4,000-5,499 SparkPoints 4,657

Weight Loss Surgery - My Experience

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hello, fellow Sparker! I'm Tina. Like so many here, I’ve struggled with controlling my weight as far back as I can remember. I made several attempts with many different specialized diets and attended numerous weight loss programs that were very nutritionally sound. Nearly all of these programs were good programs and worked. Did you hear that? ALL of the programs WORKED…for some, even many, people. I was not successful in any of those programs. I have determined that the reason I was not successful in them is because they were dietetically-based, but lacked the critical component of instruction in HOW to implement successful life style changes.

It wasn’t a matter of not knowing that I needed to limit my caloric intake and to exercise (sound familiar?). Knowing and doing are two very separate actions, right? Instead, for me, it was a matter of not knowing how to change my life style to be able to accomplish those goals…rather than just going on a strict diet, by committing to a rigid exercise program, AND maintaining that initial passionate, fiery motivation to make these monumental changes all at once.

Many times, I jumped into the “Flash fire” of all-or-nothing regimens by changing everything at once, and allowing for absolutely no mistakes or do-overs. The result, of course, was really quick burn out. Like others whose stories I’ve read, I would commit to abiding by a very strict diet and exercise program and not allow for flexibility in any way. Of course, this didn’t work for me… quite the opposite; I would lose a certain amount of weight each time I jumped into the flash fire, and then, as the embers of that fiery motivation cooled, I would put the weight back on, and then gain a little more on top of that!

By the time I was thirty-three years old, I decided that I’d done all I could to try to help myself to be healthier, as I ended up less healthy each time I tried. All of my health issues, in addition to the weight were beginning to cripple me, and I knew that if I didn’t do something very soon to become healthier, I was not going to continue to live to see my son grow up. Thus, with the help of my medical team, I determined that I needed surgical intervention. In 2002, I made the decision to apply for bariatric weight loss surgery. Because of my insurance, I could only have this surgery within a specific medical network, which was just beginning the process of implementing their bariatric weight loss program. As such, it took me two and a half years to have the surgery after making the decision to go through with it.

On December 6, 2004, I had the gastric bypass surgery that was the gold standard at that time. I lost weight very quickly; one hundred fifty pounds in the first year alone. I loved the compliments that I received on my successful weight loss. The weight loss slowed and stabilized. By 2008, I had lost around 190 pounds. I was ecstatic!

I couldn’t believe how it was that people put weight back on after this surgery. It was a puzzle…that is, until it started happening to me. In the first three years, I was reasonably compliant with my post-surgery diet, and had begun exercising. However, I reached a point where I would push past “full” and eat an entire kids meal hamburger. Not a lot to eat, right? The stomach is a very flexible part of the body. It expands and contracts with the food it is given. Well, when your stomach has been reduced to 1-2 ounces, eating even a whole small hamburger will stretch out your stomach, leaving you with that happy, full, food coma kind of feeling. When you eat that amount consistently, it will permanently stretch out your stomach. That’s what started to happen to me. After my stomach stretched a little, I could finish that entire hamburger and feel comfortable, then add just a few fries and get that fuzzy, over-full feeling. My stomach stretched yet more. I was setting a pattern…slowly but surely, my stomach stretched out enough that I could actually eat an entire kid’s meal. I could even have soda every once in a while… which stretched my stomach even more. Then the sodas became more prevalent in my food intake. THIS IS HOW PEOPLE PUT WEIGHT BACK ON AFTER BARIATRIC SURGERY. They return to their pre-surgical eating patterns. The reason: Bariatric surgery is STOMACH surgery, NOT BRAIN SURGERY.

Let me take you back to the period of 2002-2004. During this time, I went to many required bariatric support meetings, group therapy meetings, a special program to help me determine why it is that I had a weight problem, individual counseling, and a doctor-supervised weight-loss program. These were to prepare me for the dietary changes that I would need to make after surgery. They told me exactly what changes needed to be made, but they didn’t tell me how I was supposed to achieve those changes. I am not telling you this because I want you to be awed by my preparation time…I’m telling you this because even with two and a half years of preparing and training medically for the changes following weight loss surgery, I still gained weight back after losing it.

