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Monday, May 9, 2011

Tip: Surgery Isn’t Even a Good Last Resort

I used to wish I could simply go to the doctor, get full-body liposuction, and have him dump all my extra weight in a biohazard waste bucket. Now I know that those who have liposuction, despite all the money spent and pain (perhaps) involved, gain their weight back, in places even less appealing than where it was sucked out.

I’ve always known that bariatric surgery wasn’t for me, though, even before I learned of its drawbacks. First, as an editor, I must remark on the word bariatric, a pleasant euphemism for “the treatment of obesity.” It sounds so much better to say “bariatric surgery” rather than “obesity-treatment surgery.”

A morbidly obese friend of mine once revealed a shocking fact that she told few people: She had undergone gastric bypass surgery years before. She, like most recipients of the surgery, lost drastic amounts of weight, but as the years passed, she managed to pile the weight back on and surpass her original obese weight. Because of her obesity, she did not want anyone to know she had undergone such wasted surgery. Her story reminded me of Al Hirt, a famous trumpeter in my time. He underwent gastric bypass surgery, as well. He also dropped a great deal of weight, but eventually he regained most of it before he died thirty years later of liver failure.

Maybe people think bariatric surgery is a quick fix, but as I understand it, most bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, stomach stapling, and lap band placement, results in the patient having to eat extremely small portions of food at a time, because the stomach area is drastically reduced. I’m not a doctor, but as I see it, if we could learn to eat extremely small portions in the first place, we wouldn’t need to go under the surgeon’s knife.

A recent report said that people who underwent bariatric surgery lost an average of fifty-one pounds in a year. I lost more than that in less time, without invasive, drastic, expensive, and unnecessary surgery. I did it by doing what surgical patients are forced to do: I ate less.

The report also says that bariatric surgery may not be enough to mitigate the knee pain that obese people develop because of osteoarthritis, but I am more fortunate. My knee pain is gone.

I am thankful that I found the motivation from within instead of paying a small fortune and subjecting myself to a scalpel. I also proved that weight loss can reduce or eliminate knee pain. I thought I was becoming a candidate for knee surgery (according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, about 38,400 knee replacements were performed in 2006-07). Last July, when I went to the doctor about my knee pain, my doctor’s assistant told me her husband sold supplies to orthopedic surgeons, and he said weight was almost always a factor when it came to who needed knee surgery.

I did it; I lost weight; I improved my health; I avoided surgery. Even though I still need to lose even more, I know I will. I know how. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t expensive, and I didn’t have to be sliced open.

In a few weeks, I’m going to D.C. to visit my son, Sandy, and daughter-in-law, Nancy. I spoke Sandy last night, and he said, “Now that you can walk, we have lots of great things planned to do together.”

Now that I can walk. It’s true. The last time I saw him, I was limping and swearing I was okay. I woke up every morning and swallowed ibuprofen, so I could move around enough to perform my daily chores. I avoided walking, whenever possible, because of the pain. Even grocery shopping was difficult, because I had to walk up and down the aisles at the store. I no longer have any such restrictions. Boy, so I look forward to seeing my kids!

I am beating my chest and patting myself on the back, all at the same time.

Here’s my source for information on bariatric surgery and its drawbacks.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story of being able to walk again, and your son's comment, “Now that you can walk, we have lots of great things planned to do together.” That really made me smile! Love it that lost the weight without surgery-- saving yourself not only money but also heartache and heath. This article really encouraged me, thanks Bobbie!