Itty Bitty’s Moving

Hello my friends, I am in the process of transfering my blog to my new website – please check out the new website, and register there to continue following me while I’m in this strange time of transition!

With any luck within a week everything here will be there …

Thank you!

The Itty Bitty Boomer

Weight Loss Surgery Works!

As a 7-year post-op roux-en-y (gastric bypass) individual, I talk to pre-ops and post-ops all the time.  I talk about the good, the bad and the ugly with pre-ops. I talk about the lifetime committment to taking care of ourselves with the post-ops as well as the ongoing, never-ending head battles that got us obese in the first place.

I have the privilege of being involved with the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America – a 1500+ strong (and growing daily) on-line organization that is made up primarily of WLS post-ops and some pre-ops, looking for 1) peer support and 2) some way to give back to our unique community. This is why I love the Weight loss Surgery Foundation of America!  We just spent 3 days in Las Vegas – 500 of us … and had a blast.   Our COMBINED total weight loss was almost 37,000 pounds!

Would you like to see the joy of before and after photos?  Here is a sampling of our Beautiful WLS Peeps celebrating and sharing their success, health, happiness and new lives!  This alone speaks to the fact that WLS WORKS!

Weight loss surgery is NOT for everyone, nor the easy way out, nor a cop-out to will-power – to be successful, it takes a lifetime committment to taking care of our bodies – from working through often serious psychological issues, serious and debilitating health issues, destroyed self esteem – to paying daily attention to meeting our altered nutritional needs, exercise (yes, exercise), dealing with the same lifelong “head battles” we have always had and avoiding cross-addiction issues.

The reward?  Minimizing or eliminating the serious health issues, renewed confidence, healthier lifestyles, longer life, fully enjoying our families (or having families in some cases) and our daily existence.

As a foundation, we have over the last year and a half, raised funds to provide grants for:

  • Three (3) weight loss surgery procedures (thanks in part to the generous donation of the procedures by surgeons involved with bariatric Centers of Excellence) for individuals who did not have health insurance or whos health insurance would not cover WLS
  • One (1) full body lift for a post-op who had lost in the neighborhood of 200 pounds (again thanks in part to the generous donation of the procedure by one of our participating plastic surgeons).  Most health insurance companies will not cover these procedures as they are considered “cosmetic”.
  • One (1) co-payment to enable another member to have surgery.  She was otherwise unable to afford the co-pay and would not have been able to have the surgery.
  • One (1) grant to cover laboratory tests that the pre-op could not otherwise afford

And we convinced one medical supply company to continue to provide one super-morbidly pre-op with an in-home hospital bed while he is losing enough weight to safely have gastric bypass surgery.

We are in the process of forming face-to-face chapters around the country.  If you know of anyone who has had a weight loss surgery procedure or is in the pre-op or investigative stage, please let them know about this incredible organization.

The disease of obesity continues to grow in this country – and the fight to end it, one pound at a time, will always be the mission and goal of the WLSFA.

Ok – I’m off my soapbox now!

And, of course, Namaste!   I honor you!

Weight Loss Surgery – The Easy Way Out?

In my weight loss surgery “community” this week there was a huge (and not always so nice) discussion about “traditional” dieting vs. weight loss surgery, and whether surgical intervention for losing weight is the “easy way out”.   The discussion was spawned by blogger Ily Goyanes, Fuming Foodie for the Miami New Times basically stating her very strong opinion that everyone should be able to lose weight simply by cutting back calories and exercising.  Individuals who chose the “easy way out” by having any variety of weight loss surgery are cheaters and simply lazy with no self control. And, further, she is convinced that pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as hospitals encourage weight loss surgery just so they can profit!  50+ responding comments from successful WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) patients about how surgery is anything BUT the easy way out and why, were incapable of swaying this person’s mind.  The comments continue to roll into her blog – bottom line is she is entitled to her opinion (as unsubstantiated, uneducated, bigoted and discriminatory as it is) but it would be so much better if she developed an educated, informed opinion.

