When surgery is a gift...

I am fat.

There is no other way to put it. I suppose you want me to be kinder. But the "kinder" words just don't cut it. "Heavy" doesn't cover it. "Pudgy" or "Chubby" is an insult to those who truly are chubby. When I look at pictures or look in the mirror -- honestly look -- I could not only pass for being pregnant (which I have been mistaken for), I could be heavy and pregnant...with twins. I have little strength anymore. My muscles are working overtime to hold me upright. It's an ugly situation -- not just outwardly but with my health and, of course, self esteem. A lot of people then think, "Then do something about it." Don't deny it. You've probably thought that at one point or another. I have! Well, I finally did.

Two days ago, I received a gift. For me, it's almost like a second chance at life. Bariatric surgery is often controversial; it definitely has a stigma. But until you've walked in my size 11w shoes for a week, hold your judgment. Look around. You might be surprised at who all has had the surgery. It is not the easy way out. It is not a magic pill. It is not reserved only for those who are too big to get out of their chair and out of the house. It is a tool for those who cannot do it on their own. I think of it like giving a top-of-the-line chain saw to a logger who's been using a small rusty handsaw to cut through a 200-year-old oak.

I've been using the rusty saw for almost 15 years now. It hasn't been fun. I've tossed it in self-defeat, only to retrieve it and try again. I've sunk down on the ground in exhaustion and risen to try again. I admit my efforts have become fewer and farther between. That old rusty saw is getting the best of me.

There are so many layers to this, and my feelings are often in a jumble. In high school and college, I was an athlete. I was proud of that, but I was a walking paradox of sorts. I didn't exercise unless forced to through the sport I was involved with (practices, requirements of the coach, etc.). I have never been a fan of exercise. I love playing sports, but practices, especially working out or running was pure hell for me. I have always liked to eat. I don't think I have any emotional issues with food. I simply like the taste of food, so I eat a lot. Once I graduated and quit playing regularly, the struggle with weight began. And let me tell you, it's been one heck of a roller coaster ride. When I talk about my years of playing and coaching sports, I am so aware of how I look now. I'm sure people don't know the extent that I know the sport and how well I once played. I feel almost ashamed to represent the athletes of my sport today.

It seems that most everyone I know from my high school and college days all look fantastic and similar to how they looked way back when...especially in the weight department. I love meeting with people from my past...catching up and getting to know someone better than ever, but now if I run into someone I haven't seen in a long time, I feel my face heat up, and my smile turns wooden when I think how bad I must look. I know most of that is my own insecurity as I have not had many people at all respond with disdain or judgment.

My health is a bit of a mess. I hurt all the time (fibromayalgia), am exhausted most of the time, and don't usually sleep well (sleep apnea); I have restless legs, high blood pressure, and high sugar. Every single one of my health issues either started or grew significantly worse after my obesity.

So about three years ago, knowing some who have had the surgery quite successfully (remember I said you'd probably be surprised at those who have had it...), I began my research. Turns out Dave's insurance wouldn't cover anything to do with weight loss, surgical or other. So it's been a long wait, searching for a job with benefits, waiting and/or hoping for a solution. Dave's work changed insurance companies last year, so I officially began the journey again last February.

Two days ago, I received this gift. And it was most definitely a gift as financial reasons almost threw me off-track yet again. A generous benefactor (i.e. my parents) allowed the surgery to happen as scheduled. I am grateful beyond words. I can't wait to look better, yes, but even more than that, I can't wait to feel better. My life has been on hold for far too long.

I have had incredibly supportive family and friends. My kids are almost as excited as I am to see the changes. My friends have given hugs, support, and all kinds of encouragement. The journey has just begun...and the best is most definitely yet to come.


D ifferent
I ndividuals
V aluing
E ach other
R egardless of
S kin
I ntellect
T alent or
Y ears

As I headed down the steps of the country club pool, I noticed my husband looking pensive. I had a pretty good idea what was bothering him, but it got me to thinking. Thinking for me usually means I start writing in my head. It doesn't always make it to my blog, but sometimes, like now, it does. First of all, anyone who knows me even a little, has probably already realized two interesting, if not amazing, remarks in that first sentence. I don't swim much, let alone in a public place...and I am SO not country club material! I feel a little like Cousin Eddie in the move "Christmas Vacation" in those types of settings. It's not quite that bad, but it's definitely not my style. We were visiting my sister-in-law (Dave's sister), and this was part of our vacation. Dave and his sister are so different that sometimes it's hard to imagine that they came from the same set of parents. They love each other; they even get along well, but they are definitely different. The country club is his sister and her husband's scene, not ours. But if we wanted to go swimming together, this is where we had to be.

Feeling out of place is never fun, and usually it would bother me, at least a little, but this time it didn't bother me at all. I'm not sure why, but I think perhaps it's because we had recently got together with a group of friends for an evening of dinner and conversation -- and what a blessing that night was! Three other couples, most we hadn't seen in almost 20 years (Yikes! How time flies!), but we all love each other and love the Lord. So we are family. Sometimes more than flesh and blood as I was seeing firsthand.

It was the differences at the moment and feeling out of place that was bothering my husband. (I was right.) So I shared some of my thoughts with him, and I hope it helped. I'd like to say I saw his face relax and smile, and the rest of the day went smoothly with lots of fun and laughter, but it didn't quite work that way. I did see his face grow thoughtful, though, as he probably tried to take in what I said. He and his sister are different, for sure. That doesn't mean that one is better than the other. It does mean that, most of the time, we are not going to feel comfortable around their social circles, and vice-versa. And that's okay! At that time, I knew that. I have too many blessings -- way too much good stuff -- in my life to be caught up in the whole keeping up with the neighbors (or in this case, little sisters) thing. I MUST've been okay, 'cuz I squeezed my sausage-like bod into a swim suit to float around a country club pool! God is good.