Murk

How did you keep it secret at work?

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8 hours ago, Clickin said:

So I have very different ideas than the peeps who've responded above. 

I say eff your little clucking hens. Be the example that makes them change their viewpoints. If the successful WLS patients stay in the closet, it just reinforces that "I know someone who gained all their weight back" opinionated behavior. 

I've been open and honest about my surgery. I've inspired someone to have the sleeve as well. I really don't care how people feel about why I "allowed" myself to become obese and "sank so low as to need surgery". They can all take a flying - well you know...

I also work in the medical field. In my system, we have "glass" that protects our information from nosy little coworkers. That doesn't stop someone who had a true need to be in your record from gossiping though.  In that light, it just reinforces my stance on being open and honest. 

I agree with this sentiment but at the same time believe there is a huge difference between preop and postop. Telling people preop is asking for a whole load of negativity to be brought into your mindset. I only told two friends preop about the surgery, one turned toxic the second I mentioned my impending surgery, while the other has been my greatest support. I have spoken to a couple of people since my surgery who not only started asking awkward questions, but could really benefit from WLS surgery themselves. I decided that the proximity they had to me as someone who knew the surgery from first hand experience, could only benefit from open and honest conversation. If they decide to get snarky down the track then I'll likely stop any conversations about my experience, but for the time being I'll take their questions at face value, because the social stigma surrounding WLS won't change until the many successful postop people become more visible. On the plus side, others knowing I had WLS gives me greater accountability to myself to be successful.

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I'm likely to agree with @Aussie H above, though in my case its also because where I am people are even worse about obesity and things like WLS in general and really don't know anything and give you lots of crap without knowing and having presumptions that are quite illogical.

BUT, there have been a few who have either been through it before or know about it and when I told them, they were open and supportive and so I've elected to keep the pool in the know limited till the surgery is over because I have enough on my mind without needing their nonsense.

After the surgery however I plan to definitely keep no secrets. If someone asks, I will be honest about it.

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Framing this issue in the light of pre- and post-surgery is clarifying for me. It's hard for people to bad-mouth successful and sustained weight loss. I'm probably at the stage now where prejudice will be outweighed by support by most casual or work acquaintances. Plus I certainly want to stand as a good example to others who are obese and willing to consider WLS. 

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2 hours ago, BurgundyBoy said:

Framing this issue in the light of pre- and post-surgery is clarifying for me. It's hard for people to bad-mouth successful and sustained weight loss. I'm probably at the stage now where prejudice will be outweighed by support by most casual or work acquaintances. Plus I certainly want to stand as a good example to others who are obese and willing to consider WLS. 

Agreed. When I tell people now (typically in response to a comment about how I must have great genetics to be so tiny), their response is very positive. The reason I kept quiet until recently is because I feel like it's easier for people to be dismissive or say negative things during the pre-op/early post-op and that's the time we need to hear those things the least. It would take an incredible amount of nerve for someone to tell me to my face, after losing over half my body weight, that I took the easy way out. I'd laugh in their face. When you're living proof of how successful WLS can be, it takes the wind out of the negative people's sails.  Now, I still wouldn't necessarily share the information at work. We don't owe it to anyone to share our story anymore than, say, a recovering addict does. I think it's important to share with those who will lift you up or who you can lift up (if you're in a place emotionally & mentally where that's a positive thing for you), but I also think it's important to be thoughtful & intentional about who you share with. Just my thoughts.

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10 minutes ago, athenarose said:

Agreed. When I tell people now (typically in response to a comment about how I must have great genetics to be so tiny), their response is very positive. The reason I kept quiet until recently is because I feel like it's easier for people to be dismissive or say negative things during the pre-op/early post-op and that's the time we need to hear those things the least. It would take an incredible amount of nerve for someone to tell me to my face, after losing over half my body weight, that I took the easy way out. I'd laugh in their face. When you're living proof of how successful WLS can be, it takes the wind out of the negative people's sails.  Now, I still wouldn't necessarily share the information at work. We don't owe it to anyone to share our story anymore than, say, a recovering addict does. I think it's important to share with those who will lift you up or who you can lift up (if you're in a place emotionally & mentally where that's a positive thing for you), but I also think it's important to be thoughtful & intentional about who you share with. Just my thoughts.

Wise

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I like the idea you've mentioned of getting more open about it later in the process. I think thats a good way of meeting halfway, honestly. As athena said, hearing the horrible things at the beginning of pre or post op is not the time to have it. I think using it as a learning experience for the MAs in my office after having success with my WLS could be great for myself and them. 

I did talk things out with my officemate today. It would be nearly impossible for her to not know as we sit three feet from each other all day every day and work on a lot of things together. I made it clear with her I didn't want the rest of the office to know, and that I currently am not intending to tell our manager either, and she was supportive. Hopefully telling her won't end up being a mistake, but at the end of the day, this place is just a job, and if I felt a toxic environment, I'd be happy peacing out and going elsewhere. 

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22 hours ago, Clickin said:

So I have very different ideas than the peeps who've responded above. 

