About a year ago I made a decision that was supposed to change my life. My weight had gotten out of control and I recalled my father being very unhealthily heavy for many years. I also had other relatives I didn’t want to look like in regards to that. In the course of four years I’d gained something like sixty pounds. Now, being heavy alone isn’t unhealthy, depending on many factors including your metabolism, your eating habits, genetics, and your bone size. I’m one of the lucky ones that I actually do have large bones. The doctors have explained that because I do, that’s where a lot of my weight comes from. You cannot tell how much I actually weigh since a lot of it is the large bones. Believe me, having a football player’s shoulders, or a man’s sized hands, isn’t always fun, especially for an effeminate woman. However, the extra pounds on those bones and my joints was what was causing me to make a decision to change all that.
As many of you may know I’m a cancer survivor. I’ve mentioned that in this blog many times, you can read the first mention here. Due to the aggressive chemotherapy and the radiation treatment I took, I will forever have aches and pains that normal aging wouldn’t give me. Oh, I’ll get those too, but some of the weird pains are a direct result of those poisons I took in order to survive.
So, I decided to get my stomach surgically altered in order to lose weight. I began by taking classes where they told about what would be done, had others who had gone through it, and still others who were going through it in various stages. Now, according to my insurance, I had to go through three months of this. I followed directions, despite not being a joiner and these meetings drove me crazy. I don’t like those ‘fun’ games people do at baby showers, or bachelorette parties, and I guess I’m just a party pooper for the stupid games that I don’t find fun in the least. They are usually embarrassing. I felt the same way at these meetings when they wanted to include you. Please, let me just be anonymous. I don’t want to stand up and be like, “Hi I’m K’Anne and I eat too much. I don’t exercise enough, blah, blah, blah.” They don’t actually make you do that, but that’s how it feels! Heck, I even hated the word they used, bariatric!
After the three meetings you have to get a psyche evaluation. I laugh at this. Anyone can pass a psyche evaluation, even if I were crazy! You can tell them what they want to hear, follow the protocol and use their own answers against them, etc. However, I was just being me (not always a good thing) and told them like it was. I was impatient to get the surgery and