Weight loss surgery kind of fascinates me. Some people think it is truly the end all and be all of losing weight. Others are vehemently against it. Friends may think it would be ideal for you, but your family thinks it’s a cop-out. It is a topic on which there are so many opinions that it’s astonishing.
Let’s start with true confessions. I had weight loss surgery 13 years ago. I had a “Roux en Y,” which is a gastric bypass that actually reduces the size of your upper stomach to the size of a small pouch (think of an egg). This reduces the amount of food you can actually eat.
I had this surgery because I was hugely overweight and had lost all hope. I just couldn’t manage to reduce the weight on my own, and I was desperate and scared. Since I absolutely abhor vomiting, I thought that this was an ideal solution for me. If I ate too much, I would be sick, and since I hated being sick, I would train myself to stop eating too much.
It was when weight loss surgery was just starting to be accepted, and where I lived at the time (Vermont) there was only one surgeon who did it in the hospitals near me. I had a friend who’s a nurse and she strongly advised me not to work with that surgeon; I didn’t need to be told twice. I ended up locating a surgeon who was 6 hours away and who agreed to meet with me and, eventually, perform the surgery.
Wins for me were incredible support by my friends and family, losing 100 pounds, being motivated to start ZizeBikes.com, and feeling really good about myself. Loses were there was almost zero counseling or nutritional guidance, and I started eating the wrong foods. And when I got sick from eating too much, I didn’t vomit. It came out the other end. Not something I enjoy, but I don’t detest it like I detest vomiting. So my methodology was deeply flawed. And eventually my pouch started growing, and I no longer had the capacity of an egg– more like a liter. Oops! I also gradually put a lot of that 100 pound loss back on, to the point where, at my highest, I was only about 30 pounds lighter than my pre-surgery weight.
This story, to me, means the surgery “didn’t work,” I don’t often think about the fact that I had it done. It was something I tried in desperation, and I’m left with a few less pounds and an inability to properly absorb vitamins. Not a huge win.
Yesterday I got an email from a blog writer who talks about eating Keto. (For those who care, I am following a very low carb, fairly high fat Keto-type style of eating right now. I like to get recipes from people who’re enjoying learning to cook without the carbs.) I was really interested to hear what she had to say, which is that she’s decided to have weight loss surgery. She talked about her decision to have it, and explained why she thinks it’s the right choice for her. I just checked her website, because I’m interested to hear how people are reacting. She hasn’t had too many comments, and they are all supportive. But then, her readers are people who are tying things to lose weight, so I guess that isn’t surprising.
Of course the other side of the story is well represented, too. There’s a heart-wrenching story in another blog I read of a woman who was approached by friends with info on the surgery. They were all excited for her to transform her life, while all she felt was despair that they saw her as someone to fix. Her friend truly thought she had the writer’s best interests in mind. By focusing on how she could change, she was hurting her.
Like just about everything in life, you get what you put into it. While I think of my weight loss surgery as a “fail,” so many people write about similar experiences–rapid weight loss the first 6-8 months, then it slows down and a whole different kind of work begins. Some of us are better equipped to deal with it than others.
In hindsight, I kind of wish I hadn’t gone the surgery route, primarily because it probably costs me three times more in vitamins than it would otherwise, since my absorption is so low. I also wish I’d had nutritional and emotional support after the surgery, because I think that would have helped a lot as my body was halting the rapid pound decrease. But that’s MY story, and I honestly would support anyone who chooses the surgery. Of course there are potential complications, but we all know the complications of living life as an overweight person who doesn’t’ like themself.
Members of the As You Are Community; if you are are contemplating or have had surgery, please know that this is a very safe space. You will have support. You will have encouragement. You will be loved. And lose or gain, in the end it is probably not the most important thing. Knowing that you are worth whatever you chose is what really counts. You are beautiful!. If you’re not yet a member of the As You Are Community, you can learn more about it here.