A Story of Deprivation and Indulgence.
Hello fellow fatties and former fatties. I am Ness from New York. I have been big all my life, I was even born big--9 pounds, 3 oz. At first the big was "sturdy." I wasn't fat, I wasn't really chubby, just tall and solid. But as I hit puberty that changed, and my solidness became fatness, and that is when life got a little hellish. I was teased, I was harassed, but I was tough--anyone looking to punch down was going to get punched back. I became known more for the chip on my shoulder rather than the fat on my body. I was mean, I built walls, and this kept me safe--for the most part.
As to the why I am fat, I don't know. My mother is slightly overweight, but by no stretch of the imagination huge. And my father has maintained a fairly normal weight all his life. He was an alcoholic (not the fun kind) with a penchant for corporal punishment, so perhaps that instability had some baring. My mother had an obsession with thinness along with a very unhealthy relationship to food, and I suspect this had the biggest impact on my weight. She was always on diets (still is), yo-yo-ing back and forth. She was strict with my sister and I, there was never any junk food in the house, no dessert after dinner. We couldn't even have sugar cereals. However, when my mother was feeling blue she would binge, she would bring home an cake or something of the sort and we would finish it all in one sitting: deprivation and indulgence. But as soon as I could go out and get my own food, indulgence became all the time.
Of course, I could just be fat because I really like food and hate to exercise--why must we always blame our parents anyway?
When I was 13 I cut myself for the first time. Through the years this became as much as an addiction as the food. By 18 I was struck with panic attacks, by 21 crippling insomnia. All the anger and hurt stored inside, the stuff I thought hid so well, was corroding my insides. The cutting got worse, the eating got worse, and before I knew it was 305 pounds. This was shocking to me, I was fully disgusted with myself, and suddenly something in my brain clicked, like magic. I lost weight. I counted every calorie, every gram of fat. I worked out, I ran until I was dizzy, I lifted until I ached. But there were stalls, there were plateaus, and I did not handle this well. First came the laxatives, then the purging, and finally all out starving. The last 30 pounds I lost in my first journey were earned through self-inflicted torture. But it was worth it. I went to my cousin's wedding a bit over a year after I started my diet in a size 10 dress (and this was a real size 10--not the size 14s they tell you are a size 10 these days). My family who had not seen me in some time were awed. And I was there, a normal girl finally. I had lost 112 pounds, I was 5'8" and 193 lbs. I wanted to be smaller, but this in itself was a victory, from a prison to at least a halfway house. A taste of freedom.
Things started to go downhill not because of any trauma but because of happiness. I took a trip with some friends to New Orleans and indulged in copious amounts of alcohol and rich, delicious food. I didn't count a single thing. And by the time I arrived back home after my 10 day vacation I weighed 206 pounds. I never thought I would see anything over 200 pounds again! I immediately went back to my diet. But the weight was more stubborn this time. I was back to 198 when I met my future husband a few months later. At the time I wasn't looking for anything serious, I changed men like underwear those days and took not a one seriously. But he was sweet and doting and despite all my resistance, he won me over and we fell in love. If he had one flaw it was that he had a jealous streak--this comes in to play because at the time I was a smoker. In NYC you couldn't smoke inside bars, so I would go outside and inevitably some guy would start to flirt with me. Soon I could not go out to smoke alone, but instead I got an annoyed boyfriend fake coughing while he waved smoke out of his face. Although he never out and out said it, there was pressure on me to quit, and since it was a nasty habit anyway, I did. It is a pretty common story what happened after this. Between quitting smoking and the constant dinners and bar hops, nights snuggling on the couch and not working out, the weight began to pile back on.
Two and half years later when we married, I was almost 300 pounds again. I had a $5000 dress, $600 hair extensions, $200 make-up--but I was a fat bride. No money could take that away. But to my husband I was perfect and he treated me still like the most gorgeous woman in the world. Things were not all fairy-tales and roses though. I was still self-mutilating and my panic attacks had reached a boiling point. I could no longer leave the house without an episode. I stayed home and ate and ate until I was well over 300 pounds again. My husband issued an ultimatum - get help or else. I did and that is where the story gets a little better. I began to take Effexor and unlike other drugs I had tried in the past that just made me tired and apathetic, it miraculously worked. I went back to school and finished my degree, landed a great job, and lived happily with my husband. We spoiled each other with gifts and trips, we ate out constantly, our whole lives were indulgence after indulgence.
What ended this bliss was again not trauma but a different type of happiness. I got pregnant. We were careful to avoid pregnancy, and I was morbidly obese so I never really thought it could happen without significant effort. But there it was, two lines on a pregnancy test. We said we wanted kids--eventually, so we dove in feet first and decided to keep it. But I was scared. I never intended to be this fat and pregnant. I knew how dangerous it was to not only me but to my baby, there was joy but there was also shame. I made it a point to tell every doctor I saw "It wasn't planned!" And they seemed relieved at that--that I wasn't one of those stupid fat women that thought this was a good idea--that this was going to be a normal pregnancy---that I was entitled to what other normal women have. My doctor was ruthless and reminded me every visit how dangerous this was and how I must not gain even a single pound--no sugary fruits, no potatoes (these are for poor people he told me), not even a Hershey Kiss as a reward--you don't get rewards. I couldn't count how many times he told me I was going to orphan my kid. But to his surprise, after 9 months of deprivation, my fat undisciplined self persevered. I was 377 at the start of my pregnancy and 377 at the end. Not one pound gained. It seemed the weight loss I could not manage to do for myself I could do for the little person growing inside me.
