Big Medicine on TLC

I ran through a gamut of emotions watching last night’s Big Medicine on TLC. I think they did a good job highlighting different stages of the journey and different levels of need. Of course, I related most to Penelope, as we both started at around 360. I want to know more about her emotional journey, more about how she’s struggling with food, etc. I feel like we’re getting an extremely glossed-over treatment of each person’s surgery and recovery (duh). I couldn’t relate to the other two patients because I’m not in a similar condition, though I can definitely sympathize.

There has been a lot of discussion on the message boards about the doctors bickering and whether or not that is appropriate in the operating room. I have to say, it didn’t both me one bit. To have TWO renowned surgeons on hand during my procedure? To know they are different, but equally excellent? Not a problem! Doctors are people too, and believe me–if my mom and I were surgeons, we’d be bitching at each other through every procedure too.

One thing really did bother me, though, and that’s the older doctor’s comments to the young patient. He spoke of her being beautiful and having an 18-year-old’s body and looking great and wow! what a transformation… gag me. I’m sorry, but this is the part I hate most about weight issues.

A little story: at age 15, I weighed about 200 pounds. I lost 70 of those pounds through an intensive exercise program (coupled with barely eating). I lost a lot of weight (too much, because at 129 I looked and felt like a sack of bones), and compliments came pouring in. And to be honest, I hated it. I hated the attention, I hated everyone thinking it was acceptable to comment on my body. It would have been inappropriate to tell me I was ugly and fat before, and I felt it was equally inappropriate for mere acquaintances to tell me how awesome I looked after losing weight. It made me angry that so many people preferred my unhealthy lower weight.

And so, when I hear the older doctor get all “rrrraw, you look fantaaastic” to the poor little girl, it kinda makes me sick.

I’m not sure that I’m ready to open myself up to the “here is how I feel about the way your body looks” onslaught of comments again. F ’em. It’s not for them.

One other issue surfaced while watching Big Medicine. I realized that I hadn’t spoken with my husband clearly enough on the skin issue. When he saw the excess skin, he just about fell out of his chair. He was thoroughly grossed out. He said, “That’s nasty. Are YOU going to look like that?????” And I said, “probably. But I can always have plastic surgery.” He said, “GOOD. I don’t care how much it costs. Use student loans. I’ll get a second job.”

Gee, thanks honey!

As we were falling asleep in bed later last night, he asked about the skin again. He said, “you have really nice skin. I don’t think you’ll have that problem. I think your skin will stay nice and firm.” I said, “honey, I have stretch marks everywhere. My skin has been stretched out for so long, it’s not going to bounce back into shape. I think I’ll need surgery on my arms, boobs, and belly.” I then demonstrated how much of my fat arms will turn into batwings. (this must be true love.) Lee still thinks my body will naturally snap back into place. I just ended with “well, let’s see how I look when I’ve lost the weight.” He said, “ok, but if you look like that girl, I don’t mind helping you save for plastic surgery.”

So thank you, Big Medicine, for helping us get a jump on the plastic surgery fund.


On deciding

Melting Mama raised some powerful issues yesterday. I want to be careful about quoting her because the entry is complex and should be taken as a whole, but a few points in particular stand out. She writes,

I am against WLS for healthy kids like myself.

If you are not dying from your morbid obesity (I was far far from it. I had zero co-morbidities of obesity.) don’t butcher your anatomy. It is too likely to cause long-term problems (the studies are just now surfacing because of the sheer numbers of people turning up years later, sick), and if you were healthy to BEGIN with (like me) the only real positive is the fact that we’ll fit in regular size coffins.

Wow. Point taken. So as a reader, I have to ask, “am I a healthy kid too?” MM was my age at surgery, and she has some pretty serious complications, so is she a part of that peer group I should be looking to?

Well, that’s not an easy answer.

If 280-320 is the range for her peer group, then I’m not in it. 30 days ago I weighed 364. However, I know that I could reduce my weight to 320 fairly easily and probably even keep it off. She had zero cormorbidities. What are mine?

Well, sleep apnea is a given. I do have that. But I could probably lose enough weight on my own (around that 280 window) in order to significantly reduce or eliminate that issue. It wasn’t a problem until recently when I climbed into the mid-300’s. So discounting that as a solvable issue, what’s left?

My blood pressure is slightly high, but I don’t have hypertension. My glucose is slightly high, but I’m not diabetic.

