Mother figure
Thursday, August 31, 2006
One of the things that has been floating around in my head (and causing more than a little emotional distress) is how I'm going to tell people that I'm having the surgery. My husband is the one I talk to the most, of course. He's been fantastic about it...supportive yet concerned, totally willing to come to the informational seminars with me next month, already helping me find the humor in amongst the scary (like when I pointed out that I would probably lose some hair, he asked if we were going to have to do wig shopping) and listening endlessly to my random commentary as I spend an evening reading profile after profile on Obesity Help.

And I've told one of my closest friends, mostly because A) she's thought about it herself and B) her mother had the surgery 10 years ago so I'm going to be using her as one of my fonts of information. She's been really supportive too, and I know that she'll be there to hold my hand as needed. And I'm going to tell a couple of my other close friends that I know will be cheerleaders for me, especially my best friend. She's been there for me for over 20 years, she'll be there for me now.

But when I think about telling my mom...oh, my. Don't get me wrong, my mother is awesome. Everyone loves my mom, no one more than I do. We're very close, and I'm lucky enough to count her as a friend now that I'm an adult. And she never let me feel guilty about being overweight and in fact helped me end up with a rather well developed level of self confidence. My mother has been severely overweight and/or morbidly obese for her entire life. She suffered through diet after diet as a child, getting mixed messages to be thin but to always eat everything on her plate, and she did her best to make sure I never received those same mixed messages, but she gave me a whole set of my own.

I had to eat my vegetables, always...but I could eat them slathered in mayonnaise.

I couldn't have kid's cereals like Fruit Loops...but it was okay for me to dump sugar on my Raisin Bran.

And portion control? What's portion control?

I watch the way my mom eats now and I see myself in her. A mindless eater, a comfort eater, a carb addict who loves baked goods. And I see what that eating behavior has done to her after a lifetime of it.

Bad knees, fractured feet, bad back, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, wheezing. More than once, gastric bypass has been suggested to her and more than once she has turned it down. She once knew someone who had the surgery and later died of complications, and that has colored her opinion ever since. She is, quite frankly, scared to do the surgery instead of keep living with the pain and the pills and the limited activity. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. And while I know she will support me in the end, at the beginning she will disapprove, because for some reason she disapproves of people who decide to pursue this.

I've decided to tell her after I have gone to the seminars and picked a surgeon and scheduled a consult. I want to be able to tell her everything I've learned and show her why I'm doing this. Somehow I need to do it without telling her that I'm trying not to end up like her because I don't want her feelings to get hurt over it. Because even though she's an example I *don't* want to follow, she is not the reason I'm doing it. I am the reason I'm doing this.

I just hope she understands that.

Insurance clarity
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
So today I finally got around to calling my insurance and it looks like it really is as straightforward as it sounds. Prequalification involves doing a medically supervised weight loss & exercise program, which I think will be as easy as joining a plan like Weight Watchers and then just checking in with either the surgeon or my PCP on a monthly basis so they can track the changes. Maybe it'll work a little better for me if I see it as prepping myself for surgery. The best part is that even though I'd have to complete six months of the program before the surgery, I can get approved after only 3 months.

I really have no problem with waiting that long, I realized today. It would give me time to do some product testing (protein shakes, etc, things I'll be surviving on afterwards), some time to exercise and some time to get everyone around me used to the idea. Plus, this way it won't end up interfering with A) the holidays or B) my company's crazy time of year, which is February. By my calculations, I think an April/May time frame will be when it happens. Just in time to get some weight off before the heat hits!

I discovered another bariatric group here in San Diego that looks like it would be a good choice; 98% of their surgeries are laproscopic, which is super important for me. I know it's MAJOR surgery so it's going to hurt regardless, but the laproscopic has a lower chance of complications and a faster recovery time. We're going to go to informational seminars for both groups next month (my husband is coming with me, of course...he's being amazingly supportive of me), and I'll probably go ahead and schedule consultations with both of the doctors I'm considering so I can see which progam/office feels right. Aftercare is huge for me. I really want to make sure I have a good network to lean on for nutritional support, emotional support, etc. I do NOT want to be one of the people who goes through all of this only to go back to my old habits and gain the weight back.

It's so crazy. I've got these HUGE butterflies in my stomach all of a sudden when I think about this. I've spent a ton of time on Obesity Help just reading stories of people who ahve been through this and I'm both nervous and excited because that will be me someday. I am so very lucky to have the insurance coverage that I do. I cannot imagine how frustrating it would be to be facing a journey of a year or more at this point.

Thinking, thinking, always thinking
Sunday, August 27, 2006
I was thinking a lot today about how drastically the way I eat will have to change once I have the surgery done. And there's a part of me that wonders if I will really be able to do what I need to do. The cynical side of me is screeching that if I can't control myself around my trigger foods now, what makes me think I'll be able to control myself after the surgery? What makes me think that the surgery will magically make me eager to exercise?

And then I remember the whole reason I want this is because the surgery will help prevent me from doing what I do now. If my body is unable to process the fatty, sugary food that is my weakness, then I will not be able to keep eating it. It's like....if you're deathly allergic to peanuts, you don't eat peanut butter no matter how much you want it. If I know that lovely, perfectly frosted, decadently rich chocolate cupcake is going to leave me huddle in the bathroom either throwing up or pooping unendingly, then I'm not going to eat it. Because I will essentially be allergic to the foods that make me weak in the knees, I will finally be able to say no to them.

