The “Easy Way Out”?

I’ve been on this journey towards weight loss all of my life.  I’ve been on the journey towards bariatric surgery for six months.  I know others who has experienced it, I’ve talked to people on Facebook and even joined some bariatric weight loss surgery support groups online and locally.  I feel pretty well-educated and informed on most positives and negatives relating to bariatric surgery.

Many, many post-op patients have commented the same revelation over and over:  when they share the news of their surgery decision and experience, the person they tell (usually a good friend or family) comes back with “What?  You took the easy way out?”  And with that disrespectful and awful statement, they often crush the patient’s dreams and ambitions to lose weight and move towards being healthy.  With just that one statement they also show their own ignorance

So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the “ease” it takes to have bariatric surgery, and live the completely new life afterwards, let me give you a quick taste of what it’s like.

Before ever going under the knife, you need to find out if your insurance will pay for such a surgery, and what part they will play.  If you don’t have insurance or money in the bank, you may opt to head to Mexico to have it done – reportedly less expensive by thousands of dollars.  Then you need to find an accredited bariatric surgeon in your area – they most often come as a “group” with their own nutritionist, psychiatrist, labs, access to special testing.  It’s an all-in-one adventure if you’re lucky.  Don’t forget to find out if they accept your insurance… or back to Square One.

Got your doctor in mind?  Go to one of his/her info-sessions, and once you decide, the process begins.  Now, the process can take anywhere from three or four months to over a year, depending on what state or country you live in.  For those in countries with unified health care, it’s usually well over a year of waiting.  Typically it’s around 6-8 months from info-session to recovery room.  Again, different states/countries have different results.  You will be asked to see a nutritionist multiple times, a psychiatrist multiple times, extensive blood work, an endoscopy, a cardiologist,  and possibly be tested for sleep apnea, go to required surgery support group meetings and several visits just to the surgeon.  You need to have your primary care physician’s clearance and approval in writing that they support this choice.  Chances are good that you will also be required to lose some weight “on your own” prior to surgery – some insurance companies require it, some surgeons require it.  Once you jump through all of these hoops, the surgeon’s office will submit your paperwork to the insurance company.  Then the wait begins for the approval… usually takes 3-4 weeks.

Once approved, more tests, pre-op education and surgeon visits as well as nutritionist visits.  The insurance company may give you a “window” of 2-4 weeks to get everything wrapped up and the surgery DONE.  If you can’t accomplish all in that time span, you start over.  But usually you are good to go, and you feel elated that it’s finally going to happen.  It didn’t seem real until approval was received and the final hurdles scheduled.

Still think this is the “easy way out”?  More to come in my next post.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Blessings,

Tamara

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Full Steam Ahead

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I’m going to try to fix that and begin posting regularly.  I’ve been on this weight loss journey since las December 2017, and it has now become “real”.  First, let me say that I’ve lost 66 pounds on the Keto diet since then, and it’s working.  That has been an exciting realization for me.  It has not been without its difficulties, believe me, but I muddle through and take the bad with the good.

The good is that with the weight loss, I’ve also lost clothing sizes.  I’m down from a 26-28-30 to a 24-26.  I also notice that I can now “do things” that I haven’t been able to in such a long time… like touch my toes!  I can stand and/or walk more than before on days that the arthritis isn’t ravaging my legs and feet with pain.  One odd, noticeable thing is that I don’t see any change in myself in the mirror.  I know I must look different, 66 lbs is a lot of weight loss, but I cannot see it.  When I look in the mirror, I see the same fat face, bulging cheeks and triple chins that I’ve always seen.  Yet, my husband says there is a noticeable difference all over.  I think that’s the only “bad part” about the journey so far.  Well, that and not being able to just eat anything I happen to pick up.  I have to be very conscious about what I buy for groceries, what I eat for each meal, and very careful about what I do/don’t eat.  It’s been hard, and I have given in here and there ~ a little ice cream before bed, a slice of rye toast with my eggs a couple times a week, the soda (diet/sugar free).  All that has to go again, starting now.  Even though I have still continued to lose weight with those no-no’s.

Tammy 8-20-17 (3) ipiccy

So, I have been going through the motions to have bariatric weight loss surgery.  Yes, I’m losing weight through diet, but not fast enough.  My knees, legs and feet are giving out rapidly.  I need to lose the weight so I can walk better without so much pain, and then maybe have knee replacement surgery later.  But it needs to happen faster.  So I went to an info session at a local hospital in February and decided to pursue WLS (weight loss surgery).

It is an intensive and expensive endeavor.  Fortunately for me, my insurance covers a good deal of the expense.  The process to even get approved is approximately six months filled with appointments and group sessions.  I’ve met twice with my surgeon, so far… a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, my cardiologist, had tons of labs, and endoscopy, gone to support group meetings, and there is more to come.

My husband, Al, is right there beside me backing me up and being supportive.  That in itself is motivation enough.  Yesterday I received the approval from my insurance company to go ahead with the surgery.  As they say, “It just got real.”  Am I ready for it?  I can say, yes, I’m ready ~ but honestly, I’m scared as hell.  This is not something to take lightly, and it effects your life – your entire life – for the rest of your life.  More to come…

Thank you for stopping by.

Blessings ~  Tamara

Catch 22

Sometimes I feel so torn, like I have no right to complain about my problems ~ that others have it so much worse than I do and I should just shut up and feel blessed.  But when my life, that I thought was on a pretty good track, goes awry, I need some time to regroup, ponder and pray.  Lord, what am I to do next?

