by Christine on March 29th, 2013
filed under Christine's Life Updates
This week I had an opportunity to chat with a perfect stranger about my weight loss and issues related to it. The conversation kind of came up in a roundabout way, the way these things do these days. Usually they talk about their own attempt to lose weight, and I chime in with my own experiences, and they say, “Wow, you’ve lost over 100 pounds?” And then I pull out my phone and show them a “before” picture. Two things happen then: They either say, “Holy shit, you don’t even look like the same person!” or they say, “Awe, you look as good now as you did then.” It’s funny how reactions can be lumped into one of the two categories.
This particular gentleman that I was speaking to, Bob, was sharing that he coaches women’s sports at his local high school. He volunteers his time coaching softball, soccer, and basketball. He said there is one young girl that plays multiple sports (it’s a small school district), and he has noticed recently that he treats her differently because of her weight. Bob gives her less playing time than the other girls. He puts her in positions that require less effort (for example, outfield instead of shortstop, etc). He forgets to even think about her when he’s coming up with drills and plans. Bob is less friendly to her in person. He said she’s a very smart girl, very sweet, with a heart of gold. And she tries very hard at all the sports. So it’s really just her weight that causes him to treat her differently. Bob wanted to know how people have treated me differently now versus when I was overweight.
I had YET ANOTHER conversation along this same line with a very dear friend of mine, who we shall call John. John is, shall we say, an adventuresome lover. He has many lovers. He finds women attractive and enjoys sex with them. But there is one woman that has made it clear that she is attracted to him, and he said he is not attracted to her…..yes, because of her weight. John feels terrible about this and feels very self-conscious about his lack of attraction for this woman. He feels like a terrible person and wants badly to be more open-minded. And yet, his attraction…it is what it is.
I’ve been on the receiving end of this more times than I can count. The one that stands out to me is a crush I had on my friend Terry. We spent TONS of time together, even slept (yes, sleep…not sex) together all the time. We had many fun adventures together. I made it clear that I liked him, and one day he was finally honest with me and said, “Look, you are a nice girl, I’m glad we are friends and spend time together. But I’m just not attracted to you. I like girls that are a LOT thinner than you.”
I was crushed. Terribly crushed. It made me hate and loathe myself even more than I did before. But at the same time, I appreciated the HONEST response. “I’m not attracted to you because of your weight” was a whole hell of a lot more honest than, “I just don’t think we’re meant to be together” or some other bullshit like that.
I shared some of my experiences with Bob, and he was very attentive. He said he feels like a terrible person because of how he treats this girl on his sports team. He said he will not forget our conversation anytime soon, that my openness and candor meant a lot to him. He said that our conversation only reinforces that he needs to do a lot better job being a better person. It was one of the nicest compliments I’ve had in a long time.
But Bob asked me, “Are you ever bitter? You know…bitter when people are nice to you now? Bitter because people weren’t nice to you before?”
Hmmm. Now that is a complicated question.
Yes: I mean, of course I’m bitter that I spent some 30 years of my life trapped in a body that I did not want. A body I did everything within my power to change. I’m bitter that, for as much as I hated myself (oh, and I did!) the way people treated me only made me hate myself that much more. I’m bitter for all the opportunities that were lost to me: opportunities to make friends, opportunities to date, even work opportunities. I’m bitter that people judge so much based on appearances and not based on the content of your heart and soul.
And no. I’m grateful for the fact that people are nice to me today, regardless of WHY they are being nice to me. I’m grateful for the smiles I get at the corner store. I’m grateful for the little flirts and smiles I get from guys. I’m grateful that I have the chance TODAY to meet new people, make new friends, have new opportunities. I’m grateful TODAY that my life is so much better.
Throughout all these conversations, it just reinforces to me over and over how TERRIFIED I am that I’ll someday gain my weight back. I’ve felt the change in how people treat me. I’ve felt the change in how I treat myself. Even these conversations this week just demonstrate to me that people DO treat overweight people differently. I don’t want to go back. Oh, I’m so scared to go back.
