My bariatric journey and thoughts on obesity

My bariatric journey and thoughts on obesity

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FORT WORTH, Texas October 2, 2014 — Phase two of my pre-op diet is going well. I’m surprised my favorite comfort foods aren’t calling my name; or if they are, my ears refuse to hear them.

This time of year high school football season is upon us, and my son is in the marching band. That means games every Friday night and, with that, stadium food. Who doesn’t like to get some nachos with cheese, a hot dog, popcorn, Frito Pie or peanuts topped off with your favorite drink? They go with the game as much as cheering, clapping, the half-time show, singing the Alma Mater and taking part in the spirited fun when a touchdown prompts the fight song.

Fortunately, drinking water is already the norm for me at the games because it usually costs less than other beverages. However, for additional insurance I ate dinner before going to the game. Temptation was not going to get me. And with the exception of one chip w/cheese, it didn’t. And it hasn’t had any control during other games since then.

I am determined and keeping my eyes on the prize.

Shortly before my surgery, my cardiologist had me come in for a stress test. My heart beats in trigeminy. Every third beat has an extra beat. Thankfully, it is benign and is not causing damage to my heart. But, being the good cardiologist that he is, he wanted to make sure there would be no unpleasant surprises with my heart during or after surgery. I’m proud to say that while on the treadmill, the technician had to make the test longer with more speed and more incline to get to the target heart rate they were looking for. My heart is healthy despite the arrhythmia. Yay!

Pre-op blood work day was here before I knew it. It took longer than I remembered, but the tech and nurse I worked with were wonderful. I even got to see the extra heart beat on my EKG strip. And once again I forgot they would want a urine sample and used the restroom before leaving home. Fortunately they have plenty of water there. I drank two bottles. Between the tests, samples and questions, the whole process took about two hours.

My friends and family have been very supportive of my decision. They are wonderful cheerleaders. Of course, I am responsible for my health and actions needed to achieve my goals. But it sure helps when you have a loving pep squad behind you.

It’s sad, but not everyone has such support. The online support group I belong to has members whose families are actually ashamed that their loved one has chosen to make this change in their lives. Can you believe that? But then again, dysfunction is often one of the components that lead to obesity and in this way it certainly rears its ugly head.

Then there are also spouses who are not attracted to average-sized people and spouses who are afraid the newly healthy spouse will leave the marriage. There are also the ones who browbeat the obese spouse. It is easier for the bariatric patient to see their worth and value when the weight starts coming off. And that could definitely lead to the end of an abusive relationship.

Our society has always been hard on the obese. It seems as if we are the only group of people that it is okay to insult and mock. Not that I advocate discrimination of any kind – I don’t. The only difference between being obese and any other kind of addiction/disorder is that obesity is obvious. Other diseases and conditions are easy to hide.

Why is it okay to make fun of others just because their BMI is unhealthy? What makes it okay to think that overweight people don’t deserve love, kindness, understanding and compassion? There are many reasons for someone to be obese. Not all of them are in the person’s control. I certainly couldn’t control the amount of ghrelin in my system telling me I was hungry. And I could not control that my body no longer recognized leptin that told me to stop eating any more than I could control a hot flash. That doesn’t make me worthless. And anyone who thinks it does is screaming their ignorance for the whole world to hear.

I don’t know about others, but my extra weight also served as a shield to keep others away from me; I call it my protective fat layer. For reasons I won’t go into here, the fewer personal relationships the better. And this is not something I could turn off like a light switch. It has taken many years of psychotherapy to get to this point where I’m ready to deal with real life.

And more than ready to change mine for the better. Join me next week to find out about my surgical experience.



Read more of Claire’s work at Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul in the Communities Digital News and Greater Fort Worth Writers.

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