I finally took the pre-op paperwork into his office after holding onto it for over a year. Wait.... maybe I should speak a bit about how I got into the morbidly obese state in which I currently reside. Like many of you that may read this blog, I was an overweight child - not always choosing the "good for your body" things to eat, but rather choosing the “things that taste good and are bad for your body". I remember being in the 3rd grade and weighing in at over 100 lbs. I was short and fat. None of the other "polite" terms like chubby, plus, husky, hefty.... could make me any lighter - I was a fat (but happy) kid.
I grew up an extremely small town in the South where the summers were hot and we learned to swim about as soon as we could walk. When I was 12, I joined the local swim team. I was a pretty good swimmer but the swimsuit was NOT my friend. I remember a particular summer when "Marshall" (not his real name) came to stay with his grandparents during the summer. He was from NM and was one of the coolest boys I had ever seen. I had such a crush on this boy but he was WAY TOO COOL for me! (Remember I am from a small town so this was a BIG deal). One afternoon, as we waited for the pool to open for practice, Marshall begins teasing me, calling me names and getting the other kids to laugh. (My given name is Mary Gail but Marshall thought it would be cute to call me Mary Whale - you get the idea....) I was so hurt but tried to laugh along as if I was not bothered. As sad as it was, even that was not enough to make me want to loose the weight.
Between my 8th grade and 9th grade year in high school, I tried out for the drum and bugle corps. I wanted to be on the rifle squad. My heart was set but the competition was tough. Against all odds, I made the squad – but there was one condition placed on my staying on the squad. The band director pulled me aside and said that if I wanted to keep the position, I had to work hard – harder than the other girls because he would not allow me to march if I did not lose weight by the time the show season started in September. I short; he told me I was too fat for the squad. He said he wanted to show a sleek looking corps and unless I could lose the weight, I was OFF! PERIOD – END OF DISCUSSION!! Again, I was devastated. I cried when leaving his office. I went home and told my parents what he said. They were angry and immediately set up a conference to talk to the director. He stuck to his guns, and I decided right then to lose the weight over the summer.
I worked so hard, eating sugar-free this and low fat that. This was during the early 1970’s so sugar-free and fat-free were just coming into their own. The stuff was awful – but I was determined to suffer and lose the weight. I began stretching and walking then jogging. Of course, I was again on the swim team that summer. Swimming is a great exercise and worked all of the muscles in my body. I biked or walked everywhere that summer. If I got hungry, I drank water or went out for a walk or jumped on my bike – I did anything but eat between meals. By the time school started, my 5 ft. frame had gone from a 13-14 to a 6-7. I was on the squad! I kept the weight off for most of the next two years but it crept back up again and by the time I was ready to go to college, I was back at to 13-14.
My freshman year, I too was a victim of the “freshman 10” – where you gain at least 10 pounds. My only problem was that during that first year, I gained about 25 total pounds. I was still 5 ft. but I was pushing 165 or 170. At Christmas, Santa brought me a pair of Levi’s and they were too small. I again decided to lose the weight if I could. I worked really hard and again was down to a 6-7 by the end of my Sophomore year. That was also the year I got married and moved overseas. Within a year, I was pregnant with my first child. Like a dummy, I ate and ate (after all, I was eating for two now). When it was time for me to deliver, I was as tall as I was wide – 191 lbs. Here we go again! After the baby, I lost most of the weight, but not all.
Since that time, I have gained, lost, gained, lost, and gained again. After my divorce, I gained and gained and gained again! The last 6 years have been the most miserable of my life. Trying to find clothes to wear to work that are not made by a tent company is difficult. I was always one that tried to look her best, even when dressed in jeans. With this extra 150 pounds, it is hard to feel you look your best at any time. My legs, ankles, and feet are constantly swollen. I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and now must use a CPAP machine to breathe if I sleep or nap. Trying to put on shoes is a real chore! I am always thrilled when I can get my shoes on and still be conscious. Bending over is almost a death sentence because of my large stomach. I have chronic back pain and my feet ache if I try to do any walking. My knees are also screaming for relief. I am out of breath all of the time. In short – I AM MISERABLE!!!! Now that I have written all this down, I am not sure why I waited a full year before making a decision.
For the last year I have been researching, talking, asking questions, and trying to decide if I should have WL surgery. I have decided to have gastric bypass surgery with Dr. Bruderer at Medcenter One in Bismarck, ND. I have read great things and have spoken to several of his patients (some of which work with me now). All of the feedback about the doctor has been wonderfully positive. I am sure this will be a great fit for me as well. I am excited about the surgery – knowing that this will be a life changing experience for me and a huge adjustment for my family. They too will need to be educated in what is and is not acceptable for a life change to occur. They have assured me that they will work with me and assist in any way possible to see that I reach my goals. This is my journey, but they will also be there with me as I travel this new direction in my life.
I have delivered the pre-op paperwork to my surgeon and his nurse has called Health Partners (HP), my insurance company. I need to complete a series of phone consultations with HP prior to seeing Dr. Bruderer. Once I have completed 5 of the first 6 calls, I am to contact the doctor’s nurse and set up my initial consultation with the doctor. I can also schedule an appointment for my psych evaluation. The doctor will schedule a visit with the nutritionist. And I am on my way. I have been told that I will be on a liquid protein diet prior to surgery to lessen the fat around my liver and to show my dedication to the surgery. After this, the next hurdle will be time off from work.
The normal recuperation time is 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how well my body heals. Since I work on a two-man accounting team, the surgery cannot be during a quarter-end or year-end close (this is my decision not one mandated by the company). If things move quickly, I could see a surgery date as soon as September. Ideal timing would be October – not during a quarter end close and not a very busy month. This would also allow time for me to heal and get back to work prior to December’s year end close. I have saved 3 weeks vacation that I can use but there should be no problem with Short Term Disability if things run over 3 weeks. (Since I am primary wage earner, I MUST work!)
All that is left now is for Health Partners to call so I can begin the consultation phone calls. I am so excited at what this can do for me and how I feel! I will try to write a little as time goes along to keep those of you that want to know in the loop. This is my story… and it has just begun!