January 30, 2017
The path to bariatric surgery all started at a doctor’s appointment in April 2016. Sadly, all of our doctors at our regular clinic left within months of each other, and we had to find another doctor. Living in an urban area, the choice of doctors becomes so distant, so cold, so indifferent. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who has a recommendation, that doctor is usually not taking patients. Instead, my husband and I relied on the professional photos on the clinic’s website. We picked one that didn’t look like a serial killer, and I found myself half-naked on a strange doctor’s exam table.
Side note: In the months between January and April, I needed to get a pelvic exam because of excessive bleeding. Plus, I need to have one done every year because my mother had uterine cancer when she was 40. The first doctor only discussed my vaginal pain and heavy periods and didn’t check any private parts during my yearly physical. The medical community says you don’t have to have a pap smear every year if you have never had an abnormal one. However, you should have pelvic and breast exams every year, no matter what. Since no pelvic exam occured, I went to another doctor in the same clinic. This time, she just gave me a pap smear and nothing else. She told me I had to go somewhere else to get a pelvic exam. Note: she also did not check my breasts as well. End side note.
Back to half naked on the new doctor’s table. Amazingly, she did her job. Who knew it would take 3 doctors to shove their hand up my vagina. I had better luck in grad school with random boys than this. But quite quickly she changed the topic from my concerns about bleeding to how everything was normal in my pelvic area to weight loss surgery.
I’ve had a weight problem / been on a diet / hated my body and myself since I was in 2nd grade. At this time, that meant I had been in battle for 29 years: trying diets, succeeding on some, surviving anorexia, and surviving bulimia. At this point in April, I thought it was the heaviest I would ever be. I read and tried every weight loss book out there. I tried everything.
Returning to vulnerable and half naked, this doctor suggests the gastric sleeve, a new procedure- where they remove all but a banana size section of your stomach. I told her I didn’t trust weight loss surgery, and my concerns about all the extra skin. As a retort, she quoted me the percentages she clearly had memorized. Less than 10% of people who try to lose 100+ pounds or more with the surgery do not gain it back. She also spoke about how she attended a conference about women’s reproductive health where they cited a statistic that women with a BMI higher than 35 have a 9x greater chance of having uterine cancer. She handed me a brochure and disappeared to have me clothe myself and get ready for another A1C (a blood sugar test).
I don’t think there are more terrifying words anyone has ever spoken to me. I heard her say, “You’re going to be your mother. You are on her path.” But, my husband and I were in the middle of a strict diet at that point, and thought, we can do this, we can defy the odds. We decided that we’d try to do it on our own until January 2017, and then, if it didn’t work, we would look into weight loss surgery.
I wasn’t sure if I could ever stop feeling that weight loss surgery is a shameful thing. That “How could I allow myself to grow so big that I would need weight loss surgery.” But when given the chance to look at others who have had weight loss surgery, I do not feel as though they should be ashamed. I think the shame should only belong to me and me alone.