An open letter to the world
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
You know what really pisses me off lately? What really pisses me off is the fact that I can't read comments at any fat acceptance/size acceptance websites ever without ending up walking around my house ranting about how fucking annoyed I am by people talking about how HORRIBLE and DANGEROUS weight loss surgery is, along with comments about how "it doesn't work" and "people are just doing it to get skinny" and "the surgery doesn't help health problems" and "having the surgery means you hate yourself because it's just a form of plastic surgery." Know what's even more awesome? Reading these comments (and long, ranty entries on numerous message boards and blogs) and realizing that the people saying these things are essentially saying that weight loss surgery patients are a bunch of idiots who were duped into having a deadly surgery just so their doctors and hospitals could make a few bucks.

And here's what I have to say about that: Fuck that noise.

First of all, did no one in the fat acceptance/size acceptance movement bother to read this study in the New England Journal of Medicine? I would like to point out the conclusion in particular:
Long-term total mortality after gastric bypass surgery was significantly reduced, particularly deaths from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

(In the interest of fairness, it also stated the following: "However, the rate of death from causes other than disease was higher in the surgery group than in the control group." To me, this is a "Duh" statement because people who have lost a ton of weight have a tendency to go out and start doing more activities that can lead to deadly accidents, and depression seems to be more than a little rampant amongst WLS patients. But that is a whole other can of worms to discuss at a later date.)

In other words, weight loss surgery works.

As far as the DANGER, DANGER, DANGER warnings go...well, duh. Surgery is dangerous! Surgery on your insides is especially dangerous! That's why anyone who's going to have any kind of surgery needs to research the hell out of any possible complications, needs to research the hell out of their doctor and their hospital and the aftercare that is expected. Any bariatric surgeon who's worth his or her gigantic salary will tell you up front that hey, you can die from this. Or you can get ulcers or hernias or strictures or deep vein thrombosis. Or you can be one of the lucky few who ends up with fucked up hypoglycemia issues or pernicious anemia or osteoporosis or beriberi. The key is to pick a surgeon who knows how to prevent (not just treat) these kinds of problems. Which leads me to my surgeon...I picked him because A) he had a 0% mortality rate and an insanely low complication rate (I think it was like 3%?) B) he had 17 years of laproscopic surgery experience, including his stint as Chief of Surgery at the hospital I had my surgery at and C) he has an excellent follow-up/aftercare program (which is why I take a shit ton of vtamins, more than a lot of other WLS patients that I've met, but I take them because he's done his research and he has figured out what I need to do to prevent myself from having problems).

I say on a regular basis that I have been very blessed to be without problems, to be healthy and complication free, but the reality is that most of us are doing really well. I sit in my support group every month and look around and see people of all ages sitting around and talking about how good they feel, how many miles they walked, how many pills they are no longer taking and I wonder how anyone could begrudge them thier surgery. How could anyone look at these people and think that the surgery has been anything other than something good for them?

Look, I know that this surgery is not for everyone. The idea of telling someone they should look into it makes me gag, because I completely believe that it's no one's right to tell another person what they should do with their body. Really, I'm not trying to say that all the fat people in the world need to get the surgery so that there will be no more fat people ever. And I think that's where a lot of the anger and antipathy and outright misinformed ranting comes from: an innate fear that gastric bypass surgery is going to become so common that fat people will be pressured to have it RIGHT NOW, that it will become the boob job of the 21st century. In reality, it is a drastic last chance for people who want to keep being able to walk, who don't want to take 10 pills a day to force their bodies to operate correctly, who would like to breathe without wheezing. Telling them that they are wrong for taking that step, that they are mutilating themselves and are sure to fail and calling them betrayers of fat people is not helpful. It's just another form of marginalization that is no different that the marginalization of fat people that you are trying to overcome.

I will tell you a true thing about me: size acceptance helped me decide to have gastric bypass surgery. Counterintuitive, isn't it? But here's the thing...I never used to pay attention to my body or think about what it needed until I started reading and thinking and discussing size acceptance with people. Once I did, once I finally focused on myself and the signals that my body was sending (had BEEN sending me, for a couple of years), I realized that it was telling me it needed some major help. My knees were screaming about needing to be replaced in 10 years, my blood was shouting about how thick I was letting it get, my heart was racing to keep up with me and every I time walked up the stairs at work, my lungs reminded me that their capacity was not enough to handle a body as large as mine. And because I was finally able to love my body for what it was, I was able to love it enough to help it get back into shape, through any means necessary.

There are still days when I feel like a hypocrite, when I worry that my (gorgeous, witty, intelligent) fat friends will think I can no longer empathize with them over body issues because I took such a drastic step to change my own body. But that's mostly just my personal brand of brokenness talking, and I get over it and get back to having awesome discussions with them about the idiocy of the media. What would be really awesome though is if some of the people who are so adamantly against WLS, the people who sneer at us and tell us we've destroyed our bodies and are no longer healthy would just sit and talk to a few of us. Maybe then they'll realize that it's really not as evil as they think it is. And neither are we.

The state of the wardrobe
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
My closet is in need of another clean out this month. The majority of my work shirts are entirely too big, and considering that a button down white tailored shirt is a staple of my work wardrobe, that's something that needs to be remedied. (My best friend thinks I need to stop wearing white button down shirts so damn much but whatever, it works.) (Of course, she just gave me an adorable black shirt dress that I cannot wait to wear this summer so I guess maybe she knows what she's talking about.)

I just passed off two batches of bras to a friend of mine; none of them were more than 6 months old and none of them fit me for more than 3 months at a time, and her boobs are growing at an amazing pace since she's currently gestating my newest adopted niece or nephew so she was in desperate need of bigger bras. Our boobs are inversely proportionate right now; mine shrink at the same rate that hers are growing. Although really, mine haven't shrunk as much as they could have, much to my husband's relief. The latest round of bras are 36DDs, which I currently keep very full but I figure by next month, the fullness will give way to a perfect fit. They are impossibly tiny and only have TWO HOOKS. I haven't worn a bra with two hooks since I was 16. (When I announced this little fact at support group last night, the other women all laughed and cheered; only other fat women understand the significance of bras with 2 hooks after years of bras with 4 hooks.)

I'm firmly into a size 18 on the bottom; some 18s are a little smidge too big, but the Levi's I bought the other night without trying them on fit perfectly. And they are low-rise! Never in a million years have I ever considered jeans that were low rise, but amazingly enough, as it's shrunk, my ass has totally dropped down enough that now the low rise jeans fit pretty much perfectly. The annoying thing is that I am pretty much a 14/16 on top so yeah, kinda pear shaped these days. Okay, REALLY pear shaped. I'm hoping that the running that I finally picked back up this week will work these thighs of mine out.

Anyway, I've reached a point where I can grab a pair of XL workout pants off the rack and not try them on and know that they're going to fit, which is super fantastic. I haven't stepped into a Lane Bryant since December (when I needed to buy some Spanx and bras), and I don't think I will need to ever again since I was able to find bras and undies at a department store this week. It's both crazy and weird that already, even though I have another 50 or 60 pounds to lose, I'm normal in a way I haven't been for years. I can walk into a mall with my skinny friends and buy lingerie from the same store as them, I can go to Target and buy the adorable spring dresses that my friends are wearing, I can run into any department store and grab some workout clothes or jeans without having to try them all on first.

I have to admit that this part is pretty damn awesome. Definitely helps balance out all the scary moments.