Tuesday, August 11, 2009

support group

Well, I attended my first support group tonight. I've been post-op for over a year, but haven't been able to get to any support groups b/c of school and work, and always having class when they're held.

I thought it would be post-op bandsters only, but it was kind of a bandster free-for-all. Only about five of the thirty+ people there were post-ops. I was able to contribute a lot about my experience, and that made me feel good. What also made me feel good was when the patient liaison, co-chair of the group, called me by name. She remembers me! yay!

I had an interesting experience afterwards. I was talking to a pre-op woman behind me who had asked a few important and well-thought questions during the meeting. She wanted to know a few more things, so I was talking to her. Four more joined and asked me questions. I felt awesome! until..

This one skinny bitch (scusi, but she was!) kept interrupting. "Do you drink alcohol? How much soda do you drink? You hungry?" It irritated me, but I reminded myself that I was a question-filled pre-op once, too, so I answered her questions honestly.

Very quickly, though, she asked, "When was your surgery?" I told her, "May '08." Her next question - inevitably and without missing a beat - "and how much have you lost?"

"Almost sixty," I told her with a smile. After all, those were hard pounds to lose! And they were mine!

Her response?

wait for it..

wait foorrr it...

"Oh. That's all?"

I kind of sensed it was coming, so I had a mini-moment to prepare myself. I turned in my chair to face her directly, and, still smiling (though not quite as warmly), I answered in a clear, firm voice, so that I could be heard.

"Yes. 'That's all' I have lost. I hope you have an easier time with your surgery. It is not easy for anyone and I worked hard to lose as much as I have."

I went on to answer more questions from other pre-ops, but I made a point to keep coming back to this woman.

"It's really difficult to be on this side of surgery, more than you can imagine. It is a constant struggle. But I chose a band for a reason. I wanted to lose slowly, though I didn't realize it would be this hard. I chose the slow-but-steady route because I knew that if I didn't get the chance to fix my head, the reason I got fat in the first place, the surgery would not be successful, either for regain or 'head' issues."

She interrupted me then. "Well I wanna lose a hundred in the first year." First of all, she could not weigh more than 250, TOPS. And she was not a tiny woman, so 100 would have been plenty for her frame.

"Well, in that case," I told her, "maybe you should look into gastric bypass. Good luck with that." I was not putting up with this shit. No way. "If you want to drop weight and do it fast, bypass is great for you. For me, it's more important to have time to adjust to a new body, a new lifestyle, a new way of relating to food than to get skinny quick. But, hey, if that's what you want, have fun." I was gaining momentum. "You can drop 100 in a year with a band too, you know. If you work it, you can do it. I struggled with getting the right amount of fluid in my band to physically stop the hunger and the overeating. I struggle with exercise because of my schedule. See, I work full time. And I go to school full time. At night. So, yes, 'that's all' I've lost in this past year. But you know what?"

She looked at me quizzically. "I have kept it off. I've never been able to do that. And, furthermore, I am getting to know who I can be without the weight. I've never met her, and I have to live with her for the rest of my life, so I'd kind of like to get to know her. I've changed. My personality has changed. A lot. That's not easy to deal with. Again, good luck to you."

I was friendly but firm. After I was getting up to leave, she thanked me and apologized. I told her that we're all sensitive people. Labels and attention to the negative can be hurtful. "You're going to be on the other side someday soon," I warned her, "and it would be really helpful to be supported by people around you. You'll see."

I feel really good about standing up for myself, my decision, my struggle, my story. My life.

1 comment:

legally banded said...

for the record, I am 100% not anti gastric bypass. even considered it. just a disclaimer there.