When Andrea asked me to put together something about my story, I thought immediately I could write a novel! I am currently 14 months post-op from RNY Gastric Bypass and I can honestly say it has been quite a ride.
I am the product of a common story - a broken family, many personal issues from my childhood experiences, a child of war-time parents where you never wasted food and the daughter of a yo-yo dieter single mother with her own lack of self-esteem. I was a competitive athlete at school and very good at whatever sport I played, representing my region for Hockey for many years. In my late teens, I was found to have severe gynaecological issues and had my first major surgery of many. During this time, I also discovered I was pregnant with twins and the weight started piling on.
Pregnant at 18, I weighed 67 kgs, by the time I gave birth to my twin sons, I was 124kg. Two more pregnancies (including a 2nd set of twins) and I was fluctuating in weight between 100 and 180kgs for the next 9 years. I could easily lose 20 – 30 kgs, but just as easily find it again – you know how it goes, right? My body was fighting my raging hormonal issues and my addiction to eating myself into a stupor. My marriage to a drug addict and alcoholic lead to more years of deprecation of my own self-worth and acceptance of my ‘lot in life’ and I continued to eat my feelings. Food was my ‘go to’ and it loved me regardless, never judging me, protecting me from all the bad things that surrounded me.
People always felt commenting about my size was acceptable and I always laughed it off, and even played up to ‘the obese person who is happy in her own skin’ label to hide behind my immense sadness. Roll on a divorce, the death of my 3 parents, two more broken relationships, my next marriage, and it was early 2016. My adult daughter suffered a medical error in hospital and was near death. I sat on the floor outside the theatre and realised she was dying in front of me with two young babies at home, and I was voluntarily killing myself with food. She has survived, but a month later I was at my GP asking her for Duromine. She was reluctant and asked if I had thought of weight loss surgery.
As is often with things in life, making an uneducated judgement about a subject is not always the smartest move, and I was against the idea – not that I knew anything about it. I didn’t need to go that far – I could do this, I am a smart, resourceful woman! But reality was, I knew I needed an extreme answer to my extreme problem. Within 4 weeks I was meeting David my surgeon, and about 6 weeks later I was in surgery. I was not keen to share I had surgery back then because of the stigma surrounding it, and really, is it any one else’s business? Through the education I have received from my amazing team of experts at Weight Loss Surgery, I now look at it that no one would judge me for needing an operation to help me fight cancer, so why is this any different? I have had surgery to have a tool to help me fight my obesity, and I am in recovery for the rest of my life from my addiction to unnecessary types and amounts of food.
It’s not easy; it’s definitely not the easy way out. It is hard, damned hard! I can easily eat whatever the heck I like, but I wouldn’t be still losing weight. I could just decide to not follow the rules; I still have to choose. Every. Single. Day. Being super morbidly obese is hard - getting to a healthy weight is hard – choose your hard.
I have lost friends who haven’t coped with my changes, and I have untangled my life from people who I no longer accept as worthy of being in my life. The team of staff at the surgery, at the wonderful FOHL retreat (I am attending my 2nd in a week), at the events that Andrea organises to support us all and the other members of this amazing community, have all opened me up to a whole new world of people who get me - get IT - and I realise without having started this adventure, I would never have found those people. I have made lifelong friendships that I will be forever grateful for. My husband now says that had he known back at the start how amazing the service, support and team were at Weight Loss Surgery were, he would never have had any concerns at all about this decision.
My WLS has redefined my relationship with my husband as eating was our thing to do together, but it has also made us find a new peace in our life as I am no longer fighting myself. I have new demons to face, yes, but cannot express how much being shown the tools to deal with all this has meant to my success. Andrea makes sure we are given the tools - it is just up to us to use them to get the best of ourselves. So far I have done a triathlon, a trail run, two 10k’s and focus on weight training to build my muscle mass; I am on a mission to collect as many event medals as possible this year. I don’t focus on the number but I know people are curious. I started officially at 167kg, surgery at 141kg, current weight is 81kgs for a total loss so far of 86kg. I reached half my body weight lost and “overweight” BMI two weeks’ ago, and that is amazing to me. AND I have thigh gap!
My final words of wisdom – you cannot do this alone; embrace the people around you who are willing to support you; don’t let bad influences in, they are on their own journey. If you want to make the best of this adventure and experience long term success, listen to the experts not social media.