About a month ago, I went to the doctor to check out some strange pain I was having in my leg. it happened after I would fly, after lying down, after pretty much just existing. My brother had a pulmonary embolism a few years ago, and I was worried that it might be blood clots since apparently, that's yet another prize in my family's genetic lottery.
Turns out, it wasn't anything severe. Just some sciatica, largely due to being overweight. As part of the normal routine, the doctor also called for some bloodwork to just check up on things. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I got a call a few days later to a nurse sounding awfully concerned, telling me that they were sending an order to an imaging center so I could get my liver imaged. Turns out, the levels of the liver whatsits that they measured were off the charts. They were concerned I had developed non-alcoholic cirrhosis, a complication which can occur from having too much fat in the liver. When I weighed in at that doctor's appointment, I weighed 425 pounds.
That was something of a wakeup call for me. I'm not stupid. I know that being overweight is unhealthy. That's not to say that people can't or shouldn't be respected and loved regardless of their size, but objectively, scientifically, being severely overweight is an unhealthy condition. That's the reality of it. I am, you are, everyone is free to make that choice, and for some, it isn't a choice, but a result of medical problems beyond their control. I understand all of this. I'm not making a judgment of anyone, or of myself. The simple fact is: being overweight, especially as severely as I am, was leading me on a path to being dead.
I started doing some calorie counting, which I'd done in the past with some success. I also started thinking an awful lot about the fact that I was slowly killing myself and not doing anything about it. I'd had this realization before. Again, not stupid. But in the past, I cared a whole lot less. I was miserable a lot of the time. I had little sense of self, and work, which I tie my sense of worth to greatly, was not great. So I told myself, well, some folks smoke or drink themselves to death. I guess my vice is food, and I resigned myself to just kicking back and enjoying the ride.
But suddenly, it occurred to me that I did care. I really cared. I was happy, I was in such a better place. Not just with work (which is a big thing, even still), but personally. I have plans; I have things I want to do. I was beginning to realize all the things I wasn't doing because of my weight. I wasn't going on group outings on work trips. I wasn't playing golf. I wasn't planning trips that I was afraid might be too difficult while being obese.
Given that, I was terrified that this sudden moment of inspiration was fleeting. I've yo-yo dieted for years. Been down as much as 80 pounds before gaining it all back and more after even the smallest setbacks. I realized that I needed help. Help for a medical issue, like I needed help for my anxiety and depression.
So I took this moment of inspiration and made a decision that's going to affect the rest of my life. I'm scheduled for gastric sleeve surgery. This isn't a panacea. It's a tool, a way to help me with the medical condition that is my relationship with food, sugar especially. It's going to create some new complications in my life. It's not something that's reversible. It's going to be with me forever, to help me be healthier. More active. More alive.
I'm writing this as much for myself as any of the 4 people who might read this. Because at the bottom of this pit, I feel trapped, and that I don't have a choice, and I worry that I'll blow it off once I'm not at the bottom. It's hard to feel excited about the possibilities of something you don't feel like you have a choice not to do. But I'm trying to stay positive and think about the improvements to myself and my life that this will lead to.
All of this is shrouded, though, in intense shame. Embarrassment that I failed so far. That I just wasn't strong enough to do it on my own. That the problem is me, and why is it so hard NOT to just eat too much junk all the time? I know, deep down, that I'm making the right decision for me (it isn't the right decision for everyone - only you know you enough to say), but this is wrapped in so much emotional baggage that I'm writing this here, and hope to write about how things are going as I go along. If only so I can look back and see it. And to let some of this shame out.
So as an initial progress statement: Since I went to the doctor, I'm down 21 pounds. I'm down about 5 pounds since I started the pre-operative diet (super high protein, super low fat and carbohydrates). I've got about 2 weeks of this diet left before the surgery. Then a life-long commitment to being a better me. Whatever that looks like.