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Weight Loss Surgery Angst" OR "Read at Your Own Risk"

Friday, July 02, 2010

Let me first start off saying that what has spurred me into thinking about weight loss surgery as even a POSSIBILITY for me is that I have a GYN appointment tomorrow to discuss fertility issues.

In the past I have had fleeting thoughts of weight loss surgery but then quickly tossed them because I have felt that (for myself) if I can't do it without surgery than I don't think that I can keep the weight off once I lose it and I will be back in the same position a couple of years after surgery as I was before.

I am now 35 and thinking about starting a family with my partner. Because of our situation (obviously can't just try to get pregnant by stopping birth control) this requires some extra thought. I made the appointment 2 or 3 months ago and then about a week ago started seriously thinking about what will happen at the appointment. I also heard on TV somewhere about a week ago that women should wait approximately 18 months after weight loss surgery (don't know if this is all weight loss surgeries, or a specific one) to get pregnant. That got me thinking that perhaps I need to start considering weight loss surgery.

I do want to start a family. I know that it would be horribly unhealthy for both my child and I to get pregnant at the weight that I'm at right now. But I also know that time is ticking quickly away and I'm approaching 40. I know that women have children after 40, but in my head it's kind of a deadline.

I guess in short what I'm saying is that I kind of think now that it's more of a possibility than I ever considered. I feel like some people are pushed too hard into it and I work in the medical field and know that all or nearly all doctors are going to recommend weight loss surgery for those who are obese and especially those who are morbidly obese.

Side effects concern me. The possibility of gaining the weight back concerns me. Doing nothing and staying the same weight concerns me. Having a stomach the size of a shot glass concerns me.

I eat because of emotional issues. I know this. I overeat well past the point of being full. Food is comfort to me and it is something that I look forward to. I have ALWAYS felt this. I can remember being 4 or 5 years old and feeling this way. How can this possibly change with a physical surgery to reduce the size of my stomach? The only way I can see is that it will force me to confront and change my behavior and attitude about food. If this is the case then why in the world can't I do the emotional work WITHOUT having surgery... and more importantly HOW can I do this without having the surgery.

I don't want my child to grow up with the same issues about food that I have if I can help it at all. I have read that those people who have weight loss surgery before getting pregnant have babies in the normal weight range who are more likely not to have weight issues as they age. Am I dooming my child to an obese life if I get pregnant while I am obese?

The longer that I try to lose the weight on my own costs me time that I could be having and recovering from weight loss surgery and getting pregnant. If I'm going to have it I need to start the process very soon to be able to think about getting pregnant after and still come in under the 40 year old mark.

The thing is that I know that physically I can do this without the surgery. One year ago (May '09 - Oct '09) I lost 54 lbs. Then I stalled. While I haven't gained any of that weight back I haven't lost any more either. It's no secret. I don't even feel like I can call it a plateau either because I KNOW why I haven't been losing the weight. The amount of exercise that I was doing plummeted and the amount of calories that I was consuming skyrocketed. That equals bad weight loss math. I lost very steadily and consistently for those first few months. My body cooperates very well when I am doing the things that I know that I should.

The last few months I just have not been able to get that level of motivation that I had at first again. I just don't know if I can get back to that place mentally again. I just don't know how to recapture that again.

I will be doing some research on weight loss surgery tonight. When I go in for my apt I will ask my Dr all of my questions and perhaps this will help to clear things up for me. I certainly hope that I don't walk out of there LESS clear on what decision to make. I will ask about risks of obesity during pregnancy for both the baby and for myself. Most importantly I will be asking about my ticking biological clock vs. my weight loss clock.

Thanks for listening everyone and I really welcome all of your input!!

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WOW!! I sure didn't know that there were so many baby and pregnancy related emoticons!
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  • TIN_LIZZY
    This is such a thorny and emotional issue.

    The baby issue really complicates things, doesn't it? If you go for this surgery, it will be a couple more years until you can get pregnant. I don't know anyone who's had this procedure then gone on to have children, but there must be some. I'd definitely want to do research on that if I were you. Ask your Ob/Gyn, search on line, look in medical libraries.

    At your age, time is critical. I didn't get engaged until I was 38, and my gynecologist at the time urged me not to wait for the wedding but to get pregnant immediately if I wanted kids. Of course, the biggest concern is for the baby, especially with birth defects, but it's harder on the mother at that age. My sweetie and I chose not to have kids, so we never had to deal with that issue.

    I will say that my sister-in-law was as heavy as you when she had her two babies, and everything went fine. She felt that it helped a lot to have shopped around for her obstetrician. Obstetricians are just like everyone else -- some are fat bigots, some are misinformed. It's important to find an obstetrician who feels comfortable working with heavy women.

    Personally, I don't think I could ever have weight loss surgery unless I had some kind of severe health condition. I think it's gross and scary. But I have to admit, in some cases it is life-saving and in some other cases, it really seems to be the solution for people who have been struggling with their weight all their lives.

    My sister-in-law did eventually have the procedure, and it has really helped her tremendously. However, it put a huge rift between her and the rest of her family (her husband and children didn't want her to have the procedure and felt she ignored their concerns). How does your sweetie feel about this? Were you heavy when you two got together? Might she have subconscious concerns about losing you or having to deal with her own weight? It sounds like you have an eating disorder. (I do, too.) Is it possible your sweetie has one also? Are you codependent together? Might she be afraid of you dying or having a stroke during surgery? (It happens a lot.)

