Over the past few months I have noticed an increasing amount of mentions, opinions, good & bad articles regarding Bariatric Surgery. Being that I am 5 years Post-Op from Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery this is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. There would appear to be more of a negative opinion when it comes to weight loss surgery. That being said; I am here to discuss this issue, because well, it pisses me off and I’m going to let you know about it.
I have been a big fat, all my life. Well, at least since I was 8... or something.
The curly, frizzy hair, jorts, and horizontal lined tank top sure as hell didn't help either...
Though I am blessed to say that I have and had a very close group of girls during my childhood/teenager years that I could always go to, it was nothing short of a nightmare growing up as "the fat ass" in grade school. In the seventh grade I was held down by high schoolers so that another girl repeatedly punched me in the head, only to end up going to the hospital. I remember running home from school nearly Every. Single. Day. to wash my hair before my mom got home. Why? Because it was dripping with green slimy phlegm from kids spitting in my hair the entire way home on the bus. And I just didn’t want momma to worry about me.
In school nobody knew me, but that didn't stop them from referring to me by the most genuine and heartwarming nicknames known to mankind. "Beastly." "Tub-a-lard." "Shovel Face." "Fatty." The word "Heffer" still makes me cringe to this day. High school was murder. I didn't fit in, except with my group of girls, which is alllll that I ever needed... but its not like we were in every class together. We could have "each other's back" at lunch, but that was about it. Thankfully I was accepted into an accelerated high school program in my junior year. Than I was able to leave the hell hole and went to a school where there were other oddballs, fatties, nerds, and geeks just like me. I left that school, and didn't look back. I still have a few individuals that I like to stay in contact with (that are outside my group of amazing girls) that went to that high school, but that’s it.
The lessons of grade school do stick with people for years and years. I am 29 years old and am STILL battling at times to find my voice and stick up for myself. I hate standing out. I am terrified of ridicule, and god forbid if I am in any confrontation. I will cry, at the drop of a hat. Even if it is over the dumbest shit possible. I am scared to death when it comes to knowing other people's opinions about me. I bend & break to avoid any negative atmosphere because that is what I was surrounded in for 8 hours straight every day at school.
I went off to Kentucky for college after high school. Although one of the reasons for leaving college was certainly due to the fact that they messed up my transfer royally (to the tune of 10k in one semester,) it was mainly due to the fact that I couldn't go out and meet people. Thank God for my roommate Bethany. If it wasn't for the fact that she was awesome and sweet.. I probably would have not unpacked.
I was fucking terrified of being hurt, over and over.
Because I am obsessed with food and at that time lacked self-control, I became obese. In our culture obesity has become the bane of existence. You are the (fat) butt of every joke. You are scrutinized by family, friends and strangers for every morsel of food you put in your mouth. Sometimes intentional, other times meant out of love. (Still sucked like hell even if it was out of love.) At times I would become bitter and eat out of spite. I think Fat Bastard said it best...
I left college and came home. Then I went to work in a kitchen. Because, hey, we know that I am qualified for that! And well... nom nom nom! 1 lb. after the next came along. I'd diet. I joined the gym, weight watchers and all of that. Yes, they did work! They absolutely worked. I cannot tell you how many times I would lose 20-35 lbs. But one mishap with a cookie and I’d gain 40 lbs. back. My weight came on easily. I would yo-yo like a champ when it came to my weight.
I "seemed" happy with myself, but on the inside I was screaming.
A short time later after returning home I started dating my Josh. This man is absolutely amazing. At the start there were many individuals that were skeptical of our relationship. Why? Josh was handsome, immensely charming, lean and mean... and a ladies' man. What was I?
Chunky with extra gravy.
I mean, why would he date me?! He could do better! People thought that he was taking advantage of me. Why else would he be there unless I was of any benefit? Truly, Josh came with a lot of baggage and had some serious demons in his closet. However it is in my opinion that the right person for you is the person that has demons that play nicely with yours.
It took a long time to fight off the negative perception of our relationship. But frankly it was the first time that I didn't care what anyone else "thought was going on." I knew he loved me from the start. If he wanted "better" he would have and could have got it.
True story: He has been hit on MANY times right in front of me. There was this one time (at band camp) at a restaurant that the waitress and another waitress kept coming to us and asking "what the big date" was about. "I mean, are you friends? Or is it a special occasion? What's going on here?"
Bitch. We sleep together. Naked. Go somewhere.
When I had made the decision to have bariatric surgery, there were many individuals that asked if I "was doing it for Josh?" Nope. I did it because I was miserable, lacked confidence and was gaining weight rapidly. Josh was with me as I gained almost 80 lbs. Trust me; if he wanted to pick up anchor and run off he would have a long, long time ago. Not once did he feel ashamed that I was a big girl that was getting bigger. He told me that he loved me every single day. I felt (and still do) the same love he had for me since the first day we met. He has loved me at all stages of fat: Fat, Fatter, and Fattest.
Truth be told, when I told Josh that I was going to have surgery he immediately stopped everything that he was doing, sat my ass down and straight up asked "are you doing this for me?" I said "no," that I was "doing it for myself. Because I’m done with being sad and I want to be the happiest for me... which in turn would make our relationship that much more awesome." His answer: "Good. If you said that you were doing it for me than I would tell you to not have the surgery."
