All of my adult life, I’ve battled with weight/food issues. I’ve lost weight, lots and lots of it, but never enough, and never for very long. Then, four years ago in May, I was in Karmanos cancer facility (in Detroit, MI) having a total hysterectomy as the result of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The surgeon told me then that if I didn’t lose the excess weight, my cancer would most likely come back, and that I had to do it even if it meant bariatric treatment. Well, I did try. I lost about 30 pounds, and then gained it all back, plus more. As usual.
People who don’t struggle with obesity and weight loss problems don’t often “get” it, a lot of the time they think it’s just a matter of will power. But when you have well over 100 pounds to lose, it becomes overwhelming, and you just give up. So then, you’re seen as a big fat failure, yet again.
That’s how I’ve felt for so long it’s the only way I really recall feeling. I remember that even when I was a teen, my parents were constantly on me about my weight, and the ideal when I was in high school (the 1970’s)seemed to be slim body, long, straight hair, and I didn’t fit that description. So, my memory is that I was a fat girl who was just a failure. But after my mom died, I got my senior picture back, the big one that she had in a frame, and the girl I saw was NOT a fat girl. She was definitely a CURVY girl, and tall, so she definitely weighed more than a lot of the girls at school, but that girl was not FAT.
Food became a control issue, which then became emotional eating. Even later, as an adult, I’d come home from family gatherings and head straight for food to soothe my hurts, my anger, over whatever happened that day. Over the years there were a lot of stress factors in my life, and I’ve gained well over a hundred pounds just since I got married almost 20 years ago.
For the past few years, I’ve been researching bariatric treatment. I finally came to the decision that this was what I needed to do, so I spoke with my primary care physician about possibly having lapband surgery. He felt that it would not give me good enough results because I have so much to lose, and he recommended gastric bypass. He was able to show the insurance company (Health Alliance Plan, or HAP) why it’s medically necessary for me to do this now, as opposed to being made to go through a 12 month hospital based/supervised weight loss program (thankfully, as the ones the insurance would cover are not where we live), because it’s riskier for me to wait at this point with my BMI of about 51 and co-morbidities to go with it, such as diabetes. So, HAP gave me authorization to go to Detroit (about an hour away, depending on traffic, etc) and have the psychological evaluation, which I did on March 23rd. When we got home from Detroit it was after business hours and there was a voice mail waiting from the HAP insurance person with a call back number, saying they’d received my information from the phychological evaluation and to call back. I, in turn, left HER a voice mail :-). She called the next morning to tell me I had passed the evaluation and gave me an authorization number for my surgery, putting me officially on this journey!
I called the Henry Ford Hospital Bariatric Center (this is where my insurance requires me to go for this) and got my appointment for the six hour orientation, held on April 6. This would be when I began working seriously at figuring out who would keep my kids when I have to go to Detroit for long appointments and appointments when I have to have my husband with me.
I have four boys, 3 that are special needs adopted kids, one who is my step-son who lives with us and has not yet been “officially” diagnosed, but who has exhibited symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder. My eldest is age 17, adopted at age 2. He has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and is developmentally delayed. My step-son is 13, but in many ways also younger than his chronological age. My twins are age 8, but one is effectively about 5 – 6, has mild mental retardation, definite Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and has had seizures. His twin is more seriously mentally retarded. He is in many ways still a toddler, effectively. We adopted the twins last year, finalizing in November. They will have lived with us for a year this coming June. My kids are homeschooled, using a very relaxed, eclectic, almost unschooling method, which has been very good for them, much better than when I did strict “school at home”, or as I like to call it, school in a box, where I would buy a complete curriculum from one company and keep a strict schedule, etc. I couldn’t think of who to ask to keep them for me, because most of the homeschooling friends we have are not relaxed/unschoolers, and it would interfere with their school day. Then I remembered that one of my friends on the Christ Centered Unschooling yahoo group that I participate in lives here, so I spoke with her about it. She said YES!!! And they’ve had the boys twice now and haven’t been scared off or backed out, so the boys must be being pretty good for them, LOL!
The 6 hour orientation was so informative, I was glad they held it. There was a $50 materials fee, for which I received a huge blue binder full of all the information given at the orientation and then some, plus a book that the surgeon requires his bariatric patients to buy and read called Weight Loss Surgery (finding the thin person hiding inside you), by Barbara Thompson. It’s an excellent book, I highly recommend it ( it can be purchased through www.WLScenter.com, a website with tons of great information on bariatric treatment). The nurse who co-ordinates the bariatric program at Henry Ford was wonderful, I found her to be informative and really funny. She explained to us why HFH has been designated a Center of Excellence in this specialty, which made me feel better about the insurance company requiring me to go there. After her section was finished, the bariatric nutritionist/dietician took over, and also gave so much great information, along with answering so many questions. During her section another person was there to speak with us, and answer questions, a very nice lady who had this surgery 4 (I think) years ago. She even brought a pair of her old jeans so we could see how far she has come since then. She answered every question asked of her, including questions one might consider personal and/or intrusive, like how “much did you weigh before surgery” and “what weight are you down to now”. While we were there, my surgeon consult was scheduled for April 28th. We were finished a bit after 8:00 p.m., and headed home to pick up our boys.
The next day, I called to schedule my mandatory appointment with the cardiac excercise specialist, and was lucky enough to be scheduled the same day as the surgeon consult, which will save us a trip to Detroit, but make for a long day as one appointment is at 10:30 a.m. & the other is at 3:00 p.m., both for two hours. I also, as instructed at orientation, got an appointment with my PCP for bloodwork, chest x-ray and ekg, which I went to today. My doctor is also working with me to get my blood sugar levels way down from where they have been, because I have to do that before surgery. He doubled my before bed insulin in order to get my morning level to be lower, plus I’m taking a shorter acting insulin before breakfast, lunch and supper. I’m already getting in gear with the changes I need to make. I’ve been off pop of any kind since March 31st (no carbonated beverages ever again after surgery), and am working harder on portion control. Letting go of the fast food is turning out to be more difficult, though I’ve had a lot less of it, and always with bottled water instead of pop.
So, this catches me up to where I am as of today.