My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.
And right now, I am facing a dilemma.
I’ve been sick pretty much the whole month. Since October 15, I have been going to the hospital daily for IV antibiotic treatments. And of course, right in the midst of treatment, the company my husband works for decided to change insurance coverage. How does this cause a dilemma? Because a weight reduction option that I had written off in the past because it was not covered by insurance is covered by the new insurance company.
My doctor suggested at one point that I might be a “prime candidate” for some type of bariatric surgery. I had mixed feelings on that. While I loved the idea of losing tons of weight quickly and possibly getting off of some of my medications, I thought that surgery was cheating. I didn’t put the weight on quickly. Was it really right to expect to take it off quickly? Still, I told the doctor I would think about it. And I did think about—right up until I found out it was a $10,000 operation that would not be covered by my insurance at all. I barely have an extra $10 dollars laying around, let alone an extra $10 grand that I could use for this. So I stopped looking into it and stopped thinking about.
When my insurance changed, I was given a small packet showing what types of services are covered. My eyes about popped out of my head when I read that, if I meet “certain criteria”, weight reduction procedures are covered at 100% by the insurance, so long as my doctor says it is medically necessary. My husband told me there was no reason not to look into. “Gather as much information as you can, talk to your doctor, talk to people you know who have had the surgery, and we can make a decision from there.”
Talking to my doctor went well. He was willing to write a referral for me on the spot yesterday. That kind of shook me up a bit. I mean, this is a big step. Am I ready to take it? And if I am ready, which surgical option is right for me? I told the doctor that I am happy to have his support, but that I want to research the options, see exactly what “procedures” are covered and what the “criteria” are for me to qualify, and talk it all over with my husband before making a decision. Doc said just to be sure that I am looking at the pros and cons of each type—gastric bypass, gastric band, and gastric sleeve—of the most common procedures before I make a decision.
I know people who have had weight reduction surgeries. Two had the gastric bypass, which, if I understand correctly, closes off a portion of the stomach (essentially making it smaller) and bypasses a part of the small intestine so that fat is not able to be absorbed by the body. The other had a Lap Band put in. The way I understand that is that a water-filled band is tied around the stomach, making it smaller so that the patient feels fuller sooner. All of them have had success.
The ones who had the bypass have lost a lot of weight, I’d say near 200 pounds each if not more. Yet I can’t really say that both look great. One is my best friend Betsey. You remember her, right? The one that likes to torture me by getting me out of bed before the sun is up to go walking at the local park? Now, I think she looks good. Only, I know that she has some health problems related to her bypass. Mainly, she has low iron. OK, so that is a problem that she had before the surgery. But now that her body can’t absorb as much iron, she has to go monthly for iron treatments through an IV. She also told me that she has to have vitamins daily because her body doesn’t absorb them as well, either. Do I really want to deal with that? The other woman I know who had it—she just looks terrible. Sorry, but that is the truth. She is 44 and looks older than her 62-year-old mother. I don’t know if that is because she doesn’t take the vitamins or what. Sure, her body shape is better now that she is at a healthy body-weight. But she always looks so tired and the skin on her face is droopy. The vitamins and IV treatments I might be able to tolerate, but I don’t know that I want to look unhealthy. I mean, I am working on my addiction and my weight so that I can be healthy. If I am doing all this work, I want to look as healthy as I feel.
Is that so wrong?
The woman I know who had the Lap Band has lost 100 pounds. She hasn’t lost as much weight or lost as quickly as the others. But she looks really good. She’s more active and smiles more (not that I am saying she was an unhappy person before!). She likes to share her little successes, and is just so thrilled at all of them. She has not mentioned any negative side effects from it. In fact, I just sent her an email asking her about that. I don’t know when she will write back. It will be interesting to see what she has to say about it.
There is a third surgical option—the gastric sleeve. I don’t know anything at all about that, other than it is a pretty new procedure.
My dilemma is that a part of me still thinks of this as cheating. Both my doctor and Betsey assured me that it is not. They both said that the surgery is just a tool to losing weight. It’s not a magic cure-all. If I don’t follow the diet and exercise guidelines given to me after surgery, I won’t lose the weight. Or if I do lose, I won’t keep it off and I will be right back where I am.
And I wonder, too, about my food addiction. Will having the surgery cure that? Or will I still be fighting it? So many questions, and so little time to find answers!