Friday – July 2, 2008 – was my EIGHT year anniversary of my surgery.
It’s hard to fathom how quickly those 8 years since I was given the incredible gift of my DS have flown.
I always said as a pre-op that I would never lose sight of or forget from whence I came.
Here’s where I came from:
..and it wasn’t all about being fat.
I was used to being fat. I’d been fat for a long time.
The scary parts were the blood sugars in the high 200’s and low 300’s – with five diabetes medication; the stroke level hypertension – with four hypertension medications; the severe obstructive sleep apnea; the congestive heart failure; the hyperlipidemia; the out of control GERD; the need for the wheelchair, etc., etc., etc….
I’ll admit it – the past year was not so much fun.
There are assumptions that the crap that I’ve been through in the last year were because I’d had weight loss surgery eight years ago.
NO – once again (repeat after me, children) – the crap of the last year is ALL about the fact that I was stupid and took WAY too much ibuprofen, and essentially toasted my stomach.
So – in light of my just passed anniversary of my DS, many people have asked me this question, assuming the answer to the question were an emphatic, “NO! Are you kidding?”!
What’s the question, you ask?
“Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again? Would you have your DS all over again?”
Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.
“Are you kidding me? YES. OF COURSE. I would *SO* do my DS over again. Right now. Right this very minute. Without half a hesitation. Yes, I would do it again.”
I was dying.
Let’s put it all inter some perspective, okay?
My DS saved my ever living life!
My DS gave me a quality of life most people never have the opportunity to enjoy!
My DS was the thrill ride of my life!
I will NEVER regret having my DS.
I will NEVER wish I could take it back.
I will NEVER place blame there – because the blame lies soundly at my doorstep for being such a stupid head with the ibuprofen.
That being said, I had an interesting thought yesterday… it went along the lines of…
“…but if I could go back and do it all over again, it would be really awesome if I could go back knowing everything I know now!!!”
And then it struck me that I remember reading posts along those lines when I was a pre-op… You know – older, wiser, further out post-ops trying to beat it into the thick skulls of we pre-ops and newbies – trying to get us to learn from their hard earned wisdom.
So – if I were to go back and re-do my DS, with the stuff I know now, there are – indeed – some things I would do differently, as well as some things I would have paid more attention to, and some things that I would have tried to do a better job of. Sit up and pay attention pre-ops and baby post-ops. Try and learn from my stupidity, okay?
First – I so totally would have insisted on a really comprehensive pre-op blood draw. One that includes everything we check for in a full lab run for post-ops. I would have wanted to know (knowing what I know now) how severe my hyperparathyroidism was. I would have wanted to know how severely anemic I was. I would have wanted to know how borderline not okay my albumin level was. I would have wanted to know what I could have done to fix some of those issues a bit heading into surgery and malabsorption. And it would have been really beneficial to know as a pre-op so that I would have taken getting in my vitamins and supplements SO MUCH more seriously than I actually did. (If you need a lab order – see here.)
Second – I would have known then what I completely know now: just because you feel okay, doesn’t mean you are okay. What I mean by that is this. Just because I feel fabulous – ’cause I’ve lost 150 pounds, ’cause my blood sugars are normal after the first time in years, ’cause my blood pressure is enviable, ’cause my mobility is better than it’s been in over a decade – doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have to take my vitamins. Just because you feel great doesn’t mean everything won’t hit the fan eventually. (Okay – sorry, I can’t hold it in: PEOPLE! THIS IS MALABSORPTION WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! YOU GOTTA TAKE IT SERIOUSLY IF YOU ASK FOR IT!)
Thirdly – I would have given up ALL SODAS as a pre-op. Completely. And never gone back to them. What an idiot I was. I was so sure I would not be affected by their (1) sugar content, and (2) fight against my body’s desperate need for calcium absorption! (As Dr. Baltasar has been overheard saying, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” YEP. I accept it. I own it. I admit it.) So – just because someone out there is trying to find a way to justify sodas in some way, shape, or form… NO – I wouldn’t do diet sodas. (They’re just as crappy for you as any other form of soda.) NO – it doesn’t count toward your hydration count for the day! NO – an occasional one isn’t harmless. Sorry – I know – not politically correct, not comfortable, not nice. Especially when we talk about an addiction similar to that that I own. Yes – I’m addicted to Coke. I know it. Anyone who knows me well knows it. And that’s why one hasn’t passed these lips in over 3 years. And never will again. ‘Cause just like an alcoholic – I can’t handle it. There’s no middle ground for me. And yes, it’s kinda radical, but it’s the truth and I know it.
Fourthly – I would have steered WAY clear of simple carbs. Now – I’m no carb Nazi. I’m sorry – I’ll never apologize for a slice of bread, a potato chip, or occasional dessert. That’s just me. There are some things that I’m kinda hung up over – you can read my philosophy of eating if you’d like. So let’s define what a simple carb is – in my mind, anyway: sugar. It comes in lots of forms… cake, cookies, candy, sodas, pastries – stuff like that. It’s all stuff that pretty much most of us – if we’re really honest with ourselves – enjoy from time to time. If I were to go back – would I have gone total cold turkey with this sort of stuff? Nah… I don’t think so. But I certainly wouldn’t have indulged in them nearly as often as I did. Because the fact of the matter is this: doesn’t matter how far post-op you are – at some point in time it’s gonna catch up with you. Whether it’s the scale that tells you, or your labs, or your general sense of well-being. The fact of the matter is that it just ain’t good for you. [And a little aside for you my friends the pre-ops and baby post-ops – ’cause I hear this from you guys a lot, in honest, genuine, surprise… YES. Alcohol is a simple sugar. Read the calorie accounting on any alcoholic drink and it should be enough to scare the living crap out of you! Enough said.]
Fifthly – I would have been far more disciplined about the “E” word. Yes – EXERCISE. When I was younger – and even quite heavy – I was an active girl. I was on the swim team, I swam, I canoed, I sailed, I hiked, I biked, I walked, I did aqua aerobics… In fact, there were several years there that I didn’t own a car – I walked or biked or used public transportation. I loved it! But at some point in time – I don’t know if it was because the degenerative joint disease was gaining ground or what – it became easier NOT to have a formal exercise routine. BAD ME. I weigh more than 200 pounds less than I did eight years ago – I should totally have an exercise routine! Even if it’s just going to the high school track and walking a couple of miles! Yes. I have daily orthopedic pain. So the heck what. I oughtta get off my butt and move more! I need to dig out my very cool pedometer and USE IT! Ever since my ankle reconstruction last March it’s been a heck of a lot harder to walk, and well – as they used to remind me in physical therapy – “Use it or lose it!” If I’d been more disciplined from the get-go after my DS, I’m thinking it would be far less daunting a thing to do just that!
And lastly – I would have taken advantage of every moment of the “honeymoon phase” during the first 12 to 18 months post-op and really done everything possible to maximize that easiest phase of the weight loss window. We’re so silly to believe that our entire post-op lives are going to be like those glorious first months. WRONG. Do everything possible to use those months to your advantage. Please. You will NEVER regret it.
So – those are the major things I would do differently.
Yes, I would totally do my DS again.
No, I would not take boatloads of ibuprofen again.
Yes, I would get on the plane to Spain to Dr. Baltasar for my surgeon again – completely!
No, I don’t regret my DS one single bit.
That, my friends, is the truth.
So a question for you – if you’re a post-op.
Would you do it again?
If so – anything you’d do differently?
Let me know your thoughts in comments, okay?