Being overweight was not on my life agenda, not that my body understood that. Didn't it knowthat I had softball games to play, a nephew to run after, and exotic places to travel to?
Apparently, my body had its own agenda and all the things I wanted to do was not on it. At 29 years old, I was 283 pounds. I had sleep apnea, back and joint issues, was pre-diabetic, and my asthma was increasingly getting worse. I was constantly tired, out of breath and in pain. But, somehow, weight loss surgery didn't immediately enter my mind as a solution. Not until one hot summer day at the end of July of 2012.
I've played softball since I was 7 years old. It is my passion and even at my largest, I was playing on two softball teams. But on an extremely hot and humid night, I was having a very difficult time playing. I could not cool down and was getting very light headed.
I huffed and puffed on and off the field. My teammates were very concerned and suggested that I maybe sit on the bench for the rest of the game. I was horrified. How could they even think that I couldn't play? This was my wake-up call. Something needed to be done about my weight. Two weeks later, I had submitted my application to Tufts Weight and Wellness Center for weight loss surgery.
I was nervous at my first appointment but very excited as well. I could not wait to be healthy again. I couldn't wait to walk without the pain in my legs, to walk without gasping for breath. I wanted to run after my nephew and travel. My first appointments were eye-opening and forced me to really take a look at myself and my habits. After that, I made some changes. No more soda, no more late night snacking, no more eating only once a day. I started following the pre-op diet plan, incorporated hot yoga into my workout and tracked my food intake. I met with my surgeon, Dr. Sajani Shah and decided on the gastric bypass. I went to my appointments and I smiled when I saw the weight start coming off, slow as it was. In November of 2012, I jumped for joy when I got the approval from the Tufts team for my surgery. On December 10, 2012, I was wheeled into surgery with a huge smile on my face, ready for my new life.
It wasn't all easy. It was hard to talk and relate to family and friends who didn't understand that I had different dietary needs. It was hard when family members who didn't want anything to do with me when I was overweight all of a sudden want to talk to me when I lost it. It was hard when people would tell me it was easier for me now. But that pales in comparison to what I truly gained by losing the weight. I gained my health. 21 months and 150 pounds lighter, I no longer have sleep apnea. I am no longer pre-diabetic. My asthma has improved so significantly that I was taken off my preventive inhaler and rarely use my rescue inhaler.
I don't have pain when I walk anymore. I continue to play softball and even decided to try running, completing two 5ks and hoping to do more. I gained my confidence back. I gained myself. Now, I simply smile when someone says I took the easy way out. I know better.
This was not an easy journey. But it is one that is worth all the bumps, twists and turns. I learned that you need to accept yourself and I learned that you need the proper support.
I gained that support not just from my mom and my sisters, but from an online support group. This was a Godsend. Here was a place where I could talk about my struggles, my concerns, my achievements and show my journey. I could offer my own insights, share what worked for me and support those who needed it.
I found that I loved being able to share my experiences with others, to meet others that have had a similar journey and to inspire those who struggle and cheer them on. This was my favorite part of my journey, being able to support those as I was supported.
So what have I done since surgery? Well, I did go on that tropical vacation, I continue to play softball and to run and exercise. I chase after my nephew and play the games he wants. I don't have to worry about whether my asthma is going to hold me back and I have more energy that I have had in a long time. My body is finally on board with my life agenda and I couldn't be happier.
Tufts Medical Center Patient