The day my three year old daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy, why are you so big?” I knew I had to change something about my life. I was a short girl, not even five feet tall, and I weighed 214 pounds. I could not get in the floor and play with my daughter because it was too hard to try to get back up. I was too big to play softball because of the pain in my ankles. I was carrying an extra 100 pounds on my frame, and no amount of exercise and dieting had been able to get it off. I tried every diet known to man…from the age of 11 I had been on some diet or another at all times. I did Herbalife, PhenPhen, Weight Watchers, Deal-a-Meal, Sweatin’ to the Oldies…you name it, I did it. But nothing worked for me. Sure, I might lose some weight, but it always came back, and then some.
The thought of having surgery to alter my digestive tract was scary, but oddly comforting. In my mind, it seemed like the sure bet. Even if I wanted to cheat my way out of the diet, I couldn’t because there was no reversal for the surgery. I did all the research online, and found Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, TN. My surgeon was a no-nonsense man who told me that I was a good candidate, but it would take work. All the nurses at the Bariatric Center were former patients, so I was well taken care of. They also use online marketing especially for plastic surgeons so as a patient, I would know some necessary information about the procudere.
On December 3, 2002, I went in to have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. That day sticks out to me as the day I started a new life, for better or for worse. I was so lucky to have a loving and supportive family and husband, who loved me no matter what. My husband, mother and sister sat by my side for three days while I was in the hospital, and within two weeks I was back to work and back to “normal.”
The thing I wasn’t prepared for is that “normal” after surgery is not the same as normal was before surgery. It is really hard to tell someone who hasn’t experienced it what to expect. I tell anyone looking into surgery now that there is an adjustment period of about six months. I cannot explain what it feels like to take one too many bites, or to eat the wrong thing. It is unlike any other feeling I have ever experienced, but I know it well. With the passing of years, the feeling has lessened to a large degree, but there are still times when I eat the wrong thing, or too much, and I know that I am going to suffer for what I have done.
To me though, that is a good thing. If I eat a bowl of ice cream, I get sick. If I eat a bunch of fried foods, I get sick. That is a blessing to those of us who have had the surgery, because it is the ice cream, and the fried foods that made us obese in the first place. It’s that reminder that our body gives us that this is not what we need to eat to stay healthy and well.
Food has become a source of fuel for me now, instead of a reason to live. Yes, I still like to eat, but not like I did before. I eat to live, not live to eat. I have had my share of complications from the surgery, and I have even had my doubts as to whether I would do it again. But if I think carefully about my life before surgery and my life now, I must admit that I really like who I have become. I’m not the “fat girl” anymore. I can play with my kids, and I can run around and play softball. I’ll never win awards for best body, but that was never my goal. I am at a good place for me, and that’s the best thing I can hope for. That’s the best thing we all can hope for.