Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life Altering Decision


As some of you may know, I've had trouble being overweight almost my entire life. Thanks to an inherent laziness that I've never been able to kick, and a lifetime of poor choices, I started a journey through the waters of weight loss surgery.

In May of 2010, I attended a weight loss seminar and heard from various different people about the options I had in front of me. A few life-changing stories and some good vibes later, I made an appointment to see the surgeon. In June, I took my first steps on this path by seeing both the surgeon who'd be operating on me, as well as the nutritionist assigned to walk me through everything and educate me properly before my surgery day came.

Over the next six months, I changed my diet and lifestyle, little by little. Walking more, reading labels, cutting out most of my sugar intake, making sure to drink low to 0 calorie drinks. Every single change worked to my benefit. I lost an average of 9.5 pounds in each of those months. My nutritionist expressed surprise and encouragement, stating that she'd never seen anyone else lose as much weight beforehand as I. Normally, most people see this time as their "last hurrah" as opposed to the first steps toward changing their lives.

In December, when I was being set up for my surgery date, I had a setback when my insurance decided they were no longer working with the Bariatric Center at the hospital I'd just spent the past 6-7 months working with. My options were to switch insurance or to go to another hospital's program and have strangers cut me open. I chose to stay with the original hospital and supportive group I already knew.

The setback itself came when I was told it would take six weeks for my insurance to change, which then put me at an early February surgery date (at best). I already had it planned for it to be the last week in December, when my son was off from school and it would be easiest for someone to help take care of us. I totally admit to becoming a little depressed and falling off the wagon. I gained five pounds in three weeks. When I saw that, I steeled myself once again and lost those same five pounds before I went back in the office to see the surgeon in February.

After that long journey, I was finally scheduled for my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy on February 21st.

Once the surgery was complete, I was taken to a recovery room. I don't recall much about that part, if I'm honest. My first coherent memory is being in agonizing pain when they had me hop/scoot from the gurney to my hospital bed. I thought my belly was being ripped in two. That night was rough. About every four hours, a nurse would inject my IV with morphine, which didn't do much for the pain, to be honest. I wasn't prepared for the kind of intense pain I'd feel every time I shifted or tried to adjust my position. I also was unprepared for the dull ache in my chest, attributed to gas.

I barely slept that night, and even tried to incoherently tweet, lol. The next afternoon, my boyfriend and best friend came to the hospital to bring me home. That night was rough as well. I spent half of it throwing up and fighting to keep down my liquids. It actually scared me for a minute. Thursday was better, with a great decrease in queasiness. Every day, something feels a little better. Slowly, but surely. I've had a great support system:

My boyfriend, who went to the hospital with me and stayed until I went for pre-op (he needed to be home to pick our son up from school)

My mom, who's asked me a million times if there's anything I needed and been so loving in general.

My best friend, who drove down to Philly from Harrisburg to come bring me home from the hospital because I didn't have anyone who drove (plus she wanted to show her support).

My almost-eight-year-old son, who curled up close by me for the first two nights I was home, refusing to leave my side. (I convinced him too sleep over with his little sister and her mom this weekend).

The many friends I have on Facebook and Twitter, who have shown their support and given well-wishes

Without any of these awesome people, I'd be a sorry sight to see right now. I've been in pain and weak and tired. I've tried to very hard not to complain or whine about that to anyone, because this surgery was my choice and I feel like I need to "man up". (But it still freaking hurts, lol)

Also, I've seen reactions to the term "weight loss surgery" and I've noticed a certain stigma attached to it. One comment that surfaces over and over again is, "That's just taking the easy way out."

Trust me when I say there's nothing easy about this predicament. Well, maybe the surgery itself, which is a pretty simple procedure. (Most complications from it come after surgery, when the patient is the one who isn't following directions) It is a life-long decision that is nowhere near easy to live with. The surgery is only a tool to aid you on your way to losing weight and becoming healthier. All of the hard work and sacrifices come afterward.

I've been trying to keep down clear liquids for the past (almost) week, and it's not easy. Pain in the chest from drinking just a hair too much at one time, off and on queasiness, hiccups from hell, heartburn (especially in the morning), aching in my chest and shoulders from gas that's a bitch to expel, as well as a stabbing pain in my gut when I move more than six inches have been my constant companions.

In a few days, I'll be graduating to cloudy liquids, meaning I can drink skim milk again and have pudding/yogurt. While I'm looking forward to the newer additions to my diet, I'm also aware that there might be some adjustment issues when adding the newer things to my body. After a few weeks, I'll be able to puree "real" food and eat about three ounces in one sitting.

After everything is said and done, there will be things that I'll never be able to eat again. So again, trust me when I say none of this is/will be easy.

I'm just taking it one day at a time, and looking forward to a brighter future where I'll be more healthy and ambulant--where I can run around with my son and play catch with him without getting short of breath. While my goals are for bettering my life, my decisions stem from wanting to be better for my son. That's my ultimate goal. And because of that, no one else's opinion matters.

So, I end this with a gentle hug and kiss, thanking you for reading and supporting me when I'm most in need of having someone in my corner.

<3
Shel

December 2010


December 2011



February 19th, 2012



February 21st ~ Day 0

February 26th ~ Day 5

4 comments:

  1. you are in my prayers. no way are you taking the easy road, and bollox to anyone that would say so. for what it's worth- i think you are doing an amazing thing... making the right choices for your health and future and brave as hell for putting yourself out here as you do so.

    bravo, darling. you are beautiful and i wish you nothing but the best!

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  2. I commend you on this decision to make yourself healthy for yourself and your son. CONGRATS! It is extremely hard and tiring, but the reward is huge.
    I'll be thinking of you and wishing you the best road to recovery. Good luck and be proud of yourself. You did what not many others did before you had the surgery! That showed dedication!
    You go girl! <3

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  3. You have made an AMAZING decision and a great one! Your story gave me chills and teary_eyed. You by no means took the easy road. I wish you the best of luck doll!

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  4. Just wanna say I'm so awed by your bravery and the hard work you've put in. I know two people who had that surgery, and they both followed the "other" route, the one where they pigged out as much as they could before they had the surgery, which, to me, seemed so counteractive. They didn't seem ready to really commit to what it was going to entail. You, however, seem completely committed and are well on your way to a healthier way of life. So to that, I say congratulations, and continued success. You're amazing! I only wish I had half of your determination. I hope you continue to post your photos here so we can cheer you on!

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