But there are some personal “co-life-sucks'” I associate with my condition. My feet hurt. My back is absolutely killing me (and I need to mention that to my Dr. next month). I get winded too easily. I have no endurance. I can’t enjoy a leisurely walk. If I got pregnant (assuming I could) at this weight (or 320 or 280), I would risk my own health and my baby’s. I could not be the kind of mom I want to be at this weight. My husband deserves a more enthusiastic, self-confident sex partner. My husband deserves a workout buddy and companion for all his outdoor activities.

None of that can be measured in absolutes. It’s all quality of life. So, even after reading Melting Mama’s thoughts (which, I realize, are not intended to speak to my particular situation), would I trade the possibility of osteopenia and daily supplements and the scary reality of mild neurological conditions and flabby skin for a life of relative normalcy? Yes. For me, for my back, for my feet. For my husband. For my not-yet-born kids.

Obsessive, much?

Last night while driving to a movie, my husband turned to me and said, “You know how I always talk about cars? That’s how much you’re talking about all of this doctor stuff.”

And then he proceeded to talk about cars the rest of the evening. Point taken.

1 month down, 5 to go!

After Thursday’s visit with the nutritionist, I met Friday morning with my primary doctor. (Who still, by the way,  has not completed the paperwork for my CPAP machine. Grrr.)

Anyhow, we had a lot to cover. He went over my labs and echocardiogram first. The results were surprisingly positive. I almost didn’t believe him, but my cholesterol is only 147, which is 33 points lower than it was at age 13! How this is possible, I have no idea. But he was pleased and so was I! There were no problems at all presented in my blood work and my heart echo was “excellent.” It did pick up a couple of minor valve abnormalities, but the Dr said it’s nothing to think twice about.

My blood pressure yesterday was 136/90 again, however, and Dr. Richter wants me to begin taking it myself twice a month and recording the results. If it doesn’t go down, we may begin treating it with medicine. We went over my blood glucose levels again, which were also slightly high, and Dr. Richter said that he thinks my body was “becoming toxic” and that I am pursuing this at “exactly the right time.” I knew my health was failing. I could feel it.

Dr. Richter does disagree somewhat with my nutritionist’s eating plan, however. While the nutritionist allows for 5-7 grains each day, he wants me to cut those in half and never go beyond 1500 calories per day. He sees this as a diet, whereas the nutritionist sees this more as training me for balanced eating. I’m not sure where I stand on that, but I’m going to try and reduce some grains and see what happens.

So recap of everything that has happened since April 13th when I decided to get my ass in gear on pursuing WLS: I’ve had about 4 primary doctor visits, 1 ER visit, 2 nutritionist visits, 2 polysomnograms, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and I’ve lost (at least according to this morning’s numbers) 13 pounds. Things are moving along!

Workin’ the system

Good news: I will likely have the opportunity to be interviewed for My Dream Job. I don’t talk much about work here, but I can sum up my current conundrum like this: love the flexibility, love most of the team, really do enjoy most of the work, but I’m bored as hell, hate my boss, and need more money.

Ok then. So this other job is exactly (and I do mean PRECISELY) what I have been looking for. Salary is right.  Job duties are awesome. Support staff in abundance. Meaningful. Interesting.

But how in the world can I find out if their insurance policy covers gastric bypass???  If it gets to the point of negotiation, I suppose I can mention that I have a specific procedure scheduled that is not covered by all insurance policies and that I need to get clarification on that before accepting an offer.

And how bad would it suck if I had to turn the job down due to no insurance coverage? These are the moments where I have to remind myself that God is bigger than these questions and if this is meant to be, it will all fall perfectly into place.

But still.

Nutritionist visit #2

When I first visited the nutritionist 1 month ago, I weighed 364 pounds. This morning the scale read 351. The goal was to get below 350, but what the heck. It has been a productive month!

The meeting was uneventful, but I did learn that I’ve been tracking my foods somewhat incorrectly. I was counting cheese as a dairy, but I should have been counting it as a protein. And now I know. Follow up appointment will be June 21st and the goal is: 340. Realistically, I bet I’ll end up at around 345, but I’ll still shoot for 340. I’ve got a bridesmaids dress to fit into!


My second polysomnogram was May 13th. I was told that my CPAP machine would arrive within 7-10 days. Today is day 10 and I haven’t heard a peep from either the sleep center or my primary. Hellloooooo? I’m tired! I’m cranky! I NEED SLEEP!

No answer at the sleep center. No answer at the doctor’s office. GRRRR….

Update: I’m an ass. My primary doctor was in a serious car accident, needed surgery, and hasn’t yet caught up on processing paperwork. I feel like a shining example of patience and compassion.