This is the most difficult post I have had to write in my eight years of blogging. This summer I am having weight loss revision surgery that will remove my Lapband and replace it with a gastric bypass (roux-en-Y). It is difficult to talk about since I have very much attributed my weight loss and subsequent change in life to my Lapband bariatric surgery.
Over the past nine months I have experienced a series of health issues including daily acid reflux, night coughs, regurgitation of undigested foods hours after eating, and difficulty eating solid protein. Knowing that these symptoms signal a problem with my gastric band, I have had numerous visits to my bariatric care center, endoscopy and radiology. It became obvious after my last EGD and upper GI that the band was the culprit and had to go.
How to move forward was a difficult decision to make. The word “failure” haunts me as I talk or write about this topic. Did I fail the band? Did the band fail me?
Did I fail the band?
I talked in a previous post about second guessing choices I have made in life. When the Lapband issues arose, I began wondering if I pushed the band too much. Did I eat too large of portions and stretch my pouch? I admit that was no angel, but I learned to respect the band’s role in my life. I know the success of living with the gastric band knowing that satiety (the feeling of being satisfied) is more important than relying on the restriction of the band.
No. I did not fail the band. I might not be an A++ student, but I am a strong B student. I did more than my fair share of teamwork with the Lapband. We were indeed a team.
Did the band fail me?
This is a difficult question to answer. Acknowledging that it must go is a sure sign that I feel some failure of the device. I am not a medical or bariatric expert. I rely on my surgeon’s experience and advice. It was during consultations with him that I came to understand that a good percentage of gastric banded patients (around 14-15%) must have the band removed for medical reasons. I was unlucky enough to be one of these statistics.
The band far from failed me. For almost five years I lost weight and more importantly maintained my weight loss. The Lapband never made me a skinny guy. It did rid me of many health issues and made me lean enough to take up cycling, hiking, snowshoeing, and running. I am no speed demon in any of these, but they define my life.
Many of my friends, family and coworkers have said that I am a changed person. They believe this new Tom does not need to rely on bariatric surgery to be healthy and maintain a normal weight. I struggled with this over the past 3 months as the possibility of removal of the Lapband was becoming a more probable outcome.
I chose to revise to RNY (gastric bypass) at my surgeon’s recommendation. I have changed a good bit of my outward traits, most notably my diet and activity level. At the same time, I acknowledge that my obesity is more than just eating too much. It is a disease I suffer from. I acknowledge that I need the tools that weight loss surgery offers me to overcome this disease and be the person I want to be.
I talk a good bit about about my journey to a healthier happier life. A few weeks back I heard a speaker say, “A map with only one road is not much of a map.” For five years, I was happy on that single road. I have now come to an intersection and am turning onto a new road. I am confident that it will lead me on that journey where diet, fitness, health and wellness leads to happiness.