Bariatric Patient Outcomes, A Nurse’s Heart-Felt PerspectiveSeptember 9, 2019
Obesity is a chronic disease that affects more than 35% percent of U.S. adults. This disease affects not only one’s physical well-being but also their mental well-being. The impact of obesity can affect an entire family not just the individual suffering from obesity.
Physical limitations may exist that do not allow you do participate with family and friends, often leading to mental anguish. The unfortunate truth about our society and culture is that people who are overweight or obese are often shamed for being that way which can lead to depression, anxiety, and isolation of those who are overweight or obese. The world we live in is not always made to accommodate the size of an obese person, therefore they are often limited in the places they can go and the activities they can participate in.
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in world without judgment or barriers simply due to our size, knowing you could do anything you wanted without weight limitations?
The exciting thing is this place can exist for you after weight loss surgery. While we might not be able to change the judgment of others we can change our physical bodies to do the things we want, the things that bring us joy, happiness, and fulfillment. This change in our physical body can also lead to mental states of happiness you never experienced before due to the elimination of physical limitations that may have been with you your entire life. Through hard work and weight loss surgery, you can feel and look like a new person, the person you want to be with limitless possibilities.
Initial Steps in Pursuing Weight Loss Surgery
Taking the initial steps to pursue weight loss surgery is often a difficult challenge. Making such a life-altering decision can leave you feeling full of anticipation, fear, and doubt. You may experience a lack of support from friends and family due to others' preconceived notions about surgery or perhaps even hold reservations yourself about the safety of the procedure or question if it is “really necessary.”
The important thing to remember is why you are pursuing weight loss surgery in the first place. Do you want to eliminate medications and chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, or gastroesophageal reflux disease from your life or do you simply wish to be able to go on a ride at an amusement park with your child or grandchild, be able to enjoy a walk around the block without stopping or getting short of breath, or stand without pain from your aching joints.
Small Events are Events That Change Your Day to Day Life
To an individual who has never experienced obesity, these may seem like insignificant events, things are done daily and often taken for granted. It is important to remember these may be things obese people may have never experienced or haven’t experienced in decades.
These seemingly small events are events that change your day to day life and after weight loss surgery you CAN experience. These events impact your life and the life of your family and friends significantly.
Post-operative patients have repeatedly shared similar experiences after weight loss surgery, small non-scale victories as they call them that change their daily life and ability to participate in everyday functions that friends and family can do that they never imaged were possible for them. Patients find the weight loss following surgery to significantly impact their physical appearance, which in turn affect how others in society react and treat them.
More often than not the attention is positive, patients no longer feel invisible or treated less than others due to their weight. This attention from others can really open their eyes and allow them to see that they are in fact seen, appreciated and important leading to increased self-confidence and love.
With a newly gained sense of themselves, the self-confidence patients often feel the confidence to take on challenges, risks or new opportunities in work or personal life that they may not have the confidence to do before. It is really a wonderful thing to see the changes in patients mind rather than their body. Yes, being free of diabetes and hypertension are great, but seeing a truly genuine smile on someone’s face who realized their potential is priceless.
Patient Outcomes: Living the Life You Never Thought You Could
While it might seem scary and even extreme to even consider having surgery in order to change your life, it might be the change you need.
Patients always tell me the physical and mental outcomes of weight loss surgery and the life they've gained far exceed the risks or hardships along the way. The ability to live the life you never thought you could be life-changing to so many. Patients love to share their non-scale victories as I mentioned earlier.
Some of my favorite non-scale victories (NSVs) include being able to get on the ground and play with grandkids, purchasing clothing at any store they walk into with friends, walk upstairs without feeling winded, fit in chairs and on airplanes, and so many more. As you can see life is not solely about the number on the scale or the size of your pants, but rather about feeling “normal” and accepted, doing the things you see everyone else doing so effortlessly.
It is important to always remember that each individual starts at a different place. While it is natural to compare ourselves to others, it does not define your success. Your goal maybe someone’s starting place, someone’s starting place maybe your goal; focus on yourself, your goal and what your surgery team recommends and you will find physical and emotional success in YOUR journey.
Every single person has a story, a journey, a past that most will never know. This past likely has created their present state, it is important to remember that before surgery, after surgery, and always. We don’t gain anything from judging one another, comparing ourselves to others, getting down about not reaching our goals fast enough, but rather we build strength, respect, and hope from encouraging, helping and supporting one another no matter where you started, where you want to be or how you get there.
ABOUT THE AUTHORCaroline Roberts MN, RN, CBN, CNOR, is an experienced Operating Room Nurse that has worked in the hospital & health care industry. She is the Bariatric Coordinator at CHI-Franciscan Center for Weight Management in Federal Way, WA. She is skilled in Nursing Education, U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Healthcare Information Technology (HIT). She has a Master’s Degree focused in Nursing Education from University of Washington Tacoma.