And the Click girls!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
And the Click girls!
Friday, November 7, 2008
A day that will live in infamy…. well for me anyway…as it applies to my weight loss surgery life.
What happened you may ask?
Well, even if you didn’t ask, you know I’m going to tell you.
I was in Los Angeles, California attending the ten year anniversary event for ObesityHelp.com and I received the news the Weight Loss Surgery Channel had officially launched. The secret is out!
A few months ago I was contacted by Craig Thompson and his wife Leslie regarding a new site they created for us...the weight loss surgery masses. How awesome that I would be priviledged enough to talk to WLS post-ops on camera about their weight loss surgery journeys. Craig is a seasoned post-op veteran himself and he is certainly the only person I know who is eleven years out. (He had weight loss surgery 11 years ago)
After understanding Craig and Leslie's vision we went straight to work finding WLS post-ops that had stories to share. To say the experience was awesome would be the understatement of the century. Craig has provided a platform for the ultimate resource for WLS success education....learning from the journeys of others that have traveled this road before you.
I am a firm believer that if you want to learn how to succeed at anything, you should seek out those who have gone before you and ask them how. This belief has served me well and I hope you will join me and my guests talking about their stories on Weight Loss Surgery Journeys.
To see this labor of love....
Weight Loss Surgery Journeys on the Weight Loss Surgery Channel. The first show is with my dear friend Debra Flores....an incredible woman who had a tough time with a VBG but got it all straightened out with revision surgery.
A special thanks to Craig and Leslie Thompson for inviting me to be part of their vision.
Oh, and make sure to check out all the programs on the site. Much more to follow on this!
p.s.On the next post I promise to share my experiences and pictures from the Obesity Help Los Angeles ten year anniversary event!
Monday, October 13, 2008
When I WAS obese....
When I was OBESE....
I was a photographer, musician and artist.
No one saw the photographer, musician or artist.
They saw obesity.
I read Possibility Girl on the internet. I thought it was thought provoking so I wanted to share it.
Everyone thinks Possibility Girl is possibly a genius. Any day now, they continually agree, Possibility Girl will make it big. Become a star. ‘You won’t forget us when you're famous, will you?’ they always say, as Possibility Girl begins yet another amazing project.
The only person, who doesn’t believe in Possibility Girl's possible genius, is Possibility Girl herself. She thinks they're being too kind. She isn’t gifted at all. She’s a fake genius, bluffing her way through life. She is convinced the moment she tries to actually achieve her full potential, she will fail, fall flat on her face, and the people that once admired her from afar, will admire her no more. And so Possibility Girl never actually achieves anything. She just sits on the edge of her possible glory and basks in the adulation of her potential.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The truth is that it is all relative and it is only when you put it in perspective that you realize you are not really busy at all. Busy is when you are making time to get chemo....or fighting to return to some type of normal life, living in Galveston when your home has been blown away.
In the midst of this flurry of activity I had made myself a reminder to go to the Plano Balloon Festival. It had been 4 years since I had been and was anxious to take my camera. Kevin didn't want any part of those crowds and I didn't blame him so I went all by myself. As I was sitting in this incredibly dense crowd on a hillside, there was a "lit" couple next to me but they were having a great time. Slightly in front of me was another couple in their mid 30's I suspect and she was obviously mad because he looked my way. My typical reaction was as usual a feeling of guilt and I felt sorry for them.
Many years ago, I was that woman so I know what she was feeling. When you are no longer confident about yourself or your significant other, any women in the immediate area is no good.
I realized that I was playing those old tapes...finding a way to feel badly for my existence. Then, just like in the movies, it happened. Suddenly I was all alone and even with thousands of people around, I was the only one there.
Finally I got it...I am not responsible for anyone's feelings except my own. I have no control over anyone except myself. FREEDOM!
The skydiver guys started coming in right over my head. It was awesome.
I got a chance to do some things that I haven't had a chance to do in a while and that was to people watch.
Below is the photograph of a woman in the crowd.
She was absolutely beautiful and I wanted to make something from this photograph and I realized that it is truly one of the things I love to do.
I know I need to follow my bliss but sometimes it's really hard to figure out exactly what my bliss is.
Finally it is slowly sinking in.
I love my art.
I love taking photographs and creating something that is totally not there.
I think I would love to do this for women that have just lost a bunch of weight and are just starting to feel good about themselves for the first time....
