My first knowledge of bariatric surgery came a few years ago when a guy I went to high school with had it done and almost died. So, needless to say, this is a last resort for me. It is not about making me look better; although I’m not crazy about my appearance, I’ve been heavy so long that I’ve come to terms with it. Nor would I do it to make everyday life tasks and activities easier; those would just be an added benefit. I’m actually quite active already in spite of my weight. Improved health is the only reason I’m interested in bariatric surgery. My weight has already taken it’s toll on my health and I know it will only get worse.
My weight struggle started in the 8th grade. My mother bought me some chocolate candies that were supposed to suppress your appetite. It didn’t help. My senior year of high school, I started taking over the counter diet pills and running 1 mile after school in addition to PE. I dropped 10 lbs, down to 135. My family was poor, so there was no such thing as fast food, junk food, or sodas at our house—just home-grown chicken, pork, beef, venison, fruit and vegetables. We all ate a balanced diet, with the only sugar being a glass of tea at supper. At that time, I didn’t like mother’s homemade cakes, pies and jelly, nor did I like biscuits or cornbread or milk. In spite of that, I was at least 20 lbs overweight.
I got married right out of high school, and started college and a part-time job all the same month. I also started on birth control pills, ate fast food for lunch, and for the first time in my life there was always Pepsi in the refrigerator and a pack of cookies in the drawer. I gained 40 lbs that first year. The doctor said it was the birth control pills and took me off of them. From that point on, I had maybe two or three menstrual cycles a year. Dr. said I had polycystic ovaries and would have to take fertility pills when we decided to start a family. I started growing facial hair on and under my chin and upper lip. I tried electrolysis, but it wasn’t permanent. The technician said it was because of hormonal problems.
Meanwhile, I tried every diet I came across, TOPS, protein shakes, low calorie diets, Dr. Watson’s diet clinic, diet pills, the original Adkins diet, metabolism diet, Weight Watchers several times, biblically based motivation tapes and group meetings, herbalife, you name it. I never lost more than 15-20 lbs, and when the weight came back, more would always come with it.
When I was 28, we adopted a baby girl, which is the best thing that ever happened in my life. She’s about to turn 17 now. When I turned 30, I decided I needed to start exercising and forget about fad diets. I reasoned that 1200 calorie diets were too drastic for someone my size. I started working out with weights for 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, started drinking diet drinks, and stuck to a 1600 calorie diet. After three months, I had lost 20 pounds and found out I had to have gall bladder surgery. It was supposed to be laparoscopic, but they said my gall bladder was embedded in my liver and they couldn’t take a chance with laparoscopy. I woke up with a 4 inch incision and was told I would be out of work 6-8 weeks. But in 2-1/2 weeks, I was back at work. At 6 weeks, I found out I was pregnant. I had three miscarriages over the next 12 months, all of them between the 4th and 5th week of pregnancy. My OB/GYN did all kind of tests including a 5-hour glucose tolerance test. She said I was glucose intolerant and put me on a diabetic diet and 30 minutes walking every day. After the 3rd miscarriage, she determined that was not the cause. Now, I know that it was the metabolic syndrome that caused it.
About that same time, my bloodwork revealed problems with my liver. My family physician said I had a fatty liver. That also is associated with the metabolic syndrome which was diagnosed about 4 years ago.
A year or two after that, my husband finally moved to another bedroom. My snoring had gotten so bad, that neither of us could get any sleep. And I was so tired during the day, that I felt like a zombie. Sleep study revealed I had sleep apnea—a pretty bad case of it. I got a C-pap machine, which I hate and can only use for a few hours at a time. My face is small and even using a child’s size soft mask, it doesn’t fit properly. I have to snug it down so tight that it makes a dark red mark on my forehead between my eyes after just a few hours that hurts so bad that it wakes me up. So I don’t use the C-pap all the time, just when I’m desperate from lack of sleep.
Another health problem related to my weight revealed itself when I overextended my knee while on a picnic at the creek. When I went to the doctor because of pain and stiffness several weeks later, he asked me how long my leg had been crooked. I hadn’t noticed it, but sure enough my leg from my right knee down extended out at an angle. I wore corrective shoes for the first three years of my life and my weight had taken its toll. He said I would probably end up having to have that knee replaced, if I don’t get some weight off.
In my late 30’s, my doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure. He said it was only slightly high and probably related to my weight.
At about 39, I developed plantar fasciatus and heel spurs in my right foot caused from my arches falling due to my weight. After about 9 months of wearing special shoes and doing stretching exercises it got better.
When I turned 40, I decided the only way I was going to get the weight off, was to work it off. My husband and I started going to the gym doing weight machines and aerobics and sticking with a 1600 calorie diet. I talked three other people at work into a contest. We started on New Year’s Day and whoever lost the most weight by Labor Day in September would win the $400 pot. I stuck with it all the way through and won. But all I lost was 16 pounds. The only reason I won, was the others quit their diet after about 4 months and didn’t start back until about a month before the deadline. After I won, my husband got moved to another shift at work so I lost my exercise partner. I started skipping days and within a month had quit going altogether. About a year later, I started karate and stuck with that two nights a week for 3-1/2 years, earning my black belt but not losing any weight.
About four years ago, I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. He said that meant I was on the road to diabetes and heart disease. After I decided to get weight loss surgery, I found out I now have full blown diabetes and I’m on Metormin XR twice a day & glimeperide once a day.
Another weight related problem is frequent acid reflex that occasionally comes up and gets into my lungs causing me to have an asthma attack.
Two years ago, my husband and I did the Adkins diet for 9 months. Again I went to the gym 5 days a week at lunch, karate twice a week at night, and worked in my yard almost every afternoon. After 9 months, I had lost only 17 pounds when Hurricane Ivan hit us. After Hurricane Ivan hit us, we got off of the diet and quit going to karate or the gym, concentrating all our time on cleanup and rebuilding. Last January when I had my annual physical, all my bloodwork had improved, but my triglycerides were still high. I asked the dr to supervise me on a diet. She sent me to a dietician who told me to increase my fiber and reduce the sugar to help the triglycerides. She made me out a 1600 calorie diet, but after a month I had lost no weight. I gave up. Since then I’ve went from 242 pounds to 275 pounds—10 pounds more than my previous all-time high four years ago.
The most recent problem, I found out about last week—arthritis in my back. I asked the doctor what I could do to help it long term. She said lose weight and exercise. I am so depressed. I feel like my weightloss battle is one that I have no chance of winning, without surgery. I’m killing myself with my weight and there seems to be very little I can do about it. I’m 45 and I’m scared to death that I’m going to end up with diabetes complications and heart disease in the next few years like my mother’s three brothers, sister and father who all died in their 50’s. I know that bariatric surgery is drastic, and I’m worried about the nutritional deficiencies that could result from it, but I feel it’s my only option at this point. I’m convinced that my genetic makeup will not allow diet and exercise alone to work for me. I’m not even sure that gastric bypass will result in significant and lasting weight loss for me, but I hope it will.