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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels

Originally published Dec. 31, 2005, in Our Town for the Tracy Press.

As the year comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the past while looking forward to the future. For me, that means it’s also a good time to clean up the office and go through the notebooks collecting dust on my desk.This week’s column will be devoted to the questions I’m most commonly asked that I never find the space to address here. I’ll skip the champagne this year, and instead toast the new year with the following odds and ends:

How do you feel?
The short answer is: GREAT. But I find that’s usually not enough for most people. The long answer is that before I had gastric-bypass surgery, I had no clue how unhealthy I was. I know that sounds odd, because I had the surgery to improve my health. But the truth is that when you’ve been obese all of your life, you don’t understand the definition of healthy and can’t imagine what it feels like. My world was so small before that I didn’t realize what I was missing.I take pleasure in the little things that most people take for granted: having a seat belt fasten easily around me, rolling around on the floor with my niece and nephew, stooping to pick something up that’s fallen on the ground. These are simple tasks, but they are ones I spent a long time avoiding.

What do you miss?
Nothing. There was nothing so remarkable about my former life that’s worth missing. I’ve have talked to other post-ops who miss the ability to gorge on food or to eat whatever they want on a whim. I went through that stage briefly the first three months after surgery. But I barely remember what I thought I missed back then. I know I don’t miss the things I thought I would, such as ice cream and fast food. I don’t crave Jack in the Box anymore, and I’m not tempted by the smell of the Golden Arches.

Do you have extra skin?
I’ve avoided this issue in my column because I think it’s become cliché. It seems that every news story or talk show that discusses surgical weight loss brings up issues and concerns with excess skin and the cosmetic surgery that’s often needed to eliminate it. Personally, it’s not much of a concern for me at the moment. Sure, there are parts of me that aren’t that pretty uncovered, but that was true before I lost 155 pounds. I look better now in clothing than I ever have before, and that’s good enough for me.I might feel differently 20 or 40 pounds from now, but for now, I can accept the results of my weight loss.

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat. Nothing has ever tasted as good as how I feel right now. Even when I’m in the throes of a dumping episode, I don’t regret my decision to have gastric bypass. This is the best decision I’ve ever made. As I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve become a better worker, a better wife and a better person. I’m more productive at my job because I don’t get sick as often. I’m more available to my husband because I’m not tired all the time. And I’m easier to be around because I’m in a better mood and have a more positive outlook on life.

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