I’m doing it. On October 29, I am having weight loss surgery using the lapband method. It’s not an easy choice in many ways, but for me, it is the right choice. Over the last 3 months, I’ve done all the official prep with referrals and evaluations from a psychologist and a clinical nutritionist. I’ve had blood work done and filled out multiple long questionnaires with dozens of questions. I’ve read Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies and read blogs and research sites both in favor and against the surgery. I’ve thought and pondered and prayed.
Last week I met with the surgeon and another 10 lapband patients for a bariatric education session. First was the office itself. I sat in a chair and felt my legs dangle as I realized that everything was big enough for me. We all were looking around at the armless chairs right next to each other without spilling over and feeling too fat for the chairs. We found out later that those were bariatric chairs and could hold 1000 pounds. Getting weighed was simple and done in a way that didn’t make my tummy flip; we never saw or were told the weight. The BP cuffs were all for large people.
The surgeon is Austrian and has been doing lapband surgery for over 10 years; it was legal in Europe and other parts of the world before it was approved here in the US. He was relaxed and approachable, encouraging us to ask all the questions we could think of. He explained the procedure, drew pictures, and passed around a lapband for us to examine. He was frank about the possible complications while also talking about what this particular center had experienced since they started doing the procedure in 2006. We know what to expect and all of us are excited but also nervous because now it’s real. And it’s considered major surgery even though the lapband is much less of a big deal than the RNY bypass procedure.
Next week I go back for my individual appointment, including a physical and going over specifics for my case. From there I go to the hospital to have my EKG and meet with the anesthesiologist. Next month I will see my primary care doctor for a regular follow up and then a bunch of bloodwork. After that, it’s prep time for weeding out the pantry and stocking up on the things I’ll be able to eat in those first few weeks after surgery. And cleaning and getting fresh library books.
I will be out of work for two weeks and a few days. I want to stay home through the first 2 weeks and my first visit to the doctor to have my stitches out and get a fill for my band. As he explained to us, the stomach gets swollen as a result of the surgery and it takes about 2 weeks for the swelling to go down. Those first 2 weeks we have nothing but liquid and a little Ensure for some protein – not as a punishment, but because the tummy is too swollen for anything solid to get through the pouch to the stomach. We don’t want that.
Yes, I will eat differently for the rest of my life. I can and will adjust to it. I’m fortunate in that I live alone with no other human family to feed, so meals will be easy – and they don’t have to be boring. Just not huge. The first six weeks will be a learning time and I’m glad I’m staying put for the next few months so I know I’ll have access to what I need while I’m still looking it up regularly to be sure I know what I’m doing.
Exercise starts the day of or the day after surgery and continues as a key component of post-op life. This isn’t a plan for people who want to just sit around and watch TV. Given that I have big knee problems, I will be adding different options. I have some exercise DVD’s at home with a set of graduated weights and those therabands that I’ve used in PT, and I’m almost back into the bathing suit I last used for water aerobics at the gym. As I get lighter and knee has less weight on it – and as I strengthen the muscles around it – I’ll be able to take on more cardio options.
I know this is not the choice that some or all of you would make, and that some readers think this is the cheating, fast, no-commitment method to avoid the long hard challenge of losing weight counting points, carbs, fats, proteins, salt, fiber, and anything else that we watch. We, because I’ve been watching them in one way or another since I was 11 years old.
This is my choice and I’m taking on the risks and limitations that go with it, to get to a better place medically under the supervision of a nationally recognized bariatric surgical center and with the support of my primary physician, my family and my friends.