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Life after WLS

My WLS Journey Pause Button

You know that button on your remote control that looks like this sort of like this || – it’s the pause button, and sometimes, right in the middle of a show that you really want to watch, you have to hit because life has something else in mind for you.

WLSPauseI find the same is true of my weight loss journey. Every once in a while you’ll see me use the = sign, when I do that, it’s my way of saying two things at once, first, it’s my pause button, but I also see it as a reminder that I must find balance in things.

I like to envision that when I hit my WLS Journey pause button it’s just like the one on the remote control, in freezes the screen shot in place and lets me do what I need to do and then come back to it.

Often times what I need to do is re-evaluate and re-assess the situation and for me that is so much easier if I picture it frozen in my head. I find that often times when something happens in my life it sort of whirlwinds, when things go well they lead to other things going well and seem to just gain power and momentum, and when things go back, then tend to roll down hill and get really bad really fast.

When this happens I press my pause button, I step back, and I analyze it and that is a lot easier for me to do when it’s not moving in any direction.  Achieving this sort stillness isn’t always easy though, life doesn’t just stop when you want it too, but what I have found is that when I push that pause button it means that I have to take steps to help myself achieve that stillness. For me, that means walking away from my computer, taking time away from my blog, taking a break from all of my social media interactions and just focusing on me and whatever I need to figure out.

Most recently I had to do this because my friends and family came to me and let me know that I was letting my WLS Journey consume all of my extra time and that they needed me to realize there are other important aspects of life as well.  They really worried about me rushing off to Dallas in just a couple of weeks to start taking my Personal Trainer Course and doing a lot working out and traveling when I’m still wearing compression pants after my thigh lift, am barely two weeks back in the gym and still dealing with quite a bit of swelling if I spend too much time sitting at my desk.

My friends were right. I was so wrapped up in how exciting my journey was that I was making decisions I wasn’t ready for.

So I reschedule things, I moved them around, I made it so that I won’t be leaving OR until March when Heather and I head to Ohio and then Virginia and Washington DC. After we get back I will leave for Dallas in April to go do my course studies at the Cooper Institute and then I’ll get in my CA trip and hit Vegas on the way back to Portland before heading off to Atlanta for a week.

Sometime I think that my WLS Journey Pause Button is one of the most important tools I have in my WLS Journey and it is one that I have had to learn to utilize more and more often as my weight loss journey continues and I learn how to live life after the weight loss.

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Why Weight Loss Surgery?

My friend Jessica at Bariatric Beginnings wrote a blog today called Why Weight Loss Surgery. It addresses the seemingly common occurrence of WLS patients being told that by having weight loss surgery they took the easy way out.  Jessica discusses the process to surgery, she explains that for many we are taking our lives back…  I’ve decided to elaborate a little bit…

IMG_2353Hi I am Pandora; I used to weigh 420 lbs.

The first time I can remember being abused I was 4 years old.

My Family was one of the paradigms for “dysfunctional family” – My real mom was 14 when she had me. She tried to kill me, gave me to her older sister to raise instead. I was molested by my then grandfather, who molested someone else in my family before me, and my entire family knew about it and my grandmother married him and they all let him have access to me knowing what a monster he was.  Several of my aunts and uncles where junkies, my mother was emotionally, physically and verbally abusive and by the time I was 14 I was trying to commit suicide on a regular basis because I was so tired of fighting to live.

I credit my High School sweetheart, a boy named Chris Hanna that will likely never see this, with the fact that I made it out. Him showing me that someone could love me, and that there was a chance that someday someone could love me that had a normal and healthy family that would accept me and that I could be a part of instead of mine and his mother Sandy, a high school principal that saw a girl drowning in her family and showed me that there was a way out, are probably the only reason I decided to stand up and take my life back from what had been done to me.

Food had been my coping skill in a childhood of misery. Some of my best childhood memories are of eating cereal in front of the TV alone in the morning watching cartoons and sneaking Dr. Pepper and Ding Dongs late at night.  But you know the first time I remember food being my friend. Was when I’d visit my grandmother’s house and after something horrible had happened to me, I’d get an ice cream cone or some money to walk to the corner and get a donut.

By the time I left home and got on my own I was over 200 lbs  Next I went through my abusive men cycle. First I picked a boy who convinced me I should do crystal meth to lose weight. After I saw the bottom, and I do mean the bottom of the meth head phase, I moved on to the next one; the physically abusive boyfriend. But you know, I was so full of my own self-loathing then that I didn’t really care if he abused me, I was so mentally ill at this point that I had turned to self-mutilation and some guy beating the piss out of me wasn’t such a bad thing in my head space. It took a hospital psychologist forcing me to see a therapist, to get me to my next phase, a diagnosis of Dissociative Identify Disorder.  It took me about 6 years of therapy, being put in hospitals over and over again, months and months of inpatient programs and a really damn good doctor, to get past this part.

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But food was still my only real friend and now I weighed 420lbs. So I decided to try to tackle it. I tried weight watchers, I tried Jenny Craig, and I tried Calorie Restrictive diets nothing worked. I’d lose some, gain it back, lose some gain it back and I was always hungry, I always felt my stomach growling and I never felt satisfied. I did Atkins, lost 195lbs, got married, went back to eating like a normal person, you know some carbs, and I gained it all back.

I chose to have gastric bypass surgery when my 83-year-old father came to me and told me that he was scared he would die without knowing that I would have a happy and healthy life. I decided to have gastric bypass when I realized that I was scared I was going to die before 40. I decided to have gastric bypass when I realized that because my family treated me so bad that food was where I found love and comfort, I had always used it that way, and really I was killing myself with food. I was still allowing what they had done to me to drag me down and stop me from living my life.

And once I made that decision I did all the things my friend Jennifer wrote about. I struggled with insurance I did all the pre-op requirements… and before I could even have my surgery I had to lose 70 lbs on my own so I was not a death risk. I did that. And for six weeks before my surgery I gave up food completely and drank only milk.

And let me tell you what I did AFTER my Gastric Bypass

I became an avid exerciser. I started to learn about food and nutrition since I had never been taught. I followed all the new super restrictive rules I had agreed to follow in return for a CHANCE that MAYBE I could lose the weight and keep it off and get a chance to live my life.

10152012 008And after I had lost the weight, then I stood there looking in the mirror and all I saw was all the skin that hung off me, made me look old, worn, ugly, and… abused. Yup, I saw all that skin as remnants of my abuse. It was like even still no matter how much I fought to overcome one thing there was something else there to told me back that I still tied to my abusers.

So I spent a year of my life dedicated to cutting it off.

For the first time in my life I look in the mirror and I feel GOOD about myself. I feel like I see ME for the first time instead of seeing a broken woman still trying to recover from being a broken little girl. And for the first time in my life, I won’t allow anyone else to break me.

There isn’t one thing about my life or any decision I have made that has been easy.

Why gastric bypass? Because I deserve to live my life as much as you deserve to live yours.

And if I ever hear someone actually say that gastric bypass is an easy way out…  I’m going to smile and… educate them.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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