Saturday, September 27, 2014

Has it really been six years since surgery?

I was sitting here thinking.. hey, my six year anniversary is coming up. I should start thinking about a blog post. Should I do another cottage cheese test? Take measurements? What day does it fall on again? And then I realized it was three days ago. I never used to believe people when they said "my surgiversary was X days ago and I totally forgot!" But now I do.

So where am I? Not on thinking about WLS every day, that's for sure... I haven't blogged since July. (Though part of that is my job -- I'm working for a startup right now.) I don't weigh myself every day or even once a week any more. I don't need to because I know pretty much what I weigh and how I'm doing just by looking in the mirror and how my clothes fit.

In many ways I don't think of myself as a bariatric patient any more. Or a fat person. In other ways, that will always be part of my identity.

For me, I got what I wanted out of the surgery. I got a normal life as a normal weighted person.


I don't really obsess over food any more. Sometimes I eat better than others. When we have deadlines at work, I tend to live on ice cream. When life is less stressful, I eat a lot better and people think I never lets junk food touch my lips. (Ha!) But for the most part, I don't count calories, I don't log my food any more and haven't for about two years. (I think? It's been a long time anyway.)

I just eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not. And, pretty much no matter what I eat, my weight stays the same. I think my body now has a set point that is a normal weight. I can't really break that even when I try. I can eat like crap and feel crappy but I can't eat like crap and gain weight, at least now when I am not broken physically.

My weight is much more tied to my activity level than my eating. When I lift weights and run a lot, I get lean. During the off season, I get soft. I have a 10 pound range that I move around in based on how injured I am and how much I can work out.

The lowest my weight got to was 112-113 (and 17% body fat) about 10 months out from surgery. I felt a bit scrawny but also obsessed with being and staying that small. I think there is this idea in the WLS community that any weight gain from your smallest weight is somehow a sign of personal weakness. I knew that was whack-a-doodle, but that doesn't mean I wasn't sure that I would be able to maintain my lowest weight because I would not fall back into bad habits because I had self-control.

However, I pretty much immediately bounced back to 119 and never got lower again. I was still 18% body fat and I looked better, so I didn't complain. I may have been freaked out at little inside, but I soon got over it.

The highest my weight got post-op was 129 after my biking accident. But mostly I tend to live in the 120-125 range. Yesterday I was 122. I don't know what my body fat % is because I'm too cheap to get another test.

I have a lot of loose skin and sometimes it plays with my mind. I think about getting plastic surgery but I haven't got the money and if I did have the money I'd rather buy a tricked out triathlon (TT) bike and/or put more money into my kids college fun. Or go on a once-in-a-life-time vacation. Or remodel the back half of hour house. But if someone has a spare $20,000 laying around, my number is ....

Sometimes I think of the skin as my badge of honor. Other times it makes me feel like an alien wearing a human skin suit.

On the health side, I did get off my blood pressure med. But I got on a bladder med because it turns out I have an overactive bladder, not stress incontinence. I still do have issues with my blood pressure sometimes being high but it seems to be a "only in the doctor's office" thing and it's usually low. I still watch my salt and water intake just in case though.

I thought I had allergies but it turned out to be undiagnosed GERD which went away when I lost weight and had my hiatal hernia repaired during VSG surgery. I take my supplements faithfully still and I have wonderful labs except for my protein levels which are always low no matter how much protein I ingest.

Well, they were normal on one lab set once. I tend to do about 100 - 125 g of protein a day on average and have protein levels at 6.1-6.3 (normal is 6.4). My bariatric surgeon and my PCP say I have no other symptoms of a protein deficiency and they are starting to think maybe this is just my new normal. I'd still like my labs to be higher.

This makes it seem like I'm not really healthier but I don't think that's accurate.

Before I had surgery, I thought I was a person who didn't let my weight get in my way. Since I had my surgery, I realized I was wrong about that. My life has changed so much. I have a much higher quality of life now. My weight was impacting my life every day in every way and I was just used to it.

Some highlights: I've lost a (bad) job because people there couldn't deal with the new me, got a couple of new ones including the awesome one I have now, did two Ironmans, crashed my bike and had Post-Concussion Syndrome for over three years, was in a community theater version of The Wizard of Oz (I sang and danced on stage!), and next season I'm going to start on my two year plan to qualify for the Boston Marathon and continue with the 2nd year of my five year plan to qualify for the Ironman World Championships.

I feel like I've become the person I was meant to be and that person I was for so many years -- the morbidly obese person -- took place in an alternate universe where I was me but not really me.

So that's it. That's my Six Years Out from Surgery Report. We'll see if there is a 7 year report.
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