There’s one positive to all this: my husband married me when I was at my fattest. I’m SO GRATEFUL for that. Because I know that he loves me for ME, not for how I look. And I have hope that if I ever gained weight back, he would still love and respect me. That means the world to me! I am very grateful to have him in my life.
by Christine on March 20th, 2013
Yesterday I went in for my second test to try to figure out/rule out what was causing my stomach pains back in Jan/Feb. I was originally scheduled for a regular endoscopy, but the day before my bariatric surgeon called and asked if I would consider allowing him to perform a trans nasal endoscopy (TNE) instead. I said sure. The benefits of the the TNE are: no sedation is required (therefore my hubby didn’t have to take time off work to drive me), instant results, and no gagging reflex.
An endoscopy is where they send a camera & light down your throat and into your stomach to investigate your throat/tummy for ulcers, lesions, tears, etc. A typical endoscopy goes through your mouth; a trans nasal endoscopy starts from your nose and uses a slightly smaller tube/wire.
Well, the procedure was pretty awful, overall. Since I was playing guinea pig as my surgeon was learning how to use this new technology, he asked me to write up my experience. Here’s what I had to say:
OW. Holy smokes, that was quite painful and uncomfortable! This shouldn’t come as a shock to Doctor P, as I asked him to stop about seven times because it hurt badly (pain 7 or 8 out of 10). The part that hurt the worst was near the sinuses, before he got to the throat. I know that he used a spray and that lidocene gel to numb me (which I know worked at least partly, because it made my tongue and lips numb), but it didn’t seem to make much difference on that sensitive sinus area at all. I wonder if there is something more effective and powerful that he could use to numb this area in the future!
Once he made it past that area (and, it seems that simply working quickly and not dallying in that area helped), the procedure was mostly fine. I could feel the scope move down my throat and into my stomach, but it didn’t hurt. It was just a little weird and foreign. When he was wiggling the scope around in my stomach, it hurt a little (pain was about 2/10), but more annoying/uncomfortable than anything else.
My suggestion is that when he gets the scope down into the throat and stomach, to slow down the movement a little. The jabbing motion made the pain worse and my anxiety worse. Also, it helped when he held the scope firmly against my nose to prevent it from moving against that awful sinus area. Kind of firmly planting it there helped to reduce the discomfort. (In other words, when he was wiggling the scope at my nose like a spatula scraping against a cake bowl, that was no good.)
When he pulled the scope out, it didn’t hurt. Afterwards I did not feel any pain or discomfort. I did use the procedure as an excuse to have a small milkshake later on. A real treat!
He asked once during the procedure if I wanted to look at the screen to see what the scope was looking at inside my stomach. I DID want to look, but I was too scared to move my head and move that damn scope against the sinuses, so I said no. If there was a screen just over his shoulder on the wall where I could see, that would have been cool, and the distraction would have been welcome during the procedure.
Overall: In the future, I personally would prefer to be sedated and have a regular endoscopy done. I know I don’t have a very high tolerance of pain, but I don’t think my anxiety can handle something like that again. That initial pain wasn’t worth the benefit of having instant results; I’d be much happier to be sedated and wait 4 days for results.
Throughout the entire procedure, after 3 or 4 times stopping him due to pain, I started crying. Sobbing! I even cried after the first painful part was over. And when it was all over, I kept crying. Apparently I’m a big baby when it comes to pain. I was totally like this:
(Although that pic is of me getting my tattoo last year, not yesterday’s doctor’s office! I was equally pathetic though. Ha!)
So…I had some instant results though! Doctor P said everything looked GREAT: no ulcers, the band was in place, no erosion, etc. So he felt pretty confident that it’s the gallbladder giving me problems. “When do you want to have it taken out?” he asked me.
I replied that I’m feeling fine now, and there’s no real sense in having surgery if I feel okay. So when/if the tummy pain comes back, we’ll schedule the gallbladder surgery. He agreed, so that’s the plan. I’m just hanging out and waiting.
