When there's a need to open up.
There are some things in life that are easy to talk about; work, life, simple day to day things. Then, there are things that you struggle to even face alone, much less involving someone else in it. It's time that I open up about my biggest struggle. A struggle that I've faced my entire life. A struggle that almost killed me.
I'm overweight. Those two words are so hard to say. I cry each time I associate them with myself. I have let that fact, and the people who liked to use it against me, almost ruin my life. For many years they succeeded, but in July 2018, I decided that it was time to stop letting things like that destroy me and take accountability for what I let happen to me.
My weight brought on a whole list of health problems; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, T2 diabetes, and chronic pain. I took more medications in one day than some senior citizens take in a week. My health had gone to *&^%. I tried to manage things with the medications for a few years, but the numbers always seemed to creep back up no matter my efforts. I was constantly at the doctors for one of the many medical issues I was dealing with.
One day, I was sitting in the waiting room for yet another doctor's appointment, and I decided to ask her about weight loss surgery. I'd been reading up on it online for over a year before I decided to speak to her. There was so much information about the success rates the surgery had on putting all of my current health issues into remission. On top of the fact that it would help me lose the weight that a lifetime of unhealthy choices and lack of information packed on.
Before I continue with that, let me give you a little background. My mother was a single mom because my dad took off when I was a baby. I think she resented having me. At least, that's how she made me feel. She was adopted, and those people were on and off as to whether they were going to accept me. Many times, being physically and verbally abusive to me as a child, to which my mother never intervened. The people I went to school with were bullies, verbally and physically attacking me on a daily basis. Again, my mother never intervened.
She would wake me up in the morning and take me to the babysitter's house. Sometimes the babysitter would give me breakfast, but most times not. I'd walk myself to school. The walk wasn't too long, just under a mile, but it was my favorite part of the day. After school, I'd just walk home and take care of myself until my mom got home. She didn't cook, she'd usually just come home with something from Mc Donald's or Burger King. Both were only a few blocks away from the house on her way home. I would just sit where ever and eat. By the time I was done eating, my mom was usually asleep on the couch. I would finish my homework, get myself a bath, and go to bed when I got tired. I grew up with no structure or security. One of the results of that was being an overweight child.
Anyways, back to forward progression. So, my doctor is in the room with me, giving me the results of yet another blood test, and I asked her about weight loss surgery. The look on her face when I finally took that step to ask was one of pride. I blinked back tears because I knew that it was my last resort. I'd tried and failed dozens of diets, always falling back into the same habits that I was in before. She took extra time during that visit to put in the request to get things started. She warned me that it was going to be a long and hard road, but that she believed in my ability to get there.
I had so many things that I needed to do. Attend classes regularly, a minimum of 12 classes with no less than 3 in one month before they'd even consider the next steps. Once they approved the next steps, I had so many things that I needed to do. I had to see a dietician two times, no more than 60 days apart. I needed a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea. A complete set of blood work to rule out thyroid or genetic disorders. A psychologist to rule out any mental health issues. I had to maintain constant contact with my regular doctor so she could monitor my progress and weight loss and physical activities.
Every week, I would be at the Thursday evening meetings that my insurance required me to attend, and I was amazed at how little I actually knew about healthy eating. I slowly added the new information into my eating habits and forced myself to make sure that I stuck to the changes. I didn't always succeed, but I wouldn't let myself stay off track for too long. I would get right back on track. I was determined to succeed. I knew more than just losing weight was on the line. My life was on the line.
There was around one month wait time between each step, needing further approval from my insurance before I could progress. At times, I felt discouraged because the wait times always scared me that something was going to go wrong and I would just get a denial letter. There were times that my fears almost caused me to question if everything was worth it. Slowly, a few ounces at a time at first, the number on the scale started to go down. This time, it didn't feel like previous attempts, because I had more knowledge on what I could and should be doing.
I made sure to complete each step with flying colors, showing my newly gained knowledge on proper eating and nutrition. I also acknowledged my past struggles and failures, even to the point that I would break down in tears as I opened up. Each person that I needed to see would tell me their assessment at the end of each appointment. It was a huge confidence booster hearing such positive things coming from them about the impression I made.
The hardest appointment for me to go through was the psychologist. My insurance required that I basically walk her through my entire life up to that point so she can determine whether I have any issues that would cause me to fail after the surgery. I opened up to her about my childhood, family, school, everything! I also told her about my decisions to walk away from the toxicity that my family was, because I couldn't handle them in my life. That appointment was 4 hours long and an hour and a half drive both ways to get there. There were two full booklets that I needed to fill out before I could even speak to the psychologist. She spoke to me at the end and said that she was going to submit her opinion that I would be the ideal candidate for weight loss surgery based on her assessment.