I did take several balloon pictures and if you'd like to see those, you can see them in my gallery on my photography site here:
Plano Balloon Festival
Follow your bliss...and the rest will come!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Don’t ask me how… but I scored some Angel Trumpet seeds that were from 1980, and I planted them a couple of years ago. As it rarely turns out, the Angel Trumpets seem to like Dallas, Texas far better than Jackson, Mississippi or north Louisiana. Every year my plants get bigger and bigger. Their technical name brought up all kinds of stuff on the internet because apparently some people eat the seeds to hallucinate. Angel Trumpets are also called Datura and if you wish to Google it, there’s a horrible story about what a German teenager did to himself after making “tea” and drinking it. It involved an emergency room visit and a couple of things that could not be reattached to his body. In fact if you don’t do it just right, you’ll die…. so you can bet I am one careful gardener when I get them on my hands.
Monday, August 4, 2008
As I have said many times, the weight loss surgery field is so very new and EVERYONE is learning new stuff every day. It isn't that the people in charge are bad people....they are learning just like everyone else is but somewhere, sometime back in WLS prehistoric times, someone thought it was a good idea to tell you not to have unrealistic expectiations.
Digging into my deepest core feelings, I said "I don't think that's good!"
Here are the reasons....
It all started when I heard a bariatric doc say that we should not have unrealistic expectations. He said not to expect to get to the weight you were when you married.
What if you got married three years ago? My brain interpreted it this way. "Ok little fat girl...we know you are less than and can't do things we regular people can do."
Granted... this is more than unfair because it was what I heard. For me, it was comparable to telling the "fat girl" that she could only make a C on the test instead of an A.
I am currently at the exact weight I was at my very smallest in college (35 years ago). I starved myself for two years just to be thin.
When I was challenged by my teachers in school, I performed. I had one teacher that seated us according to our grades. If you made an A on the last report card, you sat at the front table. Guess where I was sitting??
The front table.
My dad was really strict but I only had to make a C to maintain my privileges and that's pretty much what I made if I was uninterested or unchallenged in class.
When I went to college I had the priviledge of choosing my classes and because I loved music and the courses I took, I was on the dean's list. I knew I could do it if I wanted to. I also knew I could do this weight loss surgery and succeed. Believing it from the very beginning, knowing it was the answer was all I needed to make it happen. That's a subject for another blog entry but for now I wanted to address this unrealistic expectation concept.
I don't know if it's the same for others as it was for me, but telling me I couldn't do something was probably not the way to go for someone who was pretty sure she was a failure because of obesity. Being a master and always first in line to beat myself up, I could do a bang up job all by myself. Perhaps it is because of the quote below.... that I put so much stock into what we have to say....the people who have walked this path.
"No one can lead you down a path that they haven't been."
I look forward to the day that we as patients can contribute to the programs designed for us because we have so much to offer and I'm ecstatic when there are professionals that totally get what's going on with us. It seems to be getting better every day!
Below you'll see the video that chronicles the changes in my life due to weight loss surgery.
Wow....what a joy to be "Living My Life!"
hugs and blessings, Yvonne
aka Bariatric Girl
Monday, July 28, 2008
A couple of months ago I was standing in Starbucks and saw a poster on the bulletin board. It said Cesar dog food was hosting a small dog contest at the mall near me. Online there were details about the only two mall contests and one of them was in Dallas!
My first reaction was "I want to do this!" Of course there was a bit of "stinkin thinkin" going on.
Sundance came into our lives because of a wonderful woman named Vicki that fostered him when he showed up at a shelter with an atrophied leg that had to be amputated. You can see a video here.
OK so there's another one.
Sundance's other video
So continuing with stinkin thinkin process.....
What would they want with a 3 legged dog and 50 something woman?
You can dress girl dogs up with hundreds of accessories.
What would I dress him in?
Would he even wear it?
Why do I question myself?
It doesn't cost a thing to participate except some time. I'm in!
I found a very inexpensive hat and t-shirt for him and then splurged on a leather vest for me. The rules didn't give you much of a hint on whether the "person" was supposed to dress up too so I went for it.
When I arrived there was literally a red carpet and something like 6 to 8 photographers that were shooting pictures...flashes going off everywhere. This is one of the shots they took.
It was really hot outside and I had no idea that we would have our picture made right away but I had put it into motion and there was no going back.
As I walked up to the line there were 25 people with dogs ahead of me.
Cute dogs and cute people.
I recall seeing this woman that worked at the mall and she formed her lips perfectly so that I could understand her words even though I couldn't hear her. She said "You should win" and smiled at me. That alone was enough return on my investment for the dressing up, worrying about Sundance and worrying about my thought process that got me there.
As I approached the stage I was asked why I thought Sundance was a star. Explaining his former life and how difficult it was made him a star in my eyes. I told them his life had become a fairy tale now and the hardest thing he's had to do since he's been with us is to wear that hat. I guess it worked.
Now the important part.