The good news is that I appear to have convinced Doctor P NOT to remove the fluid from my band, hooray!! I’m a happy camper at that news.
by Christine on March 12th, 2013
Good morning Revolutionists! I hope you are all doing well!
Things have been good with me, can’t complain overall! I’ve been skiing a lot, making new friends, keeping busy at work. Life is good…keeps getting better and better, really. I am very, VERY blessed!
It’s been two 1/2 months or so since I last posted, and there have been some gastric-band-related developments happening I wanted to share with you.
The last week of January I started experiencing some tummy pains whenever I ate or drank anything. It was sharp, shooting pain right in the middle of my stomach, dead center. This went on for about 4-5 days, and eventually the pain just stopped.
I went to my GP, who said, “Yup, sounds like a gallbladder attack.” Apparently people with the gastric band have a predisposition towards gallbladder attacks, and so I’m inclined to believe with Dr. GP. I had an ultrasound done and some blood lab work; the results showed that I had ONE gallstone. Dr. GP says, “That’s really not enough to be causing this.”
Two weeks went by like normal, and then the pain came back for another 4-5 days. When the pain hit, it would also cause my back to ache like a mo-fo! OW! It was very painful, and I eventually ate as little as possible. Consequently, I lost about 8 pounds.
I then made an appointment with my bariatric surgeon. I said, “Hey Doctor P, what’s the deal with this?” He said he wants to do a range of tests on me to try to figure out what’s going on. Some highlights of our conversation:
- He said that band patients should have a series of gastro-intestinal (GI) tests done every couple of years just to make sure that everything is okay, as a matter of good maintenance. It’s been 4 years for me, so he think it’s time for me anyway. He wants me to have these Upper GI tests done to see if everything is still where it is supposed to be.
- He said that the pain is not likely to be the band eroding through my stomach. This is because, for most band-erosion patients, they have a moment where suddenly the band feels very loose. You loose restriction very suddenly. This is not at all the case for me.
- He said that it sounds like the gallbladder to him, and that ONE gallstone IS enough to cause pains like I am receiving. However, the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are all in the same general area, so it COULD Be any of those things causing it. Also, it could be ulcers in my tummy causing the pain. Many things it could be.
So Monday I went in for my first round of tests: The Upper GI. I remember doing this test as part of pre-op for the surgery (read about it here), and I was NOT looking forward to it. In fact, I was pretty sure that the moment the technician told me to chug that nasty, vile shit, I’d turn Exorcist on them and spew it all over them, the room, etc.
It was a very different experience than the pre-op Upper GI, folks! For starters, they had me standing instead of laying down. They concocted the same disgusting drink, and they allowed me to SIP instead of chug. I think I took 5 baby sips, at which time my gag reflex started to kick in with the smell. They didn’t make me drink any more of the drink….they had enough to see what they needed to see.
Doc called today to say that the tests show that there is NO BAND SLIPPAGE. Hooray! Test one done…two more to go. I’ll keep you updated with those as they go along. I will, of course, let you know what the total outcome is of this tummy pain shenanigan of 2013!
In the meantime, I wanted to talk about something that’s bothering me.
Test #3 to rule out all of the various things that could be wrong is going to be….get this….taking ALL the fluid out of the band, and just waiting to see if the tummy pain comes back.
When Dr. P told me this, I told him he’s welcome to amputate a foot or an arm, but do NOT touch the band. He laughed and said this is a common reaction.
People, I’m flat-out terrified that the minute the band gets loosened up, that ALL my weight is going to start coming back, all at once. I shared my fears at therapy group last night (THAT didn’t go well….in fact there was another former-band patients who said she had the same thing happen with her, and the only option was to REMOVE the band entirely! OMGZ! That’s infinitely worse than just going without band fluid for a specified length of time!)
Why am I scared? Well, partially it’s because the band has worked because of some magic voodoo that I cannot seem to replicate or have any control over. Remember, I did not gain weight initially because I was lazy and overate. I was METICULOUS about my food. I ate insanely well. I measured everything, counted everything, choose every single thing that entered my mouth with extreme care. I exercised 6-7 times a week. I had personal trainers and nutritionists. I tried to loose weight the “healthy” and normal way, but instead I just gained weight. Fatter, fatter. I honestly didn’t have high hopes of the gastric banding surgery would even work, but it did. Because it’s some seriously magic voodoo, I don’t know.
