easy way out

You don’t need to have been overweight at any point in your life, or even known anyone who was to have heard someone reference weight loss surgery in some way, shape or form.

The truth is, it has become somewhat of a regular thing. Celebrities, presidential hopefuls, grandmas, men, hell, there is even a whole television series about people trying to have bariatric surgery.

I think it’s fair to say that the subject is no longer taboo.

I seem to be, unfortunately, in the minority when it comes to the type of care I received from my bariatric surgeon. She heads a team that includes nutritionists and behavioral health professionals. While I was referred to her by my primary doctor, it wasn’t a one shot deal. I had to have, before almost anything, a full day at the hospital which included labs, an orientation full of presentations and a psychological evaluation. After the surgery, which was about six months later, I was scheduled for a half dozen appointments with each person on my care team over the next two years.

A large portion of the people I have met or come to know on this journey, did not have this same program, or, from what I can tell, any sort of program at all.

They had a doctor, who sent them to a surgeon, who cut out a portion of their stomach, or rerouted some things and sent them on their way.

Some of them are gaining weight, some of them never lost as much as they wanted or had hoped to and in some cases it’s a lack of guidance from the jump. They ask other people for tips, they google, they get a nutritionist, they read a book, they find a new doctor. They put the work in.

In other cases, it’s that they took the easy way out.

I roll my eyes or scoff any time I read or hear someone refer to weight loss surgery as the “easy way out” because so many things I have done in life to try to lose weight were easy in comparison to surgery.

There is however, this idea that having surgery just lets you lose weight; that you don’t have to work hard, or you don’t have to change your habits or exercise or do anything except pay the operating room co-pay. Some of these people – that’s what they thought was happening, they thought the were signing up for a quick magic trick where they can just keep eating like the dumpster behind a mall food court and get skinny.

For starters, if your sole reason for having bariatric surgery is to “get skinny”, maybe get yourself a therapist and work some things out first, because that’s not a healthy goal. (I say this as an aspiring therapist, and a person who loves therapy, not as a dig!) The whole process is really about so much more than just losing pounds; you are resetting your metabolism, you are breaking bad habits, beating cravings, lowering your cholesterol, decreasing your blood pressure and a dozen or so more things; the “skinny”, the feeling good in your clothes, in your skin, not hating seeing yourself in pictures and mirrors? Icing on the cake!

Anyway, these people, the easy way out ones are basically perpetuating the stigma that people like me got a little snip n’ stitch job and that’s why I lost weight.

It’s not. Did that help? Exponentially, because of the reasons above, because I truly wanted to make a change, and where my guidance may have faltered (it didn’t) I was dedicated enough to keep it going.

I mean, I spent a lot of time going to pre-op appointments, a lot of money on co-pays and vitamins and protein powder and I let someone cut out eighty percent of my stomach, why wouldn’t I commit to myself

I don’t care what other people do, honestly, it’s not my business; they’re not hurting me or changing my progress/success. BUT they are  making the rest of us look bad, and they’re possibly ruining it for people who truly want to make the change.

In a year or two when insurance companies are looking at the success rates of these surgeries and see them not being as successful, they will stop covering them or make them harder to get covered. Which is unfair, and inaccurate because it’s not the procedure, it’s the patient that’s not successful.

I’m not saying don’t do it.

I’m probably one of the biggest advocates I know for bariatric surgery; I spill my guts to strangers, suggest it to people who are where I was, I delight in the notification every time I get an email from the hospital about another person I can be a mentor to. I want everyone who wants it, to have the experience I had, I know it’s not realistic, but I put myself out there for it, because it worked, because I worked it. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

What I am saying is, If you’re going to do it, DO IT.

I’m not up on my soapbox like I’m some perfect person who never makes a questionable choice; I eat pretty much everything, but in serious moderation, and I’m also almost three years out.

For 21 days after leaving the hospital I lived on full liquids, I didn’t dare deviate from the plan I was given to follow. I asked for help, I paid for it, I followed the rules. I cringe at posts from people eating chili from Wendy’s 4 days post op, “trying” a burger and fries a month after, eating ice cream as a “liquid” or pureeing foods that just don’t belong in a blender so it fits their current stage of eating.

The truth, as they told me in one of my zillion pre-op appointments is that in the first few months, the “honeymoon” period, the weight will come off seemingly on its own. You could ‘fill your sleeve’ they said ‘with mountain dew and snickers’ and you would still lose something because of the sheer lack of space – but you’d be sorry later.

Sorry when your weight loss stalls, when you’re still addicted to sugar, when you’re almost right back where you started, save for a few dozen pounds.

You’ll be sorry and you’ll say it didn’t work, and you’ll blame some outside factor and  you’ll feel stuck and you’ll want a revision or a different procedure and you’ll try again, sort of.

You’re taking the the easy way out by not following the rules and it will get you nowhere.

 

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