Yes it happened because of the weight loss surgery but the procedure alone was not the total answer. My plumbing was rearranged so that I could get to a manageable size to do the things that I could not before. After losing that weight I had to do "surgery" on my brain. That was definitely the hardest part but only because it is a bone of contention among the bariatric pros. Many programs, various information...but nothing concrete. The field is new and I believe most of us are stumbling around in the dark...desperately looking for an answer to keep the weight off. That was truly the issue in the first place wasn't it?
In future posts I will address what has worked for me. It slips out in most of what I write but the very first and most important issues is to stop blaming, shaming and judging.
Do I mean others? yep...but most of all quit doing it to yourself.
There's a great quote from Robert Burney. He says that the battlecry for people like me is "I'll show you, I'll get me!" When we do these horrible things to ourselves we only hurt the one beautiful soul we are responsible for. ME!
So my challenge to you....for just today. Go 24 hours without shaming, blaming and judging yourself or anyone else. In fact if you come into contact with someone that is absolutely awful, feel pity for them but do not judge them. Again when you are so adept at doing it to others, you will also be adept at doing it to yourself.
Oh ye of little faith, do not condemn something prior to investigation! It is a sure way to continue to walk in the dark cruel world of obesity. I am free! At least for this very moment because we cannot be perfect but we CAN get better every day.
I was already ahead of the game because I did not have a cruel word for anyone but I made up for it in terms of how I talked to myself. I quit that just about the time this little contest came along and look where it got me. It allowed me to be the person I should have always been.
A trophy, some incredible prizes, a chance for a grand prize (to be announced in October) and a beautiful dog and family. Those external things don't make me happy....the happiness comes from within.
In the past I did it backwards. Wanting things to make me happy. Now I am happy and things are coming to me every single day that are beyond anything I ever expected.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Everything else that happens is icing on the cake.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Let me count the ways!
You may or may not be aware of what "they say" about how someone who emerges from alcoholism has to learn to grow up socially because they checked out when the disease takes hold of their life. It is much the same for many of the obese. When you and others decide that you are unworthy of taking part in the real world you are often left alone to your own devices and are not exposed to normal life lessons. Not every obese person isolates but I believe most do because we have condemned ourselves to a self loathing prison. Many obese people are absolutely sure that when they walk in a room that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room has seen them and commented about how big they are. Of course this isn't true but it comes with the job. I was an expert at isolation at the end of my fat life....I went to work and Wal-Mart because I could get food and clothes in one spot. The thought that someone might recognize me and the shame associated with it was too much to bear. With that in mind it meant that I did not take part in the every day activities that so many people take for granted.
In 2002 my husband bought me my first bathing suit in 30 years....you would have thought it was the Hope Diamond. I dreaded pool parties and I had a running joke that I'd never been in a hot tub because the last time I was thin enough to get in one they weren't invented yet. One of the most common fears is that you'll be the one they show on the 10pm news when they run footage during obesity stories.
When I lost the weight I began to do things that I hadn't done in 30 years. Many years ago you could just mention "going to water ski" and I would have jumped up and down until you let me go. I was really good too so what was one of the first things I jumped at after weight loss surgery? You bet cha!
Just like riding a bicycle...
And then there were some new things that again hadn't really been invented yet the last time I was even close to thin. I know the people thought I was nuts in the sporting goods store but that wasn't a first and probably won't be the last. I asked for roller blades!
When you start this catching up thing that we do when we get this new life, it moves at light speed. I have done more in the last 7 years than I've done in all my life before. You can do what you believe you can do. It makes me sad when someone has this surgery and says "It's too late for that." Are you kidding me? You are as old as you feel. It's a cruel trick our brains play on us. We are living longer than ever before! If you decide that you are old at 50 then you'll be old. Since we are living longer than ever, that's middle aged now.
I missed out on so much....so very much. It is in the past and cannot be changed. Today is all I truly have so there is much catching up to do.
In the weight loss community we have terms.
pre-op = someone who hasn't had the surgery
newbie = someone who recently had the surgery
post-op = someone who has had the surgery
veteran = someone who is a few years out
WLS = weight loss surgery
Onederland = someone who had lost 100 pounds
the other side = crossed over to the other side (after surgery). We like to say the losing side
Honeymoon period = first year or so after surgery
There are many more. Newbies often have a tough time because life changes so quickly and you're on a massive high. This massive high helps you deal with the fact that you are no longer getting high on food. Your hormones go crazy, you are feeling better than ever and you might make life choices that are not good for you. You might end up drinking too much or you might feel sexy for the first time in a long time....or ever. Oh man...have I seen some things! Because you are changing so radically you need to have a system to keep you in check. I'm not kidding because I swear you'll think something is a really good idea at the time and when you look back on it later, you wonder who on earth was that person? I think it would be a great idea to stay out of all new relationships for at least a year. Unfortunately this life changing surgery is still poorly understood. The operation itself is like someone handing you a hammer and a nail and telling you to build the new you. This would be the "tool" analogy. You are given a tool and it's just like Michealangelo sculpting a beautiful statue but when he's done, it's your time to take over....to start over from scratch. You have to function just like any thin person.