That’s what has happened recently.  Besides being morbidly obese, I have severe arthritis in my feet and knees ~ especially my right knee, which is now bone-on-bone and beyond pain comprehension most of the time.  I now walk with a cane all the time, which I hate.  I’ve been seeing an orthopedic specialist for 2-3 months now, and, after visiting him yesterday to hash out our next strategy for pain relief, instead he said he can do nothing more for me.  Then he went into a long dissertation about how bad my knee(s) are and that I’m a candidate for knee replacement surgery IF I can lose a minimum of 60 lbs first.

He continued his long monologue about bariatric surgery, and that it appears to be my only last bastion before being immobile/unable to walk.  I sort of remember being in minor shock at that point.  Deer-in-the-headlights kind of thing.  I thought, “But no!  That can’t be!  I’ve been working hard, changing my eating lifestyle and losing weight!”  He seemed to have read my thoughts and said that at the rate that I’m losing, it would take me about two years to lose the necessary 60 lbs.  “Not fast enough,” he said.  He’s talking by the end of THIS year.  But I’ve lost 25 lbs. since the week before Christmas.  I thought it showed good promise.

I left his office in a fog.  That fog turned into despair and then depression.  The thought of bariatric surgery made me shudder.  You see, I had such surgery in 1988 when I was 29 years old.  From the moment I woke up in the hospital, gagging on the NG tube down my throat, the next 10+ years would be a nightmare of hell on earth with regard to my digestive system.  Most of the first 5-6 years were spent vomiting and/or feeling nausea like you can never imagine.  I used to have extreme nausea for hours, sometimes all night, and would curl up on the floor or the bed in the fetal position and rock myself until the feeling passed.  I used to beg God to make it stop, crying that I would never eat whatever hellish food that had made me sick that time.  It continued on into my current marriage, as of 1998, and I used to have to ask Al to pat me on the back (it helped?).  It was embarrassing the first time it happened with Al, and I had to explain it all… why I was curled up into a ball on the top of our bed groaning and begging to die.  It may seem irrational, but I’d rather spend an eternity in the firepits of hell than vomit once.  Vomiting, for me, IS the embodyment of death.  Next to gagging, it’s the closest I can come to meeting eternity without actually dying.  I don’t know why.  So, this bariatric surgery had been my near-death experience, over and over for decades.  It has lessened now to only once or twice a year… praise the Lord!

And now here I am, again, confronted with having a new torture to deal with all over again.  Even though my common sense tells me that, after 30 years, procedures have changed.  It has to be better now.  And I know I have to try this again.  I say “try” because I may not get accepted, and/or my insurance may not cover the surgery.  Last night I wallowed a bit.  But I also prayed and asked many of my wonderful friends to pray.  I figured my options are either sit and do nothing while my health continues to go downhill one part at a time, or I could take God’s hand and keep going, keep moving forward and do the best that I can to right myself.  I’m admittedly scared.  I’m no longer 29 years old.  It’s 30 years later and I don’t heal as well.  Regardless, I cannot be idle, self-pity or wait any longer.

The answer is to push forward, step-by-step and go where God leads me.  I’ve contacted a local bariatric team at our local Crouse Hospital in Syracuse.  It’s the way to start.  I’m working with them to see if I qualify and if my insurance covers the surgery.  I should know in a few days.  I have to be optimistic.  Any other option is not acceptable.

 

And So It Begins…

2017 is coming to an end and 2018 looms ahead.  Feeling pretty good about myself and the future, for once.  I’m still working on putting the past behind me 100%, it’s so hard not to feel remorse or guilt for so many things.  I need to remember that God has forgiven me for all of my past transgressions, and there’s nothing more important than that.

So, I’ve been losing weight.  I started my own version of the Atkins diet several weeks ago.  I’ve lost 16 lbs in 3 weeks.  It’s a good start and I’m happy with it.  My PC doc is good with it and very supportive.  However, I have not been without my weaknesses.  Eating LCHF (low carb, high fat) is not as easy as I thought it would be.  I really miss a lot of foods, and finding substitutes is far from ideal.  But I’m muddling through.  Eggs (fixed numerous ways), bacon, sausage and other meats are “ok”, but getting tired of it.  NEVER thought I’d be sick of bacon and eggs!  But I sure miss my cereal!  I’ve discovered cauliflower – Steam Fresh riced cauliflower – and I really like that.  Great substitute for mashed potatoes and/or rice.

I don’t like feeling hungry all the time, though.  I never feel like I’m full… or even close to full.  More often than not I feel ravenous.  I’m working on finding some recipes that use almond flour so I can BAKE something.  I’ll get through it.  I’m determined to make this work for the rest of my life.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a New Year.  365 days of new choices, new goals making appropriate changes.  I’m going to try to blog more often.  Not that I think anyone reads my posts… well, “someone” does, as I see almost each day that someone has viewed my Home Page.  Wish I knew who that person was.  But anyway, I do this for me.  And, since I got a new camera for Christmas from my beloved, I think I’ll try hopping back on board with some of my favorite authors on WordPress.  I used to always post photos and take part in challenges.  I need to get back to that.  I have lots to share, and I like being a part of those who also like to share.  Looking forward to being more WordPress prolific again!

Anyway, I think that’s about all I have for this morning.  Maybe I’ll post some pics this evening of the new family addition(s).  Until next time, thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Bye for now…

~ Tamara Eckstadt

 

Forgiven & Set Free Five Years Later ~

Life with Jesus in it is amazing.  I often look at the little oak tree that I planted five years ago after finishing Forgiven & Set Free ministry through my church.  That little red oak has grown a lot!  It’s not only grown a lot in height, but in meaning.  It still stands for the son I’ll know someday, but also it stands for me… for my strength to get through this,  the resilience it takes to go on and the love I can finally feel for myself after all of these years.  I’ve come a long way, through lots of challenges.  I have a ways yet to go.  I won’t reach the end until I go home to God and can meet my baby again.

Red Oak 2017

Thanks for stopping by.  God bless.  ~ Tamara