I seem to have been born under the Dumb Ass sign. I can look back over the years and see many situations in my life where I had to learn my lessons the hard way. This usually entails me beating my head against a metaphorical brick wall until I pummel myself into submission. Sometimes it takes years.
I’ve spent years in stubborn opposition to gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries. It’s the quitter’s way out. That’s how I felt about it. I have vehemently stood on my soap box and declared that I will never EVER do it. I’ve watched my friends jump on the bandwagon one after the other…many of them gaining the weight back, which has only helped me to justify my position.
I have come close to giving in twice over the past 20 years. Both times, the assembly line attitude exhibited by the surgeon’s office staff has snapped me out of it and made me stop dead in my tracks. My own reality, however, is that I have been failing at my own “success” for years now…and time is marching on.
As I was sitting in my living room the other day, I had a sudden realization. I’ve no idea where it came from. I was thinking of my Dad. He was an alcoholic his entire life and, except for about 6 months, was never able to break free of his problem with it. Dad and I have a very similar emotional personality.
I’ve struggled with my weight for more than 20 years. Except for 4 months when I lost 75 lbs (thanks to the advice of a doctor who was a complete QUACK), I’ve never been able to kick this in the ass. Again last year, I lost 50 pounds and then took a break and derailed myself. I’ve stubbornly insisted that I can do this myself. But I haven’t.
So as I was sitting there…thinking about my Dad…I realized: if there had been a surgery that would have helped my Dad to stop drinking, I would have begged him to have it done. I would have.
I still maintain that there are many people who seek bariatric surgery who want a quick fix. They want an external cure for an internal problem. This surgery was originally meant for people who are so sick from being obese that they need drastic intervention. It’s become something else entirely.
There was a time in my life when, if I’d had the surgery, I know I would have gained the weight back. I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because I’m happy, sad, glad, mad, pissy, anxious, joyous, rebelious. Name the emotion and I eat because of it. Surgery can’t fix that.
I’ve watched friends line up for gastric bypass, specifically. It’s not for me. The extreme nature of the surgery alone is enough to turn me away. Then there’s the hair loss, the hanging skin, the sallow complexion. I’ve known people who’ve died on the operating table from this surgery. It’s permanent and extreme and there are all kinds of possible complications. It’s not for me.
I need a boost. I need training wheels. I need a jump start. That’s all I need.
I gained this weight by binge eating through my 20’s. Grief stricken over things that happened in my childhood and heartbroken over the breakup of my first serious relationship, I turned to food for comfort. By the time I came out of my tailspin I could eat an entire large pizza in one sitting and thought nothing of drinking cake mix right from the bowl. Why wait for it to bake, right?
I think back on those times and I feel sad, ashamed, and mortified. That is not my life now. I haven’t done those things in years. Now my life is different. I know how to eat healthy and eat well. I’ve shown myself I can do it. I just have a really hard time sticking to it.
It’s too easy for me to drop the ball. It’s too easy for me to say “Fuck it, I’ve had a bad day…I don’t want to cook, let’s get a pizza.” Sure, I no longer eat the entire pizza myself…but I also don’t work out on a regular basis. I need something to STOP me from giving up…until I can stop myself. It’s not enough that I eat healthy if I drop the ball like this. It’s happening more and more frequently as my life gets busier and busier.
If I woke up in the morning and the Fat Fairy had visited and taken 100 pounds off my body, I would not make a mad dash for IHOP and endless pancakes. No. I would MOVE. I would go for a walk…go to Jazzercise. I would be hungry for more change and more weight loss. FAT loss. I wouldn’t have the discomfort or embarrassment that haunts me now. Sure, I’d still be fat…but it’s livable. 150 pounds? I’d tell the hubby to call in sick so he could take me to Six Flags to ride a roller coaster again. And the next time he mentioned hiking in Aspen? I would go. I wouldn’t make room in my life for extra cheese…I would make room in my life for LIFE.
I finally get it. These types of surgeries aren’t to be used as the solution. They’re to be used as a tool. That’s all they are. They’re not the end solution. It’s too bad that so many look at it that way and then never take the opportunity to make themselves strong. They end up gaining all the weight back and causing themselves even more problems.
If I did something like this, it would be something much less invasive and drastic than gastric bypass. LAP band is reversible and far less drastic. It also requires much less recovery time. You can be out of the hospital the same day and back to work in a few days. The more I learn about it, the more I think it’s the perfect crutch to get me moving steadily in the right direction.
I’m cautiously looking at it right now. I see it in a new light and I want to investigate it for myself. But I keep coming back to the question I asked myself earlier: if there was a surgery that would have helped Dad stop drinking, would you have told him to do it?
My answer will always be yes.