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My decision for Lap-Band Surgery

13 Nov 2002: Well, I have made the decision to not only have the weight loss surgery done, but to also keep a journal of my journey. I realized that when I did my research into weight loss surgery, specifically the Lap-Band procedure, I enjoyed most what other people experienced. It is terrifying to me; surgery, and this seems like such a drastic measure. These people's stories gave me comfort and more importantly, they gave me hope. So here it is... my journal and I hope that I am able to provide the same hope to someone else. A friend of mine came to visit me from California about a month ago, and even though I had known her for years, we became honest about how much we weighed. We were complaining about all the money we had spent on weight loss supplements, programs, and all that kind of crap, and she told me about two of her neighbors that had weight loss surgery called the LapBand. I remember hearing that Ann Wilson from Heart and Sharon Osborne also had the surgery. My friend told me the amazing weight loss she witnessed. We then did the ultimate taboo; we disclosed how much we really weighed. I am hitting the 300 pound mark, even though she and everyone else says I don't look like it. It is even strange writing it here, 300 pounds....there is something completely scary about strangers knowing how much I weigh, I don't know why exactly. Perhaps I am afraid of judgment. But at the same time, it is a little liberating, like I don't have to hide it anymore. I have come to terms for the first time with the fact that I am overweight...hell, I am obese! No two ways about that! I am sick and tired of hiding my weight behind baggy clothes, dark clothes, or 'trying to deflect the eyes' with makeup ( after all how many times have I heard I have such a pretty face if only I lost some weight!!! Puke!!).

I think that now I am 'out of the closet' with my weight, it forces me to deal with it. I cannot claim to be ignorant or in denial. I guess that sounds stupid since I see myself in the mirror each day, but my experience has been that I truly and honestly didn't see myself as others saw me. Not that I haven't tried to lose weight before... Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems, Adkins, Weight Watchers, Low Carb, No Carb, followed all kind of diet plans, the Zone, Stop the Insanity, you name it I have tried it! And talk about exercise crap they sold to me...I mean those infomercials just were calling my name! I guess because I was desperate to keep it together....desperate to 'stay in the closet' about my weight. After all, I could continue to camouflage it, it wasn't as bad as I thought. WRONG! Every diet plan, every attempt I failed at, and all the weight I lost came back with interest! What a shitty deal. So not only do I have a lower self esteem for failing at yet another weight loss attempt, not only am I scared that I am going to have continue my false pretenses of being 'happy' the way I am, and am not only fat, but fatter!!!!! I hate those diet plans!

Ok, so, let me get this straight. I am obese, clinically morbidly obese. I am a walking dead fat chick! and since everything else has failed, and since I feel like a failure, drastic measures are needed ~ surgical intervention. But Wait! What if it doesn't work? What if I fail at this too? Part of me is scared of these possibilities, but the larger part of me knows that I have come to terms with my obesity, and my past failures, and that this will work because I need help to lose weight! I need medical and professional help. I decide to research my options. I read there are two basic types of surgeries available; the kind Carnie Wilson (and Al Roker) have had, or the type Sharon Osborne and Ann Wilson have had. See it was easier to associate people to the procedure because I saw their success at this. I spent weeks going through my options and felt very comfortable with the Lap Band surgery. There were several reasons why this was the best for me. It was reversible in case for whatever reason, I knew it could be taken off and my stomach would be left in tact. I didn't feel comfortable have my internal organs permentantly altered. Also, there was little scarring since this is done with four or five small incisions. Finally, the side effects were less and the success rate was as effective.

I contacted my primary care physician who NEVER HEARD OF THIS SURGERY!!! You have got to be kidding me! So I contacted the manufacturer of the LapBand and they sent me a list of physicians approved for the procedure and found one somewhat close to me.  I called the doctor's office and spoke with a really nice nurse, Jane. She explained that this is still new in the State, although the procedure has been around for sometime, and the FDA approved it for weight loss. My doctor even underwent the procedure himself! So, I reserved my spot at the next seminar, December 18th (even though I wish it could be sooner!). Everyone is required to attend the seminar and learn about the procedure, risks, expectations, etc. I have done so much research that I feel confident in my decision, no second guessing! I am so excited! I have so much hope! My husband is supportive of me and I can't wait to get it done. I am thinking that January would be a great time, start of the new year and get through the Holidays. So I will write again after the seminar.

