On Tuesday May 2, 2017 gastric bypass and I became best friends. I was extremely hesitant to share this news. My surgeon warned against it, saying social media could be detrimental to my mental wellbeing. Everyone has an opinion, and not everyone would be in my court for the big game. A few days post surgery, I changed my mind about sharing. I am in a very strong place in my life and I knew this was the right choice for me. In sharing my story, I hoped to help someone who might also be struggling. Just one person, that would be enough. I had someone tell me good job but also wonder how in the world I got to this place. Good question. I decided to share that here, to help those who love me understand why I chose to take such a drastic step to regain my health, and my life.
Let’s take a step back to third grade. Yes, third grade. I was never sure what happened. I was still an active kid. All of a sudden my head looked larger in my school picture. My teeth were out of control, I had a giant forehead and I could no longer fit in clothing that kids my age were wearing. My mother had done nothing differently as far as what food we ate. I went from a sweet little girl to a girl who felt inferior to the other little girls. I never showed it. I decided that boys were better friends then girls and buried how I felt.
I guess I could say I tried to eat less but I didn’t. I didn’t see anything wrong with how I ate. I didn’t recognize that when I went to the store with my Mom that “if you are good I will buy you a Snickers” was negative reinforcement. Neither did my Mom. I am not blaming her. I am not blaming anyone . When you know better, you do better. Both of my sisters were super thin. Always. And there was Diana. I struggled to feel a part of my family. Again, they never knew that. Both of my sisters were high achievers. Both in Who’s Who Among American High School Students. Both Honor grads. Both receiving scholarships to college. Both thin. Both better than me. I never said anything. I think the biggest thing I ever did was steal my sister Darlene’s clothes and put them in my backpack for school. I would take her cool wrap dress and her sandals and change in the bathroom. I wanted to be like her. She was 7 years old than me and I could fit in her clothes. I didn’t see a problem with that. I got into trouble, and I am pretty sure that started me eating my feelings.
In high school, I felt HUGE. Now that I look back, I really wasn’t that big. Compared to the other girls, I was a giant. I couldn’t fit into the cute Ditto jeans. I wasn’t invited to parties. According to my parents, it was my job to be a good student. I could not participate in extra-curriculars. I could not get a job. I was amazed they allowed me to have a boyfriend and I took that and ran with it. He got me out of the house. I tasted a carne asada burrito for the first time. It was love for me…..me and that carne asada burrito.
I married that boy. He got me out of the house. I finally had control over my life, what I did and what I ate. I wore a size 18 wedding dress. I felt so unattractive. I guess this guy I was marrying didn’t care. He never said anything, so I better hang on to that.
Two babies later and I was hitting 200 pounds. I took diet pills. I tried a weight loss center where they injected me with B-12 shots in my butt. I tried a type of Optifast through Grossmont Hospital where all I did was drink liquids (ugh why did I put my body through that?). I did lose the weight. I flipped out. Where did my childhood go? My teen years? I started hanging out with single friends, going to clubs and dancing 3 nights a week. I was a decent weight. People stopped looking through me. This felt good. Until it didn’t.
Jump forward a lot of years. Of course, I gained all the weight back and then some. I was miserable. I kept inserting myself into other people’s lives hoping to find mine. That never works. It NEVER WORKS. My Mom had Alzheimer’s. The toll of watching her deteriorate and helping with her care was overwhelming. I ATE. My oldest child was grown and had moved out on his own. I was married and I was suffocating. You can be lonely within a relationship. No one cared if I came or went. I hit my wall. My teenage daughter and I moved out. If I had to start my life all over again, I was going to take myself to a place that made me truly happy. Where did I always head to on my days off? Where was my escape? We rented a beach house in Encinitas. We exercised. We ate well. I slept and I would walk to Moonlight Beach after work. We would play on the swings in the sand, sometimes at 11 at night. My weight started to drop, my skin looked healthy and I could breathe. This was my life. Mine. The one I had always wanted but was too afraid to get. I took a leap of faith, and the net appeared. I was finally living a true and authentic life for myself. It was scary. It had to happen, and it was absolutely the right decision to get out of my comfort zone (was I really comfortable?) and find the courage to go for what I wanted.
That’s when I met this guy 😉
Fast forward almost 6 years. My Mom died. It was the worst thing to ever happen in my life. It was ugly and unkind. My kids both had weddings. My daughter had a baby. My Dad teeters with bad health. I had to move to another State to keep my job. The stress. THE STRESS. So much was out of my control. I ate and I ate. I saw this picture of me at my son’s wedding, and I sobbed.
Pneumonia hit me for the 5th time in my life last year. I was sick for 6 weeks. It left scarring on my lungs. I was told I would need two inhalers for the rest of my life. Are you serious? Ok, so I did it. Rick and I planned a trip to Page, AZ. I wanted to hike to the edge of Horseshoe Bend. I thought I was going to die. I refused to stop. There was no way we were going to be this close and not go to the edge. I did it. It hurt. I needed my inhalers 6 to 7 times just to make it back to the car. I couldn’t breathe. I was angry. This was crap. I am too young, what is happening to me?
I went to my primary care doctor. I was the heaviest I had ever been. My cholesterol was through the roof. My blood pressure was out of control. I was borderline diabetic. Me? That’s when I had to take serious stock of my life. This is not the life I had envisioned. I finally had a supportive, loving husband and his fat-assed wife was not going to live long enough to learn to paddle board with him, or scuba dive, or hike Sedona. I was going to die before we retired. I was going to be the lady at the grocery store who needs the motorized cart. He didn’t deserve this, and neither did I, and it was all my fault. My sedentary life was going to rob me of a happy life. I asked my doctor about the surgery. He was supportive. My anger outweighed my fear. My anger removed all of my excuses for why I shouldn’t do this. Was a cookie in my mouth more important than waking up to Rick, feeling his loving arms around me? Was that bowl of ice cream more important that seeing my grandson grow up? I was angry. I am still angry. I need to be.
I had my consultation last October. I received information on how I should be eating, what I should stop doing, and what the journey would entail. There were no deal breakers. I had to lose 15 pounds before surgery would be approved and my insurance required me to see a nurse practitioner, a nutrition specialist and an exercise therapist for 4 months before my surgery would be approved. I had to have a full psychiatric evaluation to make sure I was mentally in the right place. Ok. Let’s do this. I lost the 15 pounds along with another 32. My A1C went from 6.3 to 5.4. I was no longer pre-diabetic. My cholesterol was in the normal range. I was THAT angry.
If you can lose that much on your own, why the surgery? I needed this as a lifelong tool. I have lost weight before. I know it is an addiction that I needed to break. I have proven over a 50 year period that I suck at doing it on my own. I cannot reward myself with food for doing a good job. I made a list of goals that I want to achieve alone and with my husband. These are my rewards. This surgery was my answer to getting my life back. It was not easy. I made myself get up and walk the hospital halls 3 hours post-op. I wore a shirt that said Everything Hurts and I am Dying. This brought my husband and I closer than ever before. I needed him and I let myself need him, and he was and has been there for me. Every step. I needed help. I took it. I am worth it.
Now you know how I got here, and now you will see where I go from here. I need the accountability. I need the support. Think about what you need? Excuses are just that. Reasons for not doing the best for you. MAKE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, THE BEST OF YOUR LIFE. There is no one in your way except yourself. 🙂