Why I’m Having Gastric Bypass Surgery

With my extensive social media involvement, I have many people that I interact with who I’ve never met. I post a fair amount of pictures of myself online, and I always pick the pictures where I think I look good. I’ll tilt my head the right way, crop out my arms or belly, and avoid showing my whole body. I hide my problem areas along with my insecurities.

The truth is, I’m very large. Technically, my BMI of 51 puts me in the “super obese” category, which is one step above morbidly obese. I have a plethora of health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe obstructive sleep apnea, elevated blood pressure, polycystic ovaries, hormone imbalances, chronic anxiety and depression, edema and circulatory problems. My joints constantly ache, and I have difficulty exercising without injuring myself. I take pills to help with many of these problems, and I’m usually in a doctors office at least twice a month.

Now, you might be thinking “She doesn’t look THAT huge.” I get that all the time. I was blessed with good genes. I’m 5’10”, so my weight doesn’t show as blatantly on my frame as it might on other people. But as stated above, I have a lot of health problems and excess weight. When I stepped on the doctor’s scale last week, I weighed 357. It’s not the most I’ve ever weighed, but close. When I hit 300 three years ago, I could not believe I’d hit that point. But when have disclosed my weight to others, I usually get a depreciating statement like “That’s not possible….you don’t look anywhere near 300 pounds.” As much as I appreciate people telling me I don’t look my weight, the numbers on the scale do not lie. And I’m very self-conscious about it.

I’ve come to hate group photos. All I end up doing is comparing myself to the other people in the picture. Especially arms – my upper arms are 2-3 times as large as a fit woman’s arms, and no amount of toning ever seems to help. I’ve done a fair amount of weightlifting over the years, and all it’s ever done is bulk up my big arms. Or so it seems to me.

I honestly believe I have a more healthy diet than the average American. I’m a pro at the lean protein/whole grain/veggie and fruit way of life. I have been putting myself on restrictive diets to lose weight since age 11, which was when my weight problems began significantly effecting my self esteem. I’ve memorized nutritional information for most foods that I consume, including calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, and protein. Until last week, my main guilty pleasure was excessive consumption of soda and caffeine, but I’m overcoming those addictions and am on day 7 totally soda free.

As I’ve started telling people about my surgery plans, one of the first things that people ask me is “Wait, have you tried _____ diet/supplement/pill/shake?” Honestly, I’m DONE “trying” things. The short list of my weight loss attempts include Weight Watchers (8 times), South Beach diet, Atkins Diet, American Heart Association diet, calorie counting, fat gram counting, high protien diets, liquid diets, Β personal training, online diets and support groups, hypnosis podcasts, Curves, Intuitive Eating, Thrive weight loss, and physician-assisted weight loss plans with prescription weight loss drugs (both phentermine and the naltrexone/bupropion combo).

Twenty years of failed weight loss attempts has significantly affected my endocrine and digestive systems, not to mention my self-esteem. I’ve spent the better part of 10 years on a therapists couch, and much of it has to do with my body image issues and addictive behaviors. I have such a skewed relationship with food. Although I do “eat emotionally,” it is not my main issue. I am a social eater. I can stick with a strict eating plan when I’m on my own, but as soon as I’m around other people, I can’t keep up.

I love the experience of indulging in food with love ones. Many of my happiest memories in life include delicious food with friends and family. It’s so easy to lose control when I’m eating with people I love, no matter what the food item is.

So much of my relationship with my husband has included food. When we only have an hour or two for a date, we almost always go out to eat. When we first got married, we ate out all the time and each gained about 35 pounds. While my husband was able to lose it through diet and exercise, my weight has crept up through the 7 years of our relationship, despite my best efforts. My weight and health have affected our relationship, and I know that it stresses my husband out to no end. Because he is away from home for half the month, it’s been hard to come up with a consistent diet/exercise routine that doesn’t stop when he comes back into town.

So, for these reasons and many more, I’m going under the knife. It took two years to come to the decision to have surgery, with the approval process taking another year. I’ll blog about the approval process for me next, but believe me, it was a tough year of paperwork, health histories and exams, appeal letters, and countless phone calls. I’ve been scheduled for laparoscopic RNY gastric bypass surgery on February 7th.

Comments

  1. What a post!
    I will be your biggest cheerleader!
    You are doing this for all the right reasons and clearly at the right time in your life to make it work …
    (picking up my poms poms)
    Give me an N
    Give me an I
    Give me a C ….
    You go girl πŸ™‚

  2. Good for you! I am excited for you, good luck!

  3. I’m proud of you for making this decision and I know it wasn’t easy!

  4. Congratulations! I’m so happy you were (finally!) able to work it all out. I know this has been a nightmare process.

    I just want you to know that I’ve always thought you were beautiful. You carry yourself so confidently, it was surprising to read about your insecurities. (I guess that means we ALL have them. Hee.)

