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Jun 12, 2009

Thoughts and stuff.

So yesterday I went to a bariatric surgery class.

Let me back up.

About a year ago..actually last June 20th, I went to see a bariatric surgeon on the advice of my doctor and endocrinologist. He said I was an excellent candidate for bariatric surgery (he recommended gastric bypass) and felt that I was at a point in my life where I am healthy enough and strong enough to minimize most of the risks associated with the surgery and to make the most of the success, i.e. young enough to still lose a significant amount of weight and healthy enough that I wouldn't get an infection or have trouble healing from the surgery. My BMI was borderline to be a candidate but he felt that with my history of diabetes and my parents history of strokes and hypertension, this was a good move for me.

Fast forward 4 days and I lost my job.

I was scheduled for the nutrition and psychological evaluations later in the year so I did those, then I was scheduled for a "class" to learn about the surgery and procedure as well as what life would be like after the surgery. I had to cancel this class because I was working temp at the time and couldn't afford to take the day off to attend. I rescheduled and it took over 9 months to get another appointment - yesterday.

Throughout this time, I had decided to "try one more time" to do it on my own and I was having great success until Den became ill and my life went to hell in a handbasket for a short time, I'm sort of getting back on track but finding it very diffuclt, I've not given up, I'm just not as dedicated as I was and it is showing. I've gained back about 5lbs that I fluctate up and down with over the course of the weeks, which isn't bad considering there was a time I would have put it all back on and then some.

Anyway, went to the appointment. I have to say that I was the smallest person there. I almost felt uncomfortable. There were men and women from their early twenties to about 60 or so and I think one gentleman said he was almost 500lbs.

We learned about the actual surgery, the risks, the possible complications and what life would be like after surgery. It was obvious to me that some people there thought this was going to be the magic bullet to fix their life and hadn't understood how much their life would change.

To be completely honest. I love food. I always have. I don't think I eat badly. I eat good food, but way too much of it and couple that with an underactive thyroid and diabetes and I have set myself up to be obese with a difficult road ahead to lose it. I know that as I lose weight, my diabetes will get better and my thyroid may or may not start working properly. I don't have high blood pressure or heart disease - yet. Both my parents had strokes at 55. My mom has always been a heavy smoker and is only about 20lbs over weight. My father has never smoked and has a normal body weight although he did develop diabetes after liver damage due to some drugs he was on after his stroke.

Where was I going with this? Honestly, my thoughts are so scattered. Do I want to do this? Do I want to investigate further?

The surgery is covered by our Provincial Health Plan so the wait is quite long about a year, unless I go to the US, but then the aftercare is problematic, I really don't want to drive over an hour each way after surgery for aftercare. The only major risks all my doctors see is the risk of surgery itself, anathesia and the risk of damage to my liver or intestines/bowels during the course of surgery. The statistic is about 1 in 200 for fatalities, but those people normally have underlying health issues that are exacerbated by the surgery, I'm not in that category. The deaths related to "accidents" during surgery is more like 1 in 500.

My endo put the risk in this perspective. I were to develop heart disease and had to have valve bypass or surgery to recover from a stroke, the risk would not be important because it would be saving my life and it wouldn't matter how sick I was at the time. Bariatric surgery will lower my risk of having to have one of those emergency surgeries and most likely, extend my life.

The surgeon said that not having the surgery means that I am at a 1 in 10 risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

The other issue that after what we have just gone through with Dennis - do I want to put my life at risk for a weight loss surgery? Is that being shallow and selfish? Do I want to put my family through another life/death situation knowing how much they were hurt and scared when Den was sick?

At this moment in time, I'm in a holding situation. Next week the surgeon's office will probably call me with a surgery date, like I said, about a year away. I can just leave the date hanging in the universe until about a month before and then make my decision. During that year or so I can continue on my own journey and see how far I get. I can change my mind at any point. I don't want to feel like I have that as an "escape route" because I don't think of it that way. After surgery I will be able to eat 1-2 oz of food at a time and may have intolerances to some of my favourite foods, chocolate, pasta, tomato sauce, oranges....

Like I said, I love food. I love eating, I love the nurturing nature of food, the comfort it gives, the love it shows and the love it shares. Its not just about "eating". It's about family and tradition. Its not just giving up the taste of chocolate or oranges, its giving up the ritual of chocolate cake for birthdays and homemade pasta on New Year's Eve.

I'm rambling. Like I said, my thoughts are everywhere on this.

1 comments:

Rachael said...

Before I was able to see my endocrinologist and get on medication to try something else, I was considering whether I would qualify for lap band surgery. I think you're right - a lot of people expect it to be a magic solution, but it's really a lot of work. Like you said, you can't eat normally afterward and you have to keep up diet and exercise to keep the weight off.

I used to be really judgemental of this surgery. Then in 2002 one of my best friends made the decision to have it. I struggled with how to deal with her afterwards, but in the end I came to absolutely believing that it was the right decision for her. It changed her WHOLE LIFE, her mental health, her attitude, her personality. The real her was able to come out.

I think it's great that you can schedule the surgery now then make other efforts until then. I know you don't look at it as an easy way out or a magic solution, and I think that's great. I'll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the subject!

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