Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Weight Loss Surgery?

First of all, let me say that the unbelievable outpouring of support that I have received over my decision to have surgery has been TREMENDOUS. I am very excited about this stage in my life, I am excited about the positive changes about to happen, and I am excited about the new me that will be emerging like a butterfly from this fat, unhealthy pupa.

That being said, there are still those that don't quite understand why I've chosen this route. Some are afraid of my going into surgery. Some think that I could do it on my own if I wanted to. And some think that surgery is, quite frankly, a cop-out.

Today, I'm going to shed some light on the truth about WLS, in particular the sleeve (Vertical Sleeve), I'm going to address some of those worries, concerns, and misinformed statements, and I'm going to give a little more insight about how I got to this point.

I have been overweight since childhood. From the time I was about eight years old, to be precise. The weight started coming on sometime after I had my tonsils out as a kid, and it never really stopped. I went on my first diet (unbeknownst to my mother) when I was around 10. This led to a 26 year long string of failed attempts. I have been on every diet known to man, and some not-so-known. I have done Atkins, South Beach (4 times), Lean Bodies (three times), juice fasting (twice), Weight Watchers (twice), Slim Fast (A lot), the blood type diet, the eden diet, vegetarianism, and many, many more. I would lose a grand total of up to 20 lbs, and stop. I would continue, sometimes for months. But would always be stuck at that first 20 lbs. The last attempt I made before deciding on surgery was Weight Watchers. I lost 20 lbs and got down to around 276. And that's where I stayed for three months. I exercised daily, I counted my points religiously, I did everything I was supposed to do. I changed things up - lowering my points slightly, raising them slightly, working out more, changing my routine, EVERYTHING you can think of. And the weight did. not. move. I finally gave up. And gained 20 lbs back. The best I was ever doing was maintaining an unhealthy weight.

I love exercise. I love eating healthy. I try to do both on a regular basis. And yet, I am still maintaining or gaining, NOT losing.

One thing I have learned is that even eating healthy, you can still overeat. Eating a delicious meal of grilled chicken, vegetables, and quinoa doesn't help if you eat the whole panful. That's where the surgery comes in.

The surgery I have opted to have is called the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (aka, Vertical Sleeve, Gastric Sleeve, VSG . . .). The purpose of this particular surgery is to remove 75-85% of your stomach, leaving a "pouch" that is about the size and shape of a banana. This process will also remove glands (Ghrelin gland) or portions of glands in the stomach that cause hunger. The purpose is to re-train your body to think of food in a different way. No longer will I be able to live to eat, I will have to eat to live.

The procedure will be laparoscopically, which means there will be a few small incisions on my belly and the doctor will use special instruments, including a camera to see what he's doing, to complete the procedure. The stomach will be stapled off then the unused portion will be removed. The doctor will then stitch along the staple line and remove the removed portion of my stomach through one of the incisions. Then I will be stitched up and sent to recovery. From there I will go to a hospital room to stay at least 24 hours.

There are risks with this surgery, it is, after all, a huge procedure. But the risks are far smaller than the gastric by-pass, the duo-donal switch, and even the lap-band. The biggest risk with the sleeve is possible leakage around the staple line, but even this is less than a 1% risk. In other words, a gastric sleeve procedure is even safer than a c-section.  Yes, there is the risk of not waking from anesthesia. But then, I'm 288 lbs (as of yesterday). There's a chance I won't wake up tomorrow morning. There's a greater chance that 10 years from now, without surgery, that I won't wake up to watch my daughter graduate from high school.

To those that believe that weight loss surgery is an easy way out, I want you to consider my situation for a moment. Suppose you have been obese all your life. Suppose that every diet you have ever tried has failed after a set amount of time. Suppose you do everything right, and still don't lose weight. At which point do you say, "maybe it's time for a drastic change?"

With this surgery, I will still have to diet and exercise. I will still have to pay attention to what I eat and my portion sizes - even more so now than ever before. I will be on a strict eating regimen to ensure that I am getting enough nutrients and protein to heal my body and keep it healthy. I will have to take multiple vitamins each day and continually have a water bottle on hand at all times. The point of this surgery is not to be an easy way out. It is, rather, a tool for me to use to finally, after 26 years of struggling, have success. It is a way for me to have a "re-set button", if you will. I will have to re-train my body to eat again. I will finally have the attitude about food that I have been praying about for so long.

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for joining me on my journey. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or you can email me at

God Bless,


135by2012 said...

Congratulations on this decision. My husband just had gastric bypass a little over a month ago and is so happy he did it. He has already lost 30lbs.

I myself, just can't seem to pull that trigger yet and do it myself. Maybe you can be an additional inspiration for me to consider it.

Take care and good luck with the surgery. I can't wait to read about it.

Jessica said...

This totally makes sense. Im SO rooting for you!

anotherjennifer said...

Thank you for sharing this. I think people are too quick to judge. It sounds like the surgery was the best thing for you, and I hope everything is going as planned now. Good luck with everything!

Oh, and Happy SITS Day! :)

Aspgriswold said...

Best of luck to you! Happy SITS day!!

misssrobin said...

I have a friend who had this surgery. I learned a lot more about it then. Anyone who thinks it's a cop out doesn't know much about it.

Trust your heart and try not to listen to them. I hope it continues to be a wonderful decision for you.

Sheila Skillingstead said...

Congratulations and Happy SITS Day. I've also had weight problems since puberty. I considered the surgery but haven't done it so far. I can lose weight on 750 calories a day, but one calorie more and I gain weight. I did that for a year and a half with one hour of exercise and lost 43 pounds. I couldn't starve myself anymore and have gained half back. I currently am ony working on eating healthy and will be trying gluten-free not for weight loss but for other reasons. Again, thanks for your post and your blog.

Anonymous said...

Happy SITS day!! Congratulations on making a difficult decision and sticking to it. I'm so glad it's helping you.

Kristin Leamy said...

Thank you for this detailed explanation! I have a friend who had the lap band, and another who had (I think) the same surgery as you. both of them have had to work thier butts off to keep healthy, and are very very careful with food and everything. It's definitely not an "easy way out", and I know it's been a while since you've had the surgery, but I hope healing and recovery went smoothly!

Organized Island said...

So interesting about the surgery - Congratulations and Happy SITS Day!

Sara said...

That is an incredible post, and congrats on making such an important decision, I'm not very intrigued to read some more recent posts (have you had the procedure yet) to see how things are going now a couple months later. Happy SITS day, and good luck!

agapewoman said...

Happy SITS Day, I'm a couple of days late. I had WLS in 2003, the best decision of my life. It's not a cop out, I was 400 lbs and going down as everyday went by. Trust me, 9 years later you still have to deal with the issues of food, emotions and weight. Congratulations and good luck to you.

Monicas Mom Musings said...

I hope your surgery went or does go well. It sounds like you put a lot of thought into this and research and that's important in anything like this. Happy belated SITS day.

DJrelAt7 said...

How great is it to have options! I hope the surgery went well and that you are closer to your goals!

Stopping by from SITS