This year I embarked on the most massive and consequential goal of the last two decades. I was forced to face my demons, and sharpen my focus on losing weight. It is a battle I have fought all my life, but it became a losing battle when paired with the pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia. It is something I thought was beyond fixing until I decided to change my approach to it. My compounded set of circumstances needed a creative solution.
Fibromyalgia is a horrible condition. It plagues people for years before they find any cause or explanation. Shortly after getting married and moving to Australia, I noticed changes in my body that I could not explain. It was mild at first, but as the years progressed, so did the intensity. I had one doctor so bold that he disregarded me completely, turned to my husband, and asked if I was depressed. You eventually do begin to think you are going crazy. The day I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was relieved. After countless trips to doctors and specialists, to be poked and prodded, shrugged at, or disbelieved, I finally had something with a name. Proof I was not crazy. The hardest part was coming to terms with my new normal.
Now 20 years later, I am hitting it head-on. Throughout the decades before and after my diagnosis, my weight crept up. I used to keep it down through exercise. I loved to stay active. Once the bouts of pain and fatigue worsened, it became progressively harder to lose weight. It eventually came to the point where I could no longer exercise and do the activities I loved. I love hiking, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, running, and they all slipped out of reach.
Fast forward to the pandemic, and I was at the highest weight I had ever been. My weight put me in the high-risk group for COVID 19. I had to do something. I had to do it for my family and myself. I am not a young mother, so I have to do everything I can to be around for my son. It is a promise I made when I decided to adopt him. Mentally I was not prepared to give up on doing it myself, after all, I had done it many times before. Emotionally I realize that I needed help and I needed it sooner than later. Time was ticking and I wasn’t getting any healthier.
So I turned to Bariatric Surgery. I do not think surgery is the answer for everyone, but for me, it was. The process to get to surgery was long, but not difficult. Throughout I remained conflicted about needing the surgery. The only thing that got me through to the day of surgery was my son and the fact I could stop the process at any time. Any time until the day of surgery, that is. As I lay in pre-op prepped and ready to go, I was scared, but I realized I had to do it. Despite the risks, I needed my life back. I had to be the mother my son deserved, the wife my husband deserved, and the woman I deserved. On March 4, 2021, I underwent Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. It was the one of scariest, but significant days of my life.
I am almost two months post-op. I have lost 50 lbs. I am off most of my medications, and I feel like a new person. I still have a long way to go, but I am going in the right direction. Surgery is not a quick fix. You have to develop a whole new relationship with food. The hardest for me is to eat and drink slowly. If I don’t I throw up. You also may react differently to foods you were once able to eat. I used to enjoy cream cheese, but now I have a bad reaction. Eating six small meals per day takes a lot more preparation and planning. There are days when I can’t get myself to eat any more protein, or drink any more water. However, tomorrow is always a new day, and I have great incentive to keep moving forward.
Having surgery was a massive step out of my comfort zone, but I am getting my life back because of it. It was a long journey to get here, but I never gave up. Initially, my husband’s medical insurance would not cover bariatric surgery, but eventually, they changed health plans, and the new insurance company covered it. Next, it took months of tests and appointments to see if I would even medically qualify. Even after I qualified and the insurance signed off, I faced a couple of months of silence and uncertainty because I heard nothing from my doctor. The number of COVID cases was increasing, and it was possible elective surgeries could be postponed indefinitely. However, in January I got the call. I was finally able to schedule a surgery date. No matter how dark it can feel one day, you never know what the next day will bring. Do not give up! Don’t ever give up on those things most important to you!