There are stages to weight loss surgery. The first stage is when you begin to think there might be a solution to obesity besides the endless cycle of diets. Then comes the research—you learn all you can about weight loss surgery, its risks (and if you were smart, you purchased this book for that purpose). You may even know someone who has had weight loss surgery and has done very well. Then there is the price of weight loss surgery. You worry that the insurance company will not pay for the process, and you worry about where you will get the money if they don’t. You think about getting the money together. Then you hear the next word—you are approved!
Now comes the next set of emotions—What on earth have I done? But there is no doubt—you made the decision to have your guts messed with, and it is going to happen. You fear the worst will happen and probably re-read the section about risks. Don’t do that right away. Wait, and enjoy the moment.
The next question you will want to know is, “Can I do it tomorrow?” In fact, most patients ask me on their first visit to my office if they can have their weight loss surgery next week. I attribute this zeal to two things: the desire to get on with life in a new slimmer carcass, and wanting to get this operation over with before you change your mind.
So, now that you are going to the hospital, you might as well be prepared for it
Before you do, here are a few tips gathered from a lot of my weight loss surgery patients:
- Take a photograph of yourself, in fact take several. A lot of people don’t like the idea of looking at themselves and have not had a photograph of themselves taken for years. This is the time to do it. When you weigh 40 or 50 pounds less than you do now, you can compare the before photograph with the new you in the mirror and feel good. Whenever you begin to wonder why you did this, you can take out the photograph and remember.
- Measure yourself. Measure you neck, your chest, your arms, your waist, your hips, your thighs, your calves, your ankles. When you reach a plateau, and you will reach one, you will find that inches are coming off—and it is a good to watch them come off.
- There are reasons you had weight loss surgery. List them. If you have health concerns, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or problems with joints, lists them. You can’t expect those to go away immediately, but these health problems are made worse with obesity and they may improve now. If you want to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding, write it down.
- When you list the things you can do, list the things you cannot do now but want to do. Some of my weight loss surgery patient’s favorite ones are to ride in a regular airline seat, to dance with their spouse, to tie their own shoes, to go into a store and buy clothes off the regular rack.
- Start a walking program before weight loss surgery, and if you cannot walk, then find a water aerobics program. You might be embarrassed because of your extra pounds—don’t be. Think about the people who will watch you slim down over time. These people will become your supporters. Start to get in shape now—you want to be in prime shape for your weight loss surgery.
- If you have not learned about nutrition, this is the time to do it. Fortunately, you can find out a lot by reading this book. If your insurance will pay for you to see a nutritionist, then do so. Learn all you can about food choices, and you will learn some interesting things like how many calories are in a fast food double burger with fries! The idea is not to feel bad about choices. The idea is to find some good choices for the immediate post-operative period and to learn more about the best food to eat in the future.
- Go to some weight loss surgery support group meetings. Talk to fellow bariatric patients. They will love to help you. Some of them will come visit you in the hospital. They know what you are going through, and unlike your family (unless your family has frequent flyer miles with your weight loss surgeon) or friends—what you will go through in the future, and they will support you. Plus, they might have some protein mix for you, or some clothes that might fit you. You never know. Just remember, a year from now you have a chance to help someone and you will enjoy doing that. That should be one of the goals that you write down.
Now it is time to get ready for the hospital. There are a lot of things you can do to make your stay there comfortable, as well as your arrival home easier.