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Old 02-24-2014, 03:30 PM   #1
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Why I wanted WLS (long)

My clinic required a letter from prespective surgical patients explaining why they wanted to have surgery. I forgot about it, but just found the electronic copy today. It hurts to read, but also reminds how very, very far I've come. I wrote this in December 2011, had surgery June 2012. I thought I'd share it to help all of us who are fighting the good fight to remember why we're doing it.

When I went to the weight loss surgery information center Dr. Pierce opened his talk by stating that obesity was a disease with multiple causes. I felt tears forming in my eyes as I thought of the years of shame, humiliation, and seemingly endless string of failed diets. Maybe I wasnít weak, lazy or undisciplined, maybe I had a disease, and maybe there was an effective way to treat this disease.

I have struggled with weight since I was 24. That is 26 years of never being truly happy in my own skin. In those 26 years I have tried most fad diets like the cabbage soup diet, fruit and rice diet, Iíve joined weight watchers so many times Iíve lost count, I tried weight loss clinic and even took a shot at slim fast. Iíve lost various amounts of weight, but always gained it back and more. Lately I tried Atkinís, and while I did lose a significant amount of weight, (55 pounds), again I wasnít able to stop the regain. Iíve had multiple gym memberships and lifted weights with dedication and ridden to the moon and back on the recumbent exercise bike, and still I am not at a healthy weight. I am fatter than I have ever been despite the fact that could I tell you the amount of fat grams or carbs in most common foods.

As Iíve grown fatter, things I love have become harder and harder to do. I have always loved hiking and walking, but now even a modest hike leaves me breathless and I find I avoid walking. I come home from work and I donít have enough energy to care for my home the way I want to. I entertain less, because it is harder and harder to clean and cook for big groups. Besides my family, my greatest passion is travel, but I find I canít do all the sightseeing things I wish I could: for example in Provincetown my family climbed to a top of a tower for a view of the harbor, but I stayed on the ground, I couldnít do the zipline in Belize, I wasnít sure the kayak could support my weight in Honduras so I didnít go with my son and husband, I sit in agony on amusement park rides waiting to see if the bar will go down or will I have to do the walk of shame. If I fly with my family, I sit in between my kids so I donít encroach on someoneís elseís seat, and I pay whatever extra fee I have to get our seat assignments early. If I fly alone, I am filled with anxiety about fitting in the seat, and I arrive at my destination with sore muscles because I spent the whole flight trying to take up the least possible amount of space. Like many people I love clothes and I really love shoes, but clothes shopping for me now is about buying whatever suitable thing fits, not whether I like it or not, and shoes have to be dull and practical because my poor feet and knees cannot hold up all this weight in heels.

When I was younger, I seemed to be one of those heavy people who were healthy and reasonably fit. A friend commented that I ďdidnít move like a fat personĒ. Sadly this is no longer the case. I have sleep apnea that is definitely related to my weight (my husband comments about how much it decreases when I lose weight), I am now being treated for high blood pressure, and Iíve had physical therapy for my right knee. Even after therapy my knee has not regained its full range of motion. I no longer think of myself as healthy. I am sick. I am afraid I will not live another decade if I donít lose weight. My husband confesses that he is also worried, and said when I asked him about wls, ďTo be honest I am way more worried about you dying of a heart attack one of these days than I am about surgery.Ē
Living with the fear of an early death is not the only emotion related to excess body fat. There is shame and humiliation. There is the sense that everyone else is zipping around in sports cars and youíre lumbering behind them in a rusted out diesel truck. My kids and my husband are unequivocal in their love and pride for me, but I know they have seen the smirks, the dismissive looks, heard the unkind remarks, and it hurts them because they love me. And although I hurt for myself, I canít stand that my weight causes them pain too. Everyday presents new potential for humiliations: walking up flights of stairs with fit colleagues gasping for breath while they can still converse, the first day of school when we take a staff photo wearing the football teamís jerseys and knowing that even the biggest one is going to be too small, squeezing into auditorium seats that were installed in the 80s , having to go sideways through turnstiles or use the handicap exit, not being able to lower the tray table on an airplane, knowing whenever there are t-shirts for an event there will never be one that fits me, assessing every chair wondering if it might break (Iíve broken 2 of mine and one at my parents), being invisible to many people, all the while feeling like you are being judged because clearly you are weak, and lazy, and how could you let this happen to yourself? To be morbidly obese means you have to screw up your courage everyday to walk out into a world that sees you as morally inferior, even if the people who love you know youíre not, even if you know youíre not, because that is what people who donít know you are thinking.

