This is not easy. Getting ready for WLS/Bariatric Surgery/VSG

Well, I can finally say that I’m getting my surgery done THIS MONTH now that it’s October 1.

Today (October 1, 2021) and the last few days since I updated have not been easy. There’s been a lot of gastrointestinal maladies that I won’t go into details about, but I do feel need to be mentioned to just prepare anyone embarking on this three week Optifast journey in preparation for the bariatric surgery. Not everyone has these issues; some deal with constipation, whilst others have no problems but just dislike the taste – some even like the taste!

I have quite a sensitive stomach to the artificial sweeteners, so it’s been a lot more difficult for me. But I feel like today I rounded the corner in the sense that I was awake all day, able to get some things done, and I didn’t have the constant thoughts of food that I was having for the first few days.

I also go a phone call from the pre-admin clinic and I have quite a few appointments coming up next week with the hospital’s pharmacist, anesthetist, as well as getting a requisition to my local hospital for a chest x-ray, as well as more bloodwork and an ECG on Monday morning. I’m not sure when the chest x-ray will occur, but hopefully soon! My surgery date in on the 19th!

Also, I haven’t weighed myself since the start of Optifast due to scale difficulties that have now been rectified, but I have lost six inches of my waist since Monday – insanity! It’s worth noting that I did have a large cheese and pineapple pizza on Sunday night as my “goodbye meal,” so I was probably just very bloated when I took my measurements on Monday. Still, it’s not too shabby!

I know I said I’d have some pictures and video up, but I’ve honestly not felt well enough. I’ve been in my pyjamas and in bed with the occasional walk for the better part of this week. I don’t know why it’s hit me so hard, but hey, everyone’s journey is different.

I feel a bit fed up, I feel upset, defeated at times, and I cry. But I’m keeping my eye on the prize. And fortunately I have a great support group on Zoom of ladies going through the same thing. Thank you to them immensely and to the social worker who facilitates it.

But most of all, thank you for reading and putting up with my whininess!

Sept 28 recap: Liquid diet day 2 out of 21 in preparation for weight loss surgery (WLS / VSG)

I’m not going to lie and say this is easy. In fact, it’s downright miserable. According to others in the bariatric program I belong to, the surgery where you get 85% of your stomach cut out is the easy part: the hardest is the three week liquid diet! Yesterday was the hardest day so far, because I keep forgetting that I can’t eat anything other than the Optifast or a cup of veggie broth. I’ve not strayed, but the temptation is there. I will not waver, however. I still haven’t taken my “before” pictures nor have I weighed myself as unfortunate the scale is presently out of batteries and I didn’t feel well enough to leave the house yesterday to get new ones. Yes, you feel that badly on Optifast for the first few days.

There is definitely a part of me that mourns the loss of food in the way I’ve always used it (yes, used, as well as consumed – I am addicted to food) and will always. I know that once I get my vertical sleeve gastrectomy that I’ll be able to have tiny portions of treat meals a few times a year after about 18 months post-op. But it’s a slippery slope for me, as I’ve lost significant amounts of weight in the past and have treated myself to “cheat” meals that became cheat weeks, and eventually turned into cheat years. Whilst I’m not as overweight as some of the people who get surgery, I wouldn’t have been approved for this surgery if I didn’t need it. I felt out of control with my eating for so long and I tried absolutely everything, and yes, of course sensible eating and lots of exercise. I always tended to shy away from fad diets like the cabbage soup diet or whatever restrictive diet of the day was, and I’d stick with programs like Weight Watchers, which is tried and true and healthy and balanced. I lost so much weight two or three times on WW over the years, but keeping it off longer than a few years was all but impossible for me. I always felt so ashamed when I’d gain the weight back, as though it was some sort of personal failing and an outward manifestation of some sort of character flaw and weakness.

There’s so much more to obesity than that. It’s so much more than people being lazy, gorging on fast food constantly, and drinking pop non-stop. For me, I ate quite healthy, just too much, and I was a grazer. Always looking for something to munch on, and on a 5’2.5 – 5’3 ft frame, that adds up quickly.

So. We’ll see what today brings. I have a group therapy class about changing eating habits and thoughts/emotions about food this morning on Zoom for an hour and a half — this will be the third week now, and it’s 4 weeks long, which means it will end just before my surgery on October 19. I plan to carry on with counselling after my surgery just to insure long term success. After all, this didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed by a surgery either — I’ll just be given a wonderful tool and what I do with that tool is up to me. And you can bet your ass I’m not going to fail after waiting two years on a weight list, and a further 5 months from orientation to surgery, with a zillion appointments with doctors, dieticians, social workers, phlebotomists, internal medicine doctors, surgeons, bariatric nurses etc etc etc etc.

