To surgery or not to surgery

One of the biggest questions I get asked often by everyone and their uncle is, “Have you thought about weight loss surgery?”

Now before I got any further, this posting is about what I think about it, no one else. It is neither a pro or a con for weight loss surgery (i.e. bariatric surgery). We all have our thoughts on the matter but given this is my blog, these are my thoughts alone. For whether bariatric surgery is an option for me or not.

This is not my endorsement or opposition to surgery. Also note that there are several different types of surgery:

  • Adjustable gastric banding (lap band surgery)
  • Gastric sleeve
  • Gastric bypass (more malabsorption than the restrictive procedures listed above, but works primarily through restriction)
  • Duodenal switch (more malabsorption – the sleeve stomach is the restrictive portion and the intestinal bypass (duodenal switch) is the malabsorptive component)

I know many people who have had the surgery. Family members and friends, even a past co-worker. Has it worked for all of them? No. Some swear by it and have had great success; others came to the realization that it wasn’t for them – after the fact – and at a great cost.

The bottom line is that there is no easy answer for whether you should have the surgery or not. You have to think about all of the factors and make the decision based on what is best for you. Surgery is NOT the easy way out. It is serious shit. And the results are pretty serious as well – good and bad.

So have I thought about weight loss surgery?

Yes.

Will I ever have it?

Not likely.

As someone who has struggled all of her adult life, the easier answer might be to go ahead and have it, but what really am I learning by doing so?

Some have had the surgery to save their lives. Years of struggling and being unable to lose weight and get healthy. I get it. Oh boy, do I get it. I’ve teetered so often towards having it myself but always reign myself in.

See, my biggest reason when asked the question if I’ve thought about weight loss surgery always comes back to one thing:

If I can’t learn to eat healthy and properly before the surgery, it’s not going to help me to do so after the surgery.

It’s not some magic pill. While I understand from those I have spoken to that weeks/months leading up to the surgery, the patients have to prove that they can change their eating habits. Some have even told me they dropped 10-15 pounds pre-surgery. So they are already having to retrain themselves to eat properly. But like everything else, it doesn’t always continue post-surgery.

I know me. I might be excited about the surgery enough to change my eating habits pre-surgery but once the excitement wears off, I am not convinced I could maintain it.  That’s not to say that others couldn’t and haven’t. I’m merely talking about me. And my perpensity to never quite keep up with things because I get bored.

Someone I know had the surgery. I watched her day in and day out fight the nausea and invariably throw up every meal she ate. I remember thinking that it’s any wonder that she lost 80 pounds in 6 months – she couldn’t keep anything down.

Now I don’t know what it’s like for the others I know who have done this. For all I know they didn’t suffer any of these issues. But I remember watching this woman struggle through this and wondered if it was worth it. Particularly a year later when she started to put back on the weight and invariably more than what she had originally weighed.

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. I’m not sure it’s for me.

In my mind – that place that is like something out of the Twilight Zone – if I can eat properly and lose weight before the surgery, there’s no reason I simply can’t continue to do so without the surgery.

Again, that’s not to say that I haven’t considered it. But there are also other factors to choosing bariatric surgery:

  • The cost. Bariatric surgery is not cheap. Depending on where you live, the insurance coverage you have (if you have it), it is not a cheap endeavor.
  • Time away from work. If you work, the surgery will mean some time away from work. In today’s day and age, it’s not always an option to take that much time off from work.
  • Support in the household. In my case, I live alone and really have no one nearby that I can depend upon to help me post-surgery during recovery.
  • Not all people qualify for the surgery. Believe it or not, there is a weight limit to it. That is, you have to be a specific amount of “Over” the standard weight (or based on your BMI).
  • While the risk of direct deaths due to the surgery is less than 1%, there are other complications, some very serious that can happen and in some cases eventually lead to death (infection for example).
  • One type of the surgery is irreversible (bypass)
  • The good side to it is the obviously rapid weight loss but also losing the weight often fixes the health-related issues associated with obesity: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea etc.
  • Without getting into TMI, one issue I have is with digestion and what I lovingly refer to as “stomach issues”. Certain (most) foods give me pause but also I have absorption problems of vitamins to the near point of anemia. Those who have the surgery can be subjected to many bouts of “stomach issues” and frankly the idea of that worsening on me gives me hives.

No matter the factors for weight loss surgery – good or bad – I always came back to the same thing for why I chose to not have the surgery:

If I can’t learn to eat healthy and properly before the surgery, it’s not going to help me to do so after the surgery.

So here I am, doing it “the hard way” so to speak. Whatever anyone else chooses to do it up to them and honestly, for those that I know who have had it, I’m not only inspired by your determination and guts, but also very proud of you. You made it work and that is simply amazing.

I know several people who have personally not had the surgery and have been successful. One friend was able to drop 180 pounds and while she continues to struggle to maintain the weight loss, she was able to fight the fight and do it with sheer determination and willpower. And to those people I am equally proud. They give me hope that I will also succeed on my journey.

So, to surgery or not to surgery, is the question.

I’ll likely question my decision and wonder if I should do it long into the future. I’m truly hoping that I’ll keep losing weight to where whether to have it or not won’t even be an issue. Until then…it sits in the back of my mind. Waiting.

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Blessings to all.

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About Danielle R.

An enigma. Try to figure me out. Pessimistic optimist of happily every after or close to it. A wanna-be writer, animal lover and ferocious friend.

Posted on September 17, 2015, in Weightloss Journey. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. cheflori@hotmail.com

    I completely agree with you. For some people the surgery works wonders, but I have also known people who have had severe complications, even death! We’ve been taught for so many years that food is the enemy and our body image is somewhere down the toilet.Fist step, liking yourself where you are right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you are being too hard on yourself with respect to viewing *not* having surgery as punitive, because otherwise you took the “easy way out” because you won’t learn to eat properly, etc. The point of surgery is that it gives a “head start.” You still need to develop those positive eating habits and learn to eat well in order to lose weight. I am sure you’ve done all the research, but I know that there are incredible positive health effects for many who choose to have it done. In fact, OHIP pays for Canadians to cross the border and have it done in the USA because in the long run, it’s worth the cost-savings on the health system.

    I’d take any short-cut available to me! If your goal is to lose weight (and I think that it is– though it may be to become happy and comfortable about where you are now), I would consider it more objectively, as a tool to help you learn to eat well. It’s just a quicker way of getting there.

    Of course, I don’t know about the health risks of the surgery, etc. Don’t do anything you feel is risky! But don’t not have it because you think it’s “cheating”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Beth. In a way I do feel like it might be considered “cheating” but that’s not the main reason. Mostly it comes down to not yet trusting that I can do what I need to once I have it. Maybe once I’ve established a steady better eating habit I might reconsider it. As always, I appreciate your support and comments. 🙂

      Like

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