All that’s left for my prescreening for weight loss surgery is an echocardiogram (a stress echo was deemed unnecessary), which I’ll have on Monday. Then, once all test results are in to the surgeon, the date will be set and I’ll be off to change my life!
I’ve been thinking about plans, both short term and long. In the long term, I’m looking forward to all the things I’ll be able to do, or do more easily, once I’m no longer obese. I can’t assume I’ll ever get down to an ideal weight; I’ll probably still be a little overweight once I’m done losing. But I should get close, like to 140 or so. That will give me the freedom to wear more clothes styles, to feel better about myself in a swimsuit, and to do things like go horseback riding and on zipline adventures. I expect I’ll have even better endurance for hiking, which will be awesome, because I love exploring the outdoors. And without all the extra weight to stress my joints, I should be able to run again, and hopefully faster and for a longer period of time than an hour. Maybe I’ll even break a half an hour 5K, which back at the peak of my running seemed like an impossible dream.
I’m sure people judge me, consciously or subconsciously, for being obese. Once I’m down to a more reasonable weight, I expect I’ll do better in face-to-face interviews. I’ll also have more self-confidence…but I haven’t been sitting around waiting for weight loss to give me that. I’ve learned a lot in the past several years about personal interactions, and I think I’ve done pretty well. Losing the weight will just give me an extra advantage.
One of my dreams is to travel more, and once I’ve lost weight, I’ll be more physically able to handle a lot of travel. My back and knees won’t suffer from long walks through new cities, and I’ll have so much more energy.
There’s also the hope and promise of motherhood. It’s possible, though a long shot, that losing weight will help me to become pregnant. But even if not, once this is done, I will be healthy enough to raise a child. If we can’t conceive naturally, Sean and I plan to adopt.
The weight loss will help my health in other ways. It should stop the pseudotumor cerebri, the intracranial pressure behind my eyes that is threatening to blind me. My sleep apnea should end. My heart should do a lot better without the extra strain of carrying so much weight all the time. The changes to my diet and nutrient absoption will help my blood pressure and cholesterol.
Some of the health changes will happen fast. The rest of these dreams (and more) lie waiting for me about two years from now, after I’ve had the surgery and gone through the rapid weight loss that follows. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get there.
First will be the actual surgery itself. It’s laparoscopic, meaning they go in using long, skinny surgical implements rather than cutting you completely open. With this kind of surgery, recovery time is much shorter…but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a cakewalk. I’ll still be in pain and discomfort for a couple weeks afterward.
I’ll also have the immediate change in my digestive system to deal with. My stomach will be reduced to a tiny pouch, so I won’t be able to eat much at all. I’ll have to switch to eating a bite here and there rather than a full meal. Unlike the lap band, the duodenal switch does curb hunger, but it will still be an adjustment. It’s possible my attitude toward food will change and I won’t want to eat at all, in which case I’ll have to force myself to get the nutrients I need. The most important thing will be protein…in the beginning I’ll be eating a lot of meat. Long term, I will probably need to take a lot of vitamin pills, and I may end up drinking protein shakes too.
Just a couple days after surgery, they’ll want me to be up and walking. I know I won’t feel like it, but this will be important to my recovery and to maintaining my muscle mass. I’ll need to keep moving around during recovery and maintain a good exercise routine afterward. That will continue not just during the rapid weight loss, but for the rest of my life. My plan is to always keep walking and hiking, since I enjoy those activities, and then rotate in other activities like running or biking or a workout video when the mood hits me. I also plan to develop some sort of weight lifting routine, enough to stay toned, but not bulk up.
Finally, I’ll need to see a doctor yearly for the rest of my life to make sure everything is okay. (I see doctors at least that often already, and you should see how many pills I take daily…so this isn’t really a big deal.)
So yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I said this surgery would change my life. It’s not a quick fix or a miracle cure or magic. It’s a lot of work. But it will help me achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle, allow me to be happier and more active, and hopefully extend my life. I’m really excited for my future.