Taking a big step forward

Taking a big step forward

With Misty Fritz

The Write Team

CARLINVILLE (March 22, 2018) – You may have noticed that I was away from the office — and therefore not covering meetings or events — for a few weeks in late February and early March. That’s because I had gastric bypass on Feb. 15 in St. Louis, spent the next two days at the hospital, and then spent three weeks at home, recuperating.

Some people might think it odd, or even inadvisable, that I would be so open about having the surgery. Indeed, I have discovered in my time on bariatric surgery forums that many, many people who have gastric bypass (or any other form of bariatric surgery) keep it a secret from just about everyone they know. I understand their reasons for doing so, but it’s not for me.

For one thing, if all goes according to plan, I’m going to be losing a lot of weight very rapidly. Besides that, my stomach is now pretty dang tiny (as of right now, I can only consume about a cup of liquid or a half cup of food), so I’m eating much smaller meals more often. Both of those are going to be pretty obvious, and I’m not interested in trying to make up some sort of elaborate cover story for why that is.

Aside from that, though, there’s this: though more and more people are having bariatric surgery these days (in my own social circle alone, I can name at least five people from the Gillespie area who have had it in the last few years), there’s still a stigma surrounding it. People think it’s taking the easy way out. I believe the only way to get rid of the stigma is to be open about having the surgery.

It’s taken me a long time to get to the point of having surgery; I started the process nearly three years ago, had a variety of setbacks, and ended up switching programs last year due to my first program ultimately being a bad fit. By no means has this process been easy — or cheap. I turned to it because, in essentially a whole lifetime of being overweight, I’ve never had long-term success with dieting, no matter how many I’ve tried. Surgery is a tool to help me surpass that hurdle; I still have to be careful about what I eat (even more so now, actually, because sugary, high-fat foods can cause rather unpleasant side effects) and exercise.

Recovery, and getting used to my body’s new restrictions, has been a fascinating process. I had to get a new bed before my second night home from the hospital because my old one was worn out enough (and my mobility limited enough at that point) that I got stuck getting out of it. Because of air bubbles, my stomach makes all kinds of interesting noises when I eat or drink, sometimes even singing a little tune when I open my mouth to talk. I get worn out after about 15 minutes of walking. I’ve got six little scars on my abdomen (to join the three I had from my gall bladder getting removed 10 years ago), and right after surgery I took a peek at my stomach and declared, “Look at all the pretty colors!” due to the bruising and betadine.

My life revolves around taking vitamins four times a day and attempting to get in enough protein and fluids (some days are better than others in that regard). I’m excited to finally be able to start eating “regular” (read: crunchy and fibrous) foods as of Thursday, after a week of only liquids, two weeks of puree (disgusting — even the liquid diet was better), and now two weeks of soft foods. I’m not supposed to drink anything within 30 minutes before eating or 45 minutes after, and it’s supposed to take me 15-20 minutes to eat my tiny meals.

But you know what? It’s working. In four weeks, I’ve lost more than 30 pounds and gone down two sizes in jeans. I very rarely feel hungry. Going out to eat at Bob Evans was hilarious because one plate gave me enough for four meals. I’ve started making a list of things I’ve been unable to do because of my weight, and I’m looking forward to starting to cross them off as I accomplish them.

It’s a fresh start, and I intend to take full advantage of it.