Anyone who has gone through the process of qualifying for weight loss surgery knows it is 1) not a quick and simple process; 2) it is not always a given that one’s health insurance provider will agree to cover the procedure regardless of how medically necessary the procedure is; 3) the appeals process, when denied coverage, is not always successful; 4) while the surgical procedures make it EASY to lose weight, the lifetime commitment to maintaining a healthy body and mind can be overwhelming. We must diligently avoid malnutrition and a host of other potential health issues by dealing daily with vitamins and protein supplements. We must deal constantly with our “head battles” that lead to our obesity in the first place.   We must exercise regularly just like any one else trying to maintain weight.

The reality is that the tool of weight loss surgery to a morbidly obese person is almost always the absolutely last resort, last ditch, effort to lose weight and eliminate or minimize co-morbidities (all the obesity-related health issues that most people suffer from) after years, and sometimes decades, of seriously trying and failing with the traditional methods of diet and exercise.  WLS is a tool to give the morbidly obese back their lives and futures.  Close to 200 thousand WLS procedures are performed in this country annually because it works. And, unbelievably, 35% of deaths in this country continue to be related to obesity-related health complications.

The continuing unfortunate circumstance for some individuals whose doctors feel they would absolutely benefit from WLS is that there are still many health insurance providers who simply will not cover the procedures (though they will still cover decades of medical care costs for obesity-related health issues), or individuals who do not have health insurance and are unable to afford surgery.  These people suffer unnecessarily.

This will be my one-time only “promotion” – however, I so strongly believe in the following NON PROFIT organization, what it stands for, and what it accomplishes – to the point that I volunteer my time as a member of the Board of Directors – that I want everyone to know about it and what it does – look around our website!  We are the only organization of this kind that we are aware of.

The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America (WLSFA) is a nonprofit organization, powered by weight loss surgery patients & their supporters, Bariatric Surgeons & their practices, Hospitals and Corporations. Together we raise funds and gather resources to “pay it forward” in the form of Weight Loss Surgery Grants to people denied access to WLS treatment of obesity.  Our 2012 grant application process has begun.

Are you, or anyone you know, recommended for weight loss surgery by your medical professional but either do not have insurance, or have been denied surgery by your insurance company and lost your appeal?  You are invited to apply for our Alice Neff Grant for weight loss surgery or to please pass on this information to someone you know that might benefit from this grant.

And if you are just thinking about having WLS, are a post-op WLS patient, a supporter of a post op, join WLSFA!  IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING TO BECOME A MEMBER – but you will find 1300 people strong walking in your shoes … understanding your journey. It is the most incredibly supportive group of people with a common cause … ending obesity one pound at a time.  We offer you on-line peer support, educational opportunities, and the most fun and educational annual Mother of All Meet & Greets in Las Vegas you’ll ever attend!  Check it out! Or at least, spread the word.

Weight loss surgery is not for everyone – Each individual must come to their own conclusion based on their own personal and extensive research about the good, bad and ugly of having these procedures.  The mortality rate for people having weight loss surgery is less than 1%.  The success rate of losing and maintaining long term losses of 60-75% of your goal is 85%.

At 55 years old, and having suffered morbid obesity for over 20 years, it was the best decision I ever made for myself and in over 6 years I have never, ever once regretted it.  Even as a boomer, it’s never too late to change  your life.

I wish you all safe travels in your quest for a health life, whatever way you choose to pursue it – and Namaste (I honor you …)

Recovering From The Hurts Of Morbid Obesity– Lessons from Cari …

I read with deep interest the blog of a fellow “WLS’er” – or weight loss surgery post op friend – this last week regarding healing from our hurts.  Any of our hurts … and how it isn’t an easy process … but a process it is.