    Good programs will require the patient to go through counseling before the surgery, but I strongly believe couples should go through counseling beforehand, too.

    Most programs require patients to lose a certain amount of weight before they'll agree to surgery. With my sister-in-law it was over 50 pounds. That took quite a while, by the way. And I couldn't help feeling that if she could lose fifty, she could lose more. But then, look who's talking! I'm in the same boat as you -- I lost a good chunk and now feel stuck.

    My sister-in-law did a lot of research and emphasized that choosing a program that has tons of experience (ouch -- maybe "tons" is a poor choice of words!) and has a really good track record is vital. The rate of death and complications varies tremendously depending on who does the surgery.

    Remember, this is a very dangerous procedure. At the time my sister-in-law had hers, it was thought that 1 in 200 patients died from this surgery. Just after she'd had hers, it turned out those statistics were wrong -- it was actually 1 in 100! Now it's a couple of years later, so perhaps the death rate has gone done, but it's still quite scary.

    I know one woman who almost died after the surgery. She got through the procedure without incident, but starting having problems not long afterwards. She had been started taking the required nutritional supplements before the surgery with no trouble, but shortly post-surgery developed a severe allergy to them. If she took them, she risked death due to allergic reaction. If she didn't take them, death by malnutrition. The last I heard, they were still trying to find of solution. She was hospitalized on the verge of death several times within her first six months after surgery.

    I also will never forget one thing that happened while my sister-in-law was waiting for her surgery. I came into the faculty lounge at an odd time, just to get a cup of water. A man was crying in there. I asked what was wrong. He said he just got word his sister had died on the operating table during a gastric bypass. That made the statistics very real to me, as you can imagine.

    Still, my sister-on-law is happy with her bypass. It cured her diabetes immediately, reduced her sleep apnea, and helped her poor arthritic knees a lot. It also gave her thin, lifeless hair and loads of loose skin. (Oh, by the way -- you may also end up having additional surgeries to deal with the skin, so take that into consideration.) She hasn't had any problems with dumping, but we've noticed that she's paying less and less attention to the eating rules. (Are you prepared never to eat a grain of rice again in your life?)

    One member of our church just recently had weight loss surgery, and he's so happy! To do the best of my knowledge, he hasn't had any problems at all. He's several months post-surgery and is very glad he had it.

    So, I've tried to communicate some of what I know about this surgery. I already told you I'm biased. But I am honest enough to say that it does seem to work for some people, and I realize that each person has to decide what's right for them.

    Additional resources you might consider include online chat rooms and message boards on the subject, plus talking live to people who've undergone the surgery. Try to find some who are happy and some who are not. When you get materials from bariatric surgery clinics, look for a balanced presentation. If they only talk about the benefits, be wary.

    Good luck! I'll be holding you in my thoughts and in my heart.
    3693 days ago
  • ELSIE_BEE
    Do what's best for YOU.

    Do your research and whatever you decide, go for it 100% and never, EVER second guess yourself after you've made your decision.

    You have a good head on your shoulders and I'm confident that you will make the right personal decision.
    3693 days ago
  • DIFROMWYOMING
    I know this is a hard and very personal decision. And I know that you are really working on trying to come up with the right decision for you.
    I have always been fat. I was probably 400 when I had my first child, and well into the 350's with the others. I had to have c sections and it was difficult. I remember my Dr. telling me it was like trying to sew butter together because of the fat. But I did recover and I have my kids. 2 of the 3 of them are overweight. Not probably as much as I was at their age, but still overweight. I am not sure if it is just genetics or bad eating habits. I wasn't eating healthy when I raised them and they learned THAT from me. It breaks my heart now, but I can only go forward and hope they will see how much changing my lifestyle has helped me. One of them has already started seeing that.
    No one wants their child to suffer from obesity. Not from a health perspective but certainly not from a social one, as we all know what that is like.
    I KNOW you can do this. The motivation IS there. Whatever you decide, I"m with you 100%. I'll start learning how to knit baby booties! emoticon
    3694 days ago
  • FOXIER
    There are so many issues around weight loss surgery, including different types - here in the UK you can have a gastric bypass, lapband or stomach balloon. Having surgery of any kind to help weight loss should never be seen as the easy option. I have had a lapband fitted and while it does help, I still have to do the work. It isn't a quick fix solution. I can still eat foods over and above what I should, so I have had to learn to work with the band making it a tool to help and not a tool I can cheat.

    I won't lose weight if I continue to slide food into it, such as ice cream or chocolate, but I will lose weight if I eat healthily as those foods work with the band.

    And while I agree with JGRIFF2712 that a healthy lifestyle is best, I have issues around eating which I have had all my life. The band is helping me to lose the weight and while that's happening I can explore the issues surrounding my whole emotional tie with food.

    Whatever you decide to do, the very best of luck.

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    3694 days ago
  • JGRIFF148
    emoticon I did it without, my daughter had it done and its been about 5 years and she has gained a lot back, I think a good healthy lifestyle is best. good luck
    3694 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/2/2010 1:41:23 AM
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