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Even Young People Ask "Why Didn't I do This Years Ago?"

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It's a common thread I see running around this forum.. people asking why they didn't do this years ago. I'm even young and I'm finding myself asking the same thing. Though I'm only 25.. I wish I would have done it at 18 or 20.. admittedly, maybe I wasn't ready then.. maybe I still needed time.. especially because part of my story is finding out at 24 that I had bipolar II without the usual "standard" symptoms of women docs normally see in their 20's so I was very hard to diagnose and went through a period of about three years where I alienated everyone but my very closest friends because I was so hard to be around -- with a low of winding up needing to be admitted to a psych ward to get it all figured out. I definitely learned who my friends were (and who, surprisingly, weren't...) I am also social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and depression.. so I spent the last year and a half in counseling trying to get my mental self to match the well-put together self I present to the world thanks to years of being on stage growing up. I learned to show myself as put together - graduating magna cum laude and being responsible even if I was falling apart inside. So I needed to deal with all of that first before I felt ready to confront my weight.

But finally I was ready. It started about 1 year ago. I had been feeling bad about my weight for a while. I was overweight during my childhood. My grandmothers both grew up during the Great Depression.. so for them.. giving me food was the same as giving me love.. especially high calorie foods. For them eating wasn't about hunger.. it was about enjoyment and thankfulness to have food to eat. (One was thin, one was overweight). But from them I learned to love all the wrong types of food and to love them in gigantic portions.. My stomach was already way stretched by the time I was 7 or 8. I remember weighing 85 pounds in 2nd grade because we did a math thing where we all weighed in front of the class. There was only one student, a boy, who weighed more.. during school I dealt with a lot, I mean a LOT of bullying because I was mature and just different - I'd rather read a book or write a story than go out for recess and I was reading Romeo and Juliet while they were reading Junie B Jones (For the Record I like her too even though she's a huge spoiled brat). Basically I had a generation gap with my peers since my parents were born in the late forties and early fifties and their parents were much younger.. so I was already -extremely- bullied. I didn't make my first non-internet friends until college.. and those were some of the people I found out weren't true blue friends when I went through my emotional break down a couple of years ago... So yeah.. and it didn't help that I was overweight.. that was just something else to give them to make fun of me about.

As it turned out.. even though I wasn't doing even as good as I am now in therapy one year ago.. I was doing better than I had been in years and that gave me time and energy to turn my thoughts to the weight I'd been unhappy to be carrying around for years. Before college it bothered me.. but I didn't think about it a lot.. it was in early college when I hit 200 and started having trouble finding clothes that would fit me in your typical stores both like Macy's but also stores that people my age like - Aeropostale, Am. Eagle etc.. that I started to have a personal crisis about my weight and be super unhappy with it. Shopping became my least favorite thing because it was an exercise in taking whatever would fit rather than whatever I liked. And by a year ago I had started to notice I couldn't do or keep up with the same types of activities most people my age do. I love showing my dog Riff in conformation and was learning that I couldn't keep up with her jogging on our down and back (jogging beside the dog so the judge can see his or her movement properly) and that getting on my knees to present her not only hurt but was nearly impossible. I started to be even more unhappy because I couldn't do the hobbies I loved that people my age are doing.

And in the meantime for the past 5-10 years I'd been trying every diet known to man.. I didn't feel like any of them were sustainable for a life time because I was unhappy with them. And rather than yo-yoing I just didn't lose. Didn't matter how well I stuck to a diet, I'd find myself losing maybe 5 pounds in 7 or 8 months of hard work.. and finally I gave up.. I was near the point of accepting I was just going to be overweight forever and that was how it was going to be. I knew my issues - I don't eat for emotional reasons, I don't eat when I'm not hungry.. but my stomach was super stretched from years of eating too much and I like big portions and the wrong kinds of things. I could go and polish off a huge plate of food enough for three meals and feel "Just about right" and I didn't have the self control to starve while I waited on my stomach to shrink naturally.. I just couldn't do it. I had heard things about gastric bypass that made me say no way never.. things like "You'll never be able to have any sugar again." or "You'll never be able to have fried foods again." While I'm happy to make lifestyle changes, things like "Never again" aren't something I'm capable of. So I ruled out surgery for a long while.