Fear of losing weight??????

18 Nov 2002: I have my seminar on 12/6 and can be scheduled for early Jan (if all goes well). I am completely excited about the band, and realize it isn't a cure or miracle (well, in sorts for me it is), and the responsibility of losing weight is up to me. Like many of you, I have tried a gazillion other weight loss products, diets, exercise crap, and have thrown the money away. I admit it, I am a sucker for every weight loss gimmick that comes my way. Partly because each time I fail at an attempt, I gain the weight back and then some, making me more desperate to lose it again. Hellva cycle! The band, to me, is a tool that will force me to eat less, relearn how to eat correctly, enable me to lose the weight I need to so I can exercise. Got is the thing...I have lived all my life as a fat chick! I know how to survive out there, with all my relationships, with the cruelty of strangers, even with myself (I am the master of hiding and camouflaging with my black lane bryant closet!). The physical changes are bound to happen with this journey, but what about the mental changes? I read a post on our bandsters board that someone posted about being sad each time this person lost a pound, because they felt they lost a bit more of them....sounds strange because I know I would be excited to be thinner, yet, I can understand being sad too. I guess it is fear, or as my husband says, it is the last step of letting go, letting go to the lifestyle and what it created. Do I have a fear of being thin? Fear of failure, I mean that this doesn't work? Hell ya. But I am building belief by meeting and talking with others that have been banded, learning everything I can about the process, hearing other success stories and how positively this has changed their lives. Well, I suppose that I am terribly excited to get going, I am sick of being overweight, and at the same time have fear of what may come. Not with the surgery part, but how it may change me. I guess I will depend on my faith...that life can only be better than what it is now, knees cracking, back aching, trouble breathing, miserable because I feel like crap and guilty that I let myself be like this for so long. Well, two more weeks to go for the next step, the consult. I will keep in touch.

The Seminar

Dec 16th, 2002. I traveled 3 hours to get there. Whew! And the parking lot is full of pickup trucks and SUVs. Why? Because fat people don't drive small cars! I walk in and the room is full. For the next two hours I learn again about the Lap Band, the risks, the potential weight loss and I am convinced this is right for me. No doubt in my mind ~ it is about time man created something like this!!! What is the next step? Insurance approval. I have been told that my insurance carrier is pretty easy at getting approval so I am very hopeful. 

The Consult

Jan. 8th, 2003. This is a personal one-on-one with the doctor to answer any questions. I have a surgery date of Jan 24th, which is so ironic since it also happens to be my birthday! The insurance is fine, it is a go. This is my last entry until surgery! I can't wait. I stopped buying clothes. I was told that I would only spend the night in the hospital and then follow a diet of 2/2/2 meaning 2 weeks clear liquids, 2 weeks liquids, and 2 weeks mush to help heal the stomach. No I have to go on Adkins to help shrink my liver, a safety measure. No problem! Yippeeeee! 

Huh? Say that Again???????

Jan 23rd. I get a call from my doctor. He gets on the phone and is very upset. My insurance backed out... says that the procedure is usually covered but that my employer elected not to have coverage for "weight reduction or control" for costs purposes. My heart sunk. I couldn't believe it!!! How short sighted of my employer? Why would they exclude this? Wouldn't they want healthier employees? Just when I come to accept the surgery, then this. I feel like the rug got pulled out from under my feet; which is a big feat consider I weigh three hundred pounds. I'M PISSED! No what? Cash.  My credit is shot, I don't have any collateral in my home. My options are Mexico and Canada (where the US dollar goes farther, if I had the cash). I make a bunch of calls and ready to cry. My doctor calls back and feel that I would be such a great candidate, and he wants to use me in his advertising, he is willing to wave most of his fees, but the hospital won't budge. I need the initial cash for the hospital, anesthesia. Now what? I don't have the money. I fret and after cooling off, I remember Karyn from  where the kindness of strangers helped her. Give me a break. Is this what I have resorted too? I never ask anyone for help, let a lone strangers. The truth is that I cannot afford the surgery, the surgery will save my life, I have tried other options, what's left? Why not? Ok. I will give it a try. Let's see what happens. 



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