Recently there was some discussion on Facebook and Twitter about the experiences of people who have had weight loss surgery (WLS), and how the voices of WLS patients who did not reflect the wine and roses view sold to us by those in the WLS industry were often silenced, or made to feel like they are the ones to have failed, rather than the surgery having failed them. I put out a public invitation on both Facebook and Twitter to anyone who had undergone WLS and not been “cured” of their fatness, had any complications or illness after the surgery, or were dissatisfied with the results of their WLS to guest post any time here on Fat Heffalump*, and anonymously if they prefer.
I received a request from Becky of The Ramblings of Mrs Bebe and she has written this piece to share with you all.
Now, before I share the piece with you, I would like to make it clear that while I personally (and vehemently) disagree with Becky’s belief that the medical world should recognise obesity as an eating disorder, and while she currently believes she is glad she had WLS, I still want to give her story and experiences the opportunity to be heard, particularly as they present a highly alternative perspective of WLS to what we normally hear and see presented in the media and marketed by those who profit from this practice of what I believe, is mutilation.
I want you to respect that this is Becky’s story and Becky’s body, and that this is the way she feels about her experience. You are welcome to disagree with and discuss the issue of weight loss surgery, and the points Becky raises, so long as you treat Becky with respect. Becky is doing something very few weight loss surgery patients do, and I commend her for her courage to speak out and her choice to be identified in this piece.
So without any further ado, here is Becky’s Story:
Its been noted that all too often we hear peoples stories of their weight loss surgery charting that first vital year, the dramatic weight loss, the life changing effect it has on people and the reaction people receive from friends and family. I’d like to share my story with you 4 years down the line.
I guess I should start from the beginning though, albeit an abbreviated version. Overweight child of overweight parents, said overweight parent petrified I would end up like them, so I was put on a calorie controlled diet from the age of 9, restricted to 3 square meals, was told off if I even approached the fridge let alone opened it. This was the start of what was and will always be my very difficult relationship with food.
I spent my teens on a vicious cycle of starvation and binging, and gradually I would put a stone on for every year, at 13, I was 13 stone (182lbs), 15, 15 stone…..you get the picture. By the time I was in my twenties, I had levelled off at 24 stone (336lbs). Through various diets I fluctuated anywhere between 20 – 24 stone (280 – 336lbs). Throughout my life I had tried my very hardest to be positive about my appearance, to the point of appearing on national television to promote image positivity in my capacity as a plus size model. But at the age of 26 when my knees and hips where starting to fail me and getting out of bed even felt like an effort, I felt a more drastic option had to be considered. So I visited my doctor and asked for a referral to the weight loss surgeon. At this point in time (2006) the gastric bypass was really becoming popular in England and doctors were handing them out the sweets (ironic). Without any great resistance from my doctor I was referred to a surgeon, if I recall correctly I had about 4 consultations with him and the same with the dietician. The process took about 8 months, then in August 2007 I went in for my operation, I was wheeled down to surgery at 12 midday on the Sunday, I returned home on the Wednesday. As mentioned above I wont harp on about this part, but safe to say my story is probably similar to most, I lost 4 stone (56lbs) in the first 2 months, then gradually over the space of about a year I lost a further 3 ½ stone (49lbs). It was then that I plateaued.
Its probably one of the most soul destroying parts of the process. To think that you went to through life threatening surgery, months of massively restricted eating, vomiting, diarrhoea, pain, nausea and explanation after explanation as to why you’ve left three quarters of your meal in a restaurant, only to be stared at by the waiter as if to say, “yeh right love, you still look fat to me”, just to find out, that that is it. You’re still classed as obese, you’re still “plus size”, and yeh, you’re still fat, just not as fat as before.
I tried desperately to get the weight loss moving again, I would walk the daily miles to work at a good pace, restrict my food intake, visit the gym but nothing seemed to work (oh wait does that sound familiar?) So there I was stuck at 16 & ½ stone (231lbs). Subjected to work colleagues still asking, “oh have you lost anymore weight?”, “how’s the weight loss going?”, “should you be eating that?” F@*K OFF!!!!! I have been scrutinised all my life, the immense pressure after having a bypass is even more intense.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over the sense of failure and disappointment despite everyone’s positive words.
The particular hospital trust at which I had my operation, offers no physiological support whatsoever, and I feel this is the root of the problem. They can re-jig my insides all they like; they can’t operate on my brain. I’m still hungry, I’m still greedy, I still have very deep rooted issues with food and I still dislike myself. I am glad I had the operation and I am glad I was able to shift a substantial amount of weight, but I think the process as a whole needs reviewing and until the medical world recognises obesity as an eating disorder and start treating obese people with respect and dignity, things will continue as they are.
This piece reflects my opinions, and my opinions alone, I still stand by the fact that if you are genuinely happy with your physical image fat or thin, then I am in total awe of you and long may your confidence continue, I, unfortunately am not one of those people.