Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Decisions and Confessions

"I've got another confession my friend, I'm no fool
I'm getting tired of starting again, somewhere new..."

("Best of You" by Foo Fighters)

In my case, "somewhere new" tends to be a new decade of poundage. I started this blog in the 260's, worked through the 250's, had a brief stay in the 240's, and now I'm smack dab in the middle of the 270's. I gained back more than double what I lost.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I'm not great at this whole weight loss thing.

A few months ago, I became Facebook friends with a girl I knew in high school named Kristin. Through catching up with her, I found out that she works for the Cincinnati Weight Loss Center and that she had had Lap-Band surgery a few years before.

Now, previously in years gone by, the thought of having Lap-Band surgery was, for me, like the thought of winning the lottery - it would be nice if it happened, but chances were slim to none, so why dwell on it. I just knew it would be too expensive and that my insurance wouldn't cover it, and I didn't know what hoops I would have to jump through to get it. And then, there's always the fact that it's surgery. Permanent. Invasive. And, did I mention, expensive?

As I mentioned before, Kristin had had the surgery and now works for the doctor who performed it. In fact, every person who works in the office has had the surgery, so they know first hand how it works, feels, costs, etc. She and I talked about the fact that I was semi-seriously considering the surgery but that I knew very little about it. She told me about her experience and how much she paid (she was a self-pay patient, and for those of you who might not know, if your insurance does not cover the cost, you can pay for it yourself, using financing options if you need to). She told me about what she eats and how having the surgery has affected her life, and she invited me to come to the office for an informational seminar.

Also during this time, I started doing my own research. I looked for people who blogged about being banded, and it turns out there's an amazing group of B.O.O.B.s who are a wealth of information, support, and humor. But I didn't just take their word for it. I researched the heck out of weight loss surgeries in general. How safe are they? How expensive are they? What complications can arise? What is life after surgery like? What are my options? Can I really do this?

The Hubs (ever the pragmatic one) was mostly concerned about cost. And being the realist that he is, he also wanted to make sure that if we were going to spend the money (it's, of course, not covered by my insurance) that I would actually stick with it and not find ways to 'cheat' the system. Boy, does he know me or what? It's kind of scary.

He agreed to go to the seminar with me, and by the end of it, he said if we had the money, HE would have the surgery ASAP. Of course, if anyone's going to have the surgery, it's going to be me, because we can't afford to both do it.

It's going to be me.

I have made the decision. I'm going to have Lap-Band surgery.

You may not like it, and that's okay. You may not agree with it, and that's okay too. You may be happy for me, and that's excellent. All I know is that I am finally making a decision to do something for myself. And I'm thrilled!

Now, I am in the very early stages of planning here. I've only gone to the seminar and done the research. I haven't had a consultation or worked out the financing or set a date. In fact, I have to wait to do anything until The Hubs finds a steady job, so it might be months before I can actually put my plan into action.

But at least I've got a plan.

There's the decision. Want to know the confession?

I'm scared.

Here are just some of the things I worry about, and also a little bit about how I am overcoming the fear:

~The Cost~

Being a self-pay patient is going to cost me about $14,000. That's a chunk of change. And it's not like we have it stashed under our mattress for just such occasions. We will have to finance and pay interest on it for years to come.  It will mean a car payment's worth of money coming out of our paychecks every month.

However, remaining morbidly obese will cost me well over $14,000 over the course of the rest of my life. And it will not only cost me monetarily, but it will cost me physically. My dad is basically dying of unchecked Diabetes, have I mentioned that lately? That will be me. And me being overweight doesn't just affect me or my quality of life anymore - it affects Bubbers now, too. Being morbidly obese means that I can't play with him the way I want to. I can't do the things I want to do, and being this fat is almost an early death sentence. I want to be around for him. Not experiencing his life to the fullest is a cost that I am not willing to pay.

~The Surgery~

One thing that I didn't know until I did my research is that having the Lap-Band means actually having a port attached to the muscle in your stomach. Permanently. As in, it's always there, and when you get skinny enough, you can sometimes see and feel it. (Gross!) Having that port also means getting a needle stuck in your abdomen for "fills". I guess when I thought about the concept of the Lap-Band, I never realized that it was something that was dynamic, that changed. I just thought you had the surgery, they put a "collar" on your stomach, and you lived your life. Now I know that's not the case. Just because you have the surgery doesn't mean you're done. You have to maintain the band. Get it filled and un-filled. It's not something Ron Popeil created - you can't just "Set it and forget it!"

I have made peace with the fact that there will be a foreign object in my body for the rest of my life. And, it wasn't really that hard to deal with the thought of the needle and fills/unfills because of the insulin shots I had to give myself while pregnant. That was multiple times a day. If I can deal with that, I can deal with a few adjustments a year if I have to.

