Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
I have always had issues with food. I don't remember a time where I had normal behaviors with food. I ate when i felt bored, lonely, sad, or angry. I ate when I was happy. Every holiday event was centered around a feast that took days to prepare. Every get together was about the food. I have this problem where I never felt good enough. I was always lacking. I never felt full. I always felt empty. Food took that away, even if it was temporary. Food was my friend and my comfort. I couldn't express how I was feeling to others, but food was always there for me. I don't remember a time when I didn't binge before surgery. I am not sure I recognized it as bingeing then. At first, I almost enjoyed that sickening too full feeling because it replaced that awful empty feeling I had. Later, I remember crying to myself and thinking, 'STOP! Just please stop eating!' Only I just couldn't seem to master that will power to stop. I would make a commitment to eat healthy and set up a plan. I would do all the things you are told to do when you try to make a change. Only, those feelings would come on extra strong the minutes I said no to food. And, since I didn't understand that i had a problem, since I had no other ways to deal with life, i would resort to eating. I would binge and then loathe myself so I would binge more. At one time, I went on a popular diet plan where you weigh in every month. I almost didnt go back after the first weigh in because the scale only went to 300 pounds. I was so embarassed. But i kept going back. I was so determined. I lost 60 pounds and then stopped dead in my tracks. I did exactly what they told me to do. I didn't cheat. Not one time. I was mad at the stall but proud that I had mastered the will power they said I didnt have. Then I went to that meeting and was told that i MUST be cheating. I would be losing if I wasnt cheating. I was devastated. I felt like a naughty child being accused of something the ONE time they had not done it. I never went back. The weight piled on. A bad marriage and depression brought me to my top weight of 450 pounds. I started doing daycare out of my home so i didnt have to face anyone. I didnt leave the house (unless it was an emergency and I absolutely HAD to go...then I suffered through panic attacks) I wanted to do something. I have tried every diet out there. Bought all the books. Tried all the pills. Nothing worked. I went to doctors and was scolding and threatened and shamed. You just need to try harder. Use your self control! Just stop eating. Oh how i wanted to! How I wanted to break free and not be a slave to this addiction that was killing me. Diabetes. High blood pressure. Blood clots. Breathing difficulties. Incontinence. Skin infections and sores. Arthritis. Imagine all that money that was spent in medications to keep me alive. If you think that surgery is expensive, try a life time with chronic diseases. It was then that I decided to seek counseling, not for depression, but for the real issue that was killing me. My inability to deal effectively with my feelings. I had to learn coping skills and ways other than eating to cope. I worked on that for almost 3 years before I even hoped to have surgery. I came to understand the nature of my eating disorder and WHY I felt I couldn't stop when my heart desperatly cried out for me too. It wasn't a lack of will power. I wasn't bad or lazy. I wasn't stupid and weak willed. I DID care about my body and my health. And now i had the knowledge TO care for them! Armed with this, I finally sought out the man who saved my life.
What was (is) the worst thing about being overweight?
I think the worst thing about being over weight was actually one of the reasons I started gaining weight. A lot of people do not see obese people. They see the obesity. They choose to ignore the person underneath that. I wanted to disappear when I was a child. Weight hid me quite well and it had the added bonus of making me feel filled up inside. I fed the monster in that way. Later, the weight I used to hide me became like an ugly scary halloween costume I couldnt take off, and furthermore, was AFRAID to take off. I hated myself. I hated what I saw. I hated the mother that i was, unable to play with my children, reliant on others to chase them down. I hated being seen as lazy. I hated that people thought that being obese must mean you are deaf as well. Some people would loudly make comments on my weight where I could hear it. I guess they thought of me as something less than human and therefore it was okay to be cruel. I didn't hate the people. Just that they didn't see ME. I wanted to say, I'm here damnit! I hear you. Please see me! And yet that was the very thing I feared the most. Taking off the mask. Mostly, I hated how helpless and hopeless I felt. I started to believe I really was lazy and stupid and lacked any kind of will power. I was just bad. I had no hope of getting good. Further, I hated how people automatically made assumptions and decisions about my health. I wasn't worthy of risking the money because I would just fail anyway. It's an obvious lack of will power and a conscious decision to eat. I wondered why we don't blame cancer patients for having cancer but we blame people with eating disorders for having an eating disorder? After working with my brain I can to the freeing revealation. Turns out I was sick and needed someone to help me get better. And there is was born. Hope.
If you have had weight loss surgery already, what things do you most enjoy doing now that you weren't able to do before?
Dr. Versteeg saved my life. He never once lied to me or pulled any punches about my chances, the dangers I was facing, or the hard work I was going to have to do. And while I sat in his office swimming in shame, he never ever once made me feel guilty or less than. His wife works with him as well as a wonderful nurse Lannette. My angels. My cheerleaders. The boots that kick start me when I want to stop the world and get off. LOL! Words cannot express my gratitude. From the depths of my soul, i love these wonderful gentle kind human beings who SAW ME and chose to help me. Having said that, there isn't too much about my life now that I don't love! I love that where once I could not walk around the block without feeling like I was dying, now i can walk EVERYWHERE. I used to have to sit and watch my kids play. Now I play with them. I used to watch life pass me by through the prison I had created. Now I am out participating in life, making it happen at times! I went to a water park for the first time. I talk to people I don't know now. And while the thought of people getting to know me still is a little scary, I don't mind as much. Family events are now enjoyable because I catch up with my family, not because of food. The connections i have been able to make because of my lifestyle change are what I value most. I dont really think about the way i LOOK most days. I think a lot about the way I FEEL. Like when I dont have to worry about diabetes anymore, or take blood pressure meds, or how i can move without pain now. (or move just to move! I have hips! They can dance! woot!) I like who I am. Not just because of a number on a scale, but because I see the real me too now. Not the monster I convinced myself I was. If you are at the beginning, take heart. You can do this and you are worth it. Sometimes I still panic and think, is this going to be like all the other times I had success and then failed?? But you know what, i am not on a diet. My lifestyle has changed. My thinking is changing. My coping skills are present now. I am educated this time. I. AM. ALIVE and PRESENT in this life. So dear newcomer, welcome to your life. I see you. You are wonderful. Merry journey! If you are a policy maker, I am not a statistic. I am not a lost cost or an expense. I have a name. I have a disorder. And I deserved help for it, despite what you might think. There are others out there who need help. If you want to reccomend a 6 month period of therapy to go along with the 6 months of dieting a lot of you employ, I would be all for it. Because even though every obese person doesnt have my disorder, ANYONE can benefit from learning coping skills. I am just like you. I could be your mother, sister, daughter. Would you just let them die because it would cost time and a little money to help them? We are not bad people who are trying to be good. We are sick people who deserve a chance to get better. We do succeed. It is worth the risk. Thank you.