Six months out

I recently had my six-month phone checkup with the office that performed my weight loss surgery. They’re very pleased with my progress, my protein levels look good, and I’m getting enough of my other nutrients; on the other hand, my cholesterol might still be an issue, and we’re waiting until June to see if my pseudotumor cerebri has improved. Still, everything generally seems to be dandy.

While I had them on the phone I inquired as to how much more weight I might expect to lose. They told me that on average, their patients reach a BMI of 26. For me, that would mean a weight of 147.

This is consistent with my high school weight range, but it’s a little higher than I was hoping for. A BMI of 26 is still considered overweight, for one thing. For another, at 167, I don’t really feel like I’m all that far from 147, and I’m not sure I’m prepared for this to be done in just another 20 pounds. Now that I’ve lost so much excess weight, I’m painfully aware of all my sagging flab, and I want it gone too. I don’t think 20 pounds would do it. I almost feel like I have 20 pounds of flab just in one thigh!

So I’ll keep eating right and working out and letting the surgery do its thing, and we’ll see what happens. And I’m going to really try not to worry!


They tell you when you decide to have weight loss surgery that the physical changes you undergo will touch off emotional reactions. Here’s how my handbook puts it: “Although you have intentionally undergone the surgery to resolve your obesity, weight loss changes the life style you knew so well. Even with its problems and tensions, obesity was comfortable, it was known. Now that life is gone.”

This is not something you really understand until it happens. I read these words. I read about the stages of grief, which many patients go through after weight loss surgery. I thought I knew what it meant. I thought it meant that I was comfortable with my old eating and (lack of) exercise habits, and that I’d have to be strong to adjust to the changes.

So I prepared myself to change my eating and exercise, and I’ve worked really hard at both. And while I do find it depressing that it’s difficult for me to get enough protein each day, I’ve felt strong, and I’ve persevered. Every day is a victory.

But that wasn’t what the handbook was talking about at all.

Today, I am just barely (by .1 pound) into the 170s. My body has changed so much. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself. My face is slimmer, but to me it looks like Play-Doh, like a field of enormous dimples. In the apartment complex fitness center the other day I looked in the mirror and saw an ugly old woman, thin hair pulled back from a big pasty face. It was me.

When I look at my naked body in the mirror, I can see that I’m starting to have a more pleasing shape. But I can also see how being fat has destroyed my skin. I’ve got the surgery scars, of course, but worse than that, I’ve got stretch marks. Everywhere. Stomach, arms, legs, breasts, everywhere.

I have always held in my head this perfect image of how I’d be if I wasn’t fat. I’d look great in a bikini. I’d have a cute face with big eyes and smooth skin. I’d look young.

I’ve never really worried about age before. I’ve never worried about whether or not I could look like my perfect image, because I never thought it was possible to not be fat.

I didn’t really know this until today.

Now I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I’m disappointed. I’m not approaching that perfect image. When I reach whatever final weight I reach, I’m not going to look 22. I’m not going to be able to wear a bikini.

I had never thought of myself as vain before. I always thought I was “above” that somehow.

Now I know that I was just using my obesity as a shield.