In all fairness, I didn’t gain it ALL back, but I gained back a lot more than I let anyone else know that I had. I couldn’t let people know that I gained back ninety+ of the one hundred ninety pounds that I’d lost! It was in a relatively short period of time; about a year and a half. How humiliating! I didn’t tell my family, friends, co-workers, not even my husband and my very best friend in the world. I was too humiliated to tell the entire truth…so I told them I’d gained “some” weight back, and sometimes I’d even make up a number to seemingly minimize my “transgression”. I even told Spark People that I’d gained back less than I actually had. I’m very ashamed of having been deceitful about my weight gain with everyone, including you beautiful, understanding, encouraging, and non-judgmental Spark People. Please forgive me.

From the Spark People (the website) and actual Spark People (you guys are AWESOME!), I’ve learned how to stop jumping into flash fires to burn out and start setting small, attainable goals and to reach them through small, reasonable actions, one change at a time. I’ve learned that it’s not all or nothing. I’ve learned that I can exercise flexibility in my food choices and exercise.

It’s not an unforgiveable crime to eat a brownie. I’ve learned that after eating a brownie, I don’t have to punish myself the rest of the day, week, or month by binging on unhealthy foods. That’s exactly what I’m doing when I binge…I am doing harm to my body…punishing it for having taken in one morsel of a deliciously fattening food. I’ve learned that it’s ONE CHOICE at a time. There is a choice when I take the first bite of that brownie, there’s a choice when I take the second bite, and so forth. After each and every bite, I have the privilege, power, and authority to make the decision to throw the rest of the brownie away…or to enjoy it and know that the next choice I make will be a healthy one. I’ll repeat…it’s not a crime to have a brownie if I really want one.

What is a crime, to me, is to treat my body like a garbage disposal; punishing myself for making one less-healthy choice. It’s a crime to not exercise my right to do right by my body, mind, and spirit.

What’s my point? I guess my point is that I’ve been beating myself up over having had the surgery while I’ve seen so many individuals here lose weight without the aid of surgical intervention. The stigma of losing weight with the surgery has weighed heavy on me and has made me feel ashamed of myself for not having had the strength to lose weight without that help. While I’ve had bariatric surgery for weight loss, my journey to health has been and continues to be challenging. I had the initial weight loss, which I believe saved my life. I’ve learned now, after gaining so much weight back, and this far out from surgery, I have exactly the same issues that everyone else has. ~indygirl’s blog inspired me to write this blog…I’m no longer going to be ashamed of HOW I have lost and how I continue to lose weight and become healthier. Thanks, Beth!

I’m neither for nor against bariatric surgery. I did it. It saved my life. I’d never try to talk someone into our out of having the surgery. While we’re on this journey together, everyone’s path is their own. Everyone’s success should be celebrated, no matter how they achieved that success. Recently I had the opportunity to have a surgical revision to undo the damage that I did by stretching out my stomach pouch. Because I’ve been successful at losing the weight by making Spark People’s suggested small changes and sticking with them consistently, I chose to forego the revision. It’s not that I no longer believe weight loss surgery has a place in some peoples’ paths. It’s that I don’t want to take the risks associated with the surgery when I am able to achieve the same result without having it. I am thrilled to say that because of applying Spark People’s principles to my life, I’ve been able to make those life style changes that are necessary for me to lose weight, just like everyone else. I am happy to report that I have achieved an over-all weight loss of one hundred sixty one pounds…and I'm still going because of all the encouragement and support from all the wonderful Spark People I’ve had the honor of meeting.

Thank you, Spark People!!! Thank you, ~indygirl!

