Well, here we are.
I meant, as always over the past six or seven years, to be a more frequent flier on this blog. But, hey, Iâ€™m back.
I think the last thing I had to say here was that I was getting my ducks in a row for bariatric surgery. Those ducks hatch on Wednesday, a little less than 48 hours from now. Iâ€™m a little nervous, of course. By tomorrow night Iâ€™ll be a wreck. But by Thursday afternoon, if all goes well, itâ€™ll be a matter of healing and adapting to the new normal. And concentrating on using that advantage to lose the weight.
I look back at this blog 15 years to when I was telling myself to get serious about swatting the weight away back when I was 215 lbs. Part of me is angry at myself for not doing that. But Iâ€™ve grown older and more realistic and Iâ€™ve come to realize that yes, part of my problem is the way my body works. During those years, even when I was careful, my weight typically went up about 5-10 lbs a year. Waist size went up every couple of years. Every time I went on a diet and hit a plateau, it simply seemed to exacerbate the problem and the propensity to regain the weight.
As recently as 2016, I had my weight back down to the 250s. But I plateaued, as always, couldnâ€™t face the scale, and went back to eating â€œnormallyâ€�. Now I want to be clear here. I eat the same sized portions as everyone else. I donâ€™t keep snacks and desserts around my place because I know better. I almost never order dessert when Iâ€™m out, either. But I drink beer with the guys on the weekends. I eat fries on the weekends. There were places where, yeah, Iâ€™m responsible for being overweight. But not this overweight. I learned recently that when I first started this process, I was weighing in at 330 lbs. It was mortifying to find that out and Iâ€™m reluctant to even admit it. Thatâ€™s the fattest Iâ€™ve ever been, to my knowledge.
And it doesnâ€™t seem fair to me, and it doesnâ€™t seem right. I donâ€™t eat a lot of rich food. I donâ€™t take sugar in anythingâ€¦ pop, coffee, tea; nothing. I typically have one sandwich (and I mean cold cuts between two slices of bread, not something huge) for lunch. I look at the things other people eat and I wonder why, how, they can do that and not look like me. But this is my cross to bear.
So, surgery on Wednesday. And keeping an eye on everything from then on, partly enforced by the twin cops of a smaller stomach and the threat of dumping syndrome, which Iâ€™m led to understand is highly unpleasant.
So what was the course to getting here? I guess things got rolling for real around August or September, when I started going to Humber River Hospital for various appointments. One was with a cardiologist, who set me up with a sleep study, which led to my being told I have very severe sleep apnea. Not really a surprise. To be honest, I should have done something about that on my own years ago. Anyway, that was addressed, and I wound up with CPAP machine that Iâ€™ve been using ever since November (actually, initially, it was a spare in Ohio a friend brought me on a visit). Iâ€™ve been sleeping better, not dozing off during the day, and even things like my psoriasis largely clearing up have been benefits. It was getting bad, though. I was dozing off during lulls in conversations. People were noticing. They were concerned. So was I, to tell the truth.
Related to that, one morning I woke up with the left side of my jaw so sore I could barely chew for three or four days. I remembered a dentist telling me in my 20s I needed to get my teeth straightened, or I risked getting hairline fractures in my jaw in my 60s. That kind of scared me, so despite being unemployed at the time (a story for a different time), I looked into Invisalign. As it turned out, a US-based company that did it for a lot less had recently come to Canada. Their model is to 3d-model your teeth, design the aligners youâ€™ll need for 4-10 months, and send them to you all at once. The savings is that youâ€™re not constantly going in for expensive consultations. So, I signed up, and Iâ€™m 5 weeks in. My program lasts 6 months, till the end of August. After that, Iâ€™ll wear a retainer at night.
Okay, so. All the other things I needed to do were out of the way, so the cardiologist signed off early in December, and later that week I was given my surgery date: February 26th. Which is Wednesday, now. For the past three weeks, Iâ€™ve been living largely off Optifast (aside from two cups of chili, 750 ml of Greek yogurt, and a Greek salad with a couple ounces of chicken breast). The idea here is to de-fat my liver so that they can get under it more easily. Hopefully thatâ€™s been accomplished. I have to say, though, I think Iâ€™m going to miss Optifast. Itâ€™s not bad. Itâ€™s like drinking thin cake mix. Iâ€™ve certainly had worse.
The surgery Iâ€™m getting is roux-en-y (often abbreviated to â€œRNYâ€�). This is the one where most of the stomach is sectioned off, leaving a much smaller one (initially about the size of an egg, though eventually it expands to hold about 2 cups, Iâ€™m told) that connects directly to the small intestine. The rest of the stomach is connected to the small intestine further down. This is the surgery thatâ€™s supposed to give the best results and can help you lose 70% of the weight you have and helps you to keep it off by limiting the amount of food you can eat, and how fast you can stuff it down. The process of the surgery itself is larposcopic. This means rather than cutting you wide open, a series of small incisions is made, and the surgery is done using small tools and cameras, promoting faster healing and a lot less scarring.
Iâ€™m going to be about a month getting back to eating â€œrealâ€� solid food again. Then the process of figuring out what I can eat and tolerate begins. Reputedly, the weight loss for the first 6 months is pretty rapid. I have to say, thatâ€™s the one thing in all of this Iâ€™m looking forward to. I want to be willing and able to get out and get around this summer in the way I used to. I used to really enjoy getting out in the summer, and I still do, but not as much or as often or with the same gusto as before. And itâ€™s not just because Iâ€™m older. Itâ€™s because moving around at this weight isnâ€™t that much fun. Getting winded from things you used to take for granted isnâ€™t, either.
I intend, and I believe I will be true to this, not to torture myself by using a scale. I mean to completely ignore it. I have a boatload of old clothes that Iâ€™ve been dying to get back into for years, and thatâ€™s how Iâ€™m going to measure progress. When X fits, Iâ€™ll know the weightâ€™s gone down. The scale is just numbers, and they can vary widely and be off because of water retention, and the discouragement can send you fleeing to bad habits again. But what you can wear and what you can do are objective, practical realities, and thatâ€™s where my focus is going to be. Iâ€™m going to throw out my bathroom scale(s) and not be bothered by that temptation. Iâ€™ll just do the very best I can and let the life changes be the indicators.
So, if you happen by this, please wish me well, and remind me to update this thing more often. 🙂