In 2000, I had reached nearly 300 pounds and was nearing the end of my rope. I couldn’t breathe at night as my weight was smothering me and I felt as if I were about to burst. I had never thought about there being an underlying cause of the eating frenzy that took me from obesity to morbid obesity in 24 months, but we can talk about that later. I saw Carnie Wilson on the cover of People Magazine and in June of 2011, I too had an RNY bariatric operation that reduced the size of my big ole handbag of a stomach to the size of a lemon and rearranged my intestines.
I have written about my Journey since it began and my tone has changed over the years as through experience you also pick up some wisdom. So I may seem a bit smug or even cynical, but I have been through a lot in my bariatric world – we live with permanent surgical choices forever and have little choice but to roll with these changes. Trying to not sound philosophical but its tough – as while I am much thinner and arguably healthier I can also stick my tongue in the space where I lost my tooth this year because of the bone loss in my jaw.
There are many things we can do without in life, but food isn’t one of them. After bariatric surgery we’ve got a good seven months to figure out what went horribly wrong with our relationship with food and create new patterns that are more compatible with a long life.
Our surgeons operate on our stomachs but not our brains – fortunately most of us prefer cleaner leaner foods after bariatric surgery and the reality of what we have done creates a line in the sand we both fear and respect.
There is a wonderful life with food after surgery – I was a Food Network watching fine restaurant loving foodie and still am all these years after my RNY procedure and loss of over 140 pounds. I have had to make adjustments, but the joy of wearing a little black dress and heels as I slip into a restaurant booth never gets old and makes up for not being able to eat from beginning to end of an exquisite Las Vegas Buffet.
Life is all about deal making & tradeoffs and post op life is taking the deal that you are giving up Fettuccine Alfredo & Garlic Rolls in exchange for normal blood pressure and a few extra years. You can be happy about it or you can be miserable while eating your Grilled Shrimp & Vegetables – it’s a choice. That is actually the key to this whole bariatric lifestyle – believing on all levels that this is a choice and not a forced punishment.
‘Fifteen plus’ years gives one an excellent vantage point – its not easy to do this from day one, but let me be first to burst your bubble to say that it doesn’t get easier as time passes – it is different, not easier. Since you live with surgical alterations forever, you go through changes of life which make this akin to dodging paint balls when you don’t know someone is shooting at you. I did not think that with my surgical alterations would come a list of serious deficiencies and new medical issues to address – still an overall good tradeoff, but not a slam dunk.
Those new post ops writing ‘Woo Hoo, 85 Pounds Gone Forever !!!!’ and talking about moderation and fast food have no idea they are in for a rude awakening at year two, four and five when things somehow begin to work differently. Then another milestone arrives upon getting your Crown for reaching age Fifty – when a woman’s body completely turns her life inside out.
Nothing is forever but that isn’t the point as it’s all about the Journey and not the Destination. I am likely a little further along the race than you are but it’s all here and I know that my discoveries and observations will likely help you to make adjustments.
Welcome to Bariatric Eating – and life after weight loss surgery.
Susan Maria Leach