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I got here by ~INDIYGIRL. I have to say THIS is a very thought out, out in the open, no holds bar, BLOG! I recognize myself in almost everything you have written, and If I haven't been where you have been, I can only be inspired. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1878 days ago
    This is why i love SparkPeople. You are an inspiration to me. I have considered lapband surgery but unfortunately it is not covered by our health insurance here in Saskatchewan and the cost is over $16000.00. Way out of my ability to pay. Since joining sparkPeople I have found so many people who are struggling like i am and i love supporting and reading everyone's blogs. Thank you for your honesty. You are a wise woman. emoticon
    1934 days ago
    Tina ~ I am a GBS person who lost 155# & then regained 90# because I let others influence how I ate!! My husband had the surgery too!! He would not go to the nutrition classes or support/therapy groups post surgery, so I did not get the training & info I needed & so I reverted back to old habits & stretched my pouch!! I would give anything to have a revision done, but I can't afford it!! Oh, my Doc took my gallbladder out when he did my GBS because he said if he didn't, I would be back within 3yrs needing it out!! Thank you for giving me hope that I can lose this weight again!!!! Hugzz ~ Jae emoticon
    1970 days ago

    I enjoyed reading this blog. I think that this blog can help so many people who have had or are considering weight-loss surgery. In the past, I saw a bariatric surgeon about getting the surgery but my insurance did not cover it. I was really bummed out but now I consider that it was a blessing that I could not get it done. I was NOT ready and know that if I had gotten the surgery, I would have gained it back. I loved your comment about it not being brain surgery because the way we think about eating a food is what will determine if we fail or suceed.

    Thanks for your blog and I know that you now have the tools, skills, and the correct thinking to take the weight off and keep it off.

    1983 days ago
    Hello Tina,

    I'd like to thank you for your willingness to talk about the guilt and shame felt with regaining weight after weight loss surgery. I too had gastric bypass surgery 1/12/04, and I have gained all but 30 of the pounds I'd lost. Your blog is an inspiration to me, and I am determined to get this weight off again!
    1984 days ago
    Many thanks to all who took the time to read my blog!! You are so inspirational to me!!!!

    It's being virtually surrounded by your guys' encouragement and support and being enveloped in the Love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that makes success possible in my life at all.

    I'm in the hospital - my new home away from home. Following the August 2nd hernia repair, the October 12the hernia-repair repair, and the November 13th gall bladder removal surgery, I'm all "surgeried" out. LOL.

    Actually, though, I believe there's a reason for everything that happens. When Jarrod, my husband, brought me to the emergency room on Thursday, November 15th, I had no idea I'd be admitted for having a 105° fever. Even so, it has been a blessing in disguise. I have had the honor of getting to know some of the most compassionate, conscientious, and devoted health care professionals EVER. I mean that with all sincerity. I am in the "short stay " wing of this hospital where they deal with individuals entering g the hospital through the emergency room. Their work and attitudes have been exemplary, specifically, Nurse Stacy. So while I've spent the last few days in some discomfort, I've been blessed with great company that has given me a renewed faith in the capacity for love for one another in the human heart. The Lord knew that I needed this mending of the soul as much as I needed the healing taking place in my body.

    Speaking of the healing of the body, the culprit that caused the fever has not yet been identified, but the fever is much lower consistently.

    Thanks again to you all for your thoughts and prayers. You are also in mine. Let's proceed on this journey to all-around wellness.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    Good night, All.

    2042 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/18/2012 1:28:44 AM
    Hi Tina! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love how you said that weight loss surgery is not brain surgery, because i know for rme, it is all in my head, most of the time. I commend you for being honest with yourself as you continue on the road to health. I believe it is due to great websites like Sparkpeople that we can feel comfortable blogging about this and finding support from people who can truly understand.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2058 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    2058 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story!
    2059 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2059 days ago
    emoticon Thank you so much Tina for sharing your story.. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2059 days ago
    emoticon thank you for sharing your story. I wish you all the best!!
    2059 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2059 days ago
    I really enjoyed this. I just learned yesterday that starting in 2013, my insurance company will cover bariatric surgery. I have been asking for this for years and years, and now that they cover it, I am not so sure I qualify anymore. haha. I have lost over 60lbs on my own, about half way there, so my BMI might not be high enough anymore.

    The last few months were slow, but I rearranged my macros and it is moving once again.

    Now I am wondering, if I qualify, should I have it done, or continue to try to lose on my own? What if I dont have it done while I can, and then find I just can't lose the weight but then for sure wont qualify due to bmi, or what if we lost our insurance for some reason? Just lots of questions I seem to be asking myself since I learned of this yesterday.

    Very timely blog. Loved the information.

    2059 days ago
    YOU are the one who inspired me!
    2060 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.