Monday, February 25, 2013

A Final VSG Follow-Up

(Me at 280#)

I say "final" because I feel as though I've basically reached a stasis point and there will be little further to report on, at least as relates to bariatric surgery. (Of course, I will surely pipe up again if this proves wrong.)

(The posts about my deliberations leading to the surgery and the surgery itself can be found by following the link to the tag flabbergastery.)

As of today I'm just past seven months post-surgery. Everything has played out in my case exactly as I was told, without exception really. My experience with the surgery was just what I was told to expect. The recuperation and weeks immediately post-op were precisely as I was briefed. My return to normal life was right on schedule, and my medications were spot-on for the results I was trying to achieve. I had a couple slightly unpleasant experiences--exactly the experiences I was told to expect--as I learned to cope with my new limitations. Everything has played out right on schedule. I'm down now just shy of 100 lbs (my highest pre-surgery weight was 283, and my weight last Friday was 184). I have gone from a BMI of 41 ("morbidly obese") to a current figure of 27.2 (just slightly into the "overweight" category--normal BMI extends up to 25). I lost most of my weight in the first three months, and a bit more during the next two months. My weight for the last six weeks or so has been steady between 187 and 184. I expect to lose a few more pounds leading up to my 1-year anniversary, but am quite happy to stay here at 185. And given that I go up and down a bit from here, it's quite possible that my weight loss may be done. And that's just fine; 185 is a great weight for me, and one I never expected I would see in my life (I used to dream of some "miracle cure" that would let me get down to 200 lbs).

My scars from surgery are now almost invisible, and I feel at this point entirely normal on dietary matters. My brain seems to have adjusted to a new normal for meal size and food quantity--about 1/3 of what I used to eat--and I have no sense now of things being different than they were, even though everything has changed. This is just how I eat now--simple. As I expected, my food brain itself is not fundamentally altered; I still would eat Double Stuff Oreos or Peanut M&Ms 24/7 if I let myself, though the sleeve prevents me from indulging in very much of that stuff--or anything. I concentrate on protein (though not very hard), and the space left over for dessert is pretty small. That's the way it works. I have had a slight return of physical hunger, though--as before--most of my desire to eat is purely psychological. The sensation of being full has changed, and I now have new triggers for that feeling. Overeating is easier to achieve now, since it takes relatively little food to get there, and what used to be uncomfortable is now a slightly different, and *slightly* more unpleasant kind of uncomfortable. These sensations are all much more of a slight shift in "normal" than any kind of major change. In sum, this change has been easy and painless--and effective.

My buddy Tom had the same surgery as I about three weeks before mine. His results have mirrored and bettered my own. He's down a whopping 130 lbs now! These radical changes have inspired him to embark on a pretty vigorous exercise regimen, which of course further assists his weight loss. The paths opened up to, literally, the "new you" are varied and exciting. I think it's really fascinating that both he and I made it to our early 50s before realizing what it feels like to be a normal-sized person. (And how inspiring for the doctor and clinic workers to see so many of these new-life stories.)

I have purged every single scrap of clothing in my closet (except for socks) a couple times now. I went through a bunch of transitional sizes and have now been wearing the same stuff for a couple months. I've gone from a 44-46" waist to 34"s (and a couple of 33"s)--that's an entire foot off my waistline!--and shirts have gone from XXLs to M or L. I kept a couple favorite clothing items from my heaviest weight as a reminder, and these seem really shockingly large now. How quickly we adjust to a new reality. The idea of weighing myself down now with, say, 100 lbs of flour bags and going about my day is a really mortifying idea. Literally.

I get a lot of compliments now on how much better I look, but I'm very much aware that this is no great accomplishment of willpower or philosophy on my part--which is what people traditionally think about someone who has lost weight (that or illness). My great results are the result of a surgical procedure, not an act of will. But I think this desire to "conquer" our weight issues hearkens back to an older way of thinking about these problems--a way that doesn't get us anywhere. I spent a couple decades trying to "fix" myself, feeling wretched not only about how I looked and felt, but about what it is in my psychology that makes me look and feel this way. And all the while, like much of the rest of American society, I just got heavier and heavier, and looked and felt worse and worse. Enough of that.

For me, the VSG is simply about results. It's not a way to fix my fouled food brain (a subject we could explore in quite some detail); it's a tool employed to circumvent this maladjustment and bring a normal life within reach. And from where I stand it has worked brilliantly. The specter of morbid obesity affects every aspect of life--how I fit in cars and airplanes and theater seats, what I spend on food, how I fit in my clothes, how my joints feel, my love life, my self-image, every single thing. To anyone contemplating this step, I can only give encouragement. The people I know who have undergone this procedure have gotten, nearly to a person, the same results as I have. Bad experiences are pretty rare, and, near as I can tell, almost always accompany some other complicating factor (additional health problems going in, say). I join my fellow surgery mates in saying that I wish only that I had done this ten years ago. As it is, I feel 10 years younger (even if I have a wattle under my chin now; it's worth it).

(Me at 185#)


CyberKitten said...

Wow! What a transformation. I'm very impressed!

dbackdad said...

Thanks for sharing throughout the process. Fascinating stuff and great results.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I'm glad you've made it to this point and that this has been a success for you. You look great. I am envious. I would love to be 185. I'm working, ever working on moving more, eating smarter. It's a never ending battle. I try not to focus on weight loss and focus more on being fit and healthy, hoping the weight will slowly come off in the process.

wunelle said...

Thanks, everybody. There are a zillion ways to attack this issue, and I hope we all find the right path for us. This feels right for me at this time in life; here's hoping the future plays out according to plan :-)

Karlo said...

My brother lost over 200 pounds last year and has maintained his now thin weight for over six months. He's done all this by switching to a very healthy diet completely devoid of sugars, starches, processed food, and so on (basically just lean protein, veggies, and small amounts of very good fats). It's great to see your success with the surgery. I agree that whatever we can do to get healthy is worth it. I've lost about 30 pounds (and feel much better) but I'd like to take off a final thirty and get very thin just so that I can get rid of concerns about cholesterol.

Jon said...

Congratulations! It's funny to think that we are now about the same size. I have weighed between 185 and 190 for 30 years. As we grew up eating the same stuff, it must just be the wiring that makes your weight go one way and mine the other. I have often wondered if these kind of things skip a generation. Food for thought.

Malaise Inc said...

Awesome! Well done.