Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting to LapBand

Everyone has their own story of how they got to needing a Lap Band.  Mine is very similar to many in that I have struggled with my weight my entire life.  I have never weighed the "ideal weight" for my age/height at any point in my life.   Being overweight became a significant issue very early in my childhood.  Sometime around 8 years old my pediatrician decided that my weight was "getting out of control" (according to my Mom, I was about 20lbs overweight).  I was placed on my first 'diet'- it was a 1200 calorie exchange type plan.  (i.e. 1-starch, 1 protein, 1 veggie, etc, etc, blah, blah).  I was put on that diet while on summer break from school.  It followed me everywhere that summer.



*The statements below in bold are my assessments of how this experience effected my life*

I couldn't entirely wrap my 8 year old brain around it.  It was like I woke up one morning with a bad case of The Fat.  Honestly, I didn't care about being "overweight" but it seemed like it really bothered the grown-ups in my life.  My parents, grand-parents, my doctor--  everybody was suddenly bent out of shape about it. I was always trying to get a gold star as a kid, this experience shifted my need to please grown-ups into overdrive. Gee!! I wonder where my association of my ability to lose weight = other peoples approval came from??  My doctor even promised me a "special prize" if I lost the 20 lbs over the summer. The Asshole wouldn't even tell me what the prize was, even after the summer was over.  Just the first turn in a vicious cycle of feeling like a failure for not meeting a weight loss goal.  Also the first time to feel like I don't deserve to get/have/do cool things unless I can control my weight.    SPOILER ALERT!!!!!  I didn't lose 20 lbs that summer, if anything I gained some weight.   This dieting experience taught me a skill I like to call, "defensive eating"aka Everyone is watching every bite I take so I will anything and everything I can eat while no one is watching.  


My childhood and teenage years came and went with me steadily packing on extra pounds.  I hated back to school clothes shopping because every year I HAD to have new clothes. Nothing would fit and my Mom would get frustrated at having to have stuff altered. And then there was the crying and shrieking (of course, I have learned now that the crying and shrieking is pretty much par for the course for any teenager.)   I also spent those years being convinced by those around me that everything wrong with my teenage life was due solely to my weight.  It was the reason I wasn't popular or had a boyfriend.  I became more and more convinced that I would be happy and life would be perfect if I were just thin.  This little notion becomes quite a problem when you have WLS, lose the weight, and are still stuck with your same old problems.  I did the Phen/Fen thing the summer after I graduated from high school.  I lost 20+ pounds overnight and I got lots of positive attention. This pretty much confirmed my theory that life would be so much more awesome if I were thin (of course, I was 18 my only major problems were lack of popularity and lack of boyfriend).   I quit Phen/Fen before I left for college and it was banned in the US soon after.  I had gained that 20lbs plus more before I even came home from Christmas break.  The pounds just kept on coming throughout college.

Fast forward to my Senior year of college.  I met a fella (he would end up being my Hubs) he was a big guy and he liked me, even as a big girl.  We liked to eat and cook and lounge.  We got married and we continued to cook, eat, and lounge.  We fueled each others bad eating habits.  After we got married, I took a couple of swipes at Weight Watchers but never lost more than 15lbs. After 8 years of marriage he and I were both as big as we had ever been and completely miserable in our bodies.

I first heard about adjustable gastric banding in 2004.  The RNY gastric bypass had just become semi-common. At the time I gave the RNY a lot of consideration, but honestly it scared the bejeezus out of me.  The idea of having my innards chopped up and pasted back together just gave me the willies.  The Band seemed much less invasive.  However, in 2004, LapBand was still very "experimental" and it was next to impossible to get insurance to cover it. At the time there were still very few doctors in the US that actually did the procedure.  Most of the folks I found online that had the Band had gone out of the country to get it done.  I wanted it so bad but insurance wouldn't cover it and I couldn't afford to self pay (and I also couldn't bring myself to go to Mexico to have it done.)

I will admit initially, when I first heard of WLS in any form, the attraction was the notion of losing lots of weight really fast.  It wasn't until I did TONS of research on the different types of surgeries that I realized that success wasn't a guarantee and that, even with WLS.  So much work was still required to lose the weight permanently.  In hindsight, I am glad I was forced to wait for my opportunity to get LapBand.

Fast forward to 2008, my darling Husband (who was also struggling with obesity) started a new job (that also had us moving to a new city).  Not only had the LapBand procedure become more prevalent but our new insurance actually covered WLS.   I had been wishing, hoping, and researching for a way to get the LapBand since 2004.  The Hubs, however, wasn't entirely sold on the idea--- until Summer 2009.  

Everyone has that moment when something clicks.  When you say "Alright, that's it. I don't care what I have to do, something has to change!!!"  My Husband's moment came from some wounds on his leg that wouldn't heal.  They wouldn't heal because he had "venous insufficiency" which is a fancy term for "you are so fat that your body can't pump enough blood to your extremities to actually heal your wounds."   It was around that time that the Hubs brought the LapBand topic back up for discussion.  He was ready to do it and I had been ready so the only thing left to do was to map out our plan of action.

Our insurance required the 6 month pre-op physician monitored weight loss.  We were really fortunate to find a GP that was, not only extremely supportive of our decision, but also didn't view our weight as the source of everything wrong with us.  (I say this having been to a GP who once tried to convince me that I sinus infection was directly caused by my being overweight.)   We completed our 6 months of physician monitored weight loss.  In December of 2009 we met with our bariatric surgeon and proceeded to complete the designated pre-requisites of the bariatric program. The Hubs and I agree that we really, really liked the surgeon, however, we weren't super impressed with her support staff. (This feeling would be confirmed repeatedly in the months of our after care.)

We were both scheduled to have surgery the morning of March 19, 2010 in Memphis (about an hour away from where we lived at the time).

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