I did it!

So, if you have read my blog for any amount of time, you are aware that I had gastric bypass surgery in 2010.  (you can read the whole back story here)

One of the things that led me to this dramatic change was an increasing awareness that I wasn’t able to do all the things I wanted to do – I found myself, one Saturday, all alone at home while my family went on a hike together.

A hike I wanted, desperately, to do, but knew that, at my size, I probably couldn’t do.  (or at least, if I even attempted it, I’d embarrass myself and my family with my huffing, puffing and bajillion stops I’d have to make)

It was then that I decided that things had to change.

And soon. (you can read that story here)

The last two years have been an amazing journey.  I have been through so many changes, inside and out, and I really feel like a completely different person.

I still struggle with my eating (and why I eat) and have to maintain a constant vigil on what I put in my mouth – that will never change. (and I don’t really want it to. It keeps me aware and reminds me of why I did what I did.)

However, one thing that I haven’t attempted yet was that hike.

And I did it.

On New Year’s Day.

What a fitting way to kick off a new year.

I didn’t wake up thinking “today is the day I’m going to hike that mountain.”

I hadn’t really even thought about it.

But, as life sometimes does, things just worked out to where that is what I found myself doing on Sunday afternoon.

I had mentioned to SuperMan that I wanted to go for a walk and why didn’t we take the kids hiking. He suggested the mountain we live on (or next to, depending on your geographical opinions) and I said sure.

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It wasn’t until we were walking the trail that I realized WHAT I WAS DOING.

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HEY! (I thought)

I’M WALKING THIS TRAIL!  THIS VERY SAME TRAIL I WAS SO STINKIN’ AFRAID OF TWO YEARS AGO!

OH.MY.GOSH!

And not only did I walk it… I did it pretty quickly and with only a few stops along the way to catch my breath!

I was so excited!

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I can’t begin to tell you the sense of accomplishment and “full-circled-ness” that I had as we reached the top of the mountain that afternoon. As I stood there looking out over the valley I marveled at the fact that I had actually accomplished something that had so intimidated me two years ago that I had hidden at home in shame.  I was overwhelmed and humbled at the thought of the journey I’ve been on – and reinvigorated to go the next stage of the journey and KEEP ON GOING.

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I sat there on the rocks and just marveled at myself. I had no idea, when I started this weight loss journey two years ago, if I really COULD do this. I feared I’d have the surgery and still be a fat failure. As I sat there I realized I am a stronger person that I sometimes give myself credit for. Stronger and more determined.

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It felt SO GOOD.  I am PROUD of myself. And that is a nice feeling.

I still have some weight to lose. I am still not where I want to be. I got a little sidetracked last year when I hit a size and thought “wow! THIS is cool.” and then promptly quit doing a lot of the things I was doing.

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But, I’m reinvigorated and re-motivated. I’m ready. I’m willing. and I’m most definitely able.

The mountain may not be Everest, but it seemed that way to me two years ago. It might as well have been Everest for the insurmountability it seemed to have to me.  Now, the mountain represents something entirely different to me.

It represents accomplishment. It represents do-ability. It represents a strength I didn’t know I had.  And it will remind me of the things I can do even when I think I can’t.

2012 is going to be even better.

Just wait.

Starting the Process

This is installment #3 in my story. Follow the links here if you missed Part 1 and 2.

Once I realized it was time to do something, my brain really never let go of the idea of bariatric surgery. I started pestering my friends with questions, doing research online, and thinking seriously about whether or not I was really ready to do something as drastic as surgically rearranging my body to lose weight.

I spent most of the Christmas holiday thinking about it.

And I woke up one morning and decided if I didn’t at least investigate things I would always wonder “What if…” (and I absolutely hate that feeling)

So, the first week of January – as soon as the kids were back in school and life had returned to “normal,” – I was on my way. I started checking out surgeons’ websites and researching their histories and records. I made plans to attend several information sessions.

The first information session I attended was absolutely packed with people. I guess a lot of people had New Year’s resolutions and were there for the same reasons as I was.  I was shocked at the number of people who showed up. I guess a part of me thought that there weren’t that many obese people like me. (why I would think that I have no idea)

I was also very surprised to see that most people were way bigger than I was.  I had several thoughts when I realized that fact.  The first was that I felt bad for them – I knew how bad I felt physically. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be even heavier than I was – how that must feel physically and the challenges they must face on a daily basis.  My second thought was something like “Do I really need to be here?” Finally, I felt a little relief to see that I was not alone. In a perverse way, it was comforting to see so many people and know that they were all here for the same reason I was – they had had enough and were ready to make a change.

I was like an eager student, waiting for the seminar to start. I had my pen and notebook ready and had jotted down several questions that I wanted to be sure I had answers to.  There were ladies handing out information packets and I quickly devoured the contents, reading all the information related to their surgery practice and the hospital.

