This Thursday night,my surgeon held a bariatric seminar, which he requires all of his pre-op patients to attend. He talks about his background (Dr. Michael Snyder of Rose Medical in Denver, also the inventor of the Full Bars you may have seen on late-night TV), the different surgical options, and what each one entails. I was invited to be one of the speakers on the panel of post-ops, who tell their story and answer questions.
This was really exciting, because:
1. They thought of me as a post-op success story (so far...)
b. They realized how articulate and charming I am
3. It's a great way to remind myself of where I was, and where I am now
It was a wonderful experience. I got to see my surgeon while standing vertically, instead of lying down and drugged up. I wish I'd had a chance to talk to him, but he got a call into the ER and had to leave early. I would have liked to see if he still recognizes me, or if remembers that it's me whose new pouch was swollen shut for 7 days (and that he told me if it went one more day that he would have taken me back to surgery--which he's never had to do).
The biggest thing is remembering what it was like for me to attend the very same seminar, back in November of 2009. I remember that I was worried about how far I would have to walk before I could sit down, because I was in so much pain. I remember being too timid to ask any questions, or talk to any of the post-op panel. I remember trying hard not to cry as I listened to him speak, and as he reignited the hope that I could have a life again.
So that's what I told everyone on Thursday. I brought my before picture, and heard someone ask, "Which one is that?" because they weren't sure who on the panel the pictures belonged to. I introduced myself, told them what kind of surgery I had, when I had it, and how much I've lost (down 130 now, which is only 15 pounds shy of what my mother weighs). I told them the best thing about the surgery was getting my life back--being able to do things, go out, walk as much as I want, and all without pain. I told them that the worst thing is the routine and planning--I'm not naturally good at either and have to work on it every day.
What I didn't tell them was that I've only lost 5 pounds in the last month, and am worried about how I might not lose more. Or that I will gain it all back again. Or that I still cannot control myself around bread, but sweets now hold very little appeal to me. I didn't tell them that I used to order pizza 2-3 times per week, and that I haven't had real pizza since the last night I was allowed to eat before surgery. I didn't tell them about the strange comments I get while losing weight, or that I get mad when I get judgmental looks for being fat (I assume) and that I really want to shout, "You think I'm fat NOW? You should have seen me in January!" I also didn't share that I'm so anxious to get to a size 16 or less, so that I can shop at normal-sized clothing stores (I'm still around a size 22, since all my weight is in my midsection). And what if I never get there?
And I don't know if it was right of me to leave that part out. Because I wanted to know that sort of stuff as a pre-op. I just didn't know how to ask anymore than I knew how to say it this time around. Such a long way I've come, and yet such a long way to go...