It’s kind of like the elephant in the room.
You walk in – everyone looks – then tries not to look – then looks again as surreptitiously as possible – then tries not to look. As conversation progresses you note glances here, there – as brief as can be – but glances nonetheless.
There is this myth – this attitude or belief – that has perpetuated itself in the DS post-op (and to a certain extent – the pre-op) community. If you’ve been on the various online groups at all you’ve heard it in varying degrees, undoubtedly. (Well, unless you’ve been completely oblivious.)
“50 pounds gone forever.”
“I’ll never regain any weight. It’s impossible with the DS.”
“You can eat whatever you want and still lose your weight!”
And following those statements all sorts of disparagement for those who have done the unthinkable in the DS community – regained weight. Any weight.
And let me just say here and now – I believe wholeheartedly that the DS, in the right hands – is THE surgery that can give hope to the morbidly obese, and particularly the super morbidly obese, community. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not supposed to NOT work. Granted, you have to factor in surgeons who don’t get it and do more harm than help because of it in the name of giving someone a rocking form of WLS. (:sigh: If only there were some way we could clone Dr. Baltasar and his kind, compassionate, caring, empathetic heart and amazing world-leader skills so that ALL pre-ops could be given THE best chance of kicking their obesity to the curb!)
We (post-ops) all (should) know (and typically say), “Expect a bounce. It should be in the range of 10% of the excess weight you needed to lose. If you go back to the basics, you can lose it.” You will see all sorts of posts from people who are there – experiencing the bounce – and praying to God that’s all it is.
There’s often an underlying hostility toward those with other surgeries – you know, NOT the DS – who have had weight regain. In fact, there’s this level of dismissal – a little bit shockingly, really – of the person as a whole.
Assumptions are made.
Broad sweeping judgments adopted. (Adopted = chosen, embraced as your own.)
Weak moral character.
Weak mental capacity.
Belittling is done.
Nasty attitudes and words are dispensed freely.
(Funny how we as a WLS post-op community as a whole are so good at shooting our wounded!)
“Well – if you were dumb enough to have X surgery instead of the DS, then well – there you go….”
I think what bugs me most is that oftentimes these statements are made by relative babies. You know, post-ops who are still infants, really – less than a year post-op. Or toddlers – 1 to 2 years post-op. Preschoolers. Kindergarteners. When you’re a pre-op it feels OLD – really OLD to make it to those amazing post-op milestones – one year post-op, three years post-op, five years post-op. Now those are milestones! What I want to hear is from those who have made it to TEN years post-op. Those are the post-ops who are soundly in the middle of elementary school and are starting to wake up a bit to the world around them – and please dear Lord – have attained some empathy for post-ops for ALL procedures hopefully on some level.
But heaven forbid you are a DS post-op who has regained more than an acceptable bounce amount.
Any of you old timers out there? Do you remember what we used to say? (…and I still believe wholeheartedly to be true!)
“YOU haven’t failed. Your SURGERY has failed you!”
I find myself at this place that is difficult for me to process – on pretty much any level.
There is no way to explain what it’s like being just shy of 9 years post-op and have gotten to goal – something I really believed would never be attainable – a normal BMI and finally understood what it truly felt to feel at home in your body…
Where I am right now.
Or maybe I should say: Back where I am right now.
Obviously – not back to where I started (BMI of 66 at 365 lbs, wheelchair bound, every co-morbidity in the book).
But where I never dreamed I’d be again.
When you head into WLS you have some thoughts – and it’s not that unusual for them to be undisclosed – i.e., very, very private – because – hello!? – who wants to be set up for failure yet again – of where you:
- Realistically believe you will “land” after you’ve lost what your surgery can afford you.
- Where you sort of hope you’ll land.
- Where – in your heart of hearts – you long to land.
For me – 125 pounds was where I longed to land.
Not only that – when I was there it was just so RIGHT.
Yes, it was where I needed to land orthopedically speaking. But – really and truly – that’s where I longed to be in my wildest dreams. 135 was my where I hoped I would land. Realistically – even clinically (see Dr. Baltasar’s recently published paper on this – it’s great!) – a sound, realistic expectation would be to land somewhere below 200.
I remember saying to myself, and even aloud. “If only I could get to the place where buying clothes isn’t so hard. You know, where I could open a catalog and find something in a 14 or 16.” (Not the 6X I was in at that time.)
These are the things that you think on when you find yourself HERE….
…back standing on the scale, looking down and seeing that the first number is a 2. The much dreaded number 2.
Somewhere I hoped – okay – I’ll admit it – BELIEVED – I’d never be again.
Oh, it breaks my heart to see it.
Worse – it’s doing horrible things to my mobility, my pain level, my ability to function, stamina, and self-esteem.
I feel fairly confident that I can say this without any reserve: I hate it.
Worse – I’m back to feeling resoundingly like this big, huge, monumental failure.
It makes me want to NOT update here. I mean no one talks about THIS. No one tells what it’s like to go through it. ‘Cause it’s not supposed to be able to happen, right?
Granted – honestly, it does… sometimes. There are reasons, mitigating factors, etc. But sometimes, it’s true – you’ll meet or hear of a DS post-op who finds themselves much in the same place.
If nothing else this experience has taught me to have a completely new level of empathy for/with post-ops (of ANY surgery) who have gone through it, are going through it, will go through it. My heart is breaking for all of us.
And if we’re going to speak the truth here (and why speak at all if not to be brutally honest, right?) – thinking back to that elephant in the room, I feel a bit of empathy for those who encounter me (those of us) who have gone through this. It has to be shocking if someone hasn’t seen me since, oh, December. In December, I weighed 173. Today I weigh 202.
Sometimes I think I should just blurt out, “Yes, it’s true. I have gained a lot of weight. Yes, in just a little bit of time. Yes, it is shocking. Okay – so, what was it you wanted to talk about?” You know – get it out of the way. But why make it all about me? Yes – I think about it at each greeting – but I don’t think it’s always necessary to say the words out loud for the most part.
Here’s the thing – I KNOW in my head that it’s because my DS got killed. (Or as Lisa so aptly said today – I’ve been un-DS’d.) But it doesn’t stop me from feeling as if it’s my fault… somehow. I find myself thinking – more often than not without even realizing that my thoughts had followed that meandering trail – what I could, should, or would have done differently. Logically – I know the truth. My DS got taken down – without my consent – and not only was I super, super, super morbidly obese as a pre-op, I’m the descendant of a whole bunch of folks who were as well. My DS was the first and only time I was able to lose weight and keep it off – ever. Should it shock me or surprise me now that it’s not that there all I have to do is breathe to gain weight? No. But it does. Inexplicably, it does. 😦
So – I’m going to try and do better – to actually say out loud what it’s like to go through this. There are some things on the horizon that could potentially be interesting. I won’t say anything out loud yet, because my heart is just a little bit afraid to hope at this juncture. But – suffice it to say – one more reason to keep current with and to keep my heart open and honest before God.