Finally, a year ago I looked into it again and read about gastric sleeve for the first time.. and it was a fit.. not as serious as gastric bypass.. less prone to things like dumping syndrome.. and all about moderation rather than "never agains" more healthy choices.. less bad ones.. but I didn't have to promise I was never eating Pasta or never having a fried chicken leg again - which was something I knew I couldn't agree to. There was less risk of serious complications and it was a plan I thought I could actually live with and be happy and it went right to the root of my issue - shrink my stomach so I can get used to a normal portion size again without having to starve. Something I haven't had since I was 6-7 years old. Within two days of researching I was ready to commit. But of course getting my medicaid to pay for the surgery wasn't as easy as deciding I wanted it - even though I looked over the qualifications and knew I met them - I still had a lot of hoops to jump through.

In October I started my 6 month phys supervised diet which only convinced my doctor and I that I needed the surgery even more. I ate 1500 calories a day and walked my dog most days for 30+ minutes (which was a significant step down from what I had been eating and step up from my sedentary lifestyle) and lost only 11 pounds in all that time. And part of it came back! Getting cleared psychologically was a battle too. They wanted a psychiatrist who didn't know me to evaluate me even though my own had already sent a letter of approval.. and the psychiatrist who I did see didn't really want to clear someone who was bipolar.. it was a battle, but finally I got cleared. That by itself took over two months and delayed my surgery which should have been in March 2016. I also had to have blood work, a number of physician check ups by my program's docs and so on.

But finally all the hard work paid off.. on the first submission to insurance, I was approved within a week! How excited was I! And my surgery was set for May 31st 2016.

However, the roller coaster wasn't over.. I had little contact with my bariatric program from the get go... they share a department, nurses, etc with general surgery.. so calling to talk to someone there is always a nightmare.. it's a 30 minute wait to get a human on the phone, calling to talk to a nurse means a 5 hour or more wait for a call back.. and it also means a very unpersonalized approach.. they're so busy and have so many people through their program that they want everyone to be a cookie cutter mold and don't want to offer people any individualized advice because "others in the program might want the same advice." Well number one - others in the program shouldn't know what -I- discuss with my doctors so how could they want it and number two healthcare isn't supposed to be about squeezing people into a mold and making the exact same treatment work for everyone... so I began to be unhappy with my program from early on.. especially when their psychiatrist and my psychiatrist got into a fight over the phone about whether I was going to get cleared. Their psychiatrist had met me only once and knew nothing about my case history while my own psychiatrist has been working with me for about a year and half.. who do you think was more qualified to say if I was stable or not? But aparently their program couldn't understand that.. However.. I was stuck.. Medicaid wanted me in state and this program was the closest to me and already an hour and a half away.. the only other options were double or triple that commute time (Chicago). So I just kinda had to stick with it.. I've gone on to be further disappointed by them at numerous occasions - namely when my surgeon said that Water aerobics is a joke of an exercise program and only for people who can't do anything else and that I couldn't hit my weight loss goal of 130 pounds doing Water exercise of any kind (there's a thread floating around about that). Clearly he's never taken a hard core water exercise class or he would know that is so not true. I took my first one Friday and I was sweating in the water!

Finally I did get to have my surgery though! Before surgery I had an 800 calorie diet for two weeks focusing on Protein and lean meats and veggies and reasonable on carbs. It wasn't too hard of a diet to follow beyond getting hungry because my stomach was huge. Surgery day came but I was excited rather than nervous. especially because all of us May 31st sleevers from the forum (there was about 10 of us) made a Facebook group so we could keep in touch and that really helps to have other people who are exactly where I'm at in the recovery stage.

I didn't have much trouble recovering from surgery. I never had any gas pain and even though I was in pain in general the first three days they gave me lots of morphine and kept me very comfortable. While my program as a whole is somewhat disappointing - I do have to say that the nurses who took care of me in the hospital couldn't have been better. They helped me walk. They helped me get up to go to the bathroom and helped me adjust positions in bed since I needed help doing all that for the first 2-3 days. I brought my laptop to the hospital with me and spent time here on the forums and doing other stuff I like -- even played some Sims. My recovery was uncomplicated and three days later I was able to go home.

