I have referenced my bariatric sleeve ( https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/what-is-gastric-sleeve-weight-loss-surgery#1) surgery in other sections of this site, but it is here that I will give you the background story of my fat life that led up to such a life-altering decision.
My maternal side of the family carries the female fat genes. My mother had 3 brothers and two sisters. Her mother, aunts, and grandmother were………..fat. Her two sisters tended toward chubbiness but dieted themselves out of it most of their lives. Due to the luck of the gene draw, and the extremely unwise decision to smoke instead of eat, my mother was the skinny one in the family, barely tipping the scale at 100 lbs. when she married my father at the age of 21.
No one knew the dangers of smoking when I was conceived, and my mother smoked throughout her entire pregnancy with me. I should have been born skinny and sickly. I was not. I was born with every fat gene the family possessed. Although only 6 pounds at birth, that quickly changed. A life long struggle with compulsive eating began as far back as I am able to remember.
I was always hungry. Never satiated. No matter how much I ate or how full I felt, I always wanted more. I craved carbohydrates – bread, cake, cookies, ice cream, pasta – long before the word “carbohydrate” was part of anyone’s vocabulary.
Even as a child and young teen, I tried every diet available at the time. Nothing worked, because I was unable to stick to any of them. Finally, at age 17, carrying 170 lbs. on my 5’ frame, I received my college acceptance letter in the mail and decided that I was not going to go to college fat. The letter arrived the first week of February. The next day, I went on a starvation diet, consisting of an Instant Breakfast Drink for breakfast, a hard-boiled egg for lunch, and whatever protein and vegetable my mother served for supper. I was so hungry all of the time that I felt as if holes were being drilled into my stomach. But I persevered and arrived at college in September weighing 126 lbs. After two weeks of climbing campus hills and stairs, because the University of Rhode Island’s old buildings did not have elevators, and my dorm was at the bottom of a giant hill, I weighed 115 lbs and maintained that weight throughout the four years of college. I did so by starving, walking, and climbing.
I got married two weeks after graduation, landed a desk job, and stopped walking. Only through sheer determination and more perseverance, was I able to keep my weight around 125 lbs until I became pregnant 4 years later.
Although I managed to lose the 55 lbs of pregnancy weight through more strict dieting, the next 40 years were spent like my first 17……beset by uncontrollable compulsive overeating interspersed with one failed diet after another. The lure of the food was just as overpowering as the lure of alcohol to an alcoholic. It wasn’t until years later that I found out this struggle was scientifically factual (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/mental-health-food-addiction#1), not a product of weak willpower, as everyone insisted.
In the mid-1980’s gastric bypass surgery( https://www.verywellhealth.com/gastric-bypass-surgery-info-3157234 ) was introduced, and my new primary doctor strongly “suggested” that I undergo the procedure. I was appalled and insulted. In my mind, I was nowhere near heavy enough (at 190 lbs.) to consider such an option.
More years. More failed diets. More compulsive eating.
Then in 2006, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. ( That struggle is documented in www.thealzheimerspouse.com). He was the love of my life. We had a very close, loving, secure relationship until Alzheimer’s Disease stole his essence – his judgment, memory, cognition, abilities, everything. In 2013, it became impossible for me to care for him any longer at home by myself. I had to place him in a nursing home. Whereas I had always been a stress eater, our separation hit me so hard that, for the first time in my life, the opposite occurred. I could not eat. I could not get food down. Between his placement in the nursing home in 2013, and his death in 2015, I lost 92 lbs.
Two years after his death, I started to eat again. I do not know if there is a scientific reason behind this, but what happened next scared me towards the bariatric sleeve surgery. My compulsive overeating became worse than it had ever been. Ever. There was no stopping me. By 2018, I had regained 50 lbs, and there was no end in sight.
I was a size 4x, which was beginning to get tight, and with a short, little peek, I could see 5x coming at me from around the corner. The “before” picture on the home page of this website next to the Weight Loss topic tells the story by itself.
One day I was sitting and thinking about the back surgery that I desperately needed. I had found a surgeon who would perform it, regardless of my weight. Suddenly, and it was a sudden idea that just came upon me, I decided that if I was going to have any surgery, it was going to be bariatric surgery. I felt that it was the only way out of my weight struggle. I had recently heard about a new procedure, bariatric sleeve surgery, that was far less complex than the old bypass surgery. I had read about it, and it seemed the right option for me.
That was it. It wasn’t a lengthy thought process with months of research. It was just a thought that popped into my mind suddenly. At that moment, I knew that was the only answer for me.
NEXT: The Road to Bariatric Surgery- Full of Potholes