Despite subscribing to the personal belief that bariatric surgery was a sign of personal weakness or self-hatred, I have ruminated on it for years. I would binge watch surgeries on YouTube, exhausting the internet for horror-stories. After thoroughly convincing myself that I just need to be a strong person, I would dismiss the idea of bariatric surgery as too expensive and try to renew my interest in good ol’ hard work and will power. This is not a unique story. I think I may have popped into existence with love-handles and a six-pack of jelly rolls (to quote my wife) in the 80s. I know that I have been more than 200 lbs since I turned ten years old, yoyoing close to 300 lbs throughout my teens and twenties. I have dieted, exercised, lost weight, and then gained it back. One day I decided that I was done exercising to simply lose weight, instead, I would move because I liked to and do activities that brought me joy.
Insert the body love, fat acceptance, and health at any size movements. I followed the blogs of rebellious women who spoke to my soul as a fat woman. The words of these women helped propelled me to self-acceptance in my late twenties and an identity that was body inclusive. It was the freedom that I had been missing in my life, the permission to be open with the zero fucks that I give regarding what others think of my body. This fit my attitude and I liked it. Fat has always been my normal, but suddenly I was participating in life in ways I had not allowed myself to previously. I am a fat woman, married to a fat woman, with fat best friends and a fat extended family. I have stretch marks, dimples, and a juicy round posterior. I strip naked in public locker rooms, prance in my swimsuit, sleep in the nude, have sex, and belly dance. I am an athlete, an artist, and a nurse.
For me, being a nurse means I cannot choose to ignore what is happening inside of me. My cholesterol is skyrocketing, hardening my arteries. My blood pressure is climbing, forcing my heart to work harder to move waste and nutrients. My cells are being drowned in sugar, yet they are starving for energy while my pancreas flirts with diabetes. Aunt Flo is trying to exsanguinate me every three weeks! When this fails, she tries to cripple me with pain and anemia. My migraines went from once a year to once or twice a week, increasing in both severity and frequency. I am sick and I don’t have to be. I can choose differently. I do not have to keep repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome. If I want something I’ve never had before (genuine wellness) then I have to do something I have never done before.
So, I will have bariatric surgery to save my heart, to save my eyes, the feeling in my toes, and my poor kidneys. It is possible that this surgery will help reduce my migraine activity and may actually help me do the activities I love with fewer barriers and modifications. I will have bariatric surgery, but I think the hardest part will be having to learn who I am again and how to love my changing body.