Coming Out: Emails with dad

4/27, 1:44 pm. From dad to Me.

Hi Meggs. How has your week been. Everyting ok? (Jamaican accent..)

4/27, 2:49 pm. Me to dad.

Yep, ev’ry-ting’s goood. : )

I assume mom told you I’m hoping to have gastric bypass surgery? Just wanted to keep you guys in the loop! You know me, always working on some big project!

meggs

4/27, 3:27 pm. Dad to me:

Well, mom did say you had brought it up but didn’t exactly put it to me as “hoping to have gastric bypass surgery.” Please, consider the long term affects (I know you are) and give some other alternatives a good chance…?

I love you just the way you are of course, and will, no matter what. I will also support whatever decision you make. This is the first I have heard of you thinking this way and it sounds to me that its all of a sudden. It just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Can we talk more about it some time?

Love you,

Dad Daddy

Dang it, I don’t want to sign off as Dad. I want to say Love, Daddy. So there…

4/27, 4:04 pm. Me to dad.

DadDY,

I really only mentioned it to mom because I felt bad intentionally NOT telling you guys, but I don’t really want to talk about it much. It’s an emotional issue and you make me cry (sorry!), but I’m talking my self out with all the medical professionals for sure! I am doing 6 months of diet & exercise with my doctor & a nutritionist first, and that started a couple weeks ago. I will probably see a counselor soon too to deal with the emotional part.

The surgery definitely has the potential for long-term complications, and I’d have to take supplements for the REST OF MY LIFE. I know how serious that is.

BUT…

It’s also serious to not do something productive. It doesn’t help my health to lose SOME weight and then battle up and down the scales forever. I need help to lose a substantial amount of weight and then kind of start over with diet and exercise. That’s how I see it. I don’t think that in my whole life I’ve ever had healthy eating habits–I’ve either been gaining weight really fast or losing weight really fast, never just maintaining a reasonable weight. When I get to a healthy weight I’ll have to learn how to do that for the first time.

So, I appreciate that you are willing to talk about it with me, but I just kind of want to get r’ done and not talk it to death. I don’t plan to tell anyone else until I know for sure what’s going to happen (insurance and all), so I really really hope mom can keep her trap shut. : ) I just felt really weird withholding information! If I had a child, I’d want to know about this.

On being sudden… I first checked into insurance for this 3 years ago. I’ve been thinking it out and researching ever since. Certain catalysts have prompted me to go for it now:
1) Heidi had a similar surgery and she’s doing awesome
2) My mom is giving herself shots. I don’t want to go there.
3) If Stephanie can spend money on boobs, I damn well ought to be willing to spend money on what’s medically necessary
4) My feet hurt. My back hurts.
5) I see pictures of myself and I can’t even hardly believe that’s me… I still feel like I look great! I guess my self-image is a little too positive!

Ok, so that’s about it. For now, I’ll just be changing my diet via the nutritionist and checking in with the doctor every 4 weeks. Nothing’s going to change for another 6 months or so (well, except some pounds gone, hopefully).

Love ya,
Meggs

4/27, 5:07 pm. Final email, dad to me:

OK, OK, but now I am crying…

I love you!

I hope you understand some of my comments / thoughts. I still have this feeling of (trumpets blowing) dat ta da da…dad’s here to fix things. I mean damn it, that’s what I am supposed to do and if I can’t make things all better then what the hell good am I anyway?

Any way, I digress. You are a beautiful, smart, loving, gentle, full of life person and I am very proud of you. So, please don’t forget that.

OK, I’ll stop for now. Got to go.

Love DADDY

___

I’m not sure that conversation could of have gone any better. I appreciate my dad’s support and his willingness to talk about it (not easy for him). I feel better now that it’s out in the open.

Coming Out

I told my parents. Writing my last entry helped me identify some of the reasons I didn’t want to tell them before. 1) Shame, 2) judgement, 3) uncertainty on how to balance the flow of information moving forward. So I spoke to my mom via telephone, and just said, “hey, there’s something I want to let you know about. I wanted to keep it to myself, but I’ve started feeling like I was being deceptive, so I just have to let you know” and I told her. I also told her that I don’t plan on keeping her posted on every detail or making a big deal out of it, but that I wanted to let her know. Mom was supportive, but somehow insulting at the same time (a specialty of hers!). She applauded me for “facing the giant” and said I need to try to eat right and exercise first and that she has been concerned, etc. She encouraged me to talk to others who have had the surgery (duh.) and told me that my dad has been very concerned and mentions it often, but didn’t want to say anything to me because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He made the right choice! I know beyond any doubt that my mom loves me. But her tone was somehow conciliatory in an insulting way. She talked about me facing “my giant” and my health and my weight and my habits, all without acknowledging in any way that she is just as unhealthy too, that she fights this same “giant,” that she knows how I feel, nothing. I could have been talking to a string bean on the other end of the line! As a fat person, I know that the tendency is to distance oneself from other overweight people–like if I’m not as big as someone, I don’t have to relate to their issue because mine’s different and it’s not as serious. I don’t know. It was weird. BUT! Mom did initiate the discussion about keeping it quiet and said, “I will respect your privacy and won’t mention it to anyone.” I don’t believe her, but at least she knows what I want. I also explained to mom that I was sorry to not talk about it in person, but that she could tell dad as I was sure that would be fine. So we ended the conversation.

