I am 39. At 36, I had Gastric Bypass surgery. It was a difficult, easy decision. I know that doesn’t make sense, but let me explain. When I was in high school and then college, I let my weight limit my life. Once I read an article about weight loss surgery. At the time it was kind of a “taboo” subject. No one really talked about the procedure and what it could do to help people like me lose weight. It was something that was a joke punch line in movies and TV shows. “Yeah, she should just have her stomach stapled…” But after reading that article and feeling more educated about what it could do for me, I made the decision that if there were EVER an opportunity for me to have this surgery, I would do it. Fast forward to almost 20 years later, the opportunity came. And I JUMPED.
I found out about Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians (RMAP) and their success stories on a Tuesday. On Saturday, I was sitting in the classroom at St. Marks hospital listening to what my options were. I KNEW this was going to be the answer to how to deal with my struggles. It would be the answer that I was looking for and I have to say that Dr. McKinlay and the nurses answered every questions I had. No matter how dumb or silly they were, they answered with kindness. That was so appreciated!
I am 5’10” and I weighed 344 that day. I was wearing a size 26 jeans and a 3X top. And I felt shame every time I went shopping for new clothes. Absolute embarrassing shame. I thought that it was something I should be able to control! I just wasn’t committed enough, right? That is what I was sure everyone thought when they saw me. “That girl just has no self-control. She can’t even control what she is eating.” Let me say, that isn’t true. I tried every diet I could get my hands on; Atkins, HCG, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach…you name it, I tried it. With usually just a 5-10 pound result. I mean, I watched everything I ate. In 2011, I hired a personal trainer and ran a 5k that year. I was running 2 miles every other day—in that year, and I ran religiously—I lost a total of 23 pounds. That was discouraging. How could something that I tried so hard at, end in such utter failure?
October 16, 2013 was the day of my surgery. I could not be more thrilled with that decision! It was a long journey. I had a lot of hoops to jump through for my insurance company, but I did them gladly. I was giddy about the fact that I was taking this step towards being healthy and finally, FINALLY not over weight. People would finally see that person I actually was, instead of what I looked like—fat.
I felt like I was finally becoming the person I always knew I was meant to be! And that was such a wonderful and empowering feeling! I was able to do things that I either thought I was too fat to do, or that I really was limited from. Things like riding roller coasters, or going for a hike or even the little things like going to a baseball game and fitting in the seats or being able to cross your legs when sitting in a chair. There are events that come to mind as I am recollecting my journey:
1.) The day I walked into the GAP and bought a pair of jeans. I have NEVER been able to do that. I picked up the size that I thought I would need, put them on and they were TOO BIG!! So I got a small size and then sat in the dressing room and cried. It is such a small thing, but it was such an emotional moment for me. I bought those jeans and didn’t want to take them off!
2.) The day I flew on a plane for the first time after surgery. For years, I would get on the plane and try to discreetly ask the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. It was humiliating every time. After surgery, I still asked for the extender sat down and buckled the extender into the belt. The person next to me said, “I don’t think you need that, hon.” I smiled thinking for sure they were wrong. But as it turned out, they were right! Not only did I not need the extender, but I was able to pull the end and tighten the belt. I cried then too.
I have lost 176 pounds to date. I wear a size 12 jeans and a large top. I don’t let my weight define me or limit me. I am the person that I always thought I could be. And this October, I will be running my first half marathon. I feel better, and look better and I know that my health has improved. But most of all, I am happy. Weight loss surgery (WLS) is the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
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