Lonely Lab Rat

I mentioned that my University has a psychology lab that’s running a bariatric study and I was joining. That first meeting was yesterday and let’s just say that it was a little… uhhh… lonely. And weird. Shall I enumerate the weirdness?

  1. This “group” being studied consists of me and 1 other person. Just one!
  2. I expected questionnaires and tests and experiments. Instead, it’s “group” (two people!) talk therapy. So it’s me, Subject #2, and our two therapists. 2 researchers, 2 subjects. Weird.
  3. When I signed in, the receptionist asked for my payment. Payment? To participate in a research study? I thought I was doing you the favor here? Oh well. $5 seems reasonable for the attention of two psychologists for 90 minutes, right?
  4. The “lab” was strange. A room full of computers, couches, and a mini-kitchen. I know it’s about eating, health, and what-not, but the little play kitchen was odd. Should I bring plastic food next time?
  5. This is a 6-week study. But we may have another person join next week and a fourth person join in two weeks. So I guess it’s a come-when-you-can thing? I don’t understand how that works in terms of research information (or group therapy dynamics for that matter), but whatever.

So considering the strangeness, why am I doing this? The answer is simple: because I like taking 90 minutes a week to be mindful of my body, my weight loss, my journey, and all the changes I’ve been through. It’s not what I expected, but it’s a nice short-term commitment and it helps me maintain focus on my health. It can’t hurt. Plus it’s all for science. Study me, I’m yours!

All that said, can I just tell you how much I don’t jive with subject #2? Here’s why:

  • Lady’s my grandma’s age. There’s no problem there, except that we are really, really different in terms of our lifestyles, influences, etc. For example, she talked about the challenges of growing up in the meat-and-potatoes post-depression food paradigm. The Great Depression? Is relevant to you? Holy crap, that was ages ago!
  • We have different surgeons. Hers is odd. He calls gastric bypass “surgical anorexia” as if that’s a good thing. My surgeon, on the other hand, sees this as a way to eat normally. Not like a bird.
  • Lady sees this as a cure for life, which I think is DANGEROUS. She said “It’s like they did a lobotomy! I just don’t want bad things any more. I’m cured!” Whoa. She also said, “I know I’ll never be fat again!” Whoa. Big, red, flashing lights. Have you not read about post-op weight gain?! I see this all as very non-curative. I’m a work in progress. Always will be.
  • Related to the previous point, chica’s only FOUR months out. It’s all daisies and roses for her right now. Of course she doesn’t want ice cream. Give it time.
  • She introduced herself first and talked about her highest weight of 280, and that she was huge and miserable. I bust out with my 364 and she looked like she might pass out.

She’s sweet. I like her fine. But I don’t think we’re on the same page. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll just be a really good contrast for the researchers. Time will tell! In the meantime, my assignment for next week is to imagine what it would feel like to be more open with people about my surgery. To just tell people how much I’ve lost and how I’ve done it. We all know I’m weird about sharing this info in my day-to-day life, so I have to visualize myself being more open about it.

It would be uncomfortable.


Easier than worrying about what people think.

Most of all, I think being more open about it would give me opportunities to help people or share what I’ve learned, even if it is just my own situated knowledge. I do want to be an advocate for health, no matter what that looks like for each individual person (WLS or not, “normal” weight or not, fat activism or not). It’s hard to be an advocate for health when I’m hiding what I’ve done (or skirting around it, or keeping it private, or whatever). I want to take an activist’s stance, but I have to put my story–my whole story–out there to do it.


4 Responses

  1. Very odd.

    I have called RNY surgical anorexia – it’s weird to hear a doc say that – although I guarantee DR’s speak much differently away from patients ears.

  2. Ummm… I don’t think I could relate to grandma either…

    I think it is a great exercise to make you think about putting your story out there – funny because if I were the third subject… it wouldn’t be relevant because I’ve pretty much put out a billboard on it everywhere I’ve been. I do that with everything – I don’t know why – I guess because I grew up in a world with a lot of secrets and it drove me crazy.

  3. Sounds like an interesting group they have going! Hopefully more people will get involved, and I agree, it’s great to focus that time on yourself, even if the group doesn’t grow. And wow, the other group member has NO IDEA what she’s in for. It’s kind of sad.. I miss the honeymoon period, and wish I had known then what I know now, but I never wore those rose colored glasses! LOL
    I’ve been pretty open with my surgery to others, and I think it’s very helpful, both to others, and myself! šŸ™‚

  4. and I totally think you will do it.

    Grandma is still very much in her post-op happy place, but I can’t believe that the same surgeon who called it “surgical anorexia” did not correct her illusions about never getting fat again. Just…Wow. Seriously? Sounds like she may learn a few things from you!

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