As for the exercise...well, it will be part of my rehab. Major surgery will require rehab after it, and the exercise will be part of that rehab. Here's the thing...right now, I have this very limited amount of time after work to get home, make dinner, clean up after dinner and then do a few things like pay bills, etc. After the surgery, that whole cooking dinner thing won't be such a bog deal because hello, protein shakes! My husband will have to fend for himself for awhile as far as dinner goes, while I'm out taking a nice long walk.

Today we went out to brunch with my father in law and his wife, and I caught myself practicing my super-chewing that is going to be part of my life afterwards. The chewing and the sipping of water (rather than the gulping I do these days) are the two things that will probably be the weirdest changes for me.

It's sort of amazing to me, the way I have completely committed myself to this idea. I do not think about it as "If I have surgery...", I think of it as "When I have the surgery..." I've researched surgeons and picked out the ones I want to go to, and this week I'll be contacting my insurance to get the ball rolling. From what I've read, they seem to be relatively good about approving people on the first application but since my plan is actually company paid but adminstered by InsuranceCo. who knows what the requirements might actually be. On the good side, I have a PPO so I don't think I have to get any referrals from my PCP. Either it'll take me a year or more to get a surgery date or it'll take me a matter of months. We'll see.

A baby elephant!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I have no idea how much I weigh right now. I'm assuming I'm back where I started back in 2004 when I started Weight Watchers, at the very least. 308.

That number stuns me every time I admit it to myself. 308. we have a membership at the San Diego Zoo, and we try to go at least once every few months. I have a secret game that I play with myself when we're walking around looking at the different animals. I read the signs or listen to the keepers and I make a mental note about which animals weigh less than I do. So far, I weigh more than adult giant panda, and more than a giant anteater. Seriously, how big of an ego blow is that? I weigh more than two animals with the word "giant" in their name!! But here's something even worse. If I remember correctly, I believe I weigh as much if not more than a baby elephant. Let me repeat that: I am pretty sure that I weigh more than a baby elephant.

I need to lose about 150 pounds to be in what's considered a healthy range for my height. That's a whole other person! It's rather stunning and overwhelming when I think about it that way, and quite frankly, it depresses me so I don't think about it all that often.

I've decided I need to start listing the reasons I want, need to have this surgery. I''m sure this is a list that will be added to repeatedly.
  1. I want to be able to go back to Tango Mar and not worry about fitting into the chairs at the restaurant.
  2. I want to run up the stairs at work and not be out of breath.
  3. I want to be able to spend a day on my feet without my knees hurting.
  4. I want to have a cholesterol level that makes my doctor smile.
  5. I don't want to suffer from bone spurs in my feet, arthritis in my knees and severe pain in my back the way my mother does.
  6. I don't want to have to budget for a dozen different medications to counteract the blood pressure and choleseterol and diabetes and pain that this weight will cause me.
  7. I want to sit on my husband's lap without hurting him.
  8. I want to run a half marathon with my best friend.
  9. I want to stop having acid reflux problems every time I eat something.
  10. I want to finally conquer my addiction to sugar and white flour.
Today's taste of irony: The entire time I was cruising Obesity Help this evening, I was thinking about the pint of ice cream in the fridge.

Even more ironic: As soon as I post this, I'm going to go have some.

The first entry's always the hardest
Friday, August 25, 2006
Sometime at the end of the year last year, I admitted to my husband that WLS was occupying a corner of my mind. I'd always said that that I would do it on my own, that I could get my ass in gear and I would exercise and eat the right foods and I'd change my life forever.

I spent a year and a half attending Weight Watchers and tracking Points and for the first 9 months, things went great. I lost 30 pounds, 10 % of my body weight. And then I promptly started putting it back on. Eight months later I had gained back 10 of the 30 pounds and then I quit to finish planning my wedding.

My wedding was a beautiful day. I looked and felt gorgeous, my husband thought I was beautiful, and I have never felt so loved. After the wedding, I slacked off immensely, until I finally got fed up and went back to Weight Watchers. Once I got back there, I discovered I'd gained back another 10 pounds. It took me 6 weeks to lose 5 pounds.

And then one Sunday morning, sitting in my meeting (which I reall did like...good people, great leader) after having gained back 4 of those 5 pounds because of some serious stress eating, I found myself so miserable that I promptly came home and told my husband I was not dieting ny more because it makes me miserable.

And it does. Dieting makes me miserable because I'm bad at it. I know what I'm supposed to eat, I know how much I'm supposed to eat. But I'll eat the good stuf AND the bad stuff, and I have no off switch. I can gorge myself on pasta or toast or cereal or fruit or whatever it is that peaks my interest, and even when I fill sick to my stomach, I will eat that one last bite. Or five.

So this month I realized that it's time for a new tool. I need something that is going to be my off switch, something drastic. Something that will keep me from ending up in the same situation as mt mom....57 with joint problems, heart problems, cholesterol problems, blood pressure problems, etc. And so I'm going to pursue weight loss surgery, a laprascopic Roux-en-Y to be exact.

This is my story. This is my journey as I turn my life (and my guts!) inside out and upside down and make it all work better.