So why do I want this surgery? Simply put, I want to live. I want to be alive 20 years from now. And more than just be alive, I want a quality of life I donít have now. And in order to really live, I need to lose weight. I have tried many, many times to lose weight, sometimes successfully, but I have never been able to keep it off more than 2 Ė 3 years. I have learned that for someone who is morbidly obese, weight loss surgery is statistically my best hope for a better life.
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Old 02-24-2014, 03:37 PM   #2
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And in reading this, all the things I wanted to do and couldn't (and things I didn't even know I wanted to do!) well, I do them now. And the things I worried about, the too small chairs, the tray tables etc, gone!!!! And I've posted ad naseum about my clothes shopping (man I love shopping!) My life has changed in every single way. I've said it so many times, but it bears repeating ~ I've escaped from fat prison. I my sleeve.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:20 PM   #3
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Jesse~~Good post I can relate to your whys. I am scared to death that my weight will start hindering me again, My back ad leg issues has caused me to put on 31 lbs. I am still fighting it But scared silly.
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Old 04-13-2014, 06:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse View Post
And in reading this, all the things I wanted to do and couldn't (and things I didn't even know I wanted to do!) well, I do them now. And the things I worried about, the too small chairs, the tray tables etc, gone!!!! And I've posted ad naseum about my clothes shopping (man I love shopping!) My life has changed in every single way. I've said it so many times, but it bears repeating ~ I've escaped from fat prison. I my sleeve.
Jesse - this and your original post brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you. I can feel the JOY - the - in your posts. I too have tried just about everything, but, here I am at 53, still over 100 pounds overweight and seriously considering the sleeve. I just don't know where to begin!

How did you find a doctor? A good doctor? I'm close to Charlotte, NC and just a couple hours from Duke Medical Center.

Escaping from fat prison ... oh, what an incredible achievement! Congratulations!
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinot View Post
Jesse - this and your original post brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you. I can feel the JOY - the - in your posts. I too have tried just about everything, but, here I am at 53, still over 100 pounds overweight and seriously considering the sleeve. I just don't know where to begin!

How did you find a doctor? A good doctor? I'm close to Charlotte, NC and just a couple hours from Duke Medical Center.

Escaping from fat prison ... oh, what an incredible achievement! Congratulations!
Thanks There were a lot of great things in my life before surgery, but shedding all this weight has made my good life even better! One place to start might be to buy a book about WLS surgery ~ there are several if you google them on Amazon, some specific to the sleeve. I found out about these books after I had spent like 7 million hours reading on the internet, they might have been a more efficient way to gather information. First, I just did a lot of reading about the sleeve on the internet, including visiting several forums specific to Sleeve surgery. I read about Center's of Excellence and knew I wanted surgery at one of those. In fact, my insurance would only reimburse if it was a COE. I found my program pretty easily ~ I googled Centers of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery in Minneapolis. There were several programs, actually, at 3 hospitals in the area that had good reputations. I thought I would go to several information sessions at all the hospitlals, but after the attending one at a hospital I already knew because my Mom had hip replacement there twice, I liked what they had to say and went with them. It helped that the head of their program had won Top Surgeon awards a couple of times in Minneapolis. Everything I learned about their program fell in line with what I had learned was "good practice". They had 3 surgeons to choose from, and I know all 3 would be fine, but I picked mine because he happened to be the one who did the informational seminar, and I liked his air of confidence and compassion. I did research him also, and he had a very good reputation as a surgeon. He had done thousands of RNY, but only 40 sleeves, so maybe some people would say he didn't have enough sleeve experience, but I am VERY satisified with the outcome. Their program had had no leaks, and they had GREAT follow up care. I am actually looking forward to my 2nd year check up, because they are very encouraging and positive, but also do not hesitiate to call you on things ~ like when I tried to argue I didn't need all the vitamin supplementation, they got kind of stern with me So I guess a long answer to say, the board that does the Center for Excellence designations can do a lot of the ground work for you, and then you can choose from those who have that designation. If you start with a program and you don't feel it's meeting your needs, you can always switch. Good luck to you, I know it's a tough decision ~ I reached the point where I saw my world getting smaller and smaller because of decreased mobility and this seemed like the most viable treatment for my disease.
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:38 AM   #6
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Pinot - I bet Duke is a great place to start looking. WLS isn't for everyone, but if you do it, and are really ready to overhaul your life, it is AMAZING how great the results can be!! You should come see us on the monthly WLS board - we're full of advice (and other things!!!).
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:17 AM   #7
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Great post, Jesse. I'm so glad you're in such a great place now, miles from when you wrote that letter.

I'm just beginning to grasp how much WLS is changing things for me. I relate to this statement, most of all: "To be morbidly obese means you have to screw up your courage everyday to walk out into a world that sees you as morally inferior..." That is so true. I have to mentally shake and remind myself not to feel like that, still. I don't think I'll ever forget feeling too embarrassed to go places or do things... and, in the past couple of years, of being unable to do things because of my creeping weight.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:54 AM   #8
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I wish i had written something like that down for days when i feel I'm not as successful as I think i should be. Oh wait, but i did do a video explaining the things i wanted to do.
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