Could I replicate how I eat NOW, if I didn’t have the band? Absolutely, 100%. But I have ZERO confidence that the weight would stay off. I’ve been there, done that. It didn’t work. In other words: I am terrified of gaining weight because experience has taught me that I DO NOT CONTROL MY BODY. I can’t set a plan, and be confident that my body will respond in a normal manner. My body operates outside of my control. This scares the bejeezus out of me.
The second thing I’m scared of is the social-psychological impact of gaining weight. There’s no doubt that *I* have changed as I lost weight. I feel better, look better. I have a lot more confidence in all aspects of my life because of the weight loss. But perhaps more importantly: People HONESTLY treat me differently now. Yes, they might treat me different because of my confidence, but they treat me differently because I’m THINNER.
Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago I was out for drinks at a restaurant with a friend, and three of the friend’s work-colleagues. I had never met these people before. Across the table from us was an overweight woman. These three work colleagues whom I had never met started making fun of her. Mocking her for going out in public. Saying things like she’ll never pick up a date there, never get laid, why even TRY? Making fun of her fat rolls, her ankles, etc. It was infuriating. I finally told them (as they were mocking the lady for “waddling” her way to the door, “MOOOO” they yelled at her) that only 4 years ago, I was the SAME SIZE as that lady. They looked at me in shock, so I pulled out my phone and showed them a before/after picture. They were shocked, and they shut up and looked pretty embarrassed. Good. They SHOULD be embarrassed.
That behavior was abhorrent, but it was a PERFECT example to illustrate my point: People treat fat people differently. Period. For no reason whatsoever.
When I was overweight. I remember walking into our local convenience store in the morning to get a banana and a bottle of water. I’d smile at EVERYONE. People ignored me. Slammed the door in my face. Nobody was outright RUDE to me, but I was invisible. A ghost. These days, when I walk into the convenience store, EVERYONE smiles at me. Men and women alike hold the door open for me. The cashiers strike up meaningless conversations with me.
One last example here. My whole life (overweight), I had gone on about 3 dates in my whole life. And I married the last guy that asked me out. My dating life was extremely limited. Oh, how badly did I want to date?! I wanted a boyfriend SO BAD, for most of my life! I tried being friendly and chatting with strangers. I posted profiles online, at match.com and POF, etc. I had guys take one look at me and say, “Sorry, you’re not my type.” I had a crush on a very good friend of mine for a long time, and when I asked him why he wouldn’t consider dating me, his reply is, “I’m just not attracted to you. I don’t mean to sound mean, but I’m attracted to women much thinner than you.” Now that I’m thinner, guys are coming out of the goddamned woodwork to ask me out. Half of them could care less that I’m married! Every day my heart cries for all the opportunities I missed out on, such as dating and making friends, all because of the way my weight held me back in life.
I’m scared that if I gain weight, that I will return to invisible and despised status by the world around me. I’m scared to hate MYSELF that intensely again. I’m scared to become a wallflower again. I was so DESPERATELY unhappy when I was overweight, suicidally-unhappy I mean….I’m terrified of finding myself in the same state again.
I am sure that I am overreacting. I’m sure everything will work out just fine, that I’ll go through these tests just fine, have my gallbladder taken out, and I’ll go on my merry way. But I also don’t want to live my entire life in constant fear that my weight will overtake me again, and swallow me up. I don’t want to live in fear, and I”m not entirely sure how to get past that.
Hey, I guess this is what therapy is for, right?
Some info about gallbladders and the gastric band:
- All about gallstones and how weight-loss is related to them (good article!).
- Changes in gallbladder motility and gallstone formation following laparoscopic gastric banding for morbid obestity.
- Gallstone formation after weight loss following gastric banding in morbidly obese Dutch patients.