the flight to Morocco. This 18 hour round trip car ride was spent completely on researching the sleeve surgery reading to my mother while she was driving or her reading to me while I was driving. What a learning process it was. Much to my surprise, my feelings towards vertical sleeve were switching drastically, and I was suddenly asking myself why I wanted band over this surgery. Besides the fact that it was what I had always joked about as a kid – if only they could rip part of my stomach out, maybe I could lose some weight – I was starting to like the idea of making the permanent change to my body. It had significantly better outcomes and the mortality rate approximately the same. Unlike gastric bypass, people did not experience deficiencies or anemia. Additionally, 40 years from now, my body would barely know there was a change, where with Lapband, by that time the band could be eroding away at my stomach and causing serious issues. After much research, which still continues to this day, I made the decision to get the vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
Unfortunately, due to being in college, I had to make the decision to wait until I returned from Morocco to start my mandatory 6 monthly visits to get approved by my insurance and wait until next summer to get the surgery, since it was not something I could see going through I the middle of a term. Normally, people talk about how anxious and excited they are about getting the surgery and don’t want to wait months – for me, it was going to have to be more like 10 months. Let me tell you, the wait is almost too much to handle.
The journey has begun and I can’t wait to find where it will take me.
I will talk more about the waiting game soon. Look for updates about the pre-op testing and monthly visits to come soon.