As I completed each step, my confidence slowly began to grow. I no longer felt like I was as useless as my past made me feel. The number on the scale kept going down, a little every week. I was so anxiously waiting for my surgeon appointment. That wait felt like it was the longest. When I finally got the information for who my surgeon would be, I shook as I called to set up an appointment. The night before the appointment, I couldn't sleep.
When I walked into the bariatric clinic, I was greeted by some of the nicest people I've ever come across in my life. The surgeon gave me a list of things that I still needed to complete. That list was amazingly small though and I felt confident that I'd complete everything in time for my next surgeon visit in three weeks time. There was a weight loss requirement, which is common for all weight loss surgeons, that I needed to complete. My surgeon looked at my overall weight loss since beginning my journey to him and decided that he was only going to require me to lose 5 more pounds before my next appointment.
I was so nervous walking in to that next appointment because I wanted to surprise him with the amount of weight that I lost since the last time that I saw him. He walked in with a huge smile on his face and proclaimed that I've lost 14 pounds since the last time I saw him. He was certain that I'd get the final approval from my insurance company, so he scheduled my surgery appointment before I left the office that day. I left his office that day in tears because I was so happy and excited.
The night before surgery, I couldn't sleep. I was so tired but I was also so nervous. I got there at 8am like the instructions said, and waited an hour before they called me to the back to get ready for surgery. That hour felt like weeks, but when I got to the back, everything went by so fast. They had me change into one of those lovely surgical gowns where your butt always hangs out. As soon as I was changed, there was a whole group of people who came in to speak to me one after another.
The last person who came to speak to me was the anethesiologist. He was just asking questions about if I'd ever had some anesthesia before and if I suffered any side effects. The charge nurse was still sitting next to the bed waiting to ask me a few more questions after the anesthesiologist finished with me. Little did I know that as soon as I looked away, the anesthesiologist injected something into the IV that knocked me out. I don't remember anything after that point, so I'm scared I said something embarassing before they took me in to surgery.
I vaguely remember waking up in the recovery room in horrible pain. I wasn't awake very long because I heard them comment on me not even being fully awake and moaning in pain. They must have given me something for the pain because I was out like a light again. I slept until they took me to my actual room. I don't remember anything from the recovery room except those few seconds with the pain and that one comment. I also don't remember getting moved to my room, or the several hours after that where I was being cared for by the nurse on duty. She filled me in on everything a few days later before I left the hospital.
I slept most of Monday, obviously because I hadn't slept the night before and just had major surgery. The surgeon also repaired a hernia that was found during the endoscopy they required. Tuesday wasn't much better, but I did notice there was a decrease in the pain. I didn't have to ask for pain meds as much as they were thinking. Wednesday, I was about to get discharged from the hospital, but my fluid intake was still way too low and they were worried about dehydration. To be completely honest, I wasn't feeling like I was ready to come home on Wednesday. My body just didn't feel right. So the surgeon decided we would check again Thursday and see how things were.
Thursday morning, I felt so much better than the day before. I was able to drink fluids more regularly. I went through those 1 ounce cups every 15 minutes like they told me to. I was also able to drink some protein shake diluted with water without the liquid hurting on the way down. I felt ready. I was excited to get home to see my cats because I know they both missed me. Honestly, I missed them too.
It's now Monday night. One week post surgery. I'm still on a liquid only diet right now. I can't drink more than a couple ounces at a time. I don't feel hungry. I have to remind myself to drink enough. I've been adding unflavored protein powder to my soups to make sure that I get enough protein in. I've been working on increasing my fluid intake. Right now, I'm at about 45 ounces for the day and it's only 5:30pm. I'm also at about 50 grams of protein for the day. My goal is 90 for the time being. I'm working my way up there. I don't want to push too much too fast and end up making myself sick or damaging my new stomach.
Progress so far, in the four days since I've been home:
I've lost 12 pounds
I'm off my blood pressure medication
I'm off my cholesterol medication
I'm off one diabetic medication completely
My second diabetic medication dose is cut in half
My blood sugar has been in the 80-95 (non-diabetic) range every day
Overall, I'm down 60 pounds from my highest weight (when I started this journey)
and most importantly
I feel like I've gotten my life back.