I say eff your little clucking hens. Be the example that makes them change their viewpoints. If the successful WLS patients stay in the closet, it just reinforces that "I know someone who gained all their weight back" opinionated behavior. 

I've been open and honest about my surgery. I've inspired someone to have the sleeve as well. I really don't care how people feel about why I "allowed" myself to become obese and "sank so low as to need surgery". They can all take a flying - well you know...

I also work in the medical field. In my system, we have "glass" that protects our information from nosy little coworkers. That doesn't stop someone who had a true need to be in your record from gossiping though.  In that light, it just reinforces my stance on being open and honest. 

You are awesome! You make loads of good points! 

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On 4/10/2016 at 4:10 PM, Little bird said:

I too feel the same way. I'm a very private person and I also don't want to hear " oh you're taking the easy way out", because of what I've read , this will be extremely difficult. So,  I'm looking forward to hearing from others. Btw.. I work for the same medical company that will be doing my procedure, just in a different clinic. 

and @Murk and @ShrinkMe

Well, you've seen the diversity of opinions expressed. In a couple of days I will enter an immersive work period - 2 weeks of nothing but work for 16-18 hours a day through the holiday and weekends, and with people who are, shall we say, blunt. Will post how my interactions with them have gone. (In general my posts will become much more infrequent). Honestly I expect - now that I am more than 50 lbs down from January weight, over 40 lbs from day-of-surgery weight - mostly positive things. Since I am not a shrinking violet don't be surprised if I report blunt stuff on my end too. Should be interesting! I guess the best thing I could report is that this is a non-event. Time will tell. 

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I am a little torn with this subject of disclosure, because my weight is so closely tied to my self-esteem and sexuality. I did not tell my coworkers what I had done (I said I was out for surgery on my stomach to correct my reflux) because I did not want the food police on me upon my return. It was hard enough emotionally without comments. I work with 95% women in a medical facility and they are know-it-alls to the nth degree about everyone else's health but their own. They are mostly kind people, just uninformed. I did not want to educate them newly post-op. Now I would be more open to it, but only one person has noticed. HAHAHAHAHA!

I do so agree that with food or alcohol issues, people, whether they are medical professionals or not, see obesity and addiction as a moral issue and not a physiological one with a mental component. I hope I can be someone to help change that when I am further down the road.

I use the term "medical professional" loosely for anyone who would talk disparagingly about a patient. I certainly have had similar thoughts / judgments, but how do I know what got someone to where they're at? That'd really be the pot calling the kettle black. I am also going to throw out there that the helping professions are a magnet for codependents with unresolved issues. Lord knows it's easier to tell someone else what to do than help myself! Not everyone who is a teacher, nurse, social worker, counselor, etc. is avoiding their own pain, but there are A LOT who are. We don't have to be their Patient Zero. Ever.

My son, the blabbermouth, told my brother-in-law. He even said he didn't know why. That was weird. I knew they'd all be talking about it, particularly since I'm the only one in the family with a weight problem of more than 10 - 20 lbs. Ugh. But ultimately it was fine and I don't have to lie to them. I really can eat whatever I want; it just depends on the kind of results I want and how I want to feel going forward.

I say tell or don't tell as you see fit. And to those who violate HIPAA, I say report them. I had to do this more than once with my old HR. It got ugly but it was worth it. No one should have to put up with a hostile, invasive work environment.

Edited by slars04

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To tell or not to tell is such a personal decision. I have heard the argument that you can be open and hopefully inspire change. I totally get that. In the end, however, for me- I have to go with what works for me. Not disclosing works for me at this time. I am open to that changing some day, but for now, mum's the word. I worked in outpatient medicine for many years- plus on the floor. Cluckers gonna cluck, you know? There's always something to cluck about. Annoying but true.  I don't base my decision to not disclose on the cluckers. They're surely clucking about my weight loss as it is! 

You have to do what works for you, personally. If that means shouting from the rooftop, I support you. If that means needing help with a lie, hit me up. I'll figure one out :P

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@Clickin  I've been open and honest about my surgery. I've inspired someone to have the sleeve as well. I really don't care how people feel about why I "allowed" myself to become obese and "sank so low as to need surgery". They can all take a flying - well you know...

LIke @delilas I aspire to your mentality on this issue as I get ready for my own surgery.  I'm not all that anxious about preparing for surgery, packing for surgery, having the surgery.  I know there will continue to be adjustments I need to make behaviorwise as I adapt to the changes but handling the office/'friend' cluckers is on the anxiety list.  And since anxieties are rooted in the future and what may happen out of my control, I'm trying to prepare now by determining if I want to talk around or directly address any comments on weight loss.  Still haven't decided on that one... 

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It was good to login today and see more discussion on this thread that I started over a year ago. I think a lot of people struggle with the issue of whether or not to tell people at work.

So now that I'm 11 months out from a sleeve, I thought I'd offer some feedback to those who are new to the surgery and questioning the same things I did as to whether or not to say anything.

Nobody at work knows about my surgery - including one of my brothers who I work with.  

I eat less and they notice that and so they think I am dieting and that's how I lost the weight. In their minds it all makes perfect sense and so they don't question anything. I can participate in work potlucks and I put a "normal" amount of food on my plate and nibble on a variety then throw out the rest.