    I hope the surgery goes well, and that you are able to unload some– if not all!– of your medical baggage before the year is over. It’s a brave thing you’re doing, and I admire you for it. Good luck!

    • Thanks so much for your support Kemi…you’ve been a great friend through the years. Thanks for thinking of me as beautiful and confident…it means so much. I’ve gotten really good at hiding my insecurities in public, and holding it in is probably part of the reason I’ve held on to so much weight. Thanks for sticking with me.

  5. Another option to consider is lap band. It’s a little less invasive and can be adjusted after the surgery to find the “sweet spot”.

    • Believe me, I’ve researched all the options. I had to go to 10 hours of instruction at my surgeon’s office, and meet with him to choose the correct procedure for me. With the way that I typically eat, Lap-Band would not be successful for me, especially in the long term. It would not offer significant enough weight loss, and it’s more likely to fail in women. I was looking at the sleeve gastrectomy too, but my surgeon says he is 100% confident that laparoscopic gastric bypass is my best option.

      Not to mention, I’d have to go through a whole new approval process with my insurance. This one already took 13 months!

  6. Good luck Nicole, I’ve enjoyed your friendship while working at SEO. I hope everything work out well for you.

  7. SOOO glad it finally worked out with your insurance! What a long struggle. Can’t wait to follow your journey here, what an exciting time for you. less than 2 weeks???

    should we do one last lunch date with friends before you go under? (not to EAT but to celebrate with you, since who knows how you’ll be feeling afterwards for awhile.)

    • I would love that, but it will have to be soon! My birthday is 4 days before my surgery, but no cake because I’ll already be on my pre-surgical crash diet. Let’s chat and make something happen!

  8. As a ten year post-op who lost more than 150 pounds and considered highly successful in both losing and maintaining, I wish you the best in this journey. It will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and your life will never be the same, for better or for worse. This will get rid of a lot of your problems and create new problems along the way. It is in no way a “fix” and I pray that you are also planning to get therapy or other help in changing your relationship with food. Gastric bypass is in absolutely no way a permanent solution for weight loss. It is a tool that can be used to achieve weight loss, but after a couple of years, you will be on your own and as your ability to eat more and more diverse foods changes, old habits will creep back in, and maybe take over. Regaining a good portion of the weight lost through surgery happens far more often than not, but there plenty of people out there who succeeded in changing their relationship with food and succeeded with this long term. I wish you the best, and you know how to contact me if you ever need help or support. I promise to be brutally honest about my experience and to be your biggest cheerleader.

    • Believe me Aimee, I am not giving up therapy just because I’m having surgery. I know a lot of things will change emotionally as my physical body changes. I’ve known people who have gained back the weight they’ve lost from surgery, so I will be vigilant to keep up my habits so it doesn’t happen to me too. Thanks for your support, and I’m sure I’ll be asking you all sorts of questions.

  9. Travis Spackman says:

    Awesome! I wish you all the best of luck! I will def. be following your journey. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the gift of health. Congrats!

    -Travis

  10. Esther Longmore says:

    Nicole,
    I’m so proud of you for making a choice that you know to be right for yourself and your family! What an exciting journey! Remember that all the “failed” attempts in the past have prepared you to become your best self and for what you are about to embark upon. Girl, this is IT!!! I’m cheering for you! Love you!!!

  11. I’ve always thought you were a beautiful, awesome, intelligent, caring and wonderful woman…inside and out! Your great attitude and ever-unselfish love and caring you’ve showered on me is something I’m truly grateful! I hope all goes well in the surgery, I’m rooting for you too. I can’t wait to see the “new” Nicole, and I hope all goes well!

  12. Thank you for your blog. I’m in the process of preparing for this surgery myself, so I’ll be keeping an eye on you.

  13. Good luck Nicole! Way to keep fighting.

    • Thanks Jeremy! I appreciate all the support you give me. Maybe once I’m down some weight, I’ll be joining you and the other SEO guys for team sports. You have no idea how competitive I am, when I’m able to be πŸ˜‰

  14. You are so courageous! Few women in your position would share their story so openly and honestly. You are a truly beautiful woman, inside and out. Best wishes as you embark on the next stage of this journey!

  15. Wow, lady! I had some time tonight to look around, what an amazing journey you’ve had! Your story is wonderful, and that you shared it even more so. Love your blog and your accomplishments. Next step: skiing. πŸ™‚

  16. I remember reading this πŸ™‚
    It is neat to look back and see how valid your reasons are. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  17. Such a great post! I just made the decision to get WLS and have my first appointment on April 3rd. I have definitely gotten mixed responses which made me feel horrible at first. I look forward to reading more of your blog πŸ™‚

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