Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Complicated Choice

I started when I was pretty young with my weight loss battles.
Medicated myself with food, when I was younger than to know what I was doing.

It wasn't until a bit further down the road that my coping mechanisms for stress caught up with me.
Unfortunately, by then, my body had decided to defend my higher weight.
Body chemistry had kicked in to sabotage me. Didn't matter what tools I used, none of them could be used for long enough to get down in weight.

And hope failed. And the weight rose. And the pain came. Then it got worse.

None of these took a break while I was carrying on with life. We added babies to our family. I still had to try to carry the work load. With a body that felt like it was failing me. Betraying me.

Endless dieting, Calorie counting, trying to keep moving when my feet, ankles, knees, hips and back were in mounting pain. Bouts of Sciatica set me back as well.
And the exhaustion of lugging around an extra 150 pounds.
It started to feel like a seriously losing battle.

There had to be a solution. It seems everyone else knows what you should do:

We're told if we give up snacks, or fast food, or our favourite things, we could achieve our goals.
Some have suggested that if only we have enough faith, God will help us with our plight.
Diets are touted, as a rite of passage, and you just have to find the right one to 'get it right'.
We're told that if we just put the fork down, and move more, we would be able to lose weight.
We're told that we just need to use self control.
If only it were that simple.

When all of that fails, then what?

Well, for me, that became complicated.
Because you see, it had been suggested by society that gastric bypass surgery was for the lazy. The people who couldn't be bothered to try hard enough.
That it was the easy way out. Shameful. I cringed, dying inside because I knew what this would mean.
Choosing this would be tantamount to a failure of character, because of the way I had been taught to think.

But I also saw the hope in people when they posted their 'before and after shots'. I heard the stories, of people that were able to get off medications, that were able to achieve their weight loss goals, and some of them talked about how it felt to not be in pain any more.

To not be exhausted, because of the constant pain.

There was a part of me so conflicted at weighing my choices.
How do you think it feels to stand at the edge of a cliff, knowing that if you told anyone what you were thinking, they'd try to talk you out of it?

It feels lonely. And scary. Like there is a whole lot of unknown.

Fortunately, I was able to find a great support group where I could get my questions answered. They were patient with me.
And I decided that I would take a step.

I would place myself on the wait list for surgery.

I knew that it would be a year, before I had satisfied all the requirements of the clinic.  I would attend all of my appointments and continue as though I was planning on surgery. I would endeavour to make a last hurrah, in order to avoid surgery, but I would put myself on a timeline. If it was at all possible to pull this off, it would be done. I was motivated.

And I did everything possible.
And the weight loss stalled yet again.
There was a set point that my body simply would not go below for anything. I struggled, beginning to know that there didn't seem to be any other way out.

It was during the appointments for the clinic, and in that year that two important things happened: My endocrinologist was very supportive when I suggested that I was considering the surgery. He really encouraged me to go ahead with it, based on having watched another patient of his regain his life.
Also, the internist was one of the mandatory appointments. She told me essentially that there is a very small percentage of people who every pull off this type of weight loss without the surgery. My thyroid condition set me squarely NOT in that percentage.

Do you know what happened in that moment? I had been granted a permission slip to put away all of the society driven criticisms. I was granted a medical reason to consider this tool on its' own merits. There was something very freeing in that.


  1. Thanks for writing this Jen! I really mean that. If nothing else, it is an incredible reminder that we do not need to be driven by societal expectations and norms. Our situations are different but we each, as Christians, have freedom in Christ and our identity is in Him and not in the expectations of others. I realize that isn't what you were necessarily going for with this post but thank you just the same!

  2. Thanks for commenting Rose. I appreciate the feedback. It really is so true that societal expectations weigh heavy sometimes. I had to struggle long and hard with others' expectations, to finally be able to come to success. Somehow the irony is that it was one of the major players holding me back; The worry about what others think of me.

  3. Jen, you habe such a way of putting thoughts and feelings into words it's like you're reading my mind and writing about my own life. I had such a hard time with the decision for this surgery because of the social stigma that came with it. I told my doctor two years prior to the year I finally agreed to go on the waiting list NO when she approached me about it. I wasnt living much of a life because of the sciatica pain I was in. The knee pain as well. I could barely walk. I had no life at all. But my mind was healthy and strong and in my mind I could do what I needed to and my body was like NO you can't and painfully reminded me of that despite my efforts. Finally I had to give in and agree to the surgery. I knew it was the only thing that was going to save my life. and It has. Im gratfeul everyday! Thank you so much Jen. You inspire me everyday! I am so glad to have you in my life

    Michelle Duquette

  4. What kind words Michelle! After some of the things I've walked through it still takes my breath away that I could be an inspiration. That's high praise. Thank you for that.


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