I personally believe that you have to eat as boring as possible. Eat to live...not live to eat. During the honeymoon period you can either party like a crazy person because life is so freakin phenomenal or you can retrain yourself because it is easiest at this point. When the honeymoon period is over you will no longer lose weight easily and that high will lose some of it's strength. You have to plan for that.
The day I had surgery I made the conscious choice that I had drank my very last Coke. My friends didn't say "Oh my God, you're getting your guts rearranged!"
They pulled their stock from Coca-Cola.
I was addicted.
I tried quiting but then I'd have a real Coke and it was just like....ummmm..... sex.
Because I retrained myself I don't miss it,
don't crave it,
don't even remember what it tastes like.
NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS BEING THIN FEELS!!
You cannot just say it...you must mean it and you must remind yourself every day just exactly what that means. You have to stay in touch with yourself and others in this process. You have to know that newbies will very likely do some strange stuff.... sometimes even the newbies don't grow up and keep doing strange stuff. You have to learn to avoid the things that cause anxiety in your life so that stress is kept to a minimum.
Anxiety=Stress=reaching for coping mechanism
It's real scary sometimes but because anything worth doing isn't easy, you have to make up your mind.... but it isn't impossible. Everyone thinks they will fail and some do. It's just like having a baby. Prepare and educate yourself. Find people that are doing it the way you like and ask them how to do it.
Avoid people that tell you crappy things. It's about them - NOT YOU! Walk toward the good...walk toward the light because the shortest way to anywhere is a straight line.
See your goal out there????
Face it and proceed directly,
do not pass GO,
do not collect $200.
I look at my speedometer...
it says light speed.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I did see one other story (buried and small) about life saving gastric bypass.
Here's that link
Of course they had to add the bit about the woman that died. Interestingly enough when someone writes or blogs negatively about weight loss surgery, they don't want to address the danger of being morbidly obese. As the surgery becomes safer they are digging hard for something else to complain about. Now it seems many are talking about WLS being so bad due to malabsorption. That means that you have to take extra vitamins so that you get enough nutrients.
In short it says this:
Main Outcome Measures
Actual causes of death.
The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).
I'm thinking that if you're armed...
a bad driver....
use drugs and alcohol....
smoke and eat too much....
your outlook isn't good.
When you are morbidly obese there are so many things that can go wrong with your health. Do you know that chances of getting cancer are higher? There's a technical explanation ....... easy enough to look up.
You'd think cancer would scare the hell out of an obese person but if you think that's all it takes, you don't know this disease very well. It's a lot like someone telling an alcoholic to stop drinking for the sake of his children. Yeah...like that's all it takes.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Regardless of how long you took to make the decision, when you have the surgery you are ready to get that weight off quickly! How can we not believe that our lives will become magically perfect? It seems an impossible task to actually get this across because we are brutally aware (as an obese person) just how difficult life is. Carry one hundred extra pounds on your body for a week straight and it will take a toll. On top of that you are treated much differently than the "normal" person.
When I first became thin I was really hyper aware of how many people would speak to me that would have never even noticed me before. Deciding that I must move on and not resent them was one of the best decisions I ever made. I felt like I had so much negativity in my life as an obese person...why would I want even a little bit more?
I think losing weight is sort of like getting something new in your life. It doesn't matter if you think about getting a new toy when you were a kid or as an adult. At first this "new" thing is exciting but when you've seen it every day for a period of time, it's just not as exciting. This happens with your weight loss after surgery so we call it the "honeymoon period". About the time you are feeling like "is that all there is?" you better start looking for a new toy. It isn't quite that simple but I'm saying that we need to find the joy of life and be proactive in our recovery from obesity. I totally believe the reason we do so well during the honeymoon period is because it is a new "high". We have switched from food to a new life. What happens when the honeymoon period is over?
If we haven't dealt with why we were obese in the first place, we will reoffend and if you don't return to food, you might pick something else that's bad juju.
"If you don't learn....you will return."
quote by me
I'd love for you to read an article in Psychology Today.
CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE
Good info regarding what it takes to elevate dopamine release. I've also read that music helps as well.
With all the opportunities available on the internet or in your community, there are plenty of things to choose from to give new attention to. We are just starting to understand this thing...this weight loss journey we take....and if you are reading this and you don't think addiction is part of it, check out a list like "the top ten characteristics of addiction" and there's one term that always makes the list.
You'll always see denial...so before you deny, make sure and learn as much as you can about this obesity thing or you might be right back to where you started.
not just a river in Egypt.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The study talks about a higher suicide rate after weight loss surgery. They talk about drug overdoses too. Well duh....
