Yep, that's me. Now you'll know everything. After 45 years of battling up and down, mostly up, weight issues tomorrow is go day. Instead of heading down to the beach at first light to check conditions I'll be heading to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch for bariatric surgery. The procedure I'm getting done is called a Vertcial Sleeve Gastrectomy or VSG. Most people are familiar with the gastric bypass or the lap band procedure, this is the newest form of weight loss surgery.
I, like millions of people, have an eating disorder. Some might call it a lack of willpower, or self esteem, which may be true, but there is also a bigger problem out there. It is a form of addiction. Some have a nicotine, alcohol, gambling, or sex addiction, some have a food addiction. It's usually misunderstood or overlooked because hey, everybody eats, just some of us more, or a lot more, than others.
I have been through the ringer of diets and lifestyle modifications over the years. Things like Nutri-System, Atkins, Weight Watchers, diet bars, diet shakes, and even just plan starvation have all worked for a bit, but eventually things go back to (ab)normal. Most people have been up and down with their weight, and like me, have seen big swings over time.
In 2008, my latest hard core attempt, I "started anew" and went all out slimming down to just under 210 pounds and feeling, and looking, pretty good. Then reality resumes....and so does the eating. My weight creeped up, and on. 210 became 215, then 225, then 240, and so up to 260. When I was at my doctors in September and was told I was approaching a BMI of 40, which is the cutoff for being labeled morbidly obese, I knew I had to do something.
Besides what being "fat" does to your self esteem and physical and emotional self, it's just not healthy. With high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and a plethora of weight related co-morbidities that occur, my time bomb was started to tick. I realized that this was my doing, but "Hey, stop eating!" or "Change your ways!" was and is easier said then done.
Later that same month when my doctor informed me I was approaching a new weight class, I decided to check out the Weight Loss Center at Monmouth Medical. I was familiar with weight surgery as my mother had a successful gastric bypass in 2004. If it was available years ago I think her mother too would have had it done as she was a very eligible candidate.
I initially thought of a lapband, but learned of the VSG, or sleeve. There's no doubt it's invasive, and it's surgery, and yes it's permanent.....but it was time to be done as I was done with well, being fat. Numerous people say "Hey, you're not fat.....your big, husky, large, big boned, broad, heavy......uh, it's fat." According to the "scale" where they look at height vs weight ratios I should be coming to the fight weighing in at 185. That's 75 pounds from where I am at.
So with the sleeve in my mind I started the 6 month process of changing my diet, going through tests, visiting with a psychologist and nutritionist and my surgeon. Of course all of this had to be presented to my insurance company which signed off the same day they got the paperwork. In addition there were monthly support groups meetings that I attended religiously. One thing they all said, "Don't have a last hurrah!", I had about 25. But now, with only hours away, I can say I am ready, although growing more nervous for life after gastric surgery. One thing I hear is, 'The only regret I have is that I didn't have it done sooner!", which makes me feel a little better.
Yes, the picture above is well, just embarrasing, but it serves me well in seeing that that's what I really look like. Not the me in my limited daily wardrobe of clothes that fit and hide what's underneath from the outside world.
These next few weeks, into the next month or two will be a challenge as I use this "tool" and with a new mental approach to eating try and make myself a healthier, and hopefully happier me. In cliche' but, "I will be eating to live, not living to eat."
Have a laugh while you can (hey it's a half nude fat guy wearing a stripping basket standing on the beach) as I hope to come out of this looking like Brad Pitt, and not a shar pei!
I'll be ready for those drift trips down the Delaware starting in April and jumping up on the poling platform on the boat in the Navesink in late March. See you out there.