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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's hard to believe, but it's been three years since I went under the knife and changed my innards and my life. Gastric-bypass surgery, and the subsequent weight loss it caused, has led to a whirlwind of changes. Sometimes, I feel like it was just yesterday that it all occurred, and other times, it feels like I've been in this new body forever.

I can now admit my top weight was closer to 350, even though my highest recorded was 335. I do remember registering 350 on the scale at Curves once, but denial is a beautiful thing and kept me sane at the time.

The last year has been an interesting one -- bowel obstruction, surgery, hypoglycemia, anemia, divorce, job change, location change. Come to think of it, not much hasn't changed. But when it comes to my re-birthday, as the Kaiser staff called it, or my surgi-versary, as other post-ops call it, I like to reflect on how bariatric surgery has changed me as a whole.

Year after year, I am amazed at how far I have come.

In February 2005, I was 27 years old but I felt 80. At 310 (Had to lose weight to meet Kaiser's requirements for surgery), I was bigger around than I was tall; I was tired all the time but suffered from insomnia. I had trouble breathing, though I wouldn't admit it to anyone. My knees constantly hurt; my feet would swell up to the point of distortion; just moving about my daily life was chore.

Today, I fluctuate between 140 and 15o. Fluid retention will boost me up to 160 from time to time, but I'm working on that. I weigh myself once a month or so, just to keep things in check. Like many gastric-bypass patients, I still fear waking up one day with all the weight piled back on me. Silly, yes, but it's a real fear. Rather than suffer from joint pain, I deal with my tailbone hurting from lack of cushion. I won't lie to you. It's a nice problem to have. I have been called skinny and scrawny, and I'm not the least bit insulted. I'm not as active as I would like to be, but I am more active than I ever thought possible.

My biggest internal struggle is fear of complete assimilation. Having moved away from Tracy, nobody I meet knows I used to be morbidly obese unless I tell them. It's nice to be judged on who I am now, rather than who I used to be or people's perception of bariatric surgery or massive weight loss. But I don't ever want to forget the old me. A lifetime of morbid obesity shaped my character. It gave me a different type of compassion for others, but it also made me strong. I always felt like I had to work extra hard compared to those around me to combat the stereotype that fat people are lazy or stupid. I was a high-achiever. I still am. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. More people should aspire to more than mediocrity.

I am not ashamed of my past, but I don't want it to define me in the eyes of others. Then again, I'm not sure I can make that choice. After all, we all get to choose how we define others, regardless of what they want.

Three years ago, I thought I was happy. And maybe I was. I had a good life and a healthy level of confidence in myself. I thought I had more blessings than I had a right to expect. But today, I'm so stinking happy I can barely stand myself. It's a different type of happiness. I'm content not complacent. I think there is a big difference between the two. Though I'm not dissatisfied with my life, I know it can only get better -- because every single day since having surgery Feb. 24, 2005, has been better than the one before it. And that, my friends, is what reaffirms that I made the right decision for me when I chose gastric-bypass.


Dagny said...

Seems like it takes awhile for us to reach that point when we might want to let go of the past a bit and stop being defined as "the former fat girl." I see it as one of the big milestones in the journey. Sometimes a difficult place to come to.

DeNise said...

Happy Birthday!!!!