On Friday, March 29th, 2019 I arrived at my first appointment for gastric bypass surgery after attending the seminar in December. I haven’t told but a handful of people that I was thinking about surgery for weight loss. I feel like surgery is the easy way out. In some ways it makes me feel like I’ve failed. The truth is, this is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make when it comes to my weight loss. This surgery is irreversible. It’s not a fix-all. People still gain weight after surgery and to be honest I’m scared as hell. If I can’t control what I eat RIGHT NOW how can I possibly control what I eat after surgery? But that’s the least of my worries on this day.
The doctor comes into the room and tosses my folder on the desk, “So why are you here today?” I stare at him. He’s caught me off guard. I know he wants to hear that I’m here because I want a better life and no longer want health issues and blah blah but doc – let’s be honest. In order to get there, I’ve got to lose weight. So I say, “To lose weight. To be healthy again.” He chuckles a bit and right away I know that’s not the answer he wants and personally, I don’t care. He quickly replies with the list of things he was looking for. I already know I don’t like him. He’s cocky. His voice is demeaning and degrading. He asks me if I sleep with a c-pap – I answer no. He asks if I have high blood pressure – I answer no. Heart attack, stroke – no. He asks if I have diabetes – I answer no but I am still using Metformin to keep it under control because I used to have Type 2. I want to scream, “DID YOU READ MY FILE?!” He asks which type of surgery I’m interested in. I pick up a large flip board with the names of the surgery because who the hell remembers “Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.” I explain this is the type of surgery I’d like and the reason why. He quickly shoots it down and tells me that with the way I carry my weight and because I’ve had several abdominal surgeries, the sleeve would be better. He leaves the room to grab the female nurse because he has to check my heart. I look over at Kristy with disgust and whisper, “I don’t like him.”
Later that evening I received an email showing the notes and wrap-up of our appointment. Under ‘Chief Complaint’ the doctor writes “Sleep apnea, hypertension, degenerative joint disease, urinary stress incontinence, chronic fatigue, exertional shortness of breath.” WHAT?! Who the hell? Whose complaints are THESE? We never discussed these because I don’t have them. What is degenerative joint disease and urinary stress incontinence?! Now I’m worried. This is the doctor that’s going to operate on me? For fuck’s sake doc. Some would excuse it as – he most likely wrote the wrong patient notes in. Well, if he can make that simple of a mistake, I sure as hell don’t want him snipping, cutting, and stitching things inside my body. So tell me, what’s up doc?
“Poverty. That’s why.” That’s the answer I get from my therapist when I ask “Why is it so hard to get off of “the system” and why are my children struggling?”
She continues to tell me that because my parents grew up in poverty, I then grew up in poverty which in turn, my children grew up in poverty so the likelihood of my children’s children growing up in poverty is very high. “So what, doc? You’re saying that we are just all another statistic?” For whatever reason that angers me to my core. Don’t categorize me and my family! Don’t tell me that my kids will never have anything better in life besides POVERTY!” I leave therapy that day angry and agitated mostly because I know she’s right.
When I get home I start my research. What comes with poverty? How does it affect families? I don’t know why I bothered with research when I already knew my answers. I guess I was looking for validation. According to http://www.debt.org, poverty starts with those that are less educated and less healthy than those not living in poverty. When they say “less educated” I know this is more than just about a college degree. Those that are more educated on healthy food choices, physical fitness choices, financial choices, ect., are more knowledgeable on how to better their lives in each of those areas whereas those with less education in regards to those choices have more difficulty making those decisions. Lastly, according to Gallup, (an American analytics and advisory company), with poverty also comes depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. So the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store next to an obese mother with 3 obese children watching the cashier ring up their chips, dip, and soda while she runs her food stamp card, this is most likely lack of education with added depression and health issues and not laziness.
So how do I fix this? I guess I start with exactly what I’m doing right now. Educating myself. Research. Read. Learn. Then pass it along to my children by leadership. They are at an age now that giving them verbal information is like talking to a dead horse. I must live the life myself and hope that they see it and follow. If I can dysfunctionally damage them, I can most certainly educate the dysfunction, right?
My daddy, (step-dad since I was 4 years old), has been a 2 pack-a-day smoker for 55 years. On March 13th of 2019 he had a heart attack. He was rushed into procedure where they put 2 stints into his heart. Technology is amazing now. He was in and out by the following day. While in the hospital he wore a nicotine patch and said he felt great and didn’t crave a cigarette. As soon as he left the hospital, he tore the patch off and smoked. The next day, he wore a patch that I had purchased but tore it off later and continued to smoke. He then said, “those patches are giving me headaches. I don’t like them”, as he walked out for another cigarette. I looked at my mom and said, “it’s in his head, you know. All that is in those patches is the same thing that’s in his cigarettes! I can’t believe he can’t just quit! I’ve been a smoker and I’ve never had a problem quitting.” My blood father passed away 3 years ago after a quadruple bypass on his heart. While they were lifting him up in the bed to adjust him, his heart failed and he died. He was a smoker who quit but a severe diabetic who refused to give up soda and bad eating habits.
So I went home that evening angry and frustrated. How dare he be so selfish! How dare he shorten his time from us. How dare he expect US to take away from OUR lives to take care of him in his final days because he CHOOSES to smoke and not help himself. Prior to his heart attack he was diagnosed with acute COPD! What more do you need to change?! How dare he! Then…….I stopped.
How many doctor’s appointments have I been to where the doctor faced me and warned me that if I didn’t stop my bad eating habits, I was going to die? High blood pressure, diabetes and nerve damage in both feet didn’t stop me. It wasn’t enough that I had children at home who depended on me. My oldest daughter, bless her beautiful soul, had to tie my shoes because I couldn’t bend over. Who the fuck am I to lecture dad about addiction? Of course it was easy for me to stop smoking. I wasn’t addicted to smoking. I’m addicted to food! There are not enough warning labels or words that could convince me that consuming “orange” mac and cheese is unhealthy. Secretly I know it but the taste. The taste FEELS good. I’m sure that’s how dad feels when he smokes. His security is in that cigarette. It’s safety, it’s familiar, it FEELS good. I have no idea how to help him but what I do want to do is love him and not lecture him because I don’t know how long I have with him and I sure as hell don’t want my last memories to be miserable. I don’t want my last memories to be of me on his ass every day about smoking. I’ve always said – I’d rather die with a burger in my hand and 500 pounds than someone telling me what I CANNOT do with my own life. Addiction is the devil.