There’s a lot of focus on body positivity, eating healthy, and living better (whatever that might mean) going around these days. I suppose it’s nothing new, but with the Internet and social media, it’s definitely more wide spread than for just those targeting overweight people. I thought I’d share my story about having weight loss surgery and what I learned from it.
So I grew up heavy. I was heavy as a kid, all through high school, college and beyond. Yes, my weight fluctuated through the years and I would have some mild success with a new diet or something like that. But never a major weight loss and certainly it never lasted long.
My mom wasn’t heavy growing up and in fact, she used to run track and was a beauty queen (love seeing those pictures). But as I grew up, she would struggle with her weight too and tried to make our “diets” not be the worst thing in the world. I mean, who wants to restrict their child from what they want to eat? I remember having grapefruit, toasted bagels with a little margarine instead of butter or cream cheese, lots of fruit, etc. She tried. And I’m not judging. At the end of it all, I kept the weight on long after I was old enough to know exactly what I was doing so it’s only my fault.
I can look back now and see that I was suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) from a pretty early age. I had a lot of the classic signs like early puberty, body hair, early & difficult periods, irregular periods, and as I got older, thinning hair and sugar trouble. But they weren’t talking about PCOS then, at least, not when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. I eventually went on a birth control pill which made life certainly easier, though my weight would only hold steady or increase after that.
Eventually, I would discover PCOS and how not only was I diagnosed with it, but also my mother and most of my sisters. Now, not all of them are heavy, not all of them have issues with their hair. But all of us have trouble with periods, extra body hair, and even how our body regulates sugar intake. And it does appear to be genetic, so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on as we have children.
Okay, so I find out I have PCOS, I’m on birth control which helps regulates my periods and hormones a bit, but I’m still a big girl. I don’t mean overweight, but I mean large. At my largest weighed amount, I was at 435 pounds. To give you a little more insight, I’m 5’6″ tall and a large build across the shoulders. There was no hiding I was morbidly obese and I felt awful about myself. I also had a lot of pain just moving around.
I got through college and graduated in the mid-2000s (partied too much the first time around and had to go back as an adult, paying my own way)! I went to work immediately for an international company and as part of my health insurance package, I could now go talk to a doctor about weight loss and options.
Funny enough, after I told my mom about the surgeon I met with, she met him and started her own weight loss journey!!
I talked with the surgeon, Dr. Tom, about my options. We talked about a medical plan diet, the band (inflatable band that makes you feel full) and the Gastric Bypass (roux-en-y) surgery. At my weight and dealing with PCOS, the bypass was the only way to go. Now his office had required educational classes every patient had to go through. So not only did I see the doctor, but I also met with a nutritionist, a psychologist, as well as attended group education classes led by his staff as well as past patients who could answer questions for us. And we watched both a band & roux-en-y procedures on the computer to have a greater understanding of what we were signing up for!
This surgery reduces the size of your upper stomach to a small pouch about the size of an egg. The surgeon does this by stapling off the upper section of the stomach. This reduces the amount of food you can eat. The surgeon then attaches this pouch directly to part of the small intestine called the Roux limb. This forms a “Y” shape. The food you eat then bypasses the rest of the stomach and the upper part of your small intestine. This reduces the amount of fat and calories you absorb from the foods you eat. It also reduces the amount of vitamins and minerals you absorb from food. – Johns Hopkins Medicine
I was finally cleared with my insurance and went through all the steps and pre-tests. I had my Gastric Bypass surgery in February 2007. I weighed in at 430 the morning of surgery, and I was taking blood pressure medicine. My surgery was done with the laparoscope so I had very small incisions in various places around my stomach. Following my surgeon’s orders, the nurses on the hospital floor had me out of the bed and sitting in a chair within 4 hours after recovery. Piece of cake because the hospital bed was awful!! I would experience it again for childbirth, but that’s another story.
I hated that bed so much, I begged the nurse to let me walk the halls. She asked Dr. Tom and he was surprised but said fine, to go at my own pace. I firmly believe the walking is why I was released after a single night’s stay, instead of the average 2-3 nights.
11 days post surgery, I would weigh in at 399 pounds. Yep, I lost 31 pounds in 11 days. You couldn’t tell of course…losing 11 pounds when you weigh over 400 isn’t exactly earth shattering! But it was a start.
Over the following months, I would flatten out and lose another 150 pounds. For my wedding in May 2008, I weighed about 240 pounds. My lowest recorded weight was around December of that same year after I got pregnant and had awful morning sickness (morning, evening, middle of the night).
It’s now March of 2017 and my weight has slowly crept back up. I’m still under 300 pounds but I feel that number on the scale a lot more than I used to. To sum this all up, would I have weight loss surgery again?
Are there little things I wish I had known to watch for? Definitely.
Do I regret having weight loss surgery? Not at all. Besides, if it wasn’t for me meeting with Dr. Tom, telling my mom, who attended her required classes and met a man she would call and tell me ALL about who I would wind up marrying, I wouldn’t be a wife of a fellow gastric bypass patient for 9 years and a mother to an awesome kid!