Persephone

The stigma of WLS

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I went to my local grocery store to stock up on my new metromint water obsession and while waiting in the check-out line I saw the new half-thier-size People magazine edition. It had always inspired me before surgery until I failed about a month later.

I decided to buy it but when I lifted it from the rack the words NO SURGERY offended me and I ended up not buying it.

This seems to be a current theme running through the media right now. Morning talk shows seem to be celebrating the do it yourself(ers) I know many celebrities have had the surgery and thier stories differ. From Star Jones who did not want to admit to having surgery to the lovely Carnie Wilson who actually had her operation filmed (wls champion!)

I'm not taking anything away from those who have lost weight without surgery. It's hard work. And they deserve kudos for thier success! However it has never worked for me. I was lucky if I lost 6 lbs a month doing it by myself and that was on a GOOD month. I NEEDED surgery. I needed an addtional tool. I don't feel that any success I acheive should be downplayed. I don't want to be looked upon as a "cheater" and that's how I feel wls is portrayed right now.

Why is there such a stigma attached to having surgery?

How does it affect you or not affect you in your daily life?

How do you feel others who have not walked in your shoes perceive you as a result?

**discuss**

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Why is there such a stigma attached to having surgery?

How does it affect you or not affect you in your daily life?

How do you feel others who have not walked in your shoes perceive you as a result?

i would have to say people have such misconception of this surgery even larger people its amazing how ignorant some can be.

Doesnt affect me, i proudly share my testimony of my WLS.

Dont care how they perceive me really. walk a mile in my shoes :)

great topic!

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I too feel there is a stigma. I think in my own mind I consider myself a failure for not being able to lose weight without the surgery. I impose that stigma on myself daily.

I have chosen not to share that I had surgery. I feel very deceptive each time someone asks what I am doing, etc. I don't ever lie but I am not telling the whole truth. I guess by not sharing the whole truth, I perpetuate that stigma to a certain extent.

I do think most people see surgery as the easy way out. They don't realize that even with the surgery, good choices still have to be made.

I am just glad it is what is working for me.

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Yes, I hate it when I hear people talking about people who lost their weight "the old fashion way" with diet and exercise...and how they didn't "take the easy way out by having surgery". It infuriates me. Even after surgery we still have to watch what we eat and exercise...and that surgery was far from easy! It was very painful, I lost 2.5 months of work..I had to have another surgery 2 weeks after the first one for an obstruction....I was in pain and vomiting things that no-one can imagine unless they've been through it...I had to be admitted again for no breath sounds coming from my left lung...and the right lung had some fluid as well. It was very painful...had to be on many meds, had to have a picc line put in twice in 2 weeks...had to have oxygen at home for over a month...breathing treatments every 4 hours, etc. etc. I went to the gym almost every night after work and did an aqua fit class so that I could build my stamina and get my lungs working at full capacity again. Even after all that, I still have scarring on that left lung...It was soooooo far from the easy way out I can't even begin to describe it! It was the hardest thing I've ever been through...not to mention the worry and stress it caused my husband and family. I guess it's easy for people to sit back and judge when they haven't gone through it...but we know the truth....and that's all that matters. Let them say what they will. ;)

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Thanks for all of the comments!

I've been somewhat isolated because it's not time to go back to work yet and I guess I'm trying to build some defenses for when I have to face the real world again.

I'll most likely go the way of telling more people then not and trying to correct any misconceptions. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I cry easy but I smile easy as well. I'm not good at keeping secrets. I'm an open book. A lot of my co-workers knew about the surgery and I'm sure those who don't will ask. I packed up my desk as if I was leaving.:P so there were questions before I even began disablity.

Elaine,

I am so sorry about what you had to go through! I know theres another thread asking this same question but would you do it again?

"and everything I do is judged and they mostly get it wrong but oh well cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged and the woman who lives in there can tell the truth from the stuff they say she looks me in the eye 'would you prefer the easy way? ok then don't cry" Ani D

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IWhy is there such a stigma attached to having surgery?

How does it affect you or not affect you in your daily life?

How do you feel others who have not walked in your shoes perceive you as a result?

**discuss**

I could care less what others thing. Some say I have took the easy way out. I tell them if a ten day in the hospital with a central line in is a easy way then yea I took the easy way.

