I had my second monthly visit at school since I go to school too far away from home to go see my family doctor. This visit was two sided. On one part, the nurse who was working with me was very negative towards me and what I was doing. I definitely think she crossed a boundary and if she didn’t agree with it, that she should have shut up and done her job, which was to get my weight and move on with her day. That got me a little down about the visit, but luckily the receptionist there had had a sleeve and was so excited for me! I’m grateful that I didn’t just get the negative Nelly, since there are always going to be people out there who know someone whose friend’s mother’s sister’s cousin had a bad experience with weight loss surgery years ago.
If you’re like me, being morbidly obese, everyday things for normal people. Things like these are part of the driving force for losing weight. Some are just embarrassing others are things I want to do but can’t because of my weight. Doing these things again are a part of my goals for this process.
- Cross my legs: Yeah, that’s right. It’s so disheartening that I can’t even sit down and cross my legs. They are just too big.
- Roller coasters: I still remember the first time I was asked to leave a roller coaster. The bar came down and clicked twice, but if it didn’t click three times, you weren’t able to ride. I love roller coasters and I haven’t been able to ride one in probably 6 years.
- Kayak: I own a kayak, and I am no longer able to ride in it with the 330lb weight limit the water line comes up too high to be stable enough to ride. I love to kayak and even with my heavy duty one, I still eventually exceeded the limit. I want to kayak again.
- Fly without being embarrassed: I still fly – in coach. But I’m always incredibly worried about making the trip horrible for the person next to me. I spend my time on the plane making sure I’m leaning away from the person and not making them uncomfortable instead of enjoying my flight. Half the time, I need a seat belt extender. I want to be able to fly without worry.
- Sit in the middle of an aisle without worrying about getting out: I have so much anxiety when it comes to public places. What if someone can’t get by my seat because I’m too big? What if I can’t get out of the middle of an aisle because I’m so big? Making sure I can get out of a situation takes over my mind and it’s mostly because of my weight. I don’t want to have to worry about these things in public. I want to be able to fit in anywhere.
- Wear fashionable boots or heels: I absolutely love all of those boots that are currently in style and can’t wear any of them. My calves are about three times the size that most of those boots allow. I recently found “WIDE WIDE calf boots” – even those are tight, but I can scrunch them down a little and get them to zip. No one ever said heels were comfortable, but when you are fat, the are impossible. Maybe this is one thing that is good – since I can’t wear them, I don’t spend the money on them. However, being so big that I can’t even wear certain shoes definitely needs to change.
- Ride a horse: Power is often measured in horse power, but one horse is just not enough to hold this girl.
- White water rafting: The last time I went on a rafting trip I had 4 people that worked for the rafting company try to convince me that the trip I was going on was too difficult – and it was all because of my weight. They didn’t care that I had rafted so many times before or that I use to swim competitively they were convinced I couldn’t do it. I went through with it because it’s something I love and I knew I could do it, but it was so embarrassing and disheartening to have people trying to convince me I couldn’t do something because of my weight.
- Wear any jewelry: where ever it’s suppose to go, it’s always too small. Rings, bracelets, necklaces are always too small to fit my over sized extremities.
- Sit in a college lecture hall seat with the desk down: One of the worst things about being in college and being morbidly obese is not being able to work comfortably in class. Most of the seats squeeze me in so close my legs lose circulation during lecture. I rarely find a lecture hall where I can put down the little desk to take notes/an exam. Not fitting in a lecture hall makes things infinitely more difficult. I guarantee that no other students know that the seats to the right of the lefty desks have more room because there is no desk protruding into your area from the lefty desk since it’s on the other side. For me however, getting to one of these prized seats is a game I play every day. And even in those seats, I still can’t get the desk down to actually be able to write or have people sitting next to me because my arms definitely protrude into that space. I want to be able to walk into a lecture hall, sit anywhere I want, and take an exam. Is that too much to ask for?
- Eat a normal portion and be satisfied: I honestly disgust myself with how much I can eat or how much I have to eat in order to feel satisfied. I want to be able to eat a normal size meal or a serving size and say, yes, I’ve had enough and be done.
- Put my laundry in less than 3 washers: I’m in college. Funds are tight and the washers are small. Being so large means that my clothing takes up much more room than normal sized clothing. For once I’d like to go a week without producing 3 or 4 loads of laundry.
