How do you talk to the people in your life about this stuff? All this sticky, uncomfortableness that’s under the surface about the Bypass surgery or weight in general. If you’re like me and slightly prickly (understatement!) about it all, they don’t ask you. They may, in fact, contemplate moving to another state so they won’t have to. This should help. Send them here. Have them read and maybe it will help them understand and also help you start to share some of the dark with your people.
Surgery is done so now comes the miracle, right? That’s what I thought anyway. The surgeon came in to see me later that same day to see how I was doing. I took one look at him and started bawling my eyes out, thanking him and saying how now it was possible now for me to be normal. The slightly hysterical tone to my thank you may have had something to do with the lovely morphine pump next to my bed, but the sentiment was for real. I truly believed that because there was no doubt that I would lose weight that would make me normal. That lovely golden tinted world where I could (finally!) walk into a room and just be there. NOT walk into a room and have people look at the door way, look me up and down and look away quickly as if they had seen something they shouldn’t – or worse, look me up and down, and quickly look to the person next to them with a smug, superior smirk. I figured if I could be unremarkable because I was a normal size that would be about as close to heaven as I could get.
I was released from the hospital after three days which remain a blur due to the morphine bubble I was in. My diet post op was like many out there and each doctor has their own nutritionist (or they should!). I was allowed protein shakes and water and had various meds to take, which had to be crushed up and put into the shake or water. Let me just say EEWW! I wasn’t feeling very hungry which was awesome, but I almost burst into tears on my first night back over….wait for it….toast! Toast!! How silly is that? My mother, who was staying with us to help out that first week, made herself some peanut butter toast and the smell….Well let’s just say that it really brought home to me what I had willingly done to my body. Never again would I be able to just eat something without thinking about it. It would be months before I was even able to TRY to have some kind of bread and I was told pre-op that most people are unable to eat bread easily or at all after the surgery. FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! Sound like the easy way out to you?
I was very lucky in that I had no physical complications from the surgery until about a year out. There are major complications possible and they are no joke. According to the Mayo Clinic just a few of the major ones are: blood clots, leaks in the GI system, infection, bowel obstruction, gallstones, hernias, low blood sugar, malnutrition, ulcers and vomiting. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/basics/risks/prc-20019138) I ended up with gallstones and I can tell you I’ve never had such pain in my life! I had my gallbladder removed and all’s well. We will talk more about the malnutrition and torture that is Dumping Syndrome in another post. For now, suffice it to say that I was lucky. A lot of people aren’t. Easy way out, huh?
Everything I’ve just gone over for you guys is serious stuff, but to me it’s not even the scariest part of that honeymoon year (up to two years for some). For me it was the actual weight coming off. Ok! Ok! I can hear you saying, “I call BS! It’s what you wanted!! What you risked your life for!” And that is all true. It was one of the most exhilarating rides of my life to see the weight come off. To realize that when I only have one of them, my chin is actually a bit pointy, and that no, I am not really “big boned” at all! If fact, when they are slim, my wrists and ankles seem a bit delicate to me. All of the wonderful clichés you hear about happened to me. Shopping was fun, I could tie my shoes without gasping for air and turning bright red from bending over. Certain intimate portions of my relationship with my husband improved a hundred fold (hey! I said we would talk about it ALL didn’t I?) and I could play with my son at the playground or on the floor with his trains. But…
But as much as I loved seeing myself in the mirror looking like someone else, it was also creepy and scary in a weird way. I mean, it was me, no doubt, but at the same time I had never seen that face before – ever. I starting putting on weight at puberty, so I had never seen what I should actually look like as an adult. I told myself it was a good thing to see me but not actually recognize that person. It’s what I wanted all along. But…
But I expected things of that person that she was not equipped to do and I didn’t give her any time to adjust. Since the weight had come off, all those other problems should be gone too. I know it sounds childish, and I knew in my head that all my other problems weren’t caused by my weight. I had been telling myself that the reason I wasn’t successful in some career was because I was too fat to try. My weight blocked and protected me from a harsh world. The reasons for my failings always somehow came back to the fat on my body. Dreams I wanted to pursue I never really started at because ultimately I felt if I couldn’t even control/conquer and be at peace with my own body, then how would I ever do what’s necessary to achieve anything great in this world? So when the weight came off and all of a sudden I was faced with the fact that some of my problems came from the weight, but in fact, MOST did not. So what was my new excuse? Shedding all that weight brought me face to face with the fact that I didn’t really know myself, what I was capable of or what I really wanted out of life. None of which has a whole lot to do with the pounds I put on my body. I think, looking back now, that those pounds were a perfect way for me to hide all that. Maybe people that lose the weight naturally and in a slower fashion have a chance to deal with those issues as they go. But I was terrified. So given that state of mind, what happens when crisis hits as it so often does. Someone dies, or a marriage falls apart, illness strikes, the “problem child” has even more problems? Easy way out? Really?
I hope this helps and I also hope it’s something maybe you can refer people to when you have a hard time trying to explain that losing all that weight can be both Heaven and Hell at the same time. Let me know what you think! How did it go for you? Tell me it all and maybe we can shed (lol – no pun intended) some light on this for friends and family and even curious bystanders. More importantly, we can start to talk about what happens when you have gained some (or all) back and still have to live life. What do you do, how do you not descend into a black hole, or if you do, how do you climb back out? Your black hole may look vastly different than mine, but I bet it’s covered with the same embarrassment and shame that makes it hard to gain a foot hold. Let’s start climbing.