I went to our hospitals WLS support group the other night for the first time. It is held every Tuesday of the month. I thought I should go, to share my story, and hopefully be that person "it is working for". I didn't really know what to expect.
When I got there, I walked in...and felt like perhaps I walked into the Geriatric support group meeting, instead of the Bariatric support group. There were A LOT of gray haired, or shall we say those with hair full of wisdom, people. A quick scan and I could see I was possibly the youngest person there. In total, there were probably about 45 people. Do you know how many of us were "banded" versus Gastric Bypass? Do you? Take a guess....
Did you guess?
TWO! Me and a super nice girl named Laura. Can you believe that? Our nutritionist led the meeting, and our doctors were there as well. My doctor, Dr. Friedman (I love that man), and Dr. Nye (who is also Lacey's doctor by the way). I thought it was pretty awesome that they both stayed the entire time. One and a half hours at the end of a long day is a pretty big commitment for doctors.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves and then anyone could ask the docs some questions, or share their experiences.
Let us start with the positive.
First, I learned a little about hair loss. Dr. Nye told us that when you body experiences a shock not just WLS, but any shock...your hair follicles actually shut off. Once they shut off, you are going to lose some hair...usually about 3-6 months out. He said RARELY does it have to do with a lack of vitamins or nutrition.
Next, Dr. Friedman shared his biggest pet peeve. Smoking. He said, that he can almost guarantee, 100 % of the time...if you resume smoking after WLS...you WILL develop an ulcer. And he added, if he is called in the middle of the night to operate on a ulcer caused by smoking...he will not be happy. He continued to list some other statistics and big medical words that are a result of smoking and WLS. Scary stuff.
Overall, I didnt get much from the support group...I guess since the questions and topics were so Gastric Bypass focused. I did briefly get on my soapbox during the meeting though.
There was a girl there, about my age (a little younger), and about my size...I think (my reverse body dysmorphic disorder makes sizing me up with others tricky). But I am pretty sure she was somewhere around a size 18. She felt like a failure. Felt like she should do it the "traditional way". Said for the last 3 years she hasn't been in pictures with her son. Said she was so big she couldnt really exercise...
I think bc this was sort of an overall theme at the meeting, that I had to say something. I kept hearing "I couldn't live my life, follow my dreams, be happy, etc when I was fat". One lady said she was an author and had waited 2 years to finish her book bc she didnt want her picture on the back of the book (she had surgery and has now finished the book).
I do not accept this theme.
So I said to the girl contemplating gastric bypass. "I look at you and you are close to my weight. My weight NOW, now that I have lost 100 pounds...so your starting weight is my weight 100 pounds down. All of this is relative, and I look at you and think you have a rocking body! My confidence hasn't changed from 327 to 227. I had a lot then, I have a lot now. Don't feel like failure. And when someone tells you they are going to do it the "traditional way" or that you are taking the "easy way", you tell them GOOD LUCK with losing weight the traditional way...you have about a 5% success rate of losing it and keeping it off."
I know with all of our extra weight, there are some things that we physically cannot do. Could I have climbed Mt. Everest at 327 pounds. No (hell, I still couldnt). But, what holds us back more than that is our mind. Our excuses. Our fear. In 7th grade, my first year of middle school, I was a size 14/16. And I tried out for drillteam (dance team)...right along all of my skinny friends. And I made that team. And I made it year after year. And for those of you who have read or remember my intro, you know that it was one of the only times I can remember letting my weight determine my present, and my future. Granted I didnt let it hold me back for long. The yeat after I quit dance, I became a cheerleader. But it wasn't the same.
So, our lesson for today class? Homework actually. The question is: How would you act different if you were a size 6?
Follow up question: Why are you waiting?