I have to speak from my experience and since I have been a member of Obesityhelp.com for over 7 years, I have had many occasions to talk to several hundred members in various stages of their journeys. I totally believe that we are food addicts and guess what happens when you take away our drug of choice? If we are not properly educated we will find another. The other issue to take into account is the honeymoon period. (The year or so after weight loss surgery is the honeymoon period) The first year after weight loss surgery we are on a new "high" because no matter what we do....pretty much.... you are losing weight! WOOOO HOOOOO!!! The party is on. That is a most critical time because if you don't use that time to retrain yourself to eat differently, you will most likely fail. I have a saying...
If you don't learn, you will return.
I have seen many people carry on as usual (no changing of lifestyle) and when the honeymoon party is over they crash. At this point they seem to have a few choices. They can make the lifestyle change that they should have in the beginning and it's a bunch harder at this point....or they can choose another drug of choice or they can go back to the original drug of choice.
I have a real dislike for the term "unrealistic expectations". It is easily confused with how much weight you will lose. After attending a seminar on WLS, I was told by a doctor that I should not expect to get back to the size you were when you married. What if that was only a couple of years ago? For me, that was like telling me "OK fat girl, you are different. You can only make a C on the test because we know that it is unrealistic for you to make an A." First of all you are dealing with the formerly obese who are broken down to a world of being "less than". Tell me that I am only capable of a C and that's what I'll get. Fortunately I didn't hear that until I had a few years of goal weight under my belt. I made a funny!!
Back to the suicide thing....so....if you decide to choose another drug of choice and it's actually drugs, you may very well O.D. If you go back to food and gain the weight back, the feeling of failure may be entirely too much to endure. After all you do it in front of your friends and family and EVERYONE knows you failed. You also might be one of those lucky ones that has a friend or family that will tell you "I told you it wouldn't work".
I believe so much that we have to get the word out about the addiction and next we must learn what it takes to overcome this disease. There is a phenomenal comment on the article about suicide. I'm sorry for the length of this post but there is just so much to share. Here's what a doctor said that (to me) said it all.
As I read these blogs, I am simply floored. Over the past 20 years I have likely conducted more pre-bariatric psychological evaluations (+2000) than any other psychologist that I am aware of. During this past 20 years I have had 2 bariatric patients attempt to take their lives with 0 deaths. I do not know if that makes me an expert, but I can probably be on safe ground being called “experienced in the field.”
First, I strongly believe that we, as a society, must “un-demonize” morbid obesity. To do so we must conceptualize morbid obesity for what it is, a brain-based neurological disorder. For too many years now we have approached morbid obesity as purely a psychiatric or psychological disorder, a lack of will power, or a flawed personality. Instead, we need to look at brain functioning. In the most simplistic terms, we develop “pathways” in our brains. These are very elegant sequences of neurons or brain cells firing in different areas of our brains. The more frequently that pathway is activated, the stronger and more easily it becomes for that pathway to continue firing. In morbid obesity, we have taken a very primitive and necessary pathway that is sometimes called a “primary drive” (hunger and satiation) and expanded into areas of emotional functioning wherein food takes on an emotional meaning or purpose. The pairing of a very powerful primary drive pathway with our equally powerful limbic or emotional pathways creates a very resilient and dysfunctional pathway which exists solely to perpetuate eating. we’re bombarded with advertisements which reinforce the continued firing of this pathway. Our brains have a lot of survival safety measures programmed in. To simply stop the eating creates an incredible level of anxiety and agitation in the morbidly obese individuals brain and often creates frantic attempts to restore food intake. The brain fully realizes that a disruption in food intake is not a superficial event but rather is a threat to its continued existence. Remember, historically, starvation has killed more of our species than any war or pestilence. We are the survivors. Our brains in particular are very sensitive to starvation. When our brain senses rapid weight loss it mobilizes its resources to do almost whatever is necessary to stop the weight loss and regain the weight. This is what makes dieting so difficult. Yo-yo dieting is the ongoing struggle between our physiology and our psychology. Obesity is therefore more in your brain than your belly. These dysfunctional pathways have a label in mental health, we call them “obsessive-compulsive disorders”. (If God were to grant me one wish, it would be to eradicate the obsessive-compulsive disorders from this world.) All obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD’s) are anxiety or fear-based disorders. These OCD’s are again dysfunctional pathways. Remember however, fear feeds on itself. For example, if you fear not being loved, you do not have to experience rejection for that fear to grow. The simple experience or thought of that fear strengthens that pathway. Unfortunately therefore, this particular pathway feeds on itself and grows without encouragement.