You may ask yourself why I put up with this from the OB, but you have to realize--and I am sure a lot of you do--he wasn't saying anything I didn't constantly say to myself. And when you are fat, sometimes you buy into the bullsh*t and think that you are unworthy of kindness and respect because of your size, that you are less than human. Deep down I bought in, even if I told myself I didn't. It took the arrival of my daughter to change all that.
Like her momma, my daughter was a born big, 9 lbs 6 oz (uncross your legs ladies, she was a c-section). My mind filled with worry when I saw her, would she suffer the same curse as me, would she be fat? I could feel the dread creeping in, the inclination to monitor everything that went in her mouth, just like my mother had done to me. My mother was practically saintly, I couldn't ask for a better mom, but her unhealthy relationship with her body haunted me, and I was not going to allow that ghost to get my daughter too. I decided then to stop--stop with the self-hate, my daughter would never see me yo-yo dieting, she would never see me hate on myself or my body. She would see her momma, a big person, beaming and proud, completely normal and living her best life. There would be no deprivation, kids cereal was not the worse thing on the planet and if she ate all of her healthy dinner there would be a small dessert. I wanted to give her something I never learned, the lesson of moderation. And it was something I needed to teach myself as well.
Like I said before, I was able to gain nothing during my pregnancy, so when I finally did give birth I was 30 pounds lighter. Through just eating less junk and being more active I was able to keep those 30 off and lose 30 more in the next 3 years. My husband and I got another surprise (unplanned again) and I became pregnant with my son. This time I did gain weight (16 pounds) and unlike my daughter's pregnancy which was completely complication free, I suffered from extremely high blood pressure. I was hospitalized at 26 weeks, and after my release was carefully monitored. My son was born healthy (and much lighter than my daughter), but my blood pressure issues continued through the next few years, along with troubling fatigue and foot pain. I was a young mother, but I was moving like an old grandma!
Although I had managed to get down to 315 after my son, the stress of buying a house, and now two kids were getting to me and my weight started to tick up again. My blood pressure medications kept needing to be changed due to some pretty severe side effects and feeling sick all the time was taking its toll. I had thought about the gastric sleeve for a few years, it seemed to be the right surgery for me. Years ago I had asked my PCP about a lap-band but he said I was too fat and he would only recommend me for a gastric bypass. I said thanks but no thanks---no one is playing scramble with my intestines! One of my co-worker had a sleeve at over 300 pounds and had great success. After seeing this transformation first hand, I decided that I would follow her lead and hopefully give my kids a more active momma and finally get a little help learning to curb my excess. Luckily my job has great insurance and these days I do not need referrals or a PCP to get me to a surgeon. I simply started my research online, picked my guy, and made an appointment.
I met him for the first time in October 2017 and he told me I was an excellent candidate. We started the process right away and I met with my nutritionist Alex (who looked like one of those Thinspo poster girls) in November. I was told I needed to lose 5% of my weight--but even that was negotiable as long as I did not gain. So at 333 and Thanksgiving and Christmas to get through I started my one protein shake a day, high-protein-low carb diet. On my last nutrition appointment I weighed 298; we submitted all my pre-op testing and I was approved by my insurance with-in a week. It was almost easy.
My surgery was scheduled for April 27, 2018 at 8:00 AM. I am one of the lucky ones that was not saddled with a two week liquid diet; I instead I got two days. Before that I indulged in all my favorite foods, my farewell tour, as it was, and when I weighed in on surgery day I was 303 (oops!) but I was already approved so the surgery went on without complications (the surgeon commented to my husband in recovery that my liver looked great) and the next day I was able to go home. The worse part of everything was the gas. OMG--they do not prepare you the gas! First off my stomach was huge, I looked pregnant from all the air they pumped inside of me. And the pain is not only in your abdomen, it is in your shoulders and chest and it persist for days no matter how much Gas-X you take or miles you walk. After about a week though I was feeling some what human, though swallowing liquids has been rough and remains rough.
So that's my story of how I came to WLS. The odd thing in all of this is that I was never once excited or eager. This journey was always one of necessity, not want. I love eating, I love myself. In trying to teach my daughter self-love, I taught myself. I truly liked the way I looked, I liked my wardrobe. My husband liked me. I did not want to become this melting pile of skin, I didn't want to lose my hair, or watch my face age as I starved. The only reason for any of this was health. To be there for the family I helped create. But it was bitter sweet, and I still wish there was another way.
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Weight Lost: 181 lbs
Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Status: Post Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 10/04/2017
Surgery Date: 04/27/2018
Hospital Stay: 2 Days
Surgery Funding: Insurance
Insurance Outcome: 1st Letter Approval
YeahOkay31's Bariatric Surgeon
Hawthorne, New York 10532