Today is a pretty important day in my life. A year ago at this time, I was recovering from my sleeve surgery.
I remember waking up in my room around 3:30, in tremendous pain and discomfort. I was surrounded by my family and husband, all of whom arrived that morning at the hospital with me to be with me for the day. I remember that two of my oldest and dearest friends came by to visit me while I fought to stay awake. I had a very difficult recovery from the anesthesia, and being doped up on morphine for the pain didn’t help. The morphine also did little to dull my pain, but I knew this would happen because opiates do very little to dull pain for me–I actually have a genetic marker that predisposes me to heroin addiction. For the particular genotype for the marker that I have, I require more than the normal amount of opiates to feel pain relief. This also explains why I went through as much morphine as I did for the short time I was in the hospital.
But that is neither here nor there.
I was discharged from the hospital less than 36 hours after I went in. I’d been able to swallow and keep down fluids, I didn’t have any leaks, and I could walk and was producing urine to the satisfaction of the nurses. I went home at 3:00 the next afternoon, and what happened after that is the stuff of legend.
Over the subsequent 365 days, I have managed to lose 136 pounds. This does not include the 37 I lost as a result of the pre-op diet. Including the pre-op diet, I have lost a total of 173 pounds and counting. I am 54 pounds from my goal. I have lost 71 percent of my excess body weight so far. I am aiming for 90 percent.
In the past 365 days, I have also managed to lose:
- 9 pants/dress sizes (from a 32W to a 16W)
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Constant joint pain
- Constant lower back pain
For all that I have lost, I have gained much. I’ve gained:
- More confidence than I thought I had before. I mean, I was pretty confident before, but I’ve become more secure in my own skin.
- More poise. This was something I didn’t have much of before.
- Better posture. It’s a lot easier to stand and sit up straight when you don’t have 170+ pounds pulling on your back.
- A resting heart rate that hovers between 55-60 beats per minute.
- A fabulous wardrobe.
- The capacity to run. Before this past November, I had not run in over 20 years. Now I do it on the regular.
- The capacity to say no, especially in situations where choosing to do what I am asked do not benefit me.
- Less tolerance for suffering fools. In short, I don’t put up with bullshit from anyone. I don’t have time for it.
- So. Much. Loose. Skin.
Rewarding myself throughout this process has been critically important as a motivational tool. So you know I definitely marked the occasion with a reward. We happened to be in Baton Rouge yesterday on our way home from the vacation leg of our trip to Alabama, and we stopped at one of my favorite jewelry designers’ stores to pick up my one-year surgery anniversary gift to myself. I chose two pieces: a ring and a pearl necklace, both with a turtle shell motif. I chose them for a couple of different reasons. The primary reason is that while I may be slow in getting to goal, I am nothing if not persistent. I didn’t expect to get there in a year–it just wasn’t realistic or possible for me with the amount of weight I have to lose (200+ pounds). Second, I have developed a fantastic set of armor in the increased confidence and poise I have gained as I’ve shed this weight. Third, I’m a biologist and I dig turtles. Simple as that.
Before I end this anniversary tribute, there are a few things I need to address.
First, this road has not always been easy. And my weight loss period is not over yet.
While I have met my surgeon’s expectation, I have not met MY expectation, which is to be down 50 more pounds, at 90% EWL. I weigh now what many folks who pursue WLS weigh when they start. This frustrates me a great deal, but that’s a post for another time.
I have not been 100% perfect during the past 365 days. I can’t. It isn’t realistic or sustainable for me. I know there are folks out there who have had sleeve surgery that eschew carbs, veggies and still drink shakes for two meals a day even after they hit goal. And you know what? If that works for you and keeps you at a place with your body that makes you happy and doesn’t drive you batshit crazy, go hard, fool!
But I can’t and won’t live like that. I can’t and won’t follow such an extreme path to get where I want to go, because unlike a lot of folks, to me, moderation is not a dirty word. Some folks operate under the premise that moderation is what got them to be overweight in the first place. For them, that may be true. For me, moderation wasn’t what got me to my high weight of 440 pounds. STUFFING AS MUCH FOOD INTO MY GULLET AS OFTEN AS I COULD WAS. That’s not moderation. My sleeve allows me to know what true moderation is, and for this, I am grateful.
I know that there are days I choose to eat things that slow down my weight loss. I make a conscious choice every time I put food into my body to eat it, so I know full well what I am doing when I do it. I also know that this is not a race to see who finishes first. I am not competing against anyone except myself, and at this point in my life, the fact that I have lost over 170 pounds from my consult weight, and over 220 pounds from my highest weight ever is pretty fucking awesome. If these last 50 pounds take another year to come off, so be it. I will get there in my own time. It may be slow, but I will get there, come hell or high water.
Second, the Fat Girl still lives in my head. It’s like I always say, the surgeon only operates on your stomach, not your head.
Because she still takes up real estate in my head, I see a therapist weekly to deal with her and the issues the arise because she is still present. Mind you, her voice isn’t as loud as it used to be, but every once in a while she rears her misguided head and tries to tell me things like really, it’s okay to have ALL that food on your plate or you won’t fit in that seat, you’re too big or you really should buy that shirt/dress because it fits (even though it might not look great) or why do you want to work out? Don’t you just want to relax? Fat Girl still has a lot to learn about Thinner Girl and what Thinner Girl is trying to accomplish, and I still have a lot to learn about how to get the two of them to play nice and make peace with one another.
So I guess what I’m trying to leave you with here, Dear Reader, are these things:
- The post-op road is long and difficult, but well worth the time investment since the results are awesome.
- There is more than one way to skin a cat. Find a way that gives you the cat with the degree of nakedness you want and stick with it.
- Post-op mental health care is a must. You cannot shed tremendous amounts of weight without letting loose some demons in the process, and you need to tame/slay them or they will seriously hinder any progress you hope to make.
I have already celebrated today by snapping a photo at the hospital where I had my surgery and buying myself nice jewelry and a few new outfits on mad sale at Talbots. I am about to head out to an informational seminar my surgeon is hosting tonight as a way to cap the day, followed by a trip to the gym to run/walk a 5K on the treadmill and then a dinner of salad and rotisserie chicken.
This first year has been good. I am expecting this next year to be even better.