By Suzette

Recently I have joined a couple of Facebook Groups that cater to WLS surgery patients.  One in particular is a very positive page and I enjoy just reading the post.  Occasionally I see new patients asking the same old questions that we all asked when we were new patients.

“How long will I have to drink liquids?”
“When can I start solids?”
And the one I detest hearing: “When can I go back to eating Normal Food?

I’m going to be blunt!

Why do you want to go back to eating what got you to the point that weight loss surgery is your last resort?

Everyone has a different reason for WLS, some it is because of medical conditions.
Mine was Blood Pressure and knees that just did not want to work but were not candidates for repair surgery.

Yours may be because of diabetes, heart conditions, and many more conditions that are serious and can be devastating – and WLS can be a true lifesaver.
OR you may be a person ( I have met a few) that think they need surgery to lose about 50 pounds……and just think it is the easy way to lose the weight and never gain it back!!!!!
WoW!  Did I just say that??
Yep, Pie in the sky is Pie that will smack you in the EYE!!

Having met folks that their doctors have told them because they are border line in the weight requirement that they need to gain wait to qualify for the surgery, I want to set down with them and explain that this is not a diet that changes with every whim.  It is not a social status thing! Surgery – whether it is RNY, Lap Band, or Gastric Sleeve – is life changing!!!!

I will never eat normal again…..I occasionally taste “normal food” that promptly makes me physically uncomfortable, and I realize that I don’t want to go back to being Normal!

Normal made me who I was!!!

I was at 293 pounds when I decided to have weight loss surgery.
I lost down to 285 before I went to the surgeon because I was embarrassed to admit how out of control I was.
I was not normal then and I knew that I wasn’t.

Over my lifetime I had dieted at least 1 time a year or more since 1969, when I lost 70 pounds by living on a 1000 calorie diet. I weighed 123 lbs. when I married in 1970.  After that I gained a minimum of 10 pounds a year, and some times more.  In approximately 40 years I figure I had gained and lost close to 1000 pounds!!!

I probably exaggerate, but you know what I mean:  I was out of control and definitely not normal!

We met one sweet lady at a support group.  She was 6 weeks out from her surgery, was just starting solid food and had “only lost 38 pounds” (p.s. – 38 lbs in 6 weeks is AWESOME).  She thought she was failing because her expectations were screwed up.

Her question to us was when could she start eating noodles, ie pasta!

I was totally honest!  Tell me why you want too??

She was almost in tears.  She was single had no support at home and a job that was high stress.  She was extremely shy which I think added to her overall issue.

She said that she did not cook and that she did not know how to begin.  She had eaten out, fast food or prepared meals all of her life.  She just wanted to get back to NORMAL!!  That stupid word again.  NORMAL, what we all want to be!!! What NO one is!!

IT is like wanting to be AVERAGE!!!  Average is a mathematical theory…..add the highest to the lowest number and divide by the number of numbers……or some such bologna!!!

I don’t want to be Average, therefore I do not want to be NORMAL!!!

So to me from day one, I wanted to be different!  Different from what I had been.  If that meant looking at my emotional eating, my cooking, my health, my lazy inactive self…..(yep, I was one) I was going to do everything my surgeon told me to do to be successful.  I read every piece of literature I could find and talked to everyone I knew who had had any of the surgeries.  My first surgery was the Lap-Band and I didn’t want to have another surgery.  When I started having problems with the band, eight years into the surgery, I was frustrated.  I had done everything and I was gaining weight.  My original loss was 85 pounds and I had gained 25 pounds back and was throwing up after every meal.  What was happening?

I discovered that it was not what I was eating.  It was what I wasn’t eating.  I was literally starving to death because I was not getting the necessary nutrition to lose weight.   Crazy? No! We have to feed our bodies and feed them the right things to keep loosing or to lose from the beginning.   I was getting less than 600 calories a meal and throwing up at minimum half of what I was eating.  So the decision to have the Gastric Sleeve was something I had to roll around for a while.  I had done everything that I was supposed to with the Band, and it had not worked, what was I going to do if the next surgery didn’t work?

Thank goodness my surgeon set me down and explained that something was causing the throwing up and it was either scar tissue or something else.  It was a hiatal hernia that was not showing up on any of the Upper GI test that had been done.  The sleeve saved my life in more way that just losing more weight.  

I learned that having the sleeve was a bigger change that I expected.  I was unable to tolerate NORMAL food!  Maybe a blessing that Milk is not on my diet – Ice-cream is not tolerated. I refuse to eat pasta, rice or potatoes on a weekly basis!  I am not Normal!  I can really eat one Lays Potato Chip and walk away from the bag!  This is because I choose to not be NORMAL!  Never again!

I have eliminated the FILLER in my diet!

I can and do eat a piece of bread occasionally, but not every day.  I do eat and enjoy chocolate!  I eat sugar free, it is my choice and my body doesn’t like sugar so it is happy!  My new Normal is not Normal!

The men at our church know that I make sugar free treats so that both my husband and I can have a treat at fellowship time.  The joke is that my treats are “calorie free” because they don’t have sugar….it is a joke folks!  What is interesting is that every one of them will dig in to see if it is “any good”!  So I feel good that no one is ever put off by my “diet food”

I know I have covered a lot of territory today but my life is complicated and definitely not NORMAL!!!  But the story has not ended, and I hope that your story is just beginning.  Learning to look at food as nutrition and not as an emotional crutch is one of the most important things that we learn after our surgery.  Some are ready, and some people are not ready, to look inside at why they were out of control to begin with.  I hope that all of y’all that read this understand I wasn’t ready. and didn’t realize until I was beginning my second surgery that there was more to me, more to my bad eating than just looking normal.  I wanted to live normal, without having a dozen medications and a walker.  I wanted to extend my life and help extend the life of my children and grandchildren.  None of my children or foster children or grand children eat the same they did before my surgery.  My surgery changed my family’s outlook on dieting, eating and living!   I wish every one of you success and send my love to all of you.