When the session finally started, I was disappointed to see we were going to watch a video first, not hear from a live person.  While the video was very informative and interesting, I couldn’t wait to talk to the surgeon and listen to what he had to say about the surgery options available.  This particular surgeon focused mostly on gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y) and the Lap-Band-type surgeries.  There was a third option discussed (a gastric sleeve) but they made it sound like that was for the seriously obese person. (but, seriously, if you are obese, it’s serious! no matter how big or little you are. but I digress)

Finally, the surgeon came up and started to do his thing.  The very first thing I noticed about him was that he seemed like he didn’t really want to be there.  Now, granted, it was eight at night and he’d probably worked a long day, but this was his lead-generating program. I felt like he should be thrilled to be in a room with forty-something overweight people who were most likely all desperately looking for someone to help them. 

He answered people’s questions, gave them the information they were seeking… but what I started to realize was that he really seemed to be patronizing us. Acting as if we were, I don’t know, stupid or something.  It wasn’t any particular statement – just more of an overall attitude that he had.  I know that surgeons generally think they are gods, but this was the first time I had experienced it first-hand.  How and why would anyone act that way to someone? Especially these people in this room, who obviously had self-esteem issues and were desperately looking for solutions to a life-threatening problem?

It left a bad taste in my mouth.  I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed.  There are plenty of fish in the sea and surgeons in town, and I decided I would give this one a chance, but definitely see what else was out there.

In the weeks that followed, my initial reaction was proven to be true.  This was one of those surgeon’s office who made you jump through hoops to get a surgery scheduled.  Some surgeons will make you go through all sorts of “evaluations” (psychological, nutritional, etc.) before they will even meet with you for a consult.  Some require less. 

I had already done my homework and knew what my insurance required.  Which, thankfully, wasn’t very much. Just a letter from my primary-care physician stating the medical necessity of bariatric surgery and my history of weight-related issues.

The surgeon’s office tried to tell me I needed a psychological evaluation, to meet with a nutritionist, a stress-test, and all sorts of other stuff.  They told me I had to have six months of recorded, medically supervised weight loss efforts.  That alone meant that the earliest I could hope for surgery was six months out.  They told me this was all an insurance requirement, not the doctor’s.

I was furious.  I told the surgeon’s assistant that none of this was required by my insurance – that I had already spoken to them and had received the details of what was required – and none of that was.  They stubbornly stuck to their guns and I told them I would be finding another practice to work with.

<next, Finding My Surgeon>

The Final Straw

This is installment two of my story. If you missed the first one, you can find it here .

So, I had been toying with the idea of weight-loss surgery for years… Tossing the idea around in my head and mentioning it casually to family and friends to see what they thought of the idea. 

Most of the time, I was convinced I was just going to be overweight for the rest of my life. I didn’t like the idea, but I figured that I had so much weight to lose that it was an insurmountable obstacle and I should just accept who I was and get on with things.

It wasn’t until the Fall of 2009 that I finally made the decision that it was time to do something.

My daughters had joined a Brownie/Daisy (Girl Scout) troop.  They were enjoying the activities and social events they participated in with the troop.  One of the activities that came up was a hike up the mountain we live nearby.  The girls were so excited.  It was an all-afternoon event, complete with a picnic lunch at the summit.

At first, I was excited, too.

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Then, I realized that the girls wanted their dad and me to hike with them. Then, I was mortified.

There was no way I would be able to make the 2-mile hike up the mountain with a bunch of 6-10 year old girls. I couldn’t even go for a walk in my subdivision with it’s gentle rolling hills without feeling like I was going to pass out.  How could I keep up with a bunch of girls on a 2-mile UPHILL hike?

I told myself it was my asthma (not my weight). I told the girls that with the pollen from the ragweed and goldenrod and my asthma and allergies that I couldn’t go with them.  Their daddy agreed to go so we would be sure they were safe and supervised.  The girls were disappointed, but they understood.

The Saturday came and the girls, their daddy, and another friend, headed off to the mountain.  I stayed at home.

It was the longest, most miserable Saturday I can remember.

All I could think about was that my family was off doing something fantastic, having a great time and making memories together and I was at home alone because I was too unhealthy to go with them.

Was this how it was going to be?

When the girls were little, our activities were confined to things that I could handle. Now that they were bigger, their appetites for adventure were growing. They wanted more hikes, camping, bike riding, all sorts of things I wasn’t sure I could handle.

I was pretty miserable and sad thinking this was the beginning of a time when they’d be off doing things without me rather than with me.

But, slowly, over the next few weeks, I started to think about maybe doing something drastic.  Something I had been mulling over for a long time.

Maybe bariatric surgery was the answer for me after all.

I had had two friends at work who had both undergone bariatric surgery earlier in the year.  They were both doing great and the pictures I saw of them months after surgery took my breath away.  They looked so vibrant and healthy – and skinny!

I started emailing them asking all sorts of questions. I started doing research online.

Maybe I could find a way to get healthy and slimmer.  Maybe there was hope after all.

<next, beginning the pre-surgery process>