So maybe it’s no secret to both of you, dear readers, that I have become a bit … plump over the past twenty years or so.
About 15 years ago there was a Something That Happened and it was hella stressful yo, and there were two things that got me through it: food, and World of Warcraft. My life was coming unraveled and I had a sweet precious one-year-old for whom I was suddenly the sole functioning parent, and I couldn’t lose my mind. So I made an actual conscious decision that whatever I could do to get through this that was a) legal and b) would not jeopardize my mental health, was fair game. And that included eating whatever I wanted, an any sufficient quantity, to dull the anxiety and emotional pain. I slept with the lights on, when I slept at all, and I had the TV going day and night, and I played WOW far into the night after the baby was in bed, and somehow we got through it all.
But, you know, not without a price.
Now I’ve shot past overweight and as any fat person can tell you, once you’ve put it on it’s really difficult to take it off. I’ve tried many approaches and it turns out that if the thing that keeps your brain from freaking the fuck out about literally everything is food, and lots of it, bad food with sugar and carbs all over the place, well, changing your relationship with food is going to be key and it’s also damn near impossible. I’d go into a bunch of different reasons/excuses/rationalizations but it’s on par with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. People with healthy relationships with food do not eat the way did.
Did I mention that I have anxiety? And then I found a medication that has been like a miracle, and while I still think a lot like an anxious person, the anxiety-brain part speaks a lot more quietly these days. So at least I have that going for me.
So a few weeks ago The Lovely Rhonda mentioned to me that she had decided that she was going to have weight loss surgery (WLS), namely a gastric sleeve procedure, and would I please go with her to Mexico for this? And I opened my mouth and what came out was, I’ll do it too.
(Backstory: she’s been thinking about this for years and I was not interested last time we talked about it, and then fast forward several years: we are both still struggling, and a friend of ours went to a very nice place in Mexico and for a very reasonable price got her procedure done, and now has dropped a significant amount of weight and is feeling great and off most medications. I am knocking on the door of diabetes and have been on blood pressure and cholesterol medications for some time now, and it’s all due to my weight and eating habits. Also: our medical insurance does not cover bariatric surgery and to do this in the US would cost at least five times as much.)
So we got in touch with the clinic in Mexico and went through the screening process and now we’re both scheduled to have this surgery on March 14th which is less than three weeks away.
I’m likening this whole thing with having a baby. You can read all about it, you can watch videos and documentaries, you can talk to friends and watch what it’s like. But until you have a baby yourself, you don’t really know shit about it. There’s no way to experience it ahead of time. It’s all encompassing and your entire life will change.
Preoperatively they have you go on this diet that is designed to shrink your liver down to normal size, because if you’re fat your liver is most likely fat as well. They have to go up behind your liver to get to your stomach so they want it to be as unobtrusive as possible. This diet is no fun. It’s basically no sugar, no carbs, no fatty foods. It’s lean meat (chicken, fish, or turkey), it’s non-starchy vegetables (so no potatoes, peas, corn, etc). It’s gallons of soup and mountains of fresh vegetables, all you can eat, and sugar free jello and popsicles, all you could want, and two or three protein drinks per day. Low carb protein drinks. So not like hey make a milkshake and add protein! And no fruit. Oh man, fruit is my friend. I love fruit. But no. Not now.
At my BMI I’m supposed to do this diet for two weeks before the surgery, but we decided to go with about three weeks. You do tend to lose some weight on the diet and why not make sure the liver is really in great shape? It’s not an unreasonable diet in terms of nutrition, no worse than your basic keto although more restrictive (no fatty steaks or bacon etc).
But now I have regrets, do you hear me? REGRETS.
I went to the grocery store this morning to pick up some odds and ends — pro tip, you can use a vanilla protein drink in place of that delicious sugary vanilla creamer you usually use in your coffee and it will almost but not quite fail to suck — and literally every single aisle I went down, and all the end caps and seasonal displays, were loaded with sugar and carbs. LOADED. And I’m not saying I was unaware of this before, because this is not my first go-round with quitting sugar, but hey is it ever thrown into sharp relief just now. It’s that pre-Easter time where they have all these Easter themed candy items in the seasonal aisle, that you are totally buying for the kids’ Easter baskets weeks in advance because you’re just that well organized and definitely not to furtively eat in the car or your office, and I walked through that aisle like it I was a death row prisoner, taking that last walk through the general population on my way to the electric chair.
Okay, probably some of my detached-weirdness about it was probably due to the keto brain fog that happens when you quit sugar. My entire body is screaming for sugar in all forms, and carbs in any form, and this is making me irritable and foggy. And headachey.
Once we get through the pre-op, which comes to a delightful head of three days of clear liquids only (and a laxative!), we will have surgery and receive sleek new stomachs that hate us, so it’ll be more clear liquids, followed by tiny dabs of pureed foods, and endless oceans of protein shakes until eventually we eat more or less like a normal person, i.e. in modest amounts and of nutritious foods, until death which at this point feels like it can’t come soon enough.