My internal swelling went down fast and by a week out I was so sick of liquids that I couldn't help but try a little puree and it worked just fine to help supplement and keep me from going nuts. One thing that's been very helpful to me is Fairlife Milk. it's heightened Protein milk with 13 grams of protein for a cup. I drink it straight and also add it to my Soups. It helps a lot in getting in my 64 oz of liquid and my 60 grams of protein. I've been using an app called Plant Nanny which lets you grow plants based on how much Fluid you consume then you can plant them in your garden and harvest their seeds to get more diverse plants.. it makes drinking at least slightly more fun. I also wear a fitbit flex and it's synced with My Fitness Pal. I log my calories on MFP and my exercise syncs there from my fitbit automatically and tells me if I've earned extra calories from exercise (though I rarely use those). I was never given a calorie goal to shoot for but I set a goal of 800 for myself based on the pre-opp diet and what I can eat and get in 60 grams of protein without feeling too stuffed/ too deprived. I'm on my own for a lot of it because I've only met with the NUT once for 30 minutes pre-opp about 2 months and I won't see her again until in July so... I just read and do the best I can.

So yeah I'm 3 full weeks out from surgery on Tuesday and also down 20 pounds since May 18th (the start of my pre-opp liver diet). I faced the three week stall at about week 2 instead of three and I was down to a new low for the first time in a week today so I'm hoping that it's broken and I'll have a bit of smooth sailing for a while from here. So.. that's my story so far. I don't know if people post in these to update but.. every once in a while I'll post back and let you guys know how I'm doing.

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Part of me wishes I had done it at 18 or maybe even at 17 if possible( I had it at 23). I actually almost did it at 16, but backed out of the lap band. But, then I think I wouldn't have been ready and I think I would have failed the surgery. I'm glad now that I can enjoy life and see what my (healthy) future holds.

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An update :)

Well.. surgery was about six months ago now or a little more! I'm still doing well and in the six months, I've lost 80 pounds. I still have about 50 to go to get to my goal, but 30 would be within the goal the doctors set for me (I wanted to aim for the lowest possible healthy goal which was 130).

Most all of the surgery issues I had have gone away. I don't really experience dumping anymore. Occasionally rich food still churns my stomach and I toss my Cookies so to speak... but other than that.. no complications.. my constipation resolved on its own with time etc. I'm still losing hair even though I meet my Protein goals, but I've heard that can last quite a while.

I don't measure my food, but I also only take tiny portions when serving myself and I stop before I feel full - there's a happy "comfortable" feeling right before full that I've learned to identify that tells me I've eaten enough. I figure as long as the scales are still steadily going downward that I'm eating correct portions :D I no longer have any temptation to over eat. My sleeve is perfect at telling me exactly how much and when to eat! Hopefully that will never change :) I don't notice much loosening in my restriction.

I eat high Protein and moderate on carbs with a lot of fruit and veggie. I found that eating very low carb made me lose energy, so my dietician said it would be fine to be more moderate on carbs. I don't aim for a number.. I get my protein in first and veggies and then carbs can happen. I get my protein in using a lot of dairy and also some meat (lots of chicken and seafood)

I do drink diet pop without any issue. It doesn't cause me pain or make me tempted to eat other sugary foods. I do sometimes eat Desserts, but a lot less often than I did.. I don't feel the need for them the way I used to. I can pass up a cupcake sitting on the counter and just not care.. which was never something I could do before.

I regularly exercise, which was something I never did before and I feel good about that. My energy is huge now and I've gone from a size 22 to a size 13 ish. I can wear skinny jeans for the first time and feel great about it and I feel healthier too. I can do so much more than I was able to once upon a time :)

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What didn't I do it sooner? I thought I could lose weight on my own. I wasn't sure I wanted changes made to,my body. May e th next diet fad would be the one that would make me thin. I was too old. I might die. But most of all, I caved under pressure. My parents didn't want,it. My husband didn't want it . My children didn't want it. And instead of standing,up for myself, growling,iopke,it was my body, it was my choice, I caved, I didn't want to make a fuss, I didn't want to make anyone mad. Keep the,peace no matter what. I,was a wesk'willed No Drama Mama. And,i,left,so,ling,it was almost too late. I could have died , obese,unloved, subligating, destroying people's will, grinding down their spirit isn't love, it is merely,ownership and possession.
But,now I am my own woman , The person who was told she was only,an extension,of someone selse,is finally standing on her 2 feet proudly. And the thing most wrong they had- people do,love and respect me. And I am Good Enough. Never a velvet prison for,my again!

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