I sit here at 4 in the afternoon, sipping on some ice-water as the sun sets. Whoa, what? Sun setting at 4? Yes...like everyone (except Hawaii & Arizona) in the US, we "fell backwards" this Sunday...days are getting shorter and Christmas music is blaring at the stores. Did you hear that we got snow? In OCTOBER? Just in time for a visit from Mami...la pobre. I was so worried that once the white stuff started falling from the sky she was going to cut her visit short and never visit me again. Apparently she liked it, though. I told her I was glad porque cuando ella este vieja y decrepita, it's either a home or living with me up here!
Mami didn't come for leisure this time, though. She came to nurse me back to health.
Readers, I made the ultimate decision with my life and body. I have been considered overweight since I was a toddler and have been obese my entire adult life.
On October 25, 2011, I underwent Gastric Bypass Surgery.
This was not an easy nor quick decision. No way, no how. The first time I considered surgery, I was 24 and already taking medicine to control my blood pressure. I didn't even research it at all because the company I worked for switched insurances and the representative said flat-out that the procedure was not a covered benefit. I considered it again when I was 27. I was now at least 50lbs heavier than the first time. I went to an information session with Mami and began the initial process. I then got the phone call: the procedure was not a covered benefit. I tried to finance it on my own and was not approved. Ever since then, I still tried on my own to lose weight and would be able to drop 15 or 20lbs on any given try and then gain it all right back up again. I think I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to be heavy my whole life and that I might possibly never be healthy enough to bear a child for Mi Gringito. That killed me inside.
Fast forward to living here. After six months of torture, I decided to quit my job. Mi Gringito was making a decent wage so I knew I could at least take a month or two off and look for a job closer to home and possibly less stressful. I still needed insurance coverage, so Mi Gringito added me to his insurance policy and what do I find as I am reading the Certificate of Coverage? Yes. Bariatric Surgery was a covered benefit. I hooted & hollered and danced a jig. I spoke with my PCP and he was all for it. I did my research and found a great program only about a half hour's drive away.
I attended their information session and was totally excited. That was in early February. I met with the staff at the Obesity Treatment Center and that's when I was given the whammy. This was NOT going to be a walk in the park. Due to my insurance, I would have to undergo six months of medical appointments not including the initial appointment. I also had to lose 8% of my current body weight, attend at least two pre-operative information sessions at the hospital, attend a six week behavioral course, see an exercise physiologist, a nutritionist, pass a psychological evaluation, so a sleep study and whatever other loop they deemed necessary BEFORE I got an appointment to meet with the surgeon. I felt deflated, but I stuck to it. Six months later, I surpassed my 8% goal by a whole 5lbs and was able to schedule with the surgeon.
Being the internet freak that I am, I set to research online and came across a web forum for bariatric patients. Thinner Times was made by a surgeon to help people pre & post-op. This site helped me more than I can express. I also read a book titled The Emotional First Aid Kit: A Practical Guide To Life After Bariatric Surgery. Being informed is the greatest tool anyone can have!
The rest happened so quickly it seems. I met with her in September and she scheduled me for October. I met with the nutritionist two weeks before surgery and was put on a 1000 calorie diet until surgery. The day before I was on clear liquids only (possibly the most miserable day of my life so far).
I was in the hospital for less than 48 hours. Mami arrived the day after I got home and I swear, dear readers, if it weren't for her & Mi Gringito, I would've gone nuts. Don't get me wrong. I was rarely in pain. I was hurting more because I was forced to sleep on my back and ended up pinching a nerve on my shoulder. Poor Mami had to massage my shoulders almost every night. She never once complained. Mi Gringito would have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to walk me to the bathroom. He never once complained. I would cry about the most absurd things such as not being able to load the dishwasher or do my laundry. All Mami would say is, "That's what I'm here for, Babygirl..." Then I would cry because I knew she was leaving soon. I think I begged her to quit her job and stay with me - Le dije que Papi could come and visit her periodically. No go. I've always loved my mother and I always knew she would take a bullet for me but the reality is much more impacting than theory. Her selflessness means more to me than I can possibly ever express to her. Same goes for Mi Gringito. They are, after all, two of my favorite people in the whole wide world!
She's been gone for a few days now and I'm still standing! I can now sleep on my stomach (PRAISE JESUS!) and I am very independent. I tire quickly, but that is to be expected and I am trying to not over do it. I've been to the mall three times since my surgery and they seem to frown down on that sort of activity. The surgeon's office reprimanded me and told me to cool it. So, I went to Macy's after that appointment.
Life goes on.
I will eventually be able to eat normal food again (I was just promoted to pureed foods today). Let me tell you, after two weeks of strained cream soup and yogurt, those jars of baby food tasted like heaven!
I happily cooked Mi Gringito his supper tonight, baked him a batch of Christmas cookies and I feel like a million bucks.
I also feel inspired. Now that I have to eat smaller portions, focus on protein before anything and still watch what I eat, I have decided to tackle the task of converting my favorite dishes into bariatric friendly foods.
Oh the possibilities!