Q - Is your husband supportive of your decision? (Surprisingly the most common question)
A - If my husband wasn’t supportive of it, I wouldn’t consider it. It’s such a big thing that it’s not just my life that is going to be affected. Now with that being said, he used to be dead set against it. I think prayer and understanding have changed his mind. I still don’t think he loves the idea of seeing me go through the surgery part of it…but he is happy and excited that I can finally have a real shot at success when it comes to losing weight. And he is aware that especially a few months post op things might not be all sunshine and rainbows. Also, when talking to others who've had the surgery, I've noticed that when women have it, their husbands almost always started off being opposed and then changed their minds. The men I've heard talk about it have had wives who've supported them from the beginning. I'm not going to try and dissect the reasons for that, but I find it interesting.
Q - When did you decide that weight loss surgery was a better choice than losing it naturally?
A - I’ve struggled with my weight since I was 13 with no long term success. As a matter of fact, I have been on and off of diets since then only to continue gaining weight. After I had my last son, my blood pressure spiked and never really went back down. I have been put on several BP medications in order to control it. I’m on cholesterol medicine and continually struggle with pain in my Achilles tendons, knees, and back. My 3 year old closely resembles the Tasmanian Devil and I just can’t keep up. I asked myself if I wanted to continue trying to lose weight and risk it not happening OR in essence force myself to. Like I said, I prayed very hard about it and came to the conclusion that at this point I just need to be healthier. And I was afraid that I wouldn’t have time to do it naturally.
Q - Are you afraid you’re making the wrong decision?
A - Between the horror stories people love to tell about their uncle whose stomach exploded and all of the classes that are just trying to pound into you how much of a difficult commitment this can be - it’s hard to not stop and question things sometimes. But years of prayer have gone into my decision and I received very clear answers. So do I question my ability to handle everything? Sometimes. But I don’t feel like the decision is mine to change. I feel God was very clear and if that assumption is incorrect on my part, I’ve put my faith in Him to make that clear as well.
Q - What about the surgery scares you the most?
A - Losing my hair (happens somewhat frequently) and being one of the few people who seem to have life long complications.
Q - How much weight is normal to lose?
A - With the procedure I’ve chosen, people typically lose 60-80% of their EXCESS weight. So if your ideal weight is 135, subtract that from your current weight. You can expect to lose 60-80% of that. The majority is lost the first year and a half.
Q - Will you ever be able to eat normally again?
A - Here’s the schedule I’ve been told is normal: 2-3 days in the hospital afterwards is liquid only. For the next two weeks, the goal is to eat 5-6 meals consisting of ¼ cup to ½ cup of pureed food each day. For the next four weeks, 5-6 meals consisting of ¼ cup to ½ cup soft foods (think nursing home). After that you start adding in normal foods - just making sure that you chew the heck out of them. If you eat meals with 10 grams or more of sugar, it can cause dumping syndrome in some people which causes sweating, nausea, and vomiting. The doctors say that once everything is healed and stuff, the average size meal would be about 1-1 ½ cups (think lean cuisine meal size). It is possible to restretch the stomach out if you don’t follow the rules - but that’s obviously not the ideal situation.
Q - What is required to be approved for gastric bypass surgery?
A - Well, unless you want to pay for it out of pocket (which would cost you about $25,000 if you were paying cash) that totally depends on your medical insurance company. There may be more or fewer but generally speaking they want to see that you have at least two weight related co-morbidities. Basically those are just diseases or conditions caused by your weight. You’re talking about things like high BP, high Cholesterol, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, and Arthritis. Insurance companies require tests to ensure you are healthy enough to withstand a several hour long surgery (pulmonary clearance, cardiac clearance, EGT, EKG, blood work, etc…). Mine requires 9 months of physician monitored weight loss attempts (must see the doctor for 9 consecutive months) and 3 months with a dietitian. I don’t know if it’s standard across the country or just at OSU, where I’ll be having the surgery, but they require Life After Bariatric Surgery classes (4 one hour classes). Once all of those things are completed, everything is submitted for the insurance company who has 2 weeks to respond. If approved, there is a pre-surgical visit. At this visit they will schedule your procedure, go over your health care plan, and give you specific info about a required 3 week pre-op diet (very low carb and low calorie in order to shrink the liver as much as possible).
I’ve gotten several questions regarding spiritual aspects of the surgery (Is it a cop out? Does it show a lack of faith that I can do all things through Christ? Do I feel that putting myself in a high risk situation because I have a lack of self-control is sinful?). Those are such big questions that I plan on addressing them in a separate blog post. I can tell you that weight related issues can definitely be spiritual in nature. I believe that this whole process is paving the way for me to be able to use it as a ministry opportunity not just in the world but also in the church. It’s so complex emotionally. But it’s not the same for everyone. I’ll only be able to answer questions for myself.
I hope this was informative and not too boring. And I hope it answered your questions. If it didn’t, I’m more than happy to expound.