Ok, I know I know...it's been WAY too long since I posted anything, and I feel horrible about that. There have been so many times that I have sat at the computer with the full intentions of typing out a nice, long blog post, but something always seemed to come up. I know, that's no excuse. But here I am now, and I'm going to make sure that I don't let a whole month go by again without posting anything. And those of you who see me on a daily or weekly basis, feel free to give me a good slap if I go more than two weeks without posting something. Someone has to keep me in line, and obviously Roland isn't doing his job! ;)
So yeah, can you believe that it has been FIVE whole months since my surgery? I sure can't! It's so weird because on one hand, the surgery feels like it was forever ago while on the other hand, sometimes I feel like everything just barely happened. It's so bizarre! Either way it's hard to believe that it has been such a short amount of time since my surgery. In the grand scheme of things, five months really isn't much more than a blink of an eye, yet so many things have happened in this short span of time that it feels like it couldn't possibly be any less than a year ago when I had the operation. In only five months I have managed to change my appearance, increase my energy levels, learn some of the feats that my body is capable of, and remember what it feels like to start to feel good about myself again. Plus, did I mention that I have now lost 120 pounds? That's like a whole person! When I first decided to have this surgery, I knew that all of these things were possible and would likely happen, but I never expected them to happen so quickly; I thought it would take years. It still amazes me how often people tell me how great I look and compliment me on my weight loss. I don't mean for that to sound so egotistical, it's just that these types of situations often create very surreal moments for me. I'm not able to see the same success in myself that apparently other people are seeing in me, and there are many times where I have to fight off the natural urge to respond with, "Thanks, but nothing has changed in my weight, I'm still the same." But that's not true. At this stage post-surgery, my body is still changing almost every day and despite the fact that I am no longer losing weight as quickly as I was right after the surgery, I am still losing weight continuously, so of course people are likely to notice. It's me who isn't seeing the picture clearly.
When you deal with weight issues your entire life, you learn to see the world in a different light at times and to view yourself differently than how others might see you. Much of that is a defense mechanism because the reality is, no matter what we may say otherwise, fat people are generally very sensitive and we often have trouble dealing with things like self-discipline, criticism, and at times, reality. We are also really good at making excuses for ourselves and our behaviors, because deep down even we know that we aren't fooling anybody with the bad choices we make, especially ourselves. Food is often not only an addiction for us, it's a support system. Although there are actual genetic and scientific reasons that contribute to obesity (something I have briefly touched on before), the fact of the matter is that those reasons only carry so much weight, pun intended. Food is a very emotional concept for most of us; it is consumed at happy events like weddings, birthdays, and general social events, but it is also consumed during difficult times, like funerals, while PMS'ing, and when feeling generally sad, stressed, or depressed.
Prior to having the surgery, all patients have to go through many different tests and doctor appointments, simply to make sure that they are healthy enough physically to go through with the surgery. What many people probably don't realize is that not only do patients need to make sure they are physically able to get through the surgery, they are also checked to make sure they are mentally and emotionally ready. At first, while I was going through all of these different appointments, I wasn't really sure why it was so vital for me (and all other patients) to have a psychological evaluation. My feeling was that yeah, obviously I have some emotional issues that I have spent my life dealing with via food, but considering the surgery I was having, I didn't expect to have some kind of crazy epiphany while having the evaluation; what else could they tell me or help me discover that I haven't already heard before on my own or from other therapists? I was surprised though, because I didn't realize that this psychological evaluation was not only to just discuss why my weight was so high and why I wanted to have the surgery, it was also to discuss how I might feel after the surgery. Again, it took me a few minutes to wrap my mind around this because for me personally, I was thinking that after the surgery I would be great! Yeah, I might need some time to recover and my body might be sore for a while, but it was worth it if it meant that I would be losing weight like I was never able to before. I honestly couldn't understand why my feelings post-surgery would even be an issue, because I was psyched and so looking forward to everything that was going to happen. It wasn't until I got home and discussed things with Roland that we were finally able to make sense of it all (I do my best thinking while talking, so sometimes it takes that to happen for me to fully be able to understand something or figure a situation out. Just a little side note for y'all!). For many of us who have weight problems, especially those of us who have had these issues our whole life, often the main cause of that is due to emotional pain that is softened by eating. It's that whole comfort thing. What we realized after my psych evaluation was that again, not only were they trying to make sure I was in a good place emotionally prior to having the surgery, they also wanted to make sure I was stable enough to be able to deal with the aftermath of the surgery, aka not eating as much. Again, that may sound silly or weird to some of you, but to those of you who are emotional eaters, I have a feeling you're already starting to pick up what I'm throwing down. Those of us who are emotional eaters find comfort, solace and dare I say happiness when we eat, especially all of those wonderfully not good for you foods, generally the greasier or more sugar-packed the better. After having gastric bypass surgery, not only does it take a while for you to be able to eat real and solid foods again in general, but it also means that you can often say goodbye to all of those wonderful tasting, bad for you foods, maybe not permanently, but at least for a long time. And what often happens when people lose their sense of comfort? They get depressed, stressed out, and generally unhappy, which isn't a good frame of mind to be in while you are trying to recover from having a major operation. It also doesn't help that there is a big occurrence of depression in overweight people in general anyway, so basically this psych evaluation is to make sure that you can handle dealing with the stress of recovering from surgery and eventually day-to-day life without having your basic life crutch; food.