When I got back from Morocco I went for my first monthly visit with my family doctor. Though I was already done with all my pre-op testing, I had yet to mention this to my family doctor. It’s not like I was avoiding it – it just happened that way with my trip. My family doctor has never said anything about my weight – ever. Same goes for my mother and grandmother who also see him and are also obese. I was glad to hear he agreed with my decision though and has never judged anyone of my family. He’ there to answer questions and talk if you bring it up, but he keeps his mouth shut if you don’t – which is lovely compared to the ass hole endocrines I’ve been seeing over the past couple years.
The first endocrine I saw (for my insulin resistance) was as large as I was and yet found it acceptable to walk in the room and immediately start criticizing me for my weight. After a year of dealing with this horrid man, I found another endocrine. I found her to be just as irritating. When I told her about my issues of diarrhea when I eat low carb, she denied that it was a side effect. “No that doesn’t happen.” Well, I’m telling you it does. I’ve been on and off low carb for probably 5 years now and I always joke around with my mom that I can tell when I’m doing a good job if my ass is exploding. Within a week of eating low carb, things start to go downhill. About a day or two after eating carbs things start to regulate. For me, eating a low carb diet causes this – and my endocrine would not accept that. She told me to read some book and get gastric bypass and it would be all better. Though I was already thinking of lapband at the time, she told me that only bypass would help my endocrine issues – which is completely untrue.
After these experiences, it’s nice to be able to go to my family doctor who answers my questions and supports me without telling me I’m wrong or telling me that if I’d just put in an honest effort I wouldn’t be this way. Thankfully, I lost a couple pounds in Morocco and for the first time in a couple years was able to be weighed on the scale at my family doctor that only goes up to 350. A very happy moment indeed.
Anyone who is looking into the surgery knows that there are a lot of appointments and testing to do before you can be approved for surgery. I did a lot of reading about all of this before I started my process and I know it helped to hear about it from different people. Here is my account of the pre-op testing that I got done all in one week!
This was definitely a lot quicker and painless than I thought it was going to be. I expected to go in there and be crying and needed to tell my life story of being fat. Talking about all the emotional torment etc. I figured I would come out of there with a red face and bloated eyes. Not. Even. Close. This was about 15 minutes at most and never once did I feel a twinge of emotion. Basically he asked who knew about my surgery which would be both of my parents and two of my friends. He asked what each of those four people would say are good qualities about me. He made me list a few adjectives that I felt about being obese and asked if I had ever been raped or had raped anyone. That was it. Quick, easy, and painless.
Pretty straightforward. Fasting sonogram to make sure they don’t want to take out your gallbladder. Took about 20 minutes, and besides the fact that she got goop on my sweatshirt, this wasn’t bad.
Here is when things go from painless to a little worse. This is a test that you actually go to the hospital for and go under general anesthetic. Since it was in the hospital, naturally, I sat there for a good 5 hours after I checked in with an IV freezing my butt off before the test actually happened. I think this test was another one of those moments where you seriously think about what exactly it is that you’re doing. When they handed me the form to sign stating who would make decisions for me if anything happened while I was under, the severity of what I was doing sank in a little more than usual. They make you gargle some liquid to try to numb your throat so the gag reflex is not as bad, but I’m certain I numbed more of my tongue than my throat… and it tasted vile. I remember the swallowing of the scope barely. During it, it seemed more like a dream than reality. I was just out enough that I knew I felt like I was choking, but couldn’t do anything or really formulate thoughts – just knew it was happening. The test took about 45 minutes and then I had to stay an hour after I came to in order to be monitored. They found a hiatal hernia and will most likely fix this during my sleeve surgery.
Officially the most skewed results of any test. First of all no college student is going to fall asleep at 9PM. I’m in Robotics Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering, and doing my masters in Fire Protection Engineering. I can’t remember the last time I went to sleep before midnight. On top of that… connecting 40 electrodes and other sensors to the point you can’t move around in bed doesn’t exactly aid the sleeping process. I maybe slept for 20 minutes total at one time waking up probably about 10 times. Needless to say, at 4am when I was released is when I went home and went to sleep! This is the only test I was unhappy about doing, but it’s all part of the process. I’m just glad I proved to them I don’t have sleep apnea and prevented them from throwing me on a C-PAP.
This was a long week, but being done with all the testing was one of the BEST feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Now, the only thing that stands between me and surgery is time. Those 6 (now 5!) monthly doctors visits are all I have left to be approved for surgery. Every day gets more exciting. My 2nd doctors appointment is going to be in Massachusetts since I am at school now with a doctor on campus. Should be interesting. In talking to her to set up the appointment it seemed like she had never dealt with this before where most family doctors know the drill as bariatric surgery is so common now. Updates on that soon to come!
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.