A couple of days later, I told Rachel that I had informed mom and she said, “I know. She mentioned it. I figured you must have told her.” So she’s already talking, but I can hold out hope that it was just to Rachel!

I did follow up with my dad via email. I’ll post those for posterity next.

Telling the Family

I don’t know why, exactly, but I’m having the hardest time deciding when and how to talk to my parents about this.

Lee knows everything and he is my sounding board. He hates the idea of surgery, but he knows that I want and need this and he’s incredibly supportive.

My sister knows because I thought that I had to FAIL at the 6-month weight loss in order to be approved by insurance, and I felt a responsibility to tell her I’d definitely still be huge at her wedding in December. In which I am her matron of honor. So finding a dress should be fun….

Heidi H. knows because we’ve discussed her journey after surgery.

Of course my doctors and nutritionist know.

Julie at work knows. When people think you’re deathly ill because of all the doctor’s appointments and they offer their prayers and support, it feels wrong to not inform them that this is, in fact, just elective stuff and there’s a larger plan at work. So I told her.

I haven’t told my parents, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m actively concealing the whole thing. I have my reasons for not wanting them to know. As I write, however, I realize that I’m really only talking about my mom. I could tell my dad now with no qualms. So let me be clear: I have my reasons for not wanting my mom to know.

First, my mom is a bona fide blabbermouth. She’s trying to do better, she really is. But. She tells me things she shouldn’t all the time, and this isn’t something that I want broadcast. Before surgery, I plan to tell my coworkers and extended family so that they know what to expect in my recovery, but I don’t want my mom’s entire circle of friends drawing conclusions and judging me while I wait for approval. Maybe I could tell her and she’d actually keep it to herself. Maybe she’d tell all her friends and they wouldn’t think anything of it. But I consider my medical history confidential, and I’m just not ready to share my intentions with the world. Still, my mom deserves to know what’s going on, especially since complications like sleep apnea are arising.

Second, I’m constantly working on some big project and keeping everyone updated. Buying a house. Applying to a PhD program. Starting a business. My mental and conversational energies are always directed at some big project. I don’t want them to have to ride this roller coaster with me, especially since I could be denied for insurance coverage.

Third, my mom will know that I haven’t done everything humanly possible to lose weight on my own first. She knows what I eat and how much I eat and that I don’t exercise. She will think that I should wait and try that first. She has been dieting and exercising for about three years now, and she’s still lingering at a size 24. And that’s precisely why I want to do this–I could put out all that effort, but without the surgery I’ll never be able to actually get to an ideal weight. And that’s what I want. Also, mom will freak about having to take supplements forever.

Fourth, I’m just not comfortable talking about my weight with my mom. She makes comments like, “well, you should lose weight before you get pregnant” which is a duh! statement. Talking to her about weight always puts me on the defensive, and I don’t like feeling that way. I’d rather my parents just think I’m 100% perfect than acknowledge that I don’t look or feel my best.

I know I need to tell my mom (and dad). I just don’t know how. How do you start a conversation like this? How can I make her understand the privacy I need during this time (i.e., no mass emails about my progress!!). How do I balance the “I am keeping this to myself and telling them nothing” and the “I will update them on every single change” approach? Monthly updates? My sister knows and when I see her in person, sometimes I give an update. I don’t know if I could keep it on an even keel like that with my parents. I just don’t know how to manage this relationally.

Timeline

Since my nutritionist appointment was rescheduled and I have follow-ups toward the end of May, I’m not sure exactly when my 6-month period begins: on April 13th when I saw Dr. R? On April 23rd when I saw the nutritionist? I’m leaning toward the 23rd date to be safe. October 23rd, I hope to file for insurance approval. I want to start posting monthly updates with progress in pounds and inches, but I need to buy a fabric tap measure. That stiff one in Lee’s toolbox just isn’t doing the trick!

All About the Benjamins

I keep thinking: there must be some way to capitalize on my journey as a WLS patient. Write a book, publish a cookbook, commit to a weblog. This is something I’d like to explore further. If others can use my experience as a resource and I can benefit financially, I ought to make it a project. I mean damn, the diet industry sure does it!

Ethics and WLS

I need to take some time to write myself through this later, but I think there ought to be some consideration regarding the ethics of WLS. How is it possible that so many of us are stapling our stomachs to make us eat less and re-routing our intestines to absorb less of the food we eat? Isn’t that wrong in a world where people are starving? Isn’t there an ethical responsibility to distribute food based on need rather than industry? How sick is it that I’m able to engorge myself to the point of morbid obesity while children starve to death? Don’t I have an ethical responsibility to consume only what I need? If so, does this surgery help me meet that responsibility? Or perhaps I don’t owe anything to them, but I owe my health to my future children and to my husband. Regardless of what this surgery says about inequality in the world, don’t I OWE my family an active, engaged, healthy wife and mom?

WLS Contacts

I want to make it a point to find people in my life who’ve had bariatric surgery and talk to them about their procedures and results. I want to catalog their names so I don’t forget to talk with them about my questions and concerns. Here’s who I know:

  • Heidi. Had lapband w/ Dr. Kim. Looks healthy, hasn’t lost all the extra weight.
  • Lori (Jean’s daughter). Actually had bypass, and I think she’s had some complications. Surgery was successful, but she has that “lost a ton of weight” look.
  •  Charlene R. Lost a lot, but gained a lot back. Don’t know which surgery she had.