Monday, October 1, 2012
My Weight Loss Journey
I’m about to embark on a weight loss journey. And I’m starting to get scared.
I’ve been over weight my entire life. I’ve been able to lose weight here and there, but I always gain it back – and then some. So I’ve made the decision to get weight loss surgery (WLS). This decision was not made in haste. I’ve sat on the idea for about a year. A couple months ago I decided to take the plunge and get the ball rolling.
Many insurance companies these days are covering WLS. They’re figuring out it’s cheaper for them to pay for this surgery than to pay for the myriad of complications that can arise from being obese. It’s called Preventive Medicine and I wish more organizations would figure it out.
There are three major surgeries that my insurance offers: Gastric Bypass (also called Roux-en-Y), Gastric Band (a common one is Lap Band) or Gastric Sleeve. A couple months ago I went to an informative meeting thinking I like the Gastric Band idea the most. At the time it seemed the least invasive. There’s no cutting, not including the laparoscopic incisions, and it’s adjustable. Even removable.
After the meeting, however, I left knowing that, with out a doubt, I would want the Sleeve. Here is a quick description of the different surgeries:
1. Gastric Bypass – the surgeon uses staples to divide the stomach into a small upper section and a larger bottom section. The top section of the stomach (called the pouch) is where the food you eat will go. The pouch is about the size of a walnut. It holds only about 1 ounce of food. Then the surgeon will connect a small part of the small intestine (the jejunum) to a small hole in the pouch. The food you eat will now travel from the pouch into this new opening into the small intestine. Because of this, your body will absorb fewer calories. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007199.htm)
2. Gastric Band – A synthetic band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. It works by creating a small "pouch" at the top of the stomach just below the esophagus, thus dramatically reducing the amount of food that can be eaten. There is then a port attached to muscles. Saline solution is pumped into the port to make the band constrict. (http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23436)
3. Gastric Sleeve - The stomach is restricted by stapling and dividing it vertically and removing more than 85% of it. The stomach that remains is a narrow tube or sleeve, which connects to the intestines. This restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold, as well as removing the portion of the stomach that generates Ghrelin, the hormone that causes hunger. (http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23436)
I chose to go with what I felt was the least invasive. You may think the Band sounds the least invasive, but I disagree. The Bypass rearranges organs. That’s the most invasive. The Band leaves a foreign object in your body. The Sleeve, although it has the largest internal cut, leaves everything else intact and does not leave a foreign object to cause possible future problems.
Choosing to have WLS is not as easy as one day waking up and scheduling it. There are classes to take and new ways of eating to be taught. There are lab tests and psych visits. They want to make sure the person they’re giving the surgery to will survive it. It may be preventive medicine, but it’s still money management.
You also have to lose weight before getting the surgery to help you lose weight. They want to make sure you’re willing to put in the effort needed to be successful. Yes, once you have the surgery you won’t be able to eat as much, but you can stretch that “pouch” and, over time, make it as big as your stomach was before.
So, I’m eating better. I think I’ve lost weight, but I’m too scared to step on the scale to look. I’ll know at my pre op appointment if I made the grade. If all goes as planned, I will be having surgery on October 17th. Every person I’ve talked to said it was the best decision they ever made. I hope I’ll be able to say that soon, too, but for now I’m starting to freak out.
I plan on keeping track of my journey right here. I hope you’ll follow along. I will need all the help and encouragement I can get.