Monday November 21, 2005

 A lot of people have asked me how I came to decide to have gastric-bypass surgery. I’ve known it was necessary for a long time but it was Jan. 18, 2005 was the day that I knew I WANTED to have it. I recently posted a version of my WLS story on my support group site and decided to go ahead and copy most of it here. WLS stands for weight-loss surgery and people often write their “story” to share what lead them to have the surgery and how they are doing afterwards.

Anyways, here is the bulk of what I posted. It isn’t my exact WLS story because it was around a specific event of a dr.’s visit. I haven’t written my actual story yet. 

(Nov. 8) I went for some lab work with my endocrinologist, Dr. Maass. I had to get my thyroid, diabetes,
protein and hemoglobin checked. I didn’t have an actual appointment with him but he did
pop out between patients to say hi. Not only did he notice that I’ve lost weight, but he
was proud of me.

Going to see this doctor and his nurse is like going to see Dr. Gorospe (surgeon) for me. It’s therapy. I always leave feeling so blessed and cared about not only a patient but a human being.

It was my endo who led me to decide on the gastric bypass. He didn’t nag me or scare me. He cared about me. Don’t get me wrong, everyone else who has been trying to talk
to me about it care about me. But it always hit me way wrong. When I saw my endo for
the first time Jan. 18, 2005, I told him I had been considering the surgery and although
he doesn’t usually recommend it, he said I am one of the few that he thinks its the best

I know this doesn’t sound different so far but his and his nurse’s attitude were totally different that what I have felt I’ve experienced from anyone else. He flat out told me that
he cares about me and thinks I’m a great person how I am (then). The surgery won’t make me a better person, I don’t need that. The surgery would give me back a life that I’m being cheated out of by being obese. He told me he thinks I deserve a better life than
what the life morbid obesity has given me.

Although I know it was not their intention, I’ve always felt like everyone who mentioned
the surgery to me before was trying to just change me and make me more “acceptable.”
Those words were never used, but it was the tone, manner and general nature of people’s
comments that I allowed to make me feel that way. Even when doctors would talk about it, they would only talk about it in a neutral way in that I would die if I didn’t
do something about my weight. Well my thought always was, do they not get that that’s what I’m trying to accomplish?

Whenever family or others would bring up the surgery or other radical measures to lose weight, I would balk and go the opposite direction. Deep down I think I was daring them to like me fat. I knew they loved me, but I never have felt liked or like I was an acceptable person.

Even with all that crap, I had pretty much decided to have the surgery before I went to see my endo for the first time. But the difference was, I didn’t want the surgery. I had resigned myself to the fact that it was necessary so I could maintain my job and continue to live alone. I was not about to be trapped into a life where I needed constant care and

But when I went to see my endo and received the treatment that I did, I all the sudden
WANTED the surgery. I still didn’t care about being skinny, I still don’t. But he and his staff helped me rediscover my sense of self worth and my desire to fight all the odds
that are against me. I had spent my life doing just that but through the process of becoming obese (including the factors that led to the weight), I let myself get lost. After
that day I decided nothing was going to stop me. I WAS going to get my life back and it would be on my terms. I was fully convinced that I was doing it for me and I finally felt
valuable enough to bother. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t basing a life decision on one person. It was just the thing that finally pushed me over the edge of getting myself back.

As I went through the process I had many many obstacles…most for which I am now
grateful. The biggest thing was I started with a surgeon in Little Rock. I was impressed
with his 300 WLS history. One problem…when I went for my consultation after all my
preapproval visits, he told me he was leaving and wouldn’t do my surgery. So, I had to start over.

That’s when I found Dr. G and his staff. I was pretty depressed and a bit skeptical when I went that rainy night to the Jones Center in Springdale where he, Dr. Kirk and Crystal (bariatric liasion) and maybe one other person were presenting about the surgery to a group of sleep apnea patients. I was floored by the experience and compassion that this team showed. More than 3,000 WLS (at that point)? Holy crap, I thought to myself. They were all also knowledgeable about so much regarding obesity that I felt I really wanted to look into this surgeon’s office. I ended up not having to visit the office to know that’s where I wanted to go…

When I met privately with Dr. G. I told him my situation and he took the time to sit down
to be at eye level with me and he listened very intently. He never interrupted me or made me feel like what I was saying wasn’t valid. He let me be myself. When I was done talking, he took my hand and said (I’ll never forget this) “I will help you. Call the office and
we will help you.” I knew then everything would be ok. I had found a surgeon who saw me and treated me the same as my endo. Dr. G said he would HELP me, not FIX me.

After I started the process I had many more obstacles to overcome. Sometimes I would
think that this was fate telling me to stop but then I got mad at the idea and just decided
to fight harder. Dr. G and his staff were fighting alongside and even in my stead the entire

Finally, the day of my surgery arrived. But, there turned out to be a problem with my blood work and it had to be cancelled. I was depressed and frustrated for several
reasons and of course started to cry. Dr. K handled the entire situation with grace and he was very wonderful about ministering to my needs. As he left, he took my hand in both of his and looked me in the eye and told me everything was going to be ok, that everything would work out and that he and the staff would do everything in their power to get my surgery in the time I needed it to happen (my insurance that would pay for the surgery ran out 9 days after my original surgery was scheduled.). I had been near hysterics before but as soon as he said/did that, I was calm. Disappointed, but calm. I decided it was just another example to show me that I was making the right decision to have the surgery and with the right surgical staff.

Obviously, I’ve had the surgery. I’m healing and slowly gaining my life back. Through the support group’s help I feel like I’m getting the encouragement I need to take my emotional life back. I’m learning how to be compassionate yet assertive again. I’m learning how to be my own person without thinking that I have to be the person everyone else wants or thinks I should be.

I miss that me but that me is coming back 🙂



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