Two Important Things Happened This Morning.
First, I stepped on the scale and it said 141 lbs, a number that says to the world I am no longer Morbidly Obese, Obese, or even Overweight! I am officially a Normal weight for the first time since I was born! Because I was unsuccessful at any and every diet I tried throughout my lifetime, this is monumental for me.
Second, I logged onto my computer and got a Happy Anniversary message from Alex, founder of the Gastric Sleeve Surgery Forum on bariatricpal.com, noting that it was exactly a year ago today that I signed up. That began one of the most interesting and transformational years of my life. It was almost as if I had planned this: reaching goal weight one year from the day I signed up for the forum.
Even though this past year has been exciting, wonderful, introspective, and a true life-changing experience, this time last year sucked – big time! My feet hurt, my hip hurt, my knees went out on me, and then my normally strong self-confidence got beat to a pulp and then stomped on by my normally loving and supportive husband.
This is the story I mentioned in my first entry about my final moment of truth. No I didn’t sit on a chair that broke in a room full of friends, no I didn’t get asked, “When are you due?” by a stranger; mine was much more personal.
I say final, because how many red flags do you see before you say once and for all “Enough Already!” But it wasn’t me saying it – I was too embarrassed to talk about it because I felt like such a failure. It was my husband who finally said he couldn’t take it any more. We fell in love in 1987 when I weighed in the 160s (which was more than he weighs) but he had hopes that I would lose some of that weight. Hah! Not only did I not lose it, over the next 24 years I gained 60 more pounds. Difficult for me, sure, but for him it was like “a thousand paper cuts” until he was finally screaming in pain.
I was screaming, too, but all the dreadful moments every day didn’t propel me to a solution. I hated staring in my closet and wondering what might fit. I hated being the fattest person in the room. I had pity parties for myself when I was with thin people who ate more than I did, and there were millions of other little things. Bending over to tie my shoes. Living in Hawaii where shorts, sundresses, and sarongs are basic clothing items and I could wear none of them. Shopping and wondering why an XL felt too small, but buying things anyway (wow, if I lose 10 lbs this will be SO cute) and then never wearing them. Feeling guilty if I indulged in a bite of dessert. Then came high cholesterol and the feet/knee/hip problems. HELLO?? But I was in denial and had lots of excuses for my weight problems.
This week last year, in our little apartment on the River Amstel, will be forever embedded in my mind. It was a week of brutal honesty between my husband and me that had been building for a long time. Our 24 years together had been good, sometimes great, but always loving and polite (probably too polite; we both hate confrontations). We were certainly overdue for some drama!
It started out when he found the courage to tell me how much he hated the way I looked and he just couldn’t live this way anymore. It wasn’t a gentle suggestion for me to lose a few pounds, it was an explosion of emotions on both sides for what seemed like an eternity. We had rarely talked about my weight issues even though they kept getting worse every year. Outside of a few comments with my friends about dieting, I just never talked in any depth to anyone, including him, about it because I felt like such a failure. So this was an entirely new ball game without any rules to guide us.
Our painful discussion of how much my weight impacted my health, our relationship, and our life morphed into many other annoyances and complaints about living with another person. Sort of like the game Can You Top This: “Well, let me tell you what I don’t like about you!” There were days of sadness, depression, crying, staying in bed, me wondering if I even wanted to be married – you can hear things you don’t want to hear for only so long.
Those tough days evolved into rational conversations, and eventually we even had a few laughs. Then we began talking about actions we could take to do something about it. We knew another diet was not going to work, period. Not an option. So we started looking at surgical options and along the way we found the VST forum, one year ago today. Like all the things in our marriage that have worked the best, this too worked because we did it together. It wasn’t me trying to convince him, or him pressuring me. Within a month of making the decision, I was in Frankfurt, Germany, having surgery – and I have never looked back. The bottom line was that I had been ready for this for a long, long time.
One of the compelling motivators we came up with in our week of talking/crying/listening was that we didn’t have that many more years left to really enjoy life. I was in my late 50s, my husband in his early 60s, and we had just retired from ownership of a demanding business. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring – several younger relatives and close friends had died within the past few years – and the way I was going, limping into my 60s did not sound very appealing. We affirmed that we wanted to design the best and most interesting life we could for whatever time we had left, and you can’t do that unless you’re healthy. So we decided two important things right then and there: I would have weight loss surgery and we would live the next chapter of our life in Europe.
Today, I am happy, healthy, not exactly thin, but not fat – officially! I exercise regularly, have more fun at everything from shopping to getting dressed to sex, and feel much more comfortable in every way. Even now, 11 months later, every time I cross my legs it makes me happy!
This week last year began a fascinating journey. I’m not really a deep person, and even with all the adventures I have had this past 18 months – traveling to many countries, living in many different places, seeing friends and family, and going from Morbidly Obese to Normal – I’m still me. I don’t overanalyze things and I don’t look back. I try (I don’t always succeed) to live in the moment and I can tell you that right now I’m happy! I think it’s a good idea to have some tough conversations with your partner or yourself every once in a while and make some hard decisions.
My doctor told me last week that I am “turning back the hands of time.” She was so happy with my weight and my lab tests, which were perfect. I like that expression and I honestly feel I have. I don’t want to go back to that week last year, but I don’t mind feeling younger than I am.
Next Sunday we leave for our new home in Amsterdam. But this coming week we’re going to get out and enjoy our last week in Hawaii. I’m even going to put on a bathing suit and go to Waikiki Beach!