Two weeks later, along with my mother, he was with me at my first consultation appointment at a Bariatric Clinic.
Okay... maybe I wanted it because Chloe wasn't growing fast enough for me to hide behind.
I started the process that took almost a year: monthly appointments along with therapy sessions and insurance hoop jumping. My doctors, family, friends and I would ask all of the time "are you sure you want to do this?"
I even had another “friend” that straight up wrote me a letter letting me know that I was a disappointment to her. That, I was a coward. “Why would you do that to your body? It is NOT natural. You just need to stop being lazy and work out!”
It's not that I couldn't lose the weight. I know that I had the ability. Hell I had lost a lot of weight, multiple times. The problem I was experiencing was that I would gain it back... so quickly. This starts the vicious cycle of depression. Than eating because you are depressed. Than being depressed because you just ate that.
I worked out! I wrote down everything that touched these puffy pink lips. I was in karate for years
! My weight went up and down up and down.
I was tired of fighting, struggling, and crying.
I never mentioned to people that another reason that I struggled to lose weight is because I have PCOS. (Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) It’s a hormone imbalance that loves to tamper with your hunger pangs. I also never told people that if I didn’t lose weight, according to my MD, that being morbidly obese with PCOS I might as well not plan to have children. I want kids. I have two beautiful children in my life now. But, i want to know what it feels like to carry a little critter in my belly for 9 months. There is still a possibility that might not happen. Though I am sure even if I had laid this out for people I would still get scrutinized.
December 21st, 2009 was my surgery day. That surgery was intense. In-fucking-tense. I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a MACK truck. The surgery was 5 hours long. Later, I woke up in my room where I got to see my 'rents, and my Joshy. 2 hours later the 80 year old nurse's assistant from crotchety hell was waking me up to "go for a walk." I hated her but… I walked down the hall. I had to sit down at the very end of the hallway because I felt like I was going to pass out/vomit/die. Once back in my room my nurse was happily waiting with a muscle relaxer syringe full of godliness that she lovingly called "Nap time." "Nap time” and I became fast friends. It was called "Nap time" because within 3 minutes of it being administered, I was out cold.
Only to be woken 2 hours later by the crotchety-nurse’s-assistant-from-hell to go on a walk.
I was off of work for 3 glorious weeks. Sippin' my chocolate-y goodness protein shakes which went from "It tastes like okay-sugary-chalk," quickly to "if I had to imagine what ass tasted like, I'd guess this."
In my first month post-op I "only" lost 4 lbs. I almost lost my mind... "Did the surgery not work?"
Next month; I lost 25.
The next 10 months were the greatest “let-me-try-on-these-pants" months ever! One week a pair of pants would be way too small. 2 weeks later even wearing a belt with them resembled the tie around a garbage bag. Josh would laugh and smile and hug me whenever I would cry. I was crying simply because I was a 'size smaller."
I started to smile more. I was finishing up school and being confident at my job interviews. I was much happier. I worked out and I watched what I ate religiously.I started letting people know when they sucked.
I had lost over 100 lbs...
So there is this stigma that Bariatric Surgery is "the short way" or the "coward’s way." It's a sign of weakness & laziness. I’m sorry, that's nothing short of bullshit.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone should try to lose weight the "good ol'fashion way." Everyone has the ability to lose weight this way too. Just remember: nobody has the same struggle.
For me, it wasn't a quick fix. My stomach pouch is now my tool. Yes, I have lost an incredible amount of weight because of Bariatric Surgery. But, I still need to work out, watch what I eat and be mindful about my moods and the triggers to the want/need of eating a whole pecan pie. I’m still a fat kid at heart. My Bariatric Pouch is now the tool I use to help me live a healthier life. I have my good days, and my bad days... but I no longer "rebound" into an abyss of depression and Oreo cookies. It has given me the control that I absolutely needed to change my life for the better. I know in my heart that if I did not have Bariatric Surgery, I would easily have been 400 lbs. by now.
Since my surgery I’ve got a much .. much better job that allows a lot of potential. I’ve started my own business. I can ride rollercoasters at Cedar Point again! (I did experience the embarrassment of not being able to fit on a ride before.)
I got married... to my Joshy... the man that has loved me fully since the very beginning, while proudly wearing a size 14 wedding dress. (Not a size 28 that I used to wear.)
I smile more.. a lot more. I go out more. I spend more time... just being happy.
No. I did not lose weight "the natural way." I made a decision that was "naturally" the best thing for me. I did -not- take the quick way out. After enduring years of "Maybe it’s a thyroid problem?" tests, grade school torture, asshole adults, ridicule and "health tips" from skinny bitches that never-ever experienced the misery that is morbid obesity, I decided not to let life suck anymore.
Bariatric surgery is not a "weak person's way out."
I think it takes a strong individual to say that they need the help, and an even stronger individual to accept the help they need.
To the friends, family and strangers that supported me in and on this journey, God bless you. I love you. You are, the shit.
So, to those critics regarding weight loss surgery:
Screw you. I am a million times happier in my life, my confidence, my career, my marriage and my personal relationships. To try and rain on my parade simply makes you the asshole. Don’t you cut down or make someone feel inferior if they make the same decision. You do not wear their shoes. You know what is best for you and not anyone else.
If you have a problem with bariatric surgery; then don't have it.
Go eat a cookie. (And get me one too.) Dickhead.
With love and hostility,