Weight Loss Surgery: A Personal Story
Weight loss surgery is a very personal conversation, and being willing to share your story is hard. I struggled with weight for as long as I can remember. After years of looking for a long term solution to my weight, I made the difficult decision to have weight loss surgery. The thing is, some people like to say weight loss surgery is the “easy way” out, but I’m here to shed some light on what you don’t know unless you’ve had experience. Everyone has a different experience so here is mine.
In 2009, my only surgery options were LAP-BAND® or Gastric Bypass. I chose the LAP-BAND® (which I will often refer to as “the band”) because it was reversible and didn’t cause as much harm as having a portion of my stomach removed as with gastric bypass. I went through all the insurance requirements to get my surgery approved, and after about 3 months I was scheduled for surgery.
I was very nervous and emotional because this was a new experience for me, but one I felt needed to be done. My surgery experience was less than favorable. This is when I found out I get sick from anesthesia! So sick! OMG it made me nauseated to the point of dry heaving. My family was very concerned when I came home from the hospital, I was out of it and just sick! In my mind I wondered if I had made the right decision. Which brings me to my first point. The hardest thing to change after surgery or any lifestyle change is the way you think.
It’s a Mind Thing
Before getting approved, weight loss surgery patients are required to have a psychiatric evaluation. This is necessary because being overweight for a long time then quickly transforming into a smaller person can be a mind fuck! Just imagine being ignored for years by the opposite sex, then all of sudden you are getting approached and have no idea how to act!
Going into this process I had visions of myself being smaller and happy in my body. I couldn’t wait for my confidence to build and finally live the life I felt I deserved. I was ready for all the fun stuff but I wasn’t aware just how hard it would be mentally. Even though I knew how hard it was for me to stick to a diet, having my stomach restricted made me feel more confident I would succeed.
The LAP-BAND® is designed to restrict the amount of food your stomach can handle during a sitting. The band is wrapped around the upper part of your stomach which creates a small pouch to hold food and keep you from being hungry. That sounded like exactly what I needed, but I don’t believe mine ever worked the way it was advertised.
I will admit I expected the process of losing weight with the band to be a bit easier than doing it on my own, but it came with it’s own set of frustrating issues. Such as food getting stuck and me having to rush to the restroom at a restaurant to throw up (I know gross right?). I would eat throw up then be hungry again, I started to think this surgery was turning me into a bulimic.
I learned how to “eat around the band” because when I would eat the recommended way, protein first then veggies some days it would go down fine other days it was a no-go. Which would lead me to eat unhealthy foods that would go down without trouble. Overall I lost about 60 pounds in 3 years which all came back plus more.
With any medical procedure there are always risks involved. One of the risks associated with the LAP-BAND is band slippage, this happens when the band moves out of it’s original location. In 2016 I found out mine had moved too close to my esophagus which caused me to have Reflux. I also had constant pain in my left arm, and irregular heartbeats. This was caused by the band stimulating my Vagus Nerve . Which is why I eventually got it taken out and revised to the Vertical Gastric Sleeve (VSG).
That’s right I’ve had two weight loss surgeries. 7 years after my Lap-Band surgery I was 292 pounds!! The band was still in but I had all the fluid removed too stop food from getting stuck and it also stopped the funny heartbeat. I was at my biggest weight ever and so uncomfortable and unhappy. I had to get the band removed because I no longer felt safe having it in my body. I hated to feel the metal port sewn into by abdomen, I hated that even though the fluid was gone food still got stuck, and most of all I hated how big I was!
I couldn’t wait for my new insurance to kick in at the beginning of 2016. I’d done all my research on lap band revision, I knew how much it would be, and I was ready to get this over and done. I joined a few Facebook groups for people who’ve had revision surgery, and they all said The Sleeve is everything they expected the Lap Band to be. This made me so happy because I would finally lose weight and no longer have a piece of medical equipment in my body.
I had surgery May 4th 2016. I will never forget my surgeon saying “May the 4th be with you” I believe it’s a Star Wars reference but I thought it was funny. Anyway my surgery went well, I had to stay overnight in the hospital and as expected I was sick from the anesthesia. This time I was surrounded by staff who could give me medicine for it, even-though I threw it back up. That was a night where I just had to lay there and though it out.
Highs and Lows
Weight loss surgery has altered my body (physically and mentally) and it has taken these 2 years to learn my new body (still learning). Sometimes I get so focused working on my blog that I forget to eat until I start feeling sick. Also if I go a few days without taking vitamins I feel weak and just flat out tired! The hard part about my new body is that I can become malnourished without realizing I’m letting it happen. I’m not always the best at drinking water, but my body definitely let’s me know when it’s time to fill up. If you are considering surgery I want you to know that the road will be hard, and you have to put in the work. Surgery is a tool and you have to assist it it in order for it to work.
Another thing that has been difficult for me is that, my hunger still feels the same as before. So when I get hungry I’m ready to tear up some food like I use to, but I can’t. It’s weird that now I eat a few bites and get so full that I can’t even stand to smell the food anymore. Sometimes I feel sick right after I eat. Like I said there are highs and lows, but I don’t regret having surgery I feel like it was best for me.
Having the band removed was one of the best things I could have done. I no longer have the symptoms from before which confirms they were caused by the band. After years of being self conscious and uncomfortable in my skin, I’m finally starting to love and appreciate my body.
Even though I am not at my goal yet, I’m in a better place than two years ago. Sharing these pictures use to be hard for me, but now I am able to post them now because no matter how bad I looked that was me! I have to be honest about where I was and proud of where I am now. So now I celebrate my shape because I’m truly unique and I went through a lot to get here.
We all have to travel our own road so I say do what makes you happy!