Changes Afoot

One month from today, I will have gastric sleeve surgery. For those of you not familiar, this is a procedure similar to gastric bypass or lap band surgery. They surgically reduce the size of my stomach, thereby limiting my food intake. I have lost 19 lbs through diligent diet and exercise over the  last 3 years and my intention is to lose 80-100 more.

A lot of things have brought me to this point.

For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know that I have fallen into the obese category since I was about ten years old. I come from a background of women who are in great shape, if you take great to mean large and concede that round is, in fact, a shape. 

I've never been all that unhappy with my body. My size did not keep me from years and years of ballet classes in tights and leotards; recitals in short tutus. I had no shortage of dating options and never really went through any self-loathing or drastic attempts to change myself. I didn't really accept any limitations when it came to things that sensible fat girls don't do: rock climbing, swimming, roller coasters, yoga classes, home improvement, swinging at the park, chasing kids, teaching dance classes, etc.

But I'm slowing down. I can't exercise like I used to because things hurt. I fell off a ladder eight years ago and my back has never quite been the same. My knees and feet are feeling it. I know my 'normal' day is a lot bouncier and hoppier than most people's 'normal' day, but I'm starting to not quite make it to  the end of my day with energy left for my family. I'm looking at 30 more years of my job and, at this weight, it's not going to happen.

I realize I'm looking at this  surgery now or knee surgery, back surgery, foot surgery later. 

Now, schedule-wise is not a great time. Musicians should not be out of commission at Christmas time. Early next summer would be preferable. However, with sinus surgery earlier this year, I'm not far from my out-of-pocket maximum for the year and have enough left in our FSA to cover it all. So it will cost nothing out of pocket by doing it right now. And, schedule-wise, it's not too bad. It is close enough to the end of the semester that I won't be missing too much. Plus, I will have two weeks of holiday time to recover. 

Life-wise now is the time. My kids need a mom with enough energy to keep up with their lives and I need enough energy to have a life of my own. My husband could use a little left to throw his way now and then and would definitely benefit from a hot wife. Melody needs a roller coaster partner whose butt fits in the seats. Since three years of dedicated diet and what exercise I could manage have resulted in a painstakingly slow loss of 19 lbs, I need a different plan of attack. And, life-wise, I'd rather do it sooner than later. I want more years of fit.

I keep trying to imagine what I would look like  smaller and I imagine it would look like the me in my head looks. I'm sure I'm not the  only  one who weighs fifty pounds less in her imagination. It is sometimes a shock when I see myself in a  mirror and I don't look like that. And while it  would be nice to look like her, it  would be even better to feel like she feels. 

It's going to be an absolutely awful process, but I'm trying to keep the end in mind. 


Beth Daugherity said...

Love you and your bravery!!! I had it almost two years ago and I cannot imagine life without it. Call or message me any time. (((hugs)))

Beth Daugherity said...
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Christy said...

WOOOOOOOOOOO! I love you G. You are AWESOME! Im here for you every step of the way!

Christy said...
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MR said...
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Roy Rhodes said...

This really is a beautiful post, Gretchen, and I'm grateful for it. Guys don't talk a whole lot about their weight, but I do know what you mean when you say that you have an understanding of what you look like in your imagination that doesn't always fit what you see in the mirror. I always seem myself in profile while walking by reflective windows and think, "Really? Is that what I look like?"

Thank you for embracing the vulnerability to blog about the real stuff of life. We need your authenticity.

Penny Crisp said...

Gretchen, I did the lap band if you need to talk or have questions I'm here.

Anonymous said...

awesome! good luck to you. im hoping to be able to do the same sometime soon!--tara

Anonymous said...

Unless your weight problems are from grossly overeating, likely in the many thousands of calories per day category, then lap band/sleeve probably won't do much if any good. And if you problem is from grossly overeating I'm sure the doctor has already mentioned that eating too much can stretch the stomach back out again, so its not really a fix for lack of self control if that is the issue. From what you have said though overeating is very unlikely to be the cause as you have already tried strict dieting and exercise. There are also many negative issues with making the stomach smaller and/or speeding up the emptying of it, including decrease in digestion and lowering absorption of vitamin/nutrients, which can lead to very serious complications.

I too am significantly overweight and have had a major problem losing weight effectively despite rarely eating more than my BMR. I started looking into what it would take to make myself healthy and have done numerous tests over the past few years. What I eventually learned is that I and the rest of my family have a genetic problem called celiac disease which can lead to severe inflammation and sometimes weight gain (or loss in my wife's case). My hs-crp and cortisol levels, indicators of inflammation, when tested were through the roof. At the same time my fasting glucose and HbA1c were perfect (not just ok) while my fasting insulin was extremely high as well. I later discovered my particular problem was aluminium toxicity exacerbated by the celiac disease's malnutrition through very low glutathione levels. After starting extensive nutrient supplementation and testing to make sure the levels were right I started to slowly lose weight, for the first time in many years, as the aluminium was being excreted from my body.

Good luck. :-)