Before & After RNY with LornaDoone33, losing 185 pounds!February 6, 2018
Why I Decided To Have WLS
I thought I might be floating on a cloud in some surreal world where the scales won’t work properly. On the scale, 270 pounds? That couldn’t be right. I bought another scale. I got the kind you used to see in a doctor’s office before digital scales. You know, the kind with the little metal slide that keeps going further and further to the right as the bubble in the leveler adjusts? But my new, more accurate doctor’s scale read 272 pounds.
I floated back to my cloud of denial. I thought I’d cut back a little. No more donuts after breakfast, maybe. But no way would I do without my daily morning special from the diner across the street from the newspaper where I worked. For just $2.99, you got two strips of bacon, two eggs any style, a glorious, greasy mound of perfect home fries, two slices of toast with butter and jelly – and coffee! So, I was cutting back since I decided to skip the fluffy glazed donut I usually had with my second cup of coffee.
This was me, darn it! The same person who with a little help from prescription amphetamines lost 14 pounds in two weeks the summer after freshman year at college. My diet was simple: one chocolate milkshake per day. I went from 180 pounds back to my comfortable 165 in a jiffy. People told me not to lose anymore – I’d look haggard.
I’d gained roughly 110 pounds between the milkshake summer and the day the scale read 272 pounds. By the time I married and had my son about 10 years later, I’d gained another 50 pounds. Then one day, about six years later, feeling brave, I got back on that doctor’s scale. I hadn’t weighed myself in more than a year. This time the little sliding bar ran out of sliding room.
The scale went up to 350 pounds, but it hadn’t leveled off by the time it got there. I weighed more than the scale could read. I sat on my bed in shock, crying and praying for forgiveness for putting my child’s future in jeopardy. What would he do without a mother?
It was another year or so before I added up my miseries – an awful marriage, a body that wouldn’t do what I wanted, the need to disappear in all those rooms where I was the fattest person, the fear of dying young and leaving my child motherless. I made the decision to have weight loss surgery. I had always considered it ‘the easy way out’. Now, I realized I’d lost and gained the same 30 pounds for 15 years. Clearly, I couldn’t handle this immense task on my own.
Before & After RNY with LornaDoone33
My Surgery and Post-Op Life
Philadelphia is a city with world-class hospitals and physicians of every type. I had my pick of excellent bariatric facilities. After a good deal of research, a few visits with the medical teams and a thorough check of my health insurance requirements, I was ready to get started.
The process would take about six months from my entrance into the program I’d selected which was at the Institute for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, PA. My surgeon, Dr. Fernando Bonanni, Jr. required a myriad of tests, visits to a variety of specialists for consultations, a sleep study and most dauntingly that I lose 30 pounds before he would even schedule the surgery. I went ahead to lose 37 pounds.
From my pre-op tests, I found out that I had what the technicians at the sleep lab declared was maybe the worst and scariest sleep apnea they’d ever seen. I’d been diagnosed years before. Like many, my C-Pap kit was buried in a closet somewhere. I dusted it off and put it to use, terrified that I’d die before I got a chance to save my life.
I was anxious on the morning of my surgery. Later, I told many people that I would have crawled on broken glass into that operating room if I had to. A little while after I woke up after my surgery, Dr. Bonanni stopped by to tell me what a difficult surgery it had been. Apparently, and despite the hellish two weeks pre-surgery that I’d been required to consume a liquid diet, I had one of the fattiest livers he’d ever had the misfortune to encounter. Moving it around to get to the right areas in my abdomen had made the entire procedure more complicated. But I was fine. And it was finally done!
My new motto was ‘If I bite it, I write it!’. I food journaled obsessively.
My required nutritionist visits were as important to me as the surgery had been. She taught me about portion sizes and, for the first time in my life, what a healthy diet really looks like. Equally important was my psychologist. You don’t get up to weighing 350+ pounds unless you’re using food for a lot more than for nutrition. With his help and insights, as well as my faith, I could begin to face the problems that caused me to use food as comfort. I incorporated regular, vigorous cardio exercise into my life. There were many months during the first-year post-surgery that I didn’t miss a day at the gym.
But it turns out I was a slow loser. Whether it was a poorly calibrated metabolism or too much exercise coupled with too little food, and though I was following my post-op protocols to the letter, I still lost slowly. I hit plateau after plateau. My weight would stall for two or more weeks before I would lose again. It took about nine months before I lost 100 pounds. After that, I began to lose 1-2 pounds a week. I continued at that pace for another 70 pounds. I decided I’d finally figured out the right regimen. In the end, there was no trick to it, like everyone else – surgery or not – I had to eat right and exercise in a way that made the most sense for my body.
I had a tummy tuck at four years out. That contributed just five pounds to my weight loss total, but immeasurably to my body image and state of mind. I continued my slow trek forward. In total, by the time I was about six years out, I’d lost 185 pounds from my recorded high of 347 pounds. I never did find out how much I weighed that day when my weight was too heavy for the scale to read.
The day I could sit on an airplane and buckle my seat belt without an extender was a special day for me. The humiliation I’d felt each time I’d have to ask a flight attendant for an extender, then attach it as quickly as possible before any of the other passengers saw, stayed with me for years. This was matched only by the ordeal of trying to make sure my body didn’t creep into the seat of the person I was next to. I’d stopped flying unless I had no other option. Now, I traveled easily and when I wanted.
My true red-letter day post-surgery was the morning after my second sleep study. About 120 pounds previously, my sleep apnea was so severe I was literally afraid to sleep laying down. Many times, at my highest weight, I’d slept upright in a chair. That morning, the sleep technician came in to tell me he hadn’t seen any evidence of sleep apnea in my overnight charts.
My severe sleep apnea had literally disappeared. I hugged the technicial because I was so happy. I floated out of that room on a cloud – but this time one of possibility and hope – not denial.
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