|One Year Ago and Now|
In August 2014, my family and I traveled to Mexico on vacation. At 332 pounds, I was devastated and embarrassed to have to request a seatbelt extension from the flight hostess. To further my devastation, my daughter Darby and husband Chad felt they had to make themselves as small as possible so that I would be able to be somewhat more comfortable traveling. Then while we were there, I wanted to parasail but was told by an awkward young man that I weighed too much to complete the expedition safely. The final insult to injury was, while I was able to slowly keep up with our traveling party wherever we went, I spent one day of vacation unable to leave the bed for the pain in my feet, back, and knees.
During this time, stuck in our room, missing out on vacation, I was reminded of a recent doctor’s appointment where my physician frankly told me that if I didn’t “do something” about my weight, then I would be lucky to have 10 more years with my family. We had lost my sister Gayla, 38, a few years earlier, and I could not hurt my parents, my husband and daughter, and my friends by dieing young too. I had seen that devastation and didn’t want to add to their misery. Then I did the math and realized that my daughter would only be in her 20s in the next decade! I would not leave her so early if there was something I could do to prevent it.
This line of thinking led me to also remember that my husband and parents had spent the better part of three years practically begging me to have bariatric surgery. I remembered being offended and insisting that I could do it on my own. I spent those years trying and failing to lose weight, exercise, and eat right. A little more math and I figured out that I had gained 110 pounds in less than a decade. How would I be able to lose what I had gained and 50 more in order to be considered a healthy weight?
The night after we returned from our vacation, I took a deep, shaky breath and told the love of my life, “I don’t want to die.” I asked if his offer to support me and care for me through bariatric surgery was still good. I had spent the day reading up on it and explained that our entire life would change. What we ate, what we did, everything would be altered.
This man, who will have my heart forever, embraced me and my decision, reminding that my body was not like a “normal” person. He said it “betrayed” me at every turn. I had sleep apnea and had to sleep with a machine to keep me breathing. I also suffered with high blood pressure, migraines, hypothyroidism, and high cholesterol. In the previous five years, I had been hospitalized three times for suspected strokes because my blood pressure was so high and migraines so tormenting.
From this conversation, there were the ones we had with my parents and our daughter. All were on board and ready to make this decision a reality. For my first information meeting, my husband had to travel for work so our daughter insisted that she would go with me. She said, “I want to know that this is the right thing for us to do.” The fact that she was involved and she said “us” sealed it for me. This is what I would do.
Dr. Roshek of The NicholsonClinic led the information meeting, explaining all options available. He also explained how most people gain weight back on regular diets because of a hormone ghrelin that made you think you were hungry, even if you weren’t. Dr. Roshek explained the statistics and surgery options so well that my daughter was able to enlighten her father about what to expect, even using air quotes when she explained the difference between the LapBand and the Gastric Sleeve—“Sure the Lap is ‘reversible’ in that the device can be removed but your stomach stays in that shape.” We chose the gastric sleeve option.
From this point we proceeded with Dr. Carlton and an exploratory EGD, which showed I also suffered with a hiatal hernia on top of my other ailments. I thought, “How have I survived this long much less the next 10 years?” Once we had a surgery date with Dr. Nicholson, I began to share the news with those closest to me. There were mixed reactions, but the people who mattered the most said, “If this is what YOU want, then you have my support.”
After surgery in December, there was time for healing. However, I figured out pretty quickly that walking made recovery so much better. I started walking. And walking. And walking. That got boring so I took it to the gym…a gym for which I had been paying for years yet using only sparingly, Lifetime Fitness. I found my trainer Aaron Frisvold and, one month after surgery, I joined Lifetime’s 90-day challenge at the encouragement of Aaron. I was elated the first time I ran a mile and ecstatic the first time I ran two miles. Aaron continues to motivate me to hit those Firsts. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that I had won the 90-day challenge!
Today we began the next 90-day challenge at Lifetime. I have every intention of winning this too. However, I feel like I am already a winner. I took on this life-long challenge and am a whole new person for it. In April, it was discovered that I no longer need blood pressure medicine. Shortly after that, I didn’t need the sleep apnea machine when I slept. By the end of May, I had hit the 100-pounds-lost milestone. The weight loss has slowed significantly, and I have turned to looking at my muscle definition and body mass index for the progress. Aaron gets excited about the number of calories the fancy scale says I burn because of my lean muscle.
In the beginning, I sported a 53 BMI. Today that was down to 35 BMI. To date, I have lost 120 pounds and have 42 left till I hit my personal goal weight of 170 pounds, a weight I could identify with being happy with my body. Also, at my last doctor’s visit, my thyroid looked good and my cholesterol was “normal.”
The most amazing thing that I have gained in all of this is self-confidence. For the first time in my life, I am proud of me, inside and out. I love the life that is blooming all around me. Chad and I greet each day for the adventure that is a life without the burden of being overweight and unhealthy. We have even adopted a weekly date night where he joins me at the gym. He has also discovered that he is a rock star at cooking healthy.
My gratitude overflows for everyone involved. To The Nicholson Clinic (Dr. Nicholson, Dr. Roshek, Dr. Carlton, Sandy, and Melody), thank you for your expertise and continued support. To Aaron and all the trainers at Lifetime, thank you for all of the high-fives and at-a-girls that keep me running and pumping that iron. To my friend Brandy, thank you for being my workout buddy and cheerleader. To my friend Sarah, thank you for all the loaner clothes and the encouragement. To my parents, thank you for the emotional and financial support to make this a reality. Thank you for reminding me that I am always your “pretty baby.” To my daughter Darby, thank you for reminding me that I have to love me as much as I love anyone else if not more. Thank you for demanding that I stick up for myself. To my darling Chad, thank you for making me admit that I needed help from everyone, for learning to cook healthy, and for being my biggest fan.