I started this journey back in February of 2010, at the age of 24, after a routine appointment with my GYN. We were discussing one of my many health issues and some ways to tackle it without being overly invasive and the first thing out of her mouth, as is normal with any health professional when they look at my chart, was “Losing a substantial amount of weight would be great first step!”
Well, being 5’5.5 and pushing 300 lbs (296 to be exact), all I could do was chuckle. I explained that just as recently as 2007, I had been 315 lbs and that I had been trying but that I seemed to ALWAYS be hungry. She explained to me that my health issue: PCOS (short for polycystic ovarian syndrome) was operating on a vicious cycle within my body because I am “insulin resistant”. In laymen’s terms: I eat food and, instead of converting glucose, or “sugar”, into energy, it stays in my blood stream until it reaches the liver and is then converted into my favorite three letter word: FAT! Because the insulin stays in my blood stream, it causes higher blood sugar levels which is what makes me feel “hungry” so I eat again… Repeat Cycle!
WELL! I was thrilled! There was finally a medical reason behind my need to eat 5 or 6 times per day instead of 3 balanced meals that we hear about all our life. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t eating all the wrong things or anything because I was; I was a fast food/junk food whore and an extreme over eater! However, I always started a binge with food for the right reason and with the right intention: I was hungry and I wanted to nourish my body!
That is when my doctor suggested I consider bariatric surgery. She thought I would be the perfect candidate for “Lap-Band” and referred me to a prominent weight loss surgeon here in Chicago. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I scheduled a consultation for a few weeks later. I mean, what kind of harm could it do to just hear someone’s opinion on whether something so drastic was needed or if I just needed fat girl boot camp…
At the consultation, I was rudely awakened when they explained to me that the Lap-Band wouldn’t be the right choice for me. Alas, they had another suggestion: Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass Surgery. Of course, my initial reaction was “No!” because I just didn’t see myself as being “that big”. Weren’t most people who had that “huge”? Didn’t you have to be 400/500/600 lbs for something like that? Another rude awakening came when we discussed my BMI, my health issues, my health risks and the facts behind the surgery: they were right! They gave me this giant folder filled with all kinds of information and an arm’s-length list of stupid crap I needed to do to meet both the doctor’s requirements and the insurance company’s requirements, as well.
Well, that was back February. I slowly started following the list of requirements, including a mental evaluation, 3 months of supervised weight loss visits with a psychologist, keeping a food log, starting an exercise regimen, quit smoking cigarettes AND my long time friend, Mary Jane, attend a support group meeting, amongst a million and one other things. I scheduled my surgery on 10/15 for exactly one month later: 11/15 @ Noon. I didn’t actually firmly decide to have the surgery until 11:59 AM on the say of the surgery. In fact, at 11:49 AM, I asked my mother, who was there with me, to take me home!
In retrospect, that stupid crap made me as prepared for this surgery as I ever could have been and I am beyond grateful to have a team of medical professionals who care about the patient more than getting another surgery under their belt!
That’s it! That’s my backstory and the quick and abbreviated journey I took prior to making the BEST decision of my life!