My biggest life-long battle has been with morbid obesity.  I was, though overweight, not obese as a child or a teenager.  Morbid obesity became a part of my adult life.  We married in 1969 at the wise old ages of 18 (me) and 20 (him) and started our little family two years later in 1971 – the perfect little adorable family.  A year and a half later, he  initiated an affair with our 18 year old babysitter (who had been our neighbor at one time) that was to last 10 years.  Throughout his repeated promises that “it” was over, and my wanting to believe him, to threatening to leave him if it wasn’t over (I was not strong enough then to actually do it), my self esteem bottomed out and the weight gain started.  I knew (because he told me) I couldn’t compete with this little size 2 Filipina and gave up trying.  And yet when I would threaten to leave him, he would tell me that I was so fat no one else would want me. I weighted 180 lbs … was he right?  Or he would tell me that he couldn’t live without me, that we (the kids and I) meant more than anything in the world.  Retrospectively, we are sure he was likely bi-polar or manic/depressive …. it just wasn’t diagnosed as such then. We were together for 23 years … the last 20 filled with periods of esteem-killing verbal and psychological abuse … I stayed because I thought it was best for our family.  And I continued to gain weight. He died in 1992 of a massive heart attack … a friend, in a late night check-in call that night to see how I was doing, asked me if it wasn’t in some way a relief that the abuse was finally over.  I knew he was right –

I remarried in 1997 – to a man who had a history of substance abuse (pot & alcohol).   My justification was that I was desperately tired of being alone and desperately wanting to be part of a couple again but there is no earthly reason why I should have married #2.   His self esteem was lower than mine and his way of dealing with life was fight or flight. Our years together alternated between fighting and his threats to “split the sheets” and him blaming me for all the things that were wrong in his life . When I told him maybe we should “split the sheets”, because he obviously wasn’t happy, he said me, “You’re so fat, who else would want you”.    I weighed 225 lbs (and I’m  5’1” on a good day) – was he right?  Another co-dependent relationship built around verbal and emotional abuse.

I had gastric bypass surgery  in June of 2005 and lost 90 lbs.  I did it for me and me alone. I went from a size 22 to a size 8.  The abuse didn’t stop, the fights did’t stop – but I knew the situation had to change for me to stay sane.  When his friends told him (because they knew the way he was) he better shape up or he was going to lose me, my successful weight loss became the reason our marriage wasn’t working – that I’d changed.  Maybe that’s right … maybe I just finally got tired of being the victim.  Life changed.

My point in all of this is that recovering from morbid obesity is as much recovering from the hurts as it is from overeating. Of letting our hurts heal.  I have healed from the hurts I allowed from the men in my life who were so insecure with themselves that trying to control me by verbal and psychological abuse was all they knew how to do.  I have healed from the boss that blatantly told me I was not the image he was looking for to fill a particular position (a promotion I applied for based on my skills) and if he considered me for it would I be willing to spend 1/2 of my first check on new clothes (5 years later after my surgery and weight loss he did not recognize me and actually flirted with me …)  I have healed from the doctor who shamed me to tears for being obese and being an embarassment to my husband.  I am STILL healing from feeling that perhaps I am “not enough” or “good enough” … but I am working on it.  I am always working on knowing and accepting that I am enough … and loving myself and trusting myself and my intuition.

Recovering from obesity is much like recovering from any addiction – the battle is never done or over.  Over the last 3 years I have regained 25 of the 90 pounds that I lost.  I could fall easily into blame and self-hatred and beat myself up for failing again … but I do not think I’ve failed. And the more I keep myself in that mindset … the easier it is for me to keep on track to dump the pounds picked up.

Healing … an ongoing process.

I want to thank Cari De La Cruz for her willingness to share her ongoing journey – and I am pleased to share a link to her blog for you to peruse if you’d like – I know she’d like you to!

Bariatric Afterlife  By Cari

My Before & Afters:

Before Gramaree

February 2005 – Waikiki                                                     March 2006

Grandson’s Birthday Party

MeAndMoNYE Crop

September, 2007                                                        NYE December, 2010

40th Class Reunion w/Daughter                               (sorry not so clear!)