Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Beginnings

Over the years I've had a couple different blogs, but I find myself at a point in life that I want to record all the changes that are happening, so I may actually stick with it this time.

You see, in 17 days, I'm going to have bariatric surgery; the Roux-En-Y gastric bypass. It sounds rather drastic to some people, but I've had it, and it's time for serious change.  I have been heavy all of my adult life - I gained about 45 pounds my last 2 years of high school, and it's gone steadily upward over the years. I had variable amounts of success with diet plans such as Weight Watchers, Atkins, following the Biggest Loser eating plans, and more - I'd typically lose 20-30 pounds, and then start putting it back on (usually plus a little bit).

A year ago next week, I had a major trauma in my life - it's not something I want to go into detail on now, those of you who know me know exactly what I'm talking about, new readers will inevitably learn bits and pieces along the way. The story of this blog is not about what happened, but instead about what I'm doing, in part, to recover from that. I see an amazing counselor, who I'll call Libby (not her real name), who guided me through the nightmare that we were living through (which I'll refer to from now on as the Event), while enabling me to continue grad school (I earned an MBA in August 2011), and keep working, at times where I just wanted to stay in bed forever. One of the conversations we had, was whether I felt discriminated against because of my weight - both in the Event, and in life in general - particularly in regards to employment matters.

I've fought very hard not to take on the mantle of "fat victim" in my life. Though I've never spent a huge amount of time on the dating scene, I've not been without male companionship, and have married twice while heavy. So far I've not felt an adverse impact on my employment, but as I work to rise up the ranks and make use of my MBA, that is becoming more of a concern. But sadly, where I think it probably did the most harm was in the Event - somewhere that it shouldn't have made an ounce of difference.

Libby asked me if I'd ever considered bariatric surgery. I told her I had, at many times over the years, but it honestly scared me. I'd seen several people go through it in the early to mid 90s, 2 with pretty amazing success, and one with moderate success - she seemed to be able to go back to poor eating habits (not just what, but volume) after about 6 months, and very clearly her weight loss stopped. And honestly? I'm a diehard foodie. One of the things my husband (heretofore known as "The Man") and I like to do is dine in at least one high end restaurant per destination when we travel - we hit Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Las Vegas on our wedding weekend, and Gordon Ramsey's Maize Grill in London when we were in Europe. I also love to cook - and I'm damned good at it. Did I really want to give all of that up?

No, really I don't. But at the same time I knew that if I were going to be around as long as I wanted, I needed to lose the weight, and if I wanted to have any remaining chance at having a family, I needed to get it off both to have a chance at IVF (long, boring background with infertility), and to be able to crawl around on the floor and otherwise keep up with growing kidlet(s). So I decided to check out the current state of weight loss surgery programs.

I'm very fortunate to live near Winston-Salem, home to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. As a major teaching hospital, the facility has an excellent faculty and world renowned physicians in all sorts of specialties. The surgeon I chose to consult with is Dr. Adolfo Fernandez, affectionately known as "Fuzz" to staff and patients. I went to an information session where the staff spoke about the various procedures that are available in their program, their philosophies and processes, then two patients spoke about their experiences and results. After hearing their stories (and seeing their program photo albums) I was sold. I'd actually gone into the session thinking that I'd want to use the Lap-Band, in part because it's reversible if necessary, and can be adjusted as needed. After seeing a sample of it, and realizing what the access port (for adjustments) was going to be like, along with the lower success rate for that procedure, I went to my individual consultation with Dr. Fuzz thinking I'd choose the Roux-En-Y procedure.

Thankfully Fuzz agreed that I was a good candidate for the program, and that Roux-En-Y was the best choice in his opinion. After a few other formalities (a psych interview, insurance review, etc), I found myself in a nutrition education class with Amber Hoover, one of the program nutritionists. My insurance, Aetna, requires patients go through a 3-month "multidisciplinary supervised weight loss program" before being approved for surgery.  Ugh. But, as that would start in July, it would let me get finished with school and get other things sorted out before trying to go out on leave for surgery.

At that first class, they took our official starting weight - their scale weighed me in at 342, and I wanted to just curl up and die, that was my highest number ever. But I started the program, which really was a sensible regimen focused on  hitting approximately 60 grams of protein a day, and eating no items that had more than single digits of fat or sugar.

I lost modest amounts of weight doing this (hey, if I was a great dieter, I wouldn't be in the program!), and by the time I finished the 3 months and was cleared by the nutritionist for surgery, I'd lost 14 pounds. All that was left was to wait for my surgery date to be assigned, and then I'd find out when I needed to start the 3-week prep diet. 

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