Secondly, morbid obesity should be treated as a neurological disorder. Medications have their place but they will typically only serve to buy time. (Don’t let me undersell time though, it is one of our most precious commodities.) We should treat morbid obesity like we treat epilepsy or diabetes. As a multifaceted disorder, like epilepsy or diabetes, we should treat the medical, the psychological, and the neurological aspects simultaneously. To do any less is to guarantee failure. The prognosis for success is however quite good. Early identification is the key to successful treatment. Prior to the surgery the pre-bariatric candidate should be evaluated by a team of professionals including physicians, dieticians, and psychologists. If disorders of impulse control or judgment are identified, referral to the appropriate professional must occur. Rejection must not occur. After the surgery, the bariatric surgery patient must participate in follow-up services including at minimum individual or group therapy and support groups. Treatment must focus on changing not just physical and psychological functioning, but brain functioning. (Throughout our lives our brains our constantly revising, reinventing, and literally physically changing their structure to adapt to demands in our lives.) To do this, the bariatric patient must work with a professional skilled in changing both psychological and brain functioning. These are very treatable pathways and disorders. There should be individuals in your community with these skills.
When I read these accounts, it was obvious to me that many bariatric patient were not properly educated, evaluated and treated prior to their surgery and seemingly tossed to the winds post-surgically.
Does bariatric surgery work? Yes, it does but it must be approached with the utmost care, self-evaluation, and good judgment.
For any shortcomings stemming from psychology and neuropsychology, I would like to offer my apology.For those of you still out there “In the wind”, I would encourage you to contact a mental health professional skilled in working with pre and post bariatric surgery patients.
P.S. I don’t have a book published but after reading these blogs I’m thinking maybe I should. What do you think?
Gerard R. Williams Ph.D.
Clinical NeuropsychologistLicensed Psychologist
— Posted by Gerard R. Williams Ph.D.
OK, if this post isn't already long enough, I have to include my comment. So here it is:
Wow….I read in amazement one of the best discussions regarding WLS ever! I wanted to comment on nearly every post. Seven years ago I had weight loss surgery (gastric bypass) and I have been at goal weight since reaching it six years ago. It was a battle that I fought every inch of the way but in the process, I learned a great deal about what is REALLY going on because I live it every day. I have been a member of a large online support group for seven years. I did not have adequate after care… mostly due to the lack of it in 2001. By participating in the support group, I not only learned the very pitfalls of this disease but learned that by participating, I was keeping myself accountable to myself and others. This online group is the largest research study anyone could ask for… a living, breathing, group that grows in power and self education every day but has so much catching up to do.
You who say it is not an addiction have never walked in my obese shoes. An incredible description of addiction: Uncontrolled use despite negative consequences. That certainly described my obesity. I have some of the most profoundly addicted relatives on earth and my addiction was clearly food. The parallels are too numerous. As Mary Jo Rapini said, we are too much in a hurry to get the weight off and we’ll worry about everything else later because we assume the obesity is the only thing in our way. If you are not prepared for the reality that your brain must be fixed, you can crash…to the point of suicide. It’s not like you can just tell them and they are immediately OK. It takes time. You also have many in the field that have yet to even mention the word addiction. As to why after care is not required? There are many reasons. We don’t know to ask, or the doctor doesn’t know, or the insurance doesn’t pay for it. If it is due to lack of insurance coverage, we are all out of luck. It seems every day I hear about yet another company refusing coverage for even the weight loss surgery….even if it is deemed medically necessary.
Every time anyone remotely close to the WLS community hears the words “quick fix” they are repelled. I had RNY open surgery (cut me open) and was in the hospital for five days. As we are speaking about here, the change is extremely difficult and when left to our own devices, we flounder. This rarely constitutes a “quick fix”. Secondly, if I chose any method that takes me from 30 years of obesity to 6 years of goal weight, why does my method matter as long as I am healthy??? I no longer have high blood pressure, sleep apnea or back pain. As many know, it has cured their type 2 diabetes.
You will also offend us every time you say the “old fashioned way”. I am so incredibly impressed with anyone that does it without surgery. I am SO impressed! In fact I did it several times. The only time I was thin for any length of time was in college for 2 years. I STARVED MYSELF to death so I am so proud for anyone that could do it without surgery and keep it off… but I could not…and I tried EVERYTHING.
The other day I realized that I had a tough time picking up a 40 pound sack of bird food but I was expected to be willing to exercise with 130 extra pounds on me. Do this experiment and live in my shoes. For one week, strap on four thirty pound bags of dog food and do everything you have to do. After 30 years like that you’ll be ready to do ANYTHING to get it off…especially the easy way…if there were one.
