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Say it ain't so: a recent WLS experience

Posted Jul 11 2008 7:10pm
I had to sit with this experience for a bit before I could write about it. Here's the deal...

Last week I attended a support group through mybariatricsurgeon's office for people who are 1+ years out from gastric bypass/banding surgeries. I go infrequently, as I sometimes feel very disconnected from that community, especially since I've been meeting my eating disorder issues head on. But I needed the fellowship. I needed some support. I want to feel like I made a good decision to have the surgery (which I do) and that I'm doing everything possible to make it a success.

This particular meeting, the topic came up around nutrition. What to eat, what not to eat, etc. I have worked very, very hard the last 8 months or so to get rid of my food fears and to return to a balanced eating plan that incorporates all food groups in appropriate ratios to fuel my body. It's difficult for me to "buy into" thebariatricstance held by many people that protein should be the majority of your calories, especially since I have had to adjust this belief myself and move on to a different one. I get edgy and have to learn to accept that other people's nutritional needs may not be my own and that we all follow our ownbariatricprogram.

The regular facilitator wasn't there for this conversation. Instead, one of the nurses ran the group. I have really liked this woman since I first met her at one of thepre-surgery seminars. She's down to earth and, having hadRNYherself, understands much of what we patients go through. So when she said that we really don't need to eatcarbsto survive, I was floored. She's a nurse! How can you not needcarbs? Sure, screw the white bread and sugar doughnuts. But

fruits? vegetables?

The conversation continued with people wondering what kinds of proteins they can have if they don't want to eat meat for breakfast.C'mon! We were all 1+ year out from surgery. We had all been to the program's nutritionist for several sessions before and after surgery. So, I offered yogurt as an option. The response: that's so high incarbs!

Frustrated. Fragile. Unwilling to have to explain why I'm trying to eat the way I am. I actually got up and left the meeting. I couldn't deal with the conversation. I needed to protect my personal nutrition beliefs and meal plan as best I could or I'd never, ever get back to healthy eating. It felt that black and white. I felt thatdesperateto NOT be a part of the conversation.

On one hand, I'm so disappointed that I didn't get the support that I needed from the meeting. In fact, I felt more alienated and alone. I'm alsodisappointedto hear this information spoken as truth by a medical professional. Maybe I am wrong. Or rather, maybe I was right:carbsare evil. In which case, I'll never eat anotherpotato, slice of bread or cracker again. But for now, I HAVE to eat those things in appropriate amounts and proportions at appropriate times.

I probably won't go back to a meeting. I need to move away from the rigidity of the immediate post-op nutrition plan. I need figure out a way to eat for the rest of my life. And, while the conversation about nutrition might not always be on the table during these meetings, the mindset is always present and, to me, pervasive.

Now 2 years and 11 months out from my surgery, I am at the point where the surgery is not the defining factor of my life. It's part of it. It is not who I am. I am Just Jen. If I let my status as a gastric bypass patient define me, I might as well hang accept that I am a fat ass. Or that I'm a food freak. Or that...[fill in the blank].

I feel very disconnected from thebariatricsurgery community. I don't need to be connected to this community perse. But it saddens me that my experience won't fully be a part of it. In this particular circle, the story of the middle-aged woman who went from compulsive eating to surgical anorexia to bulimia will be lost. Not that my story is all the important or unique. But there just doesn't seem to be room for it in the rosy world of many post-ops. And I think there should be.
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