I went to my weight loss surgery (WLS) seminar at The Bariatric Center of Kansas City on Monday. I was very excited to go and begin the long process of approval for WLS. 10 years ago, I visited the same WLS clinic. I was 460 lbs. and too fat for surgery. I needed to lose 55 lbs. before I could be considered for surgery because my BMI was dangerously high. Too high for safe surgery. I needed surgery, but if the surgery might kill me, then what have I gained? Aside from weight. Ha.
I can’t tell you how frustrated I was after I left the clinic 10 years ago on the day they told me that I needed to lose 55 lbs. to have WLS. What? I have to lose weight to lose weight? Huh? If I could lose 55 lbs. I wouldn’t need WLS. Am I right?? I gave up that day. I gave up on trying for approval from insurance companies, doctors and people in general. I got mad at others and myself. At myself, for letting my body get to 460 lbs. Mad at others for not giving me exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. Yeah. Because that always worked so well for me before. Ha.
But I’m so glad that I walked out of that clinic that day and didn’t go back. For 10 years. I had much to learn, many resolutions to make and a few puzzle pieces to find. I’m ready now. I wasn’t then. I am emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually ready for this change.
Over the last 10 years, I have learned so much. My health continued to deteriorate for the first 5 years after my initial WLS consult. My blood pressure was out of control. I was sick all the time. I hadn’t quit smoking yet. My joints started hurting all the time. And the vivacity that I summoned in my 20s to overcome the effects of obesity was dying. My sleep apnea got worse and I started packing on the pounds from a series of bad choices and unchangeable circumstances. And I fell into the inescapable well of morbid obesity. And what I didn’t know, my thyroid was starting to go bad. Real bad.
In August 2012, I entered Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill (some of the finest treatment I’ve ever had, BTW) at 513 lbs. with congestive heart failure. I was devastated. But I quickly bounced back and fought hard to regain any bit of health. My condition stabilized, I went on a regimen of drugs and I lost 60 lbs. It came off fast because I was taking generic Lasix-it’s a powerful diuretic called furosemide. I lost 25 lbs. the first week after being admitted to the hospital. I was like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory after she chewed the gum and swelled to an enormous size-I was being juiced!
I changed my diet, I took my meds, I worked out 3-5 times per week, at least an hour every time. My heart was weak, but I just kept trying. For 2 years, I ate a low-so diet, worked out at the YMCA and obeyed my doctors. I began a spiritual journey that I’m still on. An eye-opening, mind-blowing journey of connection between mind, body and spirit and how God can be in charge of weight loss and body discipline. If you let him.
Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital again in 2014. Same thing. Heart failure. Couldn’t breathe. I honestly felt that I was days or even hours away from dying. This time the techs did a whole body scan looking for blood clots using ultrasound and other imaging equipment.
The ultrasound tech who scanned my neck found a lump. A BIG one. 6 cm. I truly don’t think they would have found it as soon as they did had they not been looking for clots.
6 months later, I’m undergoing a thyroidectomy for the 6 cm benign nodule and also for the 3 smaller cancerous nodules on my right lobe. Big nodule was benign, but that big one led to pictures of the whole thyroid and they found the 3 small nodules that coulda killed me. Thank God for heart failure. Never thought I would say that. Dr. John Ellis saved my life!
After I had my thyroid out, I started thinking. Hm, maybe this wasn’t all my fault? Maybe I’ve been struggling against my body for a long time? Maybe I’m not completely lazy, insatiable and unworthy. Maybe I don’t have to submit to guilt and shame over my weight problem. Maybe I can beat this? I can beat this. I just have to get answers.
I don’t have all the answers yet. I am still struggling. My thyroid meds are still outta whack and my numbers are too high. I have other problems like arthritis and lethargy. I’m not as sick as I used to be, but I do have mild sleep apnea that leaves me tired and headache-y. Often. And every time I see one of my doctors-cardiologist, primary care physician, gastroenterologist, others…they all give the same recommendation–go get WLS!!
Boy, that’s hard to hear. Over and over. Every time I hear it, something breaks inside of me and the tears come. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. Mad and sad. Frustrated and scared. But. I woke up about a month ago and had an epiphany. I’m ready. I usually make decisions like this. I do research, I ask questions, I think hard about what I want and then one day, without warning or pressure, I just finally know with 100% certainty that something is right, for me, and there’s no going back. And until I feel that 100% confidence about something, I simply don’t do anything. I can’t say what or why I just know, but I just know. It’s time. And I’m so excited!
I know I picked the right doctor. Things are falling into place. And it all feels so right. And it just didn’t before now. I’m just so ready to get healthy and I accept the really hard road ahead. I can do this, because it’s right, for me, right now.