Nobody is analyzing my food intake like I had imagined. 

I'm honestly very glad that I didn't tell anyone about my surgery because I feel like I'd be under a different kind of scrutiny had I done so. 

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@Murk thank you for this update! Please keep posting as it is so helpful when folks check back in.

What you say regarding intake scruntiny rings very true for me. And I think @tmcgee said he didn't tell people bc he was tired of being judged for his weight, he didn't now want to be judged on his method of weight loss. (If I credited that statement to the wrong person, I apologize!). Rather than unring a bell (a skill I have yet to master, my current plan is to keep it on the down low.

Maybe down the road when I am a bit more confident, I will tell them all to take a flying leap like our sassy @Clickin:D It will probably feel pretty cathartic!

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I tell everyone so it was someone else. Other than family or close friends, I don't care what anyone else thinks. The only thing anyone needs to remember about telling is TG at you can't Nutella.

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12 hours ago, tmcgee said:

I tell everyone so it was someone else. Other than family or close friends, I don't care what anyone else thinks. The only thing anyone needs to remember about telling is TG at you can't Nutella.

Say what now?

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A quick share on the theme of eating around those not 'in-the-know':  I was at an all day workshop today where teams rotated through tasks to accomplish an overarching goal.  I am newish to the region and one of the few in academia so I consider every moment a networking opportunity.  At lunch it was even more important to sit together and talk/strategize/etc. over the supplied lunch.  Sadly, it was not all pureed in accordance with my post-op diet (can you even imagine going to a buffet lunch and seeing an array of pureed options!!!??).  I remembered what @Murk said " put a "normal" amount of food on my plate and nibble on a variety then throw out the rest."  It goes against the Clean Plate Club but that's exactly what I did (although I nibbled only on a grape tomato and a slice of cucumber) but tossed my napkin on top of the still full plate of penne and continued on with my networking.  It's funny how we can be anxious about something but it ends up working out just fine.  No one called me out (although I had an answer prepared).  No one made a fuss.  And I've never chewed a slice of cucumber so much in my life!!  :P

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I am getting VSG in July and have done A LOT of research on this procedure and I was told to say you had your gallbladder removed.  The procedure has the same recovery time and you have to change your diet after.  This will stop the "nosy" folks.

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7 hours ago, hdbernasek78@yahoo.com said:

I am getting VSG in July and have done A LOT of research on this procedure and I was told to say you had your gallbladder removed.  The procedure has the same recovery time and you have to change your diet after.  This will stop the "nosy" folks.

Personally, I had no issue in sharing my story but can understand those who wish to keep it a private matter.  I have a couple of WLS internet friends who didn't want to tell anyone so just said words along the lines that it was a personal matter that they didn't want to discuss.  

 

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You are not going to be able to keep it secret.   You can when you have the surgery, but not after.  The weight loss will be pretty noticeable.  The eating patterns will be noticeable.  The fatigue will be noticeable.  Let them talk.  Once they see....They will shut up because they don't look nearly as good as you will.

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On 5/16/2019 at 8:04 AM, hdbernasek78@yahoo.com said:

I am getting VSG in July and have done A LOT of research on this procedure and I was told to say you had your gallbladder removed.  The procedure has the same recovery time and you have to change your diet after.  This will stop the "nosy" folks.

I was not ashamed of having surgery so I wasn't willing to lie about it to anyone, however, I wanted privacy. There's a difference between privacy and secrecy so here's how I chose handle it:

I went to my employer shortly before my surgery to request the time off recommended by my surgeon for recovery. I explained that I was having a routine surgical procedure and explained what/how long my physical limitations would be afterward. When pressed for more information regarding the type of surgery, I expressed gratitude for their concerns and assured them the procedure was not life-threatening. When the pressing continued, I explained that I was actually very private about my medical information and preferred not to share more about it. I requested that they respect and keep my privacy by not talking about it with others in the organization. That ended the questions and pivoted the conversation.

Most other people didn't start asking questions until the weight loss was noticeable. I don't know about you but I had to lose quite a bit of weight before people started to notice. In most cases, folks just wanted to know how I did it so they could try it too! I explained that about XX months ago, I got really really serious about getting control of my health. I made some drastic changes to my life and it's paid off. I'd then redirect the conversation and say something like "You seem like you're in great shape. What types of things do you do to keep fit and healthy?". At other times I would say "I've learned one important thing about fitness and weight loss; there's not one single thing that works for every person. Rather than tell people how I did it, I'd rather talk about what types of things they found worked for them in the past." In some isolated cases, I chose to be very candid and forthcoming about my process when the person seemed to be struggling in the same way I had been prior to making the decision to have WLS.

I have a good relationship with my family so I did share with them my decision. I was going to need their support after my WLS so it was important for them to know what I was planning to do. Conversations with them were usually based in love and concern for me. I understand that not everyone has this. If they don't, it's a good idea in my opinion to work with a mental health professional about it. They may be able to help navigate and manage challenging relationships so they don't impede a person's physical and emotional transformation.

Best of luck! I suspect you are well into the process at this point.

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