One year ago today, my mother was arriving early in the morning to take me to the hospital for my vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery. For 14 days I had been on a liquid only diet to shrink my liver so they would be able to safely move it to reach my stomach during surgery. I remember the feeling of fatigue and weakness I had coming down the stairs to get to the car. My mom saw the paleness of my skin and wondered if I was even strong enough for the procedure. The toll on my body from going so many days on the liquid diet truly had me at a low point, but I was so ready to get on the “losers bench” after the procedure was done.
The procedure went smoothly, and I was in the recovery room in no time. My mom had me up and walking as soon as I could to relieve gas pain and to begin the healing process. I was determined to go on this journey following all guidelines and use my tool to its full potential. The next morning, I was discharged, and the work was to begin.
The first few weeks I was sipping water from 2 oz. medicine cups, drinking shakes, eating baby food, and sucking on ice chips just to slowly ease my 4oz stomach into the transition to eat solid foods. There were days where I would only have water and a popsicle and then I would sleep. There was no pain, but my body was adjusting. When I wasn’t sipping fluids or sleeping, I was walking around my house staying somewhat active. The only thing in my head was meeting my 64 oz. water intake and 90-120 protein goals, and that was a challenging task.
As the weeks turned into months. I saw the changes happening. I was losing on average about 15 pounds per month. I saw a collar bone peaking through, my face was slimming, my skin was clearing up, my energy was increasing, and my joints weren’t aching anymore. I was receiving compliment son my appearance and words of encouragement. Overall, I was beginning to feel like a new person.
Along the way, I increased my workouts, meal prepped, and stuck to surgery and nutritional guidelines to keep shedding the weight and alleviate any chance of complications arising.
About 7 months in, I was down nearly 80 pounds and my wardrobe was in shambles. My sized 22 pants and 2x shirts were hanging off me like trash bags. I couldn’t have them taken in or pinned any more without looking like I was dressed for the circus. I was fortunate to have friends who let me raid their closet and was able to restock my wardrobe with new sizes that fit without breaking the bank. I am super grateful to each of them.
As I sit in reflection a year later, I continue to be amazed when I look at myself in the mirror and see a body that is 107 pounds lighter than it was last July. Sometimes I struggle recognizing myself because I was that plus sized woman for so long. I always loved myself and knew I was beautiful, but now I really embrace it and that is such a wonderful feeling to finally have.
This surgery wasn’t a “quick fix” or an “easy way out” as so many of us who choose to have surgery hear from others with criticism. This was a planned journey for me to take control of bad habits and live a healthier life. I am no longer prediabetic, no longer on the track to have high cholesterol, no longer riddled with joint pain when walking up a staircase, no longer struggling to breathe from doing menial tasks, no longer pulling at clothes that clung too tightly to my body revealing every roll my body held, no more letting my weight hold me back from
trying new things.
I am forever grateful for my friend who had been on this journey a year before me who answered every question I had along the way. I am thankful to family members who helped me heal and supported me. I appreciate my friends who boosted me up and gave their ear whenever I needed to chat. This wasn’t something I could’ve done without a support system in place and I had one heck of a good group in my corner.
So, here are my biggest take-aways I’ve learned in the past year:
-Do what brings you joy and happiness without fear because you never know what is waiting for you on the other side of something scary
-Love yourself and forgive yourself for mistakes
-Don’t let others sabotage your happiness because they will try
-Be yourself; some will love it others may not, but oh well
-Follow the plan and stick to it as closely as possible to see success
-Meal prepping is key to stay on track
-Take those vitamins, your body will thank you
-Don’t be afraid to workout and do new routines, it actually can be fun
-Take some time to be alone, it is refreshing and you learn more about yourself
-Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s, we have different paths to follow
Happy Surgiversary to me! I’ve earned this celebration and look forward to seeing what else is in store as the journey continues.