Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Bariatric Revision

Obesity Help has given me the opportunity to write for the January issue of the OH Newsletter. I was given the task of writing about my revision. I didn't want to just share my story as I have done that in many places many times before... I wanted to share with you all my view on Re-Vision.... The process not just the steps... Below you will find the article....

by: Rachel Lebowitz LMSW
OH Username: Rachelena

I hate the number 350! I have looked at that same number on the scale day in and day out. Some days it would try to disguise itself by replacing the zero with a five or a seven or a three. Some days it would add a little dot with an extra number at the end, but for over a year there never was a difference in the first two digits. I was two years post Lap-Band surgery when I finally decided enough was enough. I had tried all the tips and tricks to break a “stall” from more water, to more protein, more exercise, to even more calories and no exercise! Nothing by itself or in combination seemed to move those dreaded numbers on the scale. Then one day the realization hit me. My band had taken me as far as it was going to. It was time for my revision.
My surgeon only performs the band. So I began my revision journey by selecting a few competent surgeons to interview for the job. I already knew I wanted the sleeve. I had done extensive research on all the major surgery types and decided the VSG was best for me. When I told my old surgeon I would be revising, he sent me over to his partner for interview #1, dubbing him as a “sleeve specialist”. This surgeon told me that I was a failure and would surely fail with the sleeve because like the band, it was purely restrictive. When I asked him how many sleeves he had performed, he told me, “Thirteen or so.” As the consultation went on, he berated me for my extensive research, as I refuted his constant attempts to persuade me into having the RNY. I didn’t appreciate his attitude and didn’t want to start my revision with a surgeon who didn’t believe in my surgery, so on I went to my next appointment. I eventually found Dr. Vohra, the man I entrusted with my band removal and sleeve surgery. Both the removal and VSG surgeries were successful, and by success I mean I’m still alive with no major complications. October 18, 2010 was just the beginning of my journey. Now comes my “re-vision.
You see, I had a realization not too long ago that I did not have a revision on October 18, 2010. I just had some surgery. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a new band,RNY, a DS, or the VSG. It was all the same, just some surgery. Revision to me is more than just a change in my anatomy, it has become a change in my vision; a do-over of sorts. I knew that to be successful, I had to stop following the generally given rules and start writing my own. I began working on myself, and coming to terms with the reason my band relationship didn’t work out.
I started with the infamous post-op diet and my eating behaviors… re-vision number one. When I had my band, I was told no more than 800 calories, 60g of protein a day, eight cups of water etc., etc. You know the diet I am referring to. That was one of my problems, and I assume, one many of you share. We have all been dieting for years, only to “fail”, “fall off the wagon”, “cheat” or whatever you call it. This isn’t a diet my friends, this is our life, now and forever. I had to get out of this “all or nothing” diet mentality that I had grown so accustomed to.
Today, I view my eating habits as just that, HABITS. That old diet I described earlier, those are guidelines that helped mold my habits into my life. I drink my water and get in all my protein. But I also allow myself to have a bite of those “bad” foods when the occasion calls for it; holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. I DO NOT berate myself or feel like I “fell off the wagon”. I eat without guilt or shame. For me, this re-vision entailed taking an honest look into myself and figuring out why I eat the foods I do on both a psychological and biological level. The difference now is that I no longer allow myself to eat out of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, or loneliness. I listen to my body and know that when I am craving chips and salt, I probably need water or when I want to dive into the sweets, I need to check my emotions first.
The next thing I had to change, was my view of my surgery. (Re-vision number two!) We are all told from day one that our surgery is a tool, not a solution. It changes your body not your brain. To be honest, I went into my band telling myself, the band won’t allow me to eat more than “x” amount of food, so I will be forced to eat less and lose weight. I have heard similar rationalizations from my peers. “I malabsorb my calories so that if I eat 1500 calories a day it’s like eating 800 and I will be fine and lose weight.” “If I eat one more bite, I will throw up and those calories won’t be digested, so they don’t count.” “If I skip lunch I can have some alcohol tonight with dinner.” These are nothing but excuses and are not productive ways of thinking. Our new anatomy has to become part of who we are. When I try to cheat my pouch, I cheat myself.
Re-vision number three is probably the hardest one. For me, this entails changing the way I feel about myself. I always said that I had this surgery to get pregnant, to be a better wife, and to get the job I want. While these reasons are still valid, they have become benefits only secondary to the real reason I had my surgery. I had my surgery because I AM WORTH IT! This time around, I had the surgery for ME and only ME. I am learning that it’s ok to be selfish. If I am not my best advocate, then who is? Who will be? I deserve to feel good, to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air, to hike, swim, or dance. I deserve the life that I want and so do you! I had to make this decision in order to be successful. I am a food addict. I can’t quit to make anyone happy or I will fail and I will resent others for “making me” quit. It’s that simple. I couldn’t do it before because I was doing it for everyone but myself.
My last re-vision made me accountable. I know I have a tendency to trick myself into believing if no one saw it, it didn’t happen. So I try to log my food every day. Every bite I put into my mouth. I tell my support group when I have been falling back into my old habits. I attend many support groups and I run one. I use a tracking device which I have set to tell Facebook and Twitter how many steps I have taken during the day and how many calories I burned. All of these things keep me accountable. My newest project has become my blog. I call it “Bariatric Revisionary”. I admit things on my blog that I have a hard time admitting to myself, but if I don’t, I won’t succeed. I am not yet strong enough to be accountable to only myself. I don’t know if I ever will be, but I am grateful for the support.
Something that I believe very strongly in is the right to self-determination. This means that you get to determine your path. I believe we are all individuals with individual needs. Maybe you are the type of person who needs rules and structure to succeed. That’s great! I applaud you for knowing that about yourself. Maybe you are the type of person who cannot cut donuts out of your life. Ok, then learn how to make them pouch friendly.
Start 2011 out by getting to know yourself; what works best for you and your individual needs. Perhaps my vision on how things should be, make you think I am a rule breaker or a naughty post-op. I am not, I have just taken the time to figure out how to live my life so I can be who and where I want to be. I am almost three months post my VSG and I have lost 63 lbs for a total of 90 lbs since I had my first surgery. I feel alive, hopeful, successful, and HAPPY. My hope for you in starting this new year, is instead of resolutions, you make re-visions! I wish you all a happy and successful New Year!

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed sharing this with you!
Sleeve Pixie

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