Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Support Group and My Big Fat Soapbox

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 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 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 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?


  1. Ames (that's what I always call you in my head) great post! WHEN I'm a size six I am going to shop my ass off with all the money I've saved over the last years on food! :) You are soo right, it is all about attitude. And I think the growing trend for WLS is among older folks. I don't consider myself older AT ALL, but in our group the other night, Kinzie and I were some of the youngest, and I am 49..but NOT OLD :)
    Have a great Thursday!

  2. I just posted that I went to a support group meeting this week too. I was the youngest person there. And I am 31! Everyone was so much older and bypass patients. Why is that? I will think of you next month when I go. I love your blog, girl! Keep it up. xo-april

  3. I'm fortunate that my surgeon's office has a Lap Band support meeting. So all of us there are banders. That would stink to go and not even talk about what's relevant to you.

  4. Great post thats my new name for you since everyone else has one...

    When I am a size 6 I will be so proud and happy that I am finally that small again! I dont care how I got there but the fact that I AM there will be my focus! I LOVE my band I dont let anyone tell me diffrent, I dont care what people say about taking the easy way out or the right way, I tried the right way and It didnt work this is MY right way! and I am not waiting to act that way I work what I look like every day! my confidence has increased with each pound that I have lost and will encourage and support anyone who wants to know how and what I am doing there!

  5. and that's why "More to Love" was such a ridiculous show. I couldn't handle all the women saying woe in me, I am fat and I can't get a date. WHAT!? Not an issue lady... your HEAD is an issue.

    I'm so glad you said that to that girl!!!!

  6. if i were a size 6 i would be a stripper. great tips!

  7. A size six for you there, is a size 8 for me here. I wouldn't even know where to begin being that small. Far out. If I was lucky enough not to be blown away by the wind I guess I would just lash out on all those beautiful things I've wanted for so long (clothes, shoes, etc) that my extra weight put me off buying. No matter what.. some clothes just don't look as good on a bigger person (mostly due to the idiots who make them.. they think 'tent' is one size fits all!!)

  8. I have been smaller than a size 6 in my teens (I am now 54), but I do not expect to be that small again! I just want to be comfortable in my own skin.

    My biggest hope is to lose enough weight to help take some pressure off of the pinched nerve in my lower spine so that I am no longer in constant pain and I can walk and stand again for more than a few minutes! That is my dream. I have a loving husband who doesn't want me to get too small, just a good healthy weight!

    BTW, you look fabulous! You are now my weight & I am not even banded yet. I still have another 35 days until surgery. Also, my husband keeps trying to guess your height, I say about 5'4", he thinks 5'6", if you don't mind saying, who is right?

    Keep up the great posts, I love reading them, they have really helped me already and I am still in the early stages of banding. :o)

  9. great post.
    homework questions....
    I wouldn't do anything different @ size 6 cuz I'm not waiting for anything ~ I do what I want @ what size I was and what size I am now. I've not allowed my weight to hold me back. So I say go for it peeps!! ;-)

  10. I love this post (and the next one too). I am so grateful to have been able to connect with you and so many other great bloggers and bandsters on-line. It's an incredible source of info and support.

    So. . for the homework. . . I actually don't think I'll ever be a 6. So, let's say 8 or 10. When I'm an 8 or a 10, the only change I foresee is that I'll be buying clothing that size! Woo-hoo! Can't wait!!

    And, I'll finally be able to stop holding back on the shopping because I'll be in my goal size! I'll have more than 5 work outfits that fit. Bring It On!!! :)



  11. I'll be a size 10 - not a size 6 and I will FEEL COMFORTABLE in all the trendy clothing I will be wearing - including those zip up high boots!

    I think I will be more outgoing as well - I know I am the person that stands back and listens in a group of people because my confidence is low right now.

  12. Hi Amy, I'm posting late (missed about a week of everyone's posts), so I hope you still read this! When I'll be happy is a size 10/12. The last time I wore an 8 was in 8th grade. I'll will still be me, but a better version, without my hangups about my weight, and I'll be more confident. My inner fashionista will emerge, and I might be able to wear high heels at long stretches without feeling like my feet are going to fall off, or my knees are going to explode. I'll be sassier than ever! Great thought-provoking post!


    a: I would strut around like nobodies business. I feel like I'm a pretty woman, so at a size six I 'd shout it out I'm a pretty man. I would literally strut, maybe an ocassional prance. I'd be happy to shop OFF the RACK in any store I chose. I'd feel more confident at work that ppl were't judging me b/c "how can she run a team if she can't take care of her own health", you know. (that's probably my biggest hold back at the moment). I'd want to do more physical things that still scare me; ie, a marathon, horse back riding, and major hiking.

    A: what holds me back is my confidence. Me and all my family and friends have seen a dramatic spike in my confidence. Otherwise you never would've seen bikini pics of my fat self posted online. But this whole process has been so mental, so uplifting, so eye opening. I've gone out more, done more outdoor things, had numerous full body shots taken of me w/ confidence, am in more pics w/ my kids. I feel more confident at work but still not to where I want to be. Maybe when I get from an 18 to a 16, I feel more normal in the WORKPLACE. Right now I feel great about myself and I know anything from here on down will be mindblowing!!! Oh and another thing I do now, I wear shorts around the house and actually feel cute. Would you believe I never allowed myself to wear anything other than pajama pants AT HOME b/c I didn't want to catch a glimpse of my fat legs in the mirror. I'm doing better now.

  14. I meant:

    I 'd shout it out I'm a pretty WOMAN!


  15. When I attended my pre-op class, there was about a 25% to 75% range of people getting Lap to people getting gastric. And yes, many of them are old. I've had people tell me I'm all kinds of horrible because I think if I get to 70, that's old enough for me. Some of the people were probably in their 60's but might have actually been younger since weight can make you appear older. (I know this is the case with my dad, who has struggled with his weight & looks far older than my mom who is 6 years older than him.)

    And man, I was shocked at how many people came to the class wanting to be educated right there. I've been reading and researching for so long, making absolutely sure that this was something that I could live with for the rest of my life. It's still scary realizing that it's now actually IN ME for the rest of my life (unless I pay for the surgery to have it removed). But everything that they were telling us about protein intake and small bites and chewing and fills, I'd read about already. Granted, I've slowly been finding more personal stories as the blogs have appeared, but I have this thing about educating myself. I'm not a great student in a class. I don't like surprises.

    And I find myself really happy when I go to the classes while being mixed with really sad feelings as well. Because I'm not as sad sounding or pathetic as some of the people who are thinking the band is going to correct every bad thing in their life, make their spouse love them more (or find them one in the first place), make it easier to deal with their kids. All this unrealistic stuff. The band was just supposed to be something that I added to my life to make it even better. Not to improve something that was broken. I'm no longer a broken person. I have my ups and downs like everyone does, but I just would like to shop in the clearance section and have a bigger selection of cheap stuff to pick from. ;) Big girls' clothing usually costs more, even with discounts.