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By Marcia L. Hestand, MS, ABD Health Psychology – eight year bariatric RNY post-op
Wow, out of the blue comes a message from dear friend Suze. We want you and Ron to blog!” Immediately my brain began racing with ideas.
Now there is nothing like experience to be the great source of information, and believe you me, at the age of sixty-eight, I have experience! But how do I whittle that down to a manageable size? One step at a time, which is just the way we should approach our weight loss surgery/improvement program.
Let’s take a step back for a moment to that time before our change began. How did we cope in those days? With a bottle? With sleep? With food? Anger? Drugs, legal or otherwise? Then we had surgery. We went to the seminars, we sometimes joined a support group that may have ended up being a place to learn what we could get away with. Right? Now, be honest. You KNOW that I have just described the majority of available support.
So, what do we focus on most after surgery? How soon can we eat, drink soda, drink alcohol, or whatever our poison, again! I mean, come on, that particular food, soda, alcohol is what brought about the need for surgery! Yes, I said NEED. Not want.
And then, wham! Life hits. It may be loss of job, spouse, partner, car, home, financial stability, health…the “hit” is the same in the gut. And guess what? Our gut has a brain and helps to control how we react, how we respond, and communicates with our body as to how this incredible machine operates. Think of your first car, your baby. How did you take care of it? (I know, some of us have to go back to the dark ages!) You pampered that baby. Checked the engine or had regular maintenance on it. Changed the oil, checked the tires, lube, battery, all those parts that allow the whole, the car, to operate efficiently. And you took care of the brains of that baby. That baby in turn gave you a dependable means of transportation.
Then what happens? Here come Life. First comes the food in the car. Then food wrappers. Then the extra clothing for the gym. Then we miss a trip through the car wash. And all of a sudden that baby resembles a second or third car. Broken in. Neglected. The oil change gets forgotten. The tires go bald. All of a sudden the battery goes dead.
Well, that is what happens to us when we have weight loss surgery. WE NEGLECT THAT ENGINE! WE NEGLECT THAT MACHINE THAT ONLY WANTS TO SERVE US WELL! Sure, we took our vitamins religiously those first few years. Years? Well, for some, maybe weeks. Then it was “They make me sick.” “I can’t find any I can tolerate.” “They are too expensive.” Oh really? Someone I know and respect very highly often has said, “If I was told to eat dirt to survive, I would.” So we dismiss the warning that we do not metabolize food in the same way, we need nutritional supplements, FOREVER. And unfortunately too many physicians today still do not understand the intricacies of bariatric surgery and the need for forever vitamins and supplements. And we die.
When I was asked for Doc Ron and I to start a blog, a myriad of ideas immediately came to mind. And I need only look at my own journey and reflect on that. I need go no further. Yes, I followed the rules. For a while. Then LIFE hit and I coped. HOW I coped is not important here. That is behind me. But I did not resort to a new response, I resorted on my old tried and true, escape. Notice I said RESPONSE. Some of you may recognize that idea with me, respond rather than react. There is a big difference, and one day I will expand on that. My choice of a response was to escape. Oh, I had tools available, therapy. But that involves being honest. Honest? With whom? Well, for starters, myself. And the doctors. The therapist, if I’d had one. You know, we can be very perceptive when we want to, and will end up telling what it is “they” need to hear.
And then there is that master of gremlins, the “I just don’t give a damn!” That is a very dangerous period, but one that I am sure too many of us can share. Thankfully, I am clawing myself out of that hole. It is not a good place to be. How do you claw out? Well, it takes someone to help pull you out. It may be a partner, a friend, a professional, or it may be your inner self. What? How can my inner self help pull itself out? Very simply, you ASK it. Just ask. That is all. That inner self will never ignore, will never lie, will never tell you to do it yourself. That is your higher self. Oh, it may be connected to your higher power, or to the universe, or to your inner being that you were born with. But it will not betray you.
I have rambled, which is OK. I will get on target as we talk more. But for now you need food for fodder. You need to OPEN that mind of yours and once again be reminded of just what this journey is all about. IT IS ABOUT YOU! And it is a lifetime journey, not a quick fix, nor is it even a fix. It is a new path. Nobody said life would be easy, nobody said life would not teach us hard lessons. And sometimes we need a translator, a guiding hand. I hope the team here at BE will be allowed (by you) to continue to be YOUR guiding hand.