About a month ago, I was standing in my kitchen talking to Mom on the phone. I told her I'd been working with a hospital wellness program for almost a year, aiming to lose weight through frequent consultation with my doctor, a nutritionist, and a therapist. They were recommending me for weight loss surgery so that in the event of insurance approval, I will have that option.
I was having a bad day, and I needed to cut through the small talk bullshit and tell my mom how I felt. Even after everything I've said here about her issues and toxicity, she does have a mother's heart and can listen to me with sober ears when I tell her I'm hurting. She may not always give the best advice, but she does empathize and share her love.
I might be approved for surgery, and it freaks me out. A year and a half ago, my self-esteem was in such a bad place that I would have jumped at the opportunity; honestly, even the slight possibilities of malnourishment and death would have been better than the life I was not living. But now there are so many factors that come into play.
- Is it fiscally responsible? Our economy is in the toilet, and I want to have surgery to quickly fix what a lifestyle change can improve over time? Corporate insurance plans are higher than ever, and this procedure would put another burden on my own organization. I love my job, and I don't want to negatively impact this group. My doctor told me that the complications from obesity would do more damage to insurance rates – and my body – over time. That's true, but…
- I don't plan on being obese forever. Not only is my weight on a downward slope, but I eat wholesome foods and exercise. I got fat over the last 4 years because I ate right, but I just ate too much of it. I have good blood pressure, no signs of diabetes, a strong heart. I'm healthy, just fat. It's the latter that needs to change.
- Would I be happy with myself if I lost weight this way? Right now I am thrilled by my successes, however small, because they are proof of the good choices I make. Success from weight loss surgery doesn't come from the choices made every day, but from the necessity of consuming small bits of food so that I don't rupture. Plus, I must eat all day to meet protein and nutrient requirements that aren't met with supplements. I can't fathom eating all day, and I can't see how I can work that into a normal social life. It's the gastronomic equivalent of having an iPhone – both useful tools that become mindless habits, keeping you from full participation in a meaningful life full of other people.
- After a few months of rapid weight loss, even with regular exercise, I will have excess skin. I've come to see that as an inevitability, seeing as how my elasticity is shot from so many years of yo-yo dieting. Hell, my thighs didn't have elasticity to begin with; they were always curdled with fat. The point is will I just be trading one body issue for another? I'm afraid it's just going to start an endless cycle of body dysmorphia, and that's how the cat lady got started. If you give a mouse a bypass, she's going to want a brachioplasty.
I started the conversation by telling Mom I was, as usual, upset with my body and myself for gaining back all of the weight I worked so hard to lose in the first place. I told her I was ashamed of myself for falling off track after moving to Chicago. Then I told her about the possibility of surgery and the above reasons for not doing it.