I have made peace with the fact that it's surgery. I had my gallbladder taken out in early 2008, and the process is similar to that. I had a 10 pound baby delivered by c-section and survived. If I don't have this surgery, there will be other surgeries because of it. My Diabetes, if left unchecked, could mean heart, liver, eye, or foot damage, all of which lead to surgeries. (All of which, except for liver, are surgeries that my dad has had, by the way).

I generally do well under the knife, and although I know that there are always possible complications, I'm not concerned.

~Life After The Band~

What does having the band mean? How will it affect my day to day life? What will I have to change?

This is the big one for me. The money, we can find somewhere. The surgery, I can handle. But life after? That's the scary part. I'm having this surgery because I need someone or something to FORCE me to change my ways. (But that scares the shit out of me!)

How is the Lap-Band going to force me to change? I'll have to temporarily succumb to a liquid diet, and might have to return to it after fills and if I have any issues. I'll have to cut my food into the tiniest of tiny pieces and chew it to a pulp. For evah. I'll have to watch my protein intake and make sure I'm getting vitamins and nutrients. I'll have to quit drinking during my meals (which I'm not entirely convinced I'll be able to do), and most difficult of all for me, I'll have to give up pop (and all carbonated beverages) for good.

My dad works for Coca-Cola. Diet Coke runs through my veins. And I'll have to give it up.

(Now, just so you're fully informed, there is some controversy surrounding this restriction.Some doctors don't say that you can never drink pop, and some do.  The doctor at CWLC says you do, so I will.)

 These are all big, daily, life-altering changes. Scary stuff.

But what would life be like if I didn't have the surgery? If I continue on the course that I've taken for thirty years? Sure, life without the band would be easier in some respects. I could drink what ever I want and eat what ever I want, but then I'm where I always have been. Only worse. Lap Band Gal says "If hunger isn't the problem, then eating isn't the solution."

Being able to eat whatever I want is not going to make my life worth living.

All in all, I have researched, asked questions, thought, debated, cried, and pretty much done everything I can think of to make sure that having this surgery is the right thing for me. And I wholeheartedly believe it is. It's not a quick fix or a simple solution. It takes effort and commitment just like dieting and exercise, but the Lap-Band is there to help.

It's like this: let's pretend that in order for me to reach a healthy weight, I have to swim across the ocean. Diet and Exercise are my arms and legs. They are the tools that I have to get there. Now, I could swim and swim and swim to my heart's content, but there's pretty much no way that I'll make it across the ocean on my own. Then along comes Lap-Band - my life jacket - which makes me just a little more buoyant, and in turn, makes my journey just a little bit easier. Now at least I have a chance.

Lap-Band is going to be my life jacket. I'll swim harder than I ever have before, and it will help me go farther than I ever thought I could.


Fat in Suburbia said...

Congratulations on your decision. I moved from Cincy last year and before the move attended an info session there. I was all ready to do it and the hubby got transferred. I started Jenny Craig in July and am not seeing the results I want to and am again considering getting banded. I'll be watching your progress!

Miss S. said...

Good luck with everything, I look forward to hearing about your journey.

iateach82 said...

I have to admit that I am surprised by this decision, but I do support you. I envy the courage it takes to make a decision like this. I don't know that I could ever go through with it, but that's me. I have my cheerleading spanx on just for you!!!! Hugs to you!

Mrs B. said...

Thanks ladies!

MrsWhiffin said...

Good for you! $14k is a hell of alot of money for a band, have you though about having it done over here in the UK?

Mrs B. said...

@MrsWhiffin - no, I hadn't thought about it. I've only ever heard of other bandsters going to Mexico for the procedure, not the UK. I'll have to look into it. THanks for the tip!

Lyndsey said...

This must have been a really hard post to write! I have to be honest-- I'm so scared for you. I've thought about surgery (briefly) but it just seems so hard to live with forever. To me, it seems less like a life jacket and more like a guy in a boat with a gun telling you swim or else. But I know you'll be reallyreallyreallyreally sure before you do it and I'll totally support you if you go through with it! (Just to be clear, I don't judge the decision at all, just scares me).

vickyd said...

I just found your blog and want to say that it sounds like you have done the research and know what you are getting in to (you wouldn't believe the number of people who don't). I was banded in December 2010 and to date have lost 106 it easy? No. But it is the best thing I have ever done for myself.

I'm glad you found Lap Band Gal and the BOOBs...there are a lot of us blogging about our experiences...the good, the bad and the keep reading the blogs and let us know how things progress. When you're ready to proceed you'll have lots of us supporting you through the process.