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.

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