Emmie: Today we have a guest post from Michelle. I thought she had an interesting experience and perspective to bring on her journey to self-acceptance. I am not for or against weight loss surgery – it’s a personal preference only one can make on their own. I just wanted Michelle to share her experience. So, take it away, Michelle!
Hi all you
Skinny Authentically Emmie fans out there! I am so thrilled that Emmie asked me to do a guest post. If you like what you read, feel free to check out my blog over at http://mishyhomemaker.com. So the topic today is weight loss surgery. Now, I want to start with a disclaimer: this is MY experience with weight loss surgery (from now on known as WLS). I am not by any means telling you this is how everyone sees it or that this will be your result should you choose to have it done. This is my experience. Take what you would like from it, ok?
I started looking into WLS in 2009. There were billboards all over the place where I come from (Los Angles, CA) with the 1-800-GET-SLIM phone number to call. Basically there was this non-evasive weight loss surgery you could have that would literally “make” you thin and it was easy the recovery time was nothing and yeah, you get my drift. I looked into it and when I made my appointment I figured out what 1-800-GET-SLIM was. They’d call your insurance, see what they could get out of them and waive the rest that the insurance wouldn’t cover. It was like a cattle call- there were easily 100+ people in a small waiting room waiting to have a bunch of procedures done (upper GI, lab work etc) that they’d bill your insurance. The whole thing was super shady and I’m pretty sure some of their surgeons were sued really fast. Anyways, I didn’t end up going with them.
I found an office in Brea for a weight loss surgeon who had a much more legit approach. They talked to me about why I wanted to have it done and I basically said whatever I needed to to convince them this was my last hope. I truly believed this was my last hope. They checked and it turned out my insurance covered 80%, the other part we’d pay in cash. They did psychological screenings and prepped me for surgery pretty quick. I had the band put in in April 2010. My recovery took 2 painful weeks where I craved solid food and cried a whole lot. I really realized my emotional attachment to eating at that phase in the process.
So there was, with a foreign object put in me to make me stop eating at a certain point. The rules were no drinking with meals, no more than a cup of food per meal, high protein and fiber choices- make low-fat, non-fat choices (yikes!). I didn’t see the harm in any of this for a long time. About two months after my surgery I found roller derby. I wasn’t the best at it but I loved it and got pretty good! At this point, I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I was throwing up a lot of what I was eating. I’d eat really fast, throw up and roller skate for hours. Needless to say I lost 118 lbs in a year. Throwing up and tons of exercise will do that. I was getting thin but I was very unhealthy. They’d un-fill and re-fill (the band is hollow making it easy to un-fill and re-fill saline making it tighter and looser) but I never stopped throwing up the food and I didn’t want to! I was losing weight. It was kind of like involuntary bulimia? I just got used to it!
Fast forward to May of 2012. Holy crap, I’m totally pregnant! Despite the fact that I was on birth control & have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)- I was 8 weeks pregnant and my husband and I were having a baby! The pregnancy was REALLY rough. You’ve never experienced morning sickness until you’ve paired it with a band squeezed around your stomach. I threw up everything and by the 6th month my midwife was very concerned that I’d only lost weight. I finally decided to take some anti-nausea meds which I put off as long as I can and finally started to gain some weight. I ate whatever I could praying that it would stay down. I ended up gaining 24 lbs., just enough to give birth (naturally and at home) to a 8.6lb, beautiful baby girl. I literally have a phobia of pregnancy now- that was the hardest thing my husband and I had ever been through.
So, when I came-to, post-baby, it was February and I headed to the bariatric center to see if my band had been affected at all by my pregnancy. We couldn’t check while I was pregnant because of the radiation from the x-ray. Sure enough, that thing had slipped, far down. My stomach looked like a wonky hourglass. They wanted to repair it but a lot had changed in me at that point- I wanted it out.
Okay, so you might be thinking… “what changed?”. When did I change my mind about this big choice. How can one change their mind about wanting to be thin? Well, it’s simple and then not. First off, I read two excellent books. One of them I found at a yard sale and the other I downloaded because the subject became fascinating to me. The two books are “The Fat Girls Guide To Life” by Wendy Shanker and “Two Whole Cakes” by Lesley Kinzel. (Emmie note: I enjoyed both of these books) What I pulled from these books was simple: I am absolutely rad exactly where I am (no matter what size I’m fitting in to). Second, there’s a whole lot of fat hating in this country- most of it is masked with good intentions (E.g. Michelle Obama’s get moving school food program) and some of it is just down right bigotry (clothing companies refusing to make clothes in larger sizes because they don’t want to attract “those kinds” of shoppers). I mean, did you know some women won’t buy from a clothing line that goes above a size 8? I’m not saying this to hate, I’m saying this is what’s perpetuated! I’ve basically been taught to hate myself so I’ll buy more stuff. And its worked!
I suddenly understood the dangerous lengths I’d gone to to become what everyone wanted me to. I suddenly understood that weight loss was a symptom of health and not the other way around. I suddenly totally loved myself and didn’t want to suffer anymore. I didn’t want to pay my fat girl penance. I realized I deserved a great husband who totally loves me, I decided I deserved delicious food that tasted good, gave me nutrients and wasn’t a complete chemical sh*t storm (low-fat, non-fat). I had the band removed on June 2, 2013 (pretty recently) and I felt better in the first days of recovery than I had in 3 years. I was back on my feet in no time. I’ll admit, I binged the first couple of days, being SO happy to hold down food. But I’m back to eating what makes me feel good and I’m not worried about losing or gaining anything. Its weird, but the less I care the less weight I actually gain *shrugs*.
Self love goes a long way, baby. Its not that I never get down about things. But for the most part I remember how rad I am, and always feel better pretty quickly. The lap band caused malnutrition during my pregnancy and my breast milk never came in. It caused violent, constant vomiting putting my daughters life in danger. The band slipped causing some serious heart burn, reflux, discomfort, anemia etc. Would I suggest WLS to friends or family? Ha. No. I’d probably buy them a copy of some great books. But its a personal decision of course. That’s my story. I hope it helps put things into perspective. You have value, its true. It takes a long time to undo that damage- I’m still working on it daily. But once you let that sentence go. You’re free! Life is amazing and amazing attracts amazing so get ready for the love to roll in!