Dr. Williams you are excellent! I wish there were way more around like you. I have often spoke and written about being one of those “in the wind” and the numbers lost are astounding!! There are a few of us trying with all our might to “pay it forward” to patients coming in behind us because of this exact situation. It is really difficult because we are just post-ops trying to help and many times even some of the professionals are standing in our way because we don’t have a piece of paper. I am beyond grateful for the professionals that consider us valuable. Mary Jo Rapini is one of them. Many long term post-ops certainly know enough from experience that the whole subject of bariatric medicine is vastly misunderstood…even by some of the professionals. What do I have to back this up? Every bit of this is viewable online…the sexual and shopping addiction shortly after being thin for the first time, the new problem with alcohol, the low self esteem issues that never seen to improve, the lack of knowledge about coping mechanisms, and always looking to the future for the happiness we cannot seem to catch. We look for the future to make us happy because we have not learned about living in the now.
Dr. Williams, I have saved your post and I hope you don’t mind if I share it. There are way more “in the wind” than you can imagine. I do know this…what we are doing is not getting the word out fast enough. How do we get everyone in “the know” on some simple basics? It took way too long to get the message out that the surgery is the smallest part of this journey and many don’t realize how much the brain is involved. The lack of education available for patients and pros is scary. As a post-op, I have a limited ability to spread the word. Three of us have started with a website but it is not near enough and there are thousands that need help. Thanks Dr. Williams!
— Posted by Yvonne McCarthy
Enough said on this one.....
Here's a video I did a couple of years ago to put on my profile at obesityhelp.com. It's called "Participating in Life". By the way..the sound you hear when my before picture is seen is a jail door closing. I thought it was more than appropriate.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
So how can I best help?
I'm thinking all I can do is to share my experience.
I also can't imagine blogging for years against something evil. Why would you want to live that every single day and why would anyone read it? I guess they are stewing in the mess and can't break out of it. Perhaps it is the perfect example of a little thing called "The Hole in the Sidewalk". Here's my post from last year. This is from my blog on Obesityhelp.com where I have been a member for 7 years.
A hole in the sidewalk
I sometimes describe myself as being ADD but now I’m starting to realize I’m compulsive.
Old labels..fat, lazy, unclean, no willpower.
I started thinking about how I must have it perfect or not at all. That can be so debilitating. When I asked myself why it had to be perfect, it’s because I have to know where things are because it makes me crazy to look for something that I know I have and cannot find. Why? Because it’s hard for me to stay on course if something distracts me and looking through drawers, closets, whatever will distract me every time. I call them “kitties”. My mantra is “step away from the kitties!”
If you don’t understand yet let me explain it this way. I love cats…a bit too much. I plead insanity because they were my life when I was obese. I wanted someone to love me even being fat. I don’t care WHO you were, I knew you would love me better if I wasn’t fat. Even if it was because I was healthier, I knew that my obesity was the thing that stuck out for all the world to see!
Except the cats.
The cats thought I was their “everything”….and I was! Right now I’m crawling out of the hole in the sidewalk. Please read this from http://www.bariatricradio.com/
A HOLE IN THE SIDEWALK
Which Chapter Are You Living?
By John Jolliffe, MFT
You had Bariartic Surgery because you were sick and tired of sick and tired. You wanted a tool and Bariatric Surgery had demonstratable evidence of success. Like all relationships the challenge comes after the honeymoon where if you want to succeed you will learn to accommodate, compromise and make allowances with this new life partner. Post-operative patients are indeed married for life with a commitment that will mature over time. Plateaus, consumption failures, dumping and discomfort are just part of the learning curve. If you commit to a support group or more formal aftercare program, don’t panic or get ahead of the story, you will maximize your success and benefit from sustained weight loss and control.Remember change is really an exchange. Hopefully, you trade in your normal way of being in your world for a more efficient, more mature and managed quality of life.We maintain the radio broadcast known as Bariatricradio.com to guide you through the complexities of your commitment to health and a better quality of life for you and those you love.In my private practice, I often ask my clients to read Portia Nelson’s “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” requesting them to observe which chapter from the five listed best describes where they find themselves today. I find there is so much included for us to discuss in each chapter, brief as they may be. I decided to include the Five Chapters with this week’s article for your deliberation. Read it carefully, then call me and discuss what you discover about the maturity of your commitment. Which chapter best describes your life today?
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in I am lost…I am helpless It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place But, it isn’t my fault.It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.I see it is there.I still fall in…it’s a habit.My eyes are open. I know where I am.It is my fault.hadI get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
I had been pretty regularly doing chapter 4 and 5. Ha ha haaa. (wicked laugh) I have it whipped! I knew I was going to make it in this journey!
Then it happened.
Someone was removed from my life and I had no control over the situation and felt guilt over whatever I contributed to the outcome. The funk hit me like the old days….DAMN, I forgot how awful this feels. I remember in my brain…. but I had forgotten in my heart.
