Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Waiting for Weight Loss Surgery

This year I have had one big, gigantic, huge project that I have been working on. That project is Weight Loss Surgery. In March, Jeff, my husband, came to me and told me that he had a way to pay for the surgery if I really wanted it. Before that day he had asked me a question. The question was this: What was I planning to do?

What he meant by that was this: He always thought I should have a job, because it would give me something to do every day. He also thought I should get outside and walk more often just for more stamina and better health. He offered to buy a gym membership for us. He has done everything humanly possible to encourage me to get myself together and lose some weight. But I have tried so often that I am worn out from trying. I think this should be considered a syndrome. The FAILED DIETERS SYNDROME! It happens when you start out as a young person who is maybe 10 or 15 lbs overweight, and you try to lose it by going on a diet. You lose it but then it comes back double because you have gone off the diet. Then year after year you continually try diet after diet, sometimes with exercise sometimes not, and you have success with the weight loss at first but then you go off the diet or exercise program and it comes back and then some. This happens year after year, for maybe twenty or thirty years. Some people yoyo up and down their entire lives, gaining and losing 100's of lbs over the course of their lifetimes. After a while they get so weary of this huge struggle of losing only to gain it all back again that they stop trying, no that's not exactly true, they are no longer capable of trying!

I could write a book on this phenomenon, and probably should! FDSers end up severely overweight, they suffer from a myriad of health issues all stemming from being overweight, heart problems, high blood pressure, bone and joint ailments, diabetes, feet and back problems, thyroid and metabolic problems. I have four of these issues at least. I believe that it is also a fact that the more of these issues that an FDSer has the harder it is to start over again on a weight loss program. Even if they do start a weight loss program on their own (meaning not under the supervision of a trainer or coach or at the Biggest Loser ranch) then they may be able to try their best for a while but after a few days they don't see any progress right away, they lose hope faster and faster each time until they are simply incapable of trying again. Even if they have a friend or loved one that is acting as a support person, they can last a little longer, maybe a few weeks. After a few weeks or a month they look at their weight loss and it is woefully low due to the fact that they are building muscle which weighs more than fat. But the numbers are not adding up in their minds and they lose heart. They start back tracking and wearing themselves out trying to overcompensate with harder and harder workouts and lower caloric intakes. This forms a downward spiral and again they take a break from their exercise routine, sometimes never to return.

These are all things that I have done, I know these things from experience. I feel stuck in this hole that I have made with my fat.

The answer to my husband's question: I'm going to die. I am waiting to die!

Between lack of exercise and the inability to curb my appetite for good rich foods, I had reached 357 lbs. Every year I didn't lose weight I got so that I could do less and less in my home. At first I just couldn't clean the floors, so I would ask Jeff to do it for me. Then for a while I couldn't bend over long enough to clean the bathroom, so Jeff took this job as well. Then I couldn't do parts of my hobby that I needed to do. I couldn't layer the quilts by myself, so I would ask my quilting friends to help me with that. Soon I couldn't stand up long enough to do dishes or to cook dinner. I would try very hard to do these things but my belly fat got in the way of standing at the sink so I would have to wash dishes bent over at the waist, my arms resting and propping me up against the sink. But this position made my back ache in very short time. So finally Jeff took over doing the dishes every morning for me. Our son Jake started Culinary school last year so he started doing much of the cooking in the house. Eventually it got so that the only thing I could do to keep the family going was shop and pay bills. But soon I got so that I couldn't shop any more too. I could walk around the store and collect the items we needed, and get them into the car, but once I got home there was nothing left. If one or both of the men weren't there, I could not get the groceries into the house. Then, last winter, I was in bed with some sort of a flu for over three weeks. At that point I couldn't stand up, I couldn't sit up for more than an hour at a time, I couldn't walk the stores, if I tried I started sweating profusely and people would ask me if I was alright. I was so far from getting a job or walking or even doing the dishes, that I couldn't imagine getting through a day without two naps and a lay down on the couch to watch a movie.

This was in February. This is when my husband asked me his question.

What was I going to do?

I was waiting to die!

This I think shocked him. I think he finally figured out that I meant it. I could see no other future for myself. I was going to die from being morbidly obese. This fat was going to kill me, and I was simply waiting for it to happen.

This is when he decided to try this last new approach! He figured out a way for me to get weight loss surgery. He told me that he could pay a one time medical bill out of his 401K without having to pay a penalty. In other words, he was willing to give up his retirement so that I could live longer, and possibly share in his old age. At the age of 51 he still had 10+ years to go before retirement, and I am pushing hard at the heels of 50 and been unemployed for the last six years.

I went to the April seminar given by Grand Traverse Surgery, a group of surgeons who do Bariatric surgery in my town. After the seminar I had to do a lot of soul searching to see if I was really worthy of having this done. I have failed at so many many things over the years, why should I spend all of my family's resources on a surgery for myself that may end up in failure? I searched my heart and soul and prayed to my maker over this issue. Then I had a doctor's appointment with my family physician and she said that I would probably be able to get off 90% of my expensive meds if I had this surgery. I did the preliminary work that would get me a consulting appointment. They sent in the information to my insurance company and I was approved to have the surgery. They said they would pay for 70% of the surgery. So that put the amount we would have to pay down to the $7000 deductible and whatever they wouldn't allow above and beyond the 70% which we are now hoping will not be more than a few thousand dollars. We of course will not know until much later, but once I get thin I will be able to pay him back his retirement fund. I will not be paying for meds, I will have a job and be making money. I will pay him back! I will!

Not that he has asked me to. Not that he wants that money back. He has told me that he wants me to live, that's all he is asking. He wants me to live my life again.

Winter is now coming again. I can feel the press of it on my psyche. I have not built up any stamina with walking over the summer. In fact, I probably have gained much weight over the summer, my Blood sugar is probably very high, my cholesterol is totally out of whack, my blood pressure was so high at the appointment with the Cardiologist that he raised my dosage.

OK but the other thing that is happening is this: I am waiting for a phone call. I am waiting for Angie, at Grand Traverse Surgery, to call me and schedule an appointment to get the final ball rolling so that I can schedule my surgery for late October (hopefully) or Early November (at the latest?).

I have, over the last five months, changed my view of my future. I have done this with the help of the GTS Support List and their Support group meetings. I have met a number of truly helpful people who are living with Weight Loss Surgery and it's aftermath. They have taught me to be hopeful again. They have taught me that with surgery, support and seeing this new opportunity, not as a be all end all to my weight problem, but as a tool of my recovery, I will be able to be a thin adult for the very first time in my life, I will wear those smaller clothes. I will be able to ride my bike again. I will be able to run, and wear nice female shoes again, I will be able to take karate, and fit into my quilted jacket that I made for myself. I will be able to clean my floors again, and I will be able to weed my garden. I'll be able to give basketry classes, and finish my novel. I will be able to do more writing because my house will be in order, and my mind will be in order. I will be able to take the little baby steps everyday that will lead me to true happiness. I will live my life. I will be able to live my life! I will live! I will no longer die, I will not wait to die any more.

I am now waiting to live!!