I have talked to many different people who have had this surgery already and many of them told me it took them months to years to finally be able to keep many solid foods down with no trouble. I can only assume that it's these kinds of people to whom the psych evaluation is really geared towards, people who cannot eat normally for a long time after surgery. I am not one of those people, and often these days I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of throwing up or getting sick and generally not being able to eat, but part of me does often wonder if that path might have ended up being better for me, only because at this point I can eat pretty much whatever I want, and have been able to since 2-3 months post-surgery. Sure, I still had to be really careful when I first started eating solid foods again, and there were many times while I was still healing when I thought I might throw up, but I never did. As I continued to heal and was able to add more and more foods back into my diet, I was surprised to see how many foods didn't bother me. They tell us in all the support groups and information meetings that there are many foods that even years post-surgery are just not tolerated well by the new little stomach pouch, mostly "heavy" things like pasta, white breads, some meat, and ice cream. I can honestly say that at this time, I have tried all of those things and have not been sick once. Yes, I still have to be careful of how quickly I eat and how much I drink around meal times, and there are plenty of greasy and/or heavy foods that will make me feel not-so-hot afterwards, but overall, I have pretty much sailed through this whole experience. And I'll be honest, that's kind of what worries me.
Obviously I had to have this surgery because I have issues with food, particularly in making the wrong choices and not exercising as much as I should. I knew from the beginning that this surgery was not some kind of miracle fix that would automatically turn me skinny and make it so that I would never have to worry about my weight again for the rest of my life. This surgery is merely a tool, meant to help me help myself along the way. It works great by helping me shed a lot of weight up front (thus the 120 pounds so far!) just due to the fact that I'm not eating as much as I used to and my body breaks the foods down differently now, but eventually my body will start to compensate for the changes that are currently happening and it will start to try to hang on to some of these nutrients that for right now are zooming right in and out of my body. I will still have to work hard to make sure I exercise on a routine basis and eat the right things; it's all about making healthier choices. The general way my body is now wired because of the surgery will continue to help me keep my weight down for the rest of my life, but only if I treat it properly. And again, this is the part that I'm worried about. Because I have already found that I can pretty much eat whatever I want again (albeit in much lesser amounts) I am scared that I won't be able to keep things under control. I have been doing much better at eating healthy and making smarter choices, but I'll be honest, I could be doing a lot better. I still probably eat pizza more often than I should and I'm definitely not eating enough vegetables. I've gotten better at keeping up with exercising (I have found that mixing up the exercise really helps a lot, so that I don't feel so bored while doing it, which makes me dread it less) but I know I could be doing it more frequently. I'm proud of myself for losing so much weight already, but I also feel like I can't take much of the credit since my body is pretty much losing the weight on its own because it has to.
At this point, five months after the surgery, I have found that my weight loss is happening at a much slower pace and I believe part of it is due to the fact that my body is now trying to even itself out. My surgeon told me that around the year mark post-surgery, my body will start to not only understand that I have had this surgery that has re-routed my digestive track, allowing me to absorb less nutrients, it will also realize that it needs to fix itself and make it so that I can absorb more nutrients again, thus allowing for weight gain to be able to occur. If you think about it, it's pretty incredible that our bodies are able to do this. It's like evolution on a much smaller scale! The problem is, I don't want any weight gain to occur, which means I'm going to have to really stick to my mantra of making better/healthier choices. My biggest fear is that I will have this surgery, lose all kinds of weight, and then end up putting much of the weight back on again. It's a realistic fear because it's what has happened to me my whole life. But on the other hand, prior to this, I didn't have the tool of having a re-wired body and an even stronger desire to be proud of myself, and I am holding onto that to keep me going. I'm getting married in seven short months and want to look good for my wedding, plus we are planning on having children not long after that, and I want to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy children. Once those children are born I want to be able to run around with them, get on the floor and play with them, and have the energy to not only keep up with them, but to want to take them places and interact with them as often as possible. I also want to spend an incredibly long life with Roland and those children, and I won't be able to do that if I don't keep a handle on my weight. I am scared of what could and couldn't happen, and I'm scared of failing, but I am optimistic that I will be able to use that fear to keep me going in the right direction. Of course, it also helps that I have incredibly supportive friends and family around me, who I know will help me achieve any goal I reach for, and I consider myself lucky every day to have so much love around me. I know it will be hard at times, but I also know that I am stronger than I think I am, and I can achieve whatever I put my mind to.