I won’t go into the details but it involved shoulder pain, trigger points, trigger point injections and it hurt so badly that I had to hit the couch…for days. I was in the “hole in the sidewalk” but I didn’t get out immediately. I even KNEW this but I still couldn’t get out.
I KNOW what I'll do!I’ll get on the message board and help someone, that always works.
This time it didn’t. I felt so incompetent that I didn’t dare try to answer someone's question or offer advice. What if I gave them wrong information? My next best strategy was to accept that I will come out of it but it might take more time than I am accustomed to allow for. This time I didn’t have a choice. It takes however much time it takes.
I tried doing yoga ….my shoulder said “NO”!Oh my God, if I don’t do yoga I’ll gain the weight back. I was in the hole and couldn’t see that yes.... I might gain back a few pounds.... but I will get them off when I get out of the hole in the sidewalk. I KNOW THAT. I believe that….but right now I’m in a hole! All I have to do is step out. I decided that I would do some things that were piled up…so many things to do. All I can do is start, so I did. Even though I am in pain, it felt better to get those things done. I was starting to get out of the hole. Today I made myself do yoga. I decided I would do the positions that didn’t involve my shoulder. I got out of the hole today. I know this because I’m here writing this.
I’m walking to the next block so I can take a different street…knowing full well there will be days when I take this street again. I’ll walk right back down the wrong street and fall in the hole but next time I will be ready. I will be armed (no pun intended) with the experience I gained from the time spent in the hole in the sidewalk. Maybe I thought I’d never fall in the hole again but I will. Strategy will help so I will plan and do things to help deal with it. I hope to see you on the other street OK? hugs, Y
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Weight loss surgery
The positive side.
First let's talk about who's fer it and who's agin' it?
Those of us that have had WLS are already aware of who's agin' it. Oprah has made it known that she's against it. Dr. Phil was until lately. Apparently his nephew had the surgery. Kudos to Dr. Phil for being open minded and not sabotaging it.
If you do a search you'll see scads of blogs exclaming the sheer evil of WLS. If you fail and you're really mad you can join discussion groups and talk about it all day long. There are several people that have made it their life's work....all they live for is to point out how horrible WLS is, reporting every positive report as a lie.
It's pretty much frowned upon by society....I mean I was obese for 30 years and now I'm not. I've been told that I took the easy way out and I didn't do it the old fashioned way. I'm not sure why it matters what method I used to get from 30 years of obesity to 6 years as a "normal" person. After trying everything else known to man, I could not get the extra hundred pounds I was carrying off. Well, I got them off but I couldn't keep them off....until surgery.
So here I am (Christmas 2000).
My mom had died a few months before and I was devastated. A few days after this picture was taken I heard about weight loss surgery and made an appointment....the first one I could get.
There's way more stuff in between then and now but let's just say it all worked out.
And here I am today:Enjoying a life I never thought possible.
And I'm in touch with several thousand members on a website that had the same experience....
A positive one.
I know people have died...I am fortunate that I haven't known anyone.... except Alice.
She committed suicide because she couldn't get the surgery.
On top of everything else, I volunteer hours at a time on a website so that I can help the ones that come in behind.
There are reasons for most of us regarding our past obesity. I'm going to step right up and admit that I was a food addict. Yeah...for a couple of years after the surgery I was thinking I didn't eat that much. That's why it's a sign of addiction....that would be the denial part. I had major genetics working against me but that wasn't all of it.
So after a couple of years I saw the parallels of addiction in our behavior including our need for coping mechanisms. When you do something to the point that you hate yourself, it's addiction. A great description....
Uncontrolled use despite negative consequences.
You could have offered me a million dollars, you could have threatened my family's lives and I couldn't keep the weight off. For me, weight loss surgery was sort of like rehab. I got surgery that gave me a pretty much guaranteed chance to get on a level playing field with the "normal" people....if you follow the rules. If I could just have that...let me start over from scratch...I won't screw it up. Easier said than done but I did it.
You can do it too if you know how.
I have spent an outragious amount of time trying to pay it forward and I will continue so but I'm branching out. I want to make a difference and I want people to know that there are a lot of people just like me instead of seeing all the people that are just plain mad for a long list of reasons.
I believe a good part of success is how you treat your surgery. If you respect it, nurture it...you get a good result. If you disrespect it, unappreciate it...you will probably mess up. It's no free ride and it's certainly not the easy way out.
My WLS site is http://www.rydobesity.com/. RYD Obesity is made up of three people. RYD stands for Ramon, Yvonne and Debra....all three of us successful weight loss surgery patients. We met on obesityhelp.com. On May 2-4th of this year we put on an event that was incredible. This is the video we opened with. I had each person send their before and after pictures. It didn't matter if they had just started or were old timers like me.
So here's a start at the good side of weight loss surgery...