I’m in this to win it. And I’m in not in competition with anyone but myself, and goddamn it, I’m proud of the woman I’m becoming, and I know that I’ll be shedding weight, but gaining so much more.

Life is about to begin. I’ve been given this opportunity and I will not do anything to screw it up.

Oh, and to those who think this is the easy way out? Kiss my luscious ass. I’d love to see you do this, and then eat tiny portions of mush for a further six months, with protein powder mixed in to absolutely everything you eat, and for the rest of your life only being able to sip water very slowly in small amounts or end up in extreme pain. No straws, no carbonated drinks, keeping track of not just carbs, calories, fat, but making sure you get in enough liquid and at least 90 grams of protein, and timing yourself at every meal so that you take at least 30 minutes with no distractions like your phone, a book, or even much conversation. Just pure mindfulness. Not to mention the pain, the hardship, and the judgment from others. Actually, I don’t care about people judging me — I think it’s worth it to share my story so that it may inspire others who are thinking of having weight loss surgery (don’t do the lapbands though – they are outdated, 90%+ get removed, and they cause health issues, and each removal costs between $3,000 and $14,000, meaning taxpayers are on the hook for up to $33 million).

I’ll have up some pictures and perhaps videos later on today or tomorrow.

8 minutes and 46 seconds: The murder of George Floyd and why the battle is one we all must fight

As I sit on the rocks on the beach gazing out at the ocean preparing to write in my journal, I consciously breathe in deeply; the air is familiar, the untamed briny scent mixed with the brilliant perfume of blooming flowers that only fills the air in the fertile late spring. The grass is tall and verdant and bends elegantly in the rich breeze. I can breathe. The din of the late afternoon by the sea is of course the glorious sounds of crashing waves, squawking seagulls, and children laughing as they bravely run into the water. I’m usually so charmed and comforted by the elegant dance of nature, but today, my mind needs to be soothed by my panacea, my lifeblood, my cure all: music. Very deliberately, I put on Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” widely regarded as one of the most iconic civil rights anthems, as well as one of my favourite songs. The emotion is not just in the heart-wrenching lyrics which simultaneously brim with hope whilst also being deeply sorrowful and filled with yearning for a life which is not afforded to people who are not white, but also in the way Cooke so expertly emotes and conveys the true pain of a marginalized existence.`

The song was recorded in 1962, and the fact that it’s 2020 and the present tense to describe the state of racial inequality is what weighs heavily on my mind. Cooke did not live long enough to see the change he sung so passionately about; in 1963, he was murdered in what is now widely regarded as a planned robbery in a lonely motel off a highway by the motel manager who claimed Cooke, who was known to carry large amounts of cash, had tried to sexually assault her, so she claimed to have shot him in self-defence. The evidence did not match her story, but she was believed, because he was black. Guilty until proven innocent, even though the money Cooke had earlier in the evening was missing. That didn’t matter. He was black.

“Then I go to my brother, and I say ‘brother, help me please’ but he winds up knocking me back down on my knees.” 

George Floyd was an African American man murdered on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota by a police officer who arrested him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill a a convenience store. The owner of the convenience store spoke highly of Floyd, and said that he was a regular costumer with whom he’d never had any problems; he was not there that day and it was a teenage employee who phoned the police as protocol when he thought the $20 bill was counterfeit. Four police arrived, and Floyd was handcuffed, knocked down to the ground, and a police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 48 seconds, cutting off his air supply whilst appearing so steely and devoid humanity.

Floyd begged for his life, repeatedly saying that he was in pain and could not breathe. Onlookers tried desperately to persuade the officer to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck to no avail, and the other three officers on the scene failed to intervene. Five minutes in, Floyd, whose mother passed away two years ago, called out to her and said “Mama, I’m through.” He then said his final words “Please, I can’t breathe.” He went limp, and the officer kept his knee on his neck for three more minutes, and his pulse was taken shortly after. There was none to be found, and an hour later, he was officially pronounced dead. Murdered. The police officer’s name does not deserve to be mentioned, and may he forever be known solo as the murderer of George Floyd.

“It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die, because I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky.” 

If there is such a thing as heaven, may Floyd be wrapped in his mother’s arms, enveloped in the love and protection that only a mother can provide. The very protection and love that was so cruelly denied to him in the last moments of his life.

And with that thought, I sigh heavily, close my journal, and wonder how many more will die. I ponder about what such an afterlife may be like, and in it I see all of the victims killed as a result of systemic racism singing songs of freedom with Sam Cooke. We must acknowledge it, speak about it, stand in solidarity, and honour that black lives matter. Systemic racism is a real. This is not just the fight for African-Americans, or for the country of America. This is my fight. This is your fight. This is our fight. This is the world’s fight. Enough is enough, and it’s time for the change that Sam Cooke crooned about decades ago to finally come to fruition.