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I agree there is a stigma....and its definitely irritating. I saw the same magazine and thought the same thing!!

However, I try not to worry about the world's perception, and focus on what I am doing for myself. I feel like it is NOT the easy way out (4 weeks with a stricture, vomitting, nausea...and of course the major surgery to begin with)..but let people think what they may...its working for me right now, and that's all I know. So easy or not...its working.

I know Star Jones did not tell everyone how she lost the weight...and later fessed up...we actually had a thread on that before...I can understand why she did that...I hate having everyone judge me...and watch what I am doing...I am private in that way...and just because she was a celebrity, I don't think it was her responsibility to tell anyone why or how she did what she did. Maybe it took her a while to come to peace with what she did...or just to feel comfortable enough with what she did to tell people....I have told very few people myself and plan to keep it that way.

Maybe its because there IS a stigma...maybe its because I don't want to hear everyone's opinion on what I am doing....I just want to become healthy...and I don't want everyone telling me how to do it or watching me do it.

We don't know what's going on with those "without surgery" losses...maybe its the first time they tried to lose weight!!! If they can do it without surgery...then more power to them...I know I tried for years..and couldn't...so this was my solution. As long as we're healthier in the end...who CARES how we did it! If I could take a pill and it made me healthy and thin...I'd do it in a heart beat...most people would! So would that be wrong? No. Too bad there's no such thing.

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I wish there was a pill.:) That would be the easy way out.

I didn't mean to rag on Star Jones. I can only imagine having the camera on me everyday while I was progressing through my weight loss. That would be torture. No matter how she did it it wouldn't be easy for her.

I guess I would rather have the stigma of wls rather then the stigma of being overweight.

Fat discrimination pisses me off. I can't believe it is so tolerated in our society.

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I think the average person thinks we are a group of mutants. Actually the term is "transmorph". Our change is dramatic, but occurs at a slower rate, unlike a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly, the change is far more dramatic and much quicker.

I also believe the bad perception that we are sadomasochists, because we endure the pain of surgery and some of us endure the pain of plastic surgery.

But above all I believe the stigma derives from the belief that we have an unfair or more like it an "unnatural" advantage to weightloss. Remember, weightloss is a billion dollar business, and most of it doesn't work or last.

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Excellent point Jake!

You almost can always get to the bottom of things if you follow the money trail.

And I'm down with being a transmorph. My kiddo will relate that word to transformers and that alone will make me a weight loss hero in his eyes lol, and really his is one of the only opinions that matter.

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You know - 95% of all diets fail. If they let everyone know that, think of how much money they'd lose. How would they sell those damn magazines?? Of course those diets work if you can maintain them - but very very few can - and how lucky for the industry! They can keep selling!$$$$

I had a BMI of 50.1, heading toward diabetes, heart disease, and early death.

I have lost 125 of the 153 pounds I plan to lose, I teach exercise classes now, I am entering competitive bike racing in a few months....I changed my life.

All I can say to those who have judgements about this surgery?? You can kiss my stigmatized @*# folks!!! I am there! I made it happen with the help of one small tool and I am going to strut my ever shrinking @*# past everyone who would judge my decision to save my own life!!

Don't you give it another thought! People talk to hear themselves talk and to tell themselves that they're okay. (including me of course) but the point is, the only person you need to impress is YOU!

So you go ahead and buy that mag and realize that 5 years from now, there is only a 5% chance that any of those people will have maintained that loss. I am sorry for them. Someday there will be a pill, or a gene therapy to eliminate obesity - but my health and my groove couldn't wait.

You go girl - and don't look back!

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What an encouragment you are Gina.

I'm only one month post op so I'm in the baby stages of this journey. I know that I will gain more confidence as I roll along this road. For now can you send me a bottle of your courage mixed with a little of that sassy attutide?;)

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I think there is only a stigma attached if you let it stick in the first place. I, for one, feel no shame in admitting I had WLS and will tell anybody that asks. So what if I chose a surgical route to regain my health - thank God is all I can say. I didn't have surgery so I looked like a movie star, didn't have it because it was the 'in' thing - I did it to help sort out my diabetes and high BP and I would do it again even with all the known risks.

It was never an 'quick fix' as it is so often referred to - boy that drives me mad.:mad: Anyhow we all have our reasons for doing what we do and at the end of the day the only person we need to justify that with is ourselvses. Bugger everybody else and their views.

