As is prone to occur in many of our endeavors of life, best laid plans did not come to fruition from the standpoint of my intention to keep shorter intervals in my blog-writing. As I’m nearing a year from my introductory blog, “ Confessions of a Fat Cardiologist “, I felt it well past time to update my many encouragers…and the few disparagers to my initial decision to undergo Bariatric Surgery (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy ). It has been immensely successful and has greatly improved my quality of life as well as allowing me entry back into the High Intensity Interval Training exercise that I love to do.
Cutting right to the chase, I have as of today lost 115 pounds from my peak weight! Yes, I’ve essentially lost a small adult from my body! Was it easy? Yes! Was it effortless? No! Was it worth it? In my case, the answer is “absolutely, YES !!”. I’ll follow with some brief paragraphs about my main observations- both good and bad about my journey.
We’ll start with the bad…
…and the bad is quite trivial.
- On the rare occasions that we do eat out, I truly leave ¾ of the food ordered on my plate much to the consternation of waitstaff who assume that I did not like the food and that it would show up in their tip! With that said, my wife. Suzi, and I now frequently will split a meal (and typically still have left-overs) or I’ll have a doggy bag sizeable enough for me to eat 2-4 more meals!
- With weight loss comes blood pressure drop. I was able to discontinue my anti-hypertensive medications but am still prone to orthostasis if I’m not careful to maintain adequate hydration. I’ve had some real “doozies” transitioning on occasion from heavy squats to interval running on a treadmill! The only falls I’ve had, however, were longhorn induced !
- I also had one episode of misjudging my “fruit of the vine” tolerance. I don’t indulge all that frequently, but when one weighs north of 300 pounds, one’s tolerance for a glass of wine or two on an empty stomach is significantly higher than it is at a normal weight. Apparently, this issue is not uncommon after bariatric surgery and people seem to do best when abstaining at least a year after surgery. I’d highly encourage this given all of the other changes that are happening in one’s body after surgery.
- It’s been expensive…on my clothing budget! I can say that it feels much better buying smaller clothes to fit rather than having to buy larger clothes! The out of pocket costs with my insurance plan was paltry and money that I consider well spent.
- I’m sleeping well again. My sleep apnea has essentially resolved, and I no longer wake up with joint pain from placing heavy weight on the body parts carrying the brunt of my sleeping position. I’ve never had a huge requirement for the numbers of hours of sleep needed and I still don’t, but those few hours that I do need are much more restorative than before.
- My body fat is now in the “athlete” range again! Despite my BMI still being classified “overweight” at 25.2, I’ve had a “dunk tank body fat analysis” which shows me to now be ideal composition for fat and muscle mass. I can tell this in the way that my body responds to training now as well.
- People do speak to me and treat me differently now. There is a societal stigma against fat people (which technically puts this issue into both the “good” and “bad” columns). For people who have known me well for a long time, things have not changed aside from their being happy for me being healthier; however, from those new acquaintances and for people who had previously known me only superficially, there is a palpable change in how they interact with me. This is good in that I can continue to call it out publicly and bring awareness to what really needs to be done to change the direction that the world is going with obesity. I also know that my medical colleagues who had previously not considered referring patients to surgery now are doing so after seeing my anecdotal experience. My patients who have previously ruled it out as an option are now taking a look at it as a viable course of action.
- I can now focus more time on other important efforts to use my God-given gifts. I’m only realizing, after the fact, how much the time and effort spent trying to fight my weight issues consumed my thoughts and distracted me from focusing on other “bigger picture” issues.
- Lastly, I want to leave you with some images and thank all of those many supporters…as well as some of you naysayers, who have encouraged me along this path. Regaining one’s health is best done while working in an environment of friends and loved ones who want for and cheer for one’s success. From my surgical team, to the entire bariatric team, family, friends, and colleagues, you all played a part in helping with my restoration. I will spend the New Year praying for your health and happiness!
DISCLAIMER: I do know that there are many who have lost weight after this type of surgery and gained it back. My surgeon required me to sign a contract with him to see him every 3-6 months for the rest of my life in order to help to keep me accountable. This blog and making my journey public also serves an accountability role of sorts for me. Thank you and Happy New Year!
Happy New Year from Witten and I! Be well, my friends.