T xxx :)

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What an encouragment you are Gina.

I'm only one month post op so I'm in the baby stages of this journey. I know that I will gain more confidence as I roll along this road. For now can you send me a bottle of your courage mixed with a little of that sassy attutide?;)

You have all you need girlfriend! I insist there is almost no difference between those who succeed wildly and those who fail. We all have the voices in our head - they tell us we're too old, to heavy, too out of shape, to this, too that - whatever. There are voices in our head that would be happy if we died later this afternoon - the trick is to hear them, and ignore them.

Do you think when I typed out that post there wasn't a voice in my head telling me I'm full of it? There was - but I ignored it and managed to type out the truth. Thats it. You got it all in there - ignore the crap - grab on to your power with both hands. You have done something courageous to turn your life around - for you and your son. All thats left to do is fly.

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Very interesting point Persephore.

There are 2 kind of reactions from friends/Medical Community:

- From my "obese /overweight" friends: not really good reaction, they do not understand, and if I talk about the complications, it seems they say " you chose them"

- From the very few "normal" friends they know: excellent reactions, and say that it was the best decison

From physicians/doctors:

- If they do not deal with the WSL, i do not feel there is a lot of understand always, there I feel being stigmated.

Note I have not said but to few friends, and have regretted to having said it to my...overweighted friends.

Good subjet I will follow the answers.

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lets do something about it! If you feel like your story should be told, and try to educate the ignorant and shed light on the stigma, write people and send in your picks. Tell them your story, and the success YOU had at losing the weight too, and then gaining it, and then losing it, etc. Losing weight and keeping it off is a HUGE accomplishment, we shouldnt be bitter cuz we didnt do as well as they did. Hearing, "they did it without surgery" is a BIG DEAL! Its not like they feature pople who lost 20, they feature those who lose 75 or more and keep it off for years. For alot of people WLS isnt the answer, so Im glad there are articles that inspire people to lose weight without surgery. If I could have done it I would have.. well I did but failed miserly. All this malabsorption, dumping, food problems, barfing came at a huge price, I wouldnt encourage anyone to do it unless, like in our cases it was LIFE SAVING! I could eith er take all of the above problems associated with losing weight and keepin it off, or held onto diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, urinisis, etc.....

I think perhaps I will write People and tell them how humiliating it was to be a consistant dieting failure to be ale to lose weight and keep it off for the first time in my life! Anyone feel like joining me?

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I think there is only a stigma attached if you let it stick in the first place. I, for one, feel no shame in admitting I had WLS and will tell anybody that asks. So what if I chose a surgical route to regain my health - thank God is all I can say. I didn't have surgery so I looked like a movie star, didn't have it because it was the 'in' thing - I did it to help sort out my diabetes and high BP and I would do it again even with all the known risks.

It was never an 'quick fix' as it is so often referred to - boy that drives me mad.:mad: Anyhow we all have our reasons for doing what we do and at the end of the day the only person we need to justify that with is ourselvses. Bugger everybody else and their views.

T xxx :)

Amen, well said.

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lets do something about it! If you feel like your story should be told, and try to educate the ignorant and shed light on the stigma, write people and send in your picks. Tell them your story, and the success YOU had at losing the weight too, and then gaining it, and then losing it, etc. Losing weight and keeping it off is a HUGE accomplishment, we shouldnt be bitter cuz we didnt do as well as they did. Hearing, "they did it without surgery" is a BIG DEAL! Its not like they feature pople who lost 20, they feature those who lose 75 or more and keep it off for years. For alot of people WLS isnt the answer, so Im glad there are articles that inspire people to lose weight without surgery. If I could have done it I would have.. well I did but failed miserly. All this malabsorption, dumping, food problems, barfing came at a huge price, I wouldnt encourage anyone to do it unless, like in our cases it was LIFE SAVING! I could eith er take all of the above problems associated with losing weight and keepin it off, or held onto diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, urinisis, etc.....

I think perhaps I will write People and tell them how humiliating it was to be a consistant dieting failure to be ale to lose weight and keep it off for the first time in my life! Anyone feel like joining me?

Bridget,

This is a brillant suggestion and beautiful solution.

I'm all for jumping on board. One letter to the editor coming right up.

Right now, I don't have the success story that they are looking for but watch out next half thier size issue!

I'm gonna pull some material from all the success/failure info I had to compile for my surgeon.

Taking action is always better then sitting back, complaining, and doing nothing.

Thanks for posting that.:D

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It's not a perfect world, and we can only control our own part of it, to a certain extent.

That imperfect world can say whatever it wants about me, about RNY, about stigmas. I could care less. I am too busy enjoying my accomplishments, being proud of myself, wearing my lovely size 6 clothes, feeling better than I did when I was 25, and knowing that I know how to maintain my healthy body.

I don't need approval, I need good health and a quality life. The world will always be imperfect and probably won't approve, but I have my life back, and THAT'S what I care about.

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Well here's my 2 cents...I also saw the magazine and picked it up because I buy it every year to get the weight loss inspiration. I read "no surgery" and put it back and knew it wasn't for me this year. My surgery is scheduled for the 28th and amongst other feelings, I'm relieved!!!

Relieved that for the first time in over 20 years I'm not caught up in the New Year's weight loss hype. Even Oprah is again advertising her yearly Bob Greene "we're going to lose it for good" show. I'm relieved that I'm not trying to figure out what to do to jumpstart my weight loss. Relieved I'm not hating myself because of the holiday weight gain. I know the surgery is the tool, not the solution. But I'm still relieved there's help for me...after trying everything else.

Gina hit the nail on the head with her stats. I'd like People (or whoever) to showcase these same individuals 5 years from now. Many would be like I've always been. In the sad up/down cycle of weight issues...with the self promise of a new year of weight loss.

Be Blessed!

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There is stigma attached to everything these days.... Mental illness, special education classes, the list goes on... Life is too short to worry about what other people are saying. You did what you did for YOU and NO ONE else! Who cares what others think???!! If you are happy, that is all that matters!

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In my honest opinion weight loss is weight loss. As long as you are healthy and happier thats really all that matters.

People shouldn't discredit those who did it without surgery thats a huge deal and takes alot of hard work. The same can be said for those with surgery. The real truth is results are results. If you needed to have a extra hand helping you change your habits and exercise more to get there so I look down on you for that? hell no. You impowered yourself to do what you knew you needed. In my mind there is no stronger person than that.

I'm one of those people that might stand more controvisal cause for me its not about surgery or not surgery or who did what/when/where/how. Its about results. Getting to goal or getting that mountain hike, or getting into those size 4 jeans. Whatever the hell your goal is reaching it is what gets my respect.

I've seen people with the surgery fail just as badly as those without it. What people should take away from that is there is no magic pill, just like there is no magic surgery. No one thing is going to get you to where you need to be. It takes a shitload of work on both ends.

Quite frankly I could care less if you had lap/or GBS surgery to help you do it. As long as you do it period and to those who would shun results gained from the added initial benefits of WLS then I might have to say "walk a mile in someone elses shoes". Its very easy to be judgemental towards someone when you don't know what all they go through.

Alot of people just have no clue the type of struggle you have with life at 400lbs. Life is hard enough as it is much less when you are carrying about two of you. Maybe people should be pointing fingers less and working out more.

just my 2cents(ex fat guy 445lbs)

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I've only had one person say, "you took the easy way out" and I simply replied-"oh yea, what's working for you?" (obviously nothing) LOL-end of conversation.

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I have one comment about the People magazine article - the editor of the magazine was being interviewed by Meredith Vierra about the issue and the editor (she has an odd name which I don't remember) said that the people in the magazine didn't CHEAT and have surgery, they lost it the right way .. . well, MY GIRL MEREDITH jumped all on her and said that surgery isn't cheating and some people NEED the surgery . . . and on. It was wonderful, when the piece was supposed to be pure puff, and Meredith ended up defending WLS.

Personally, I hate it when people say comments like "they did it the right way" etc. I stand up for WLS as much as I can. I do watch the Biggest Loser and read the Half their size mags . . . it does inspire me. But, I also know that successful stories of WLS inspire me just the same.

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While I totally agree that it is annoying when people say or infer that we took the easy way out, on the other hand, the public is not nearly as informed as we are, and most people think that what we are about to do, or are doing, or have done, is very "iffy" and very experimental.

I think we have an opportunity to teach people by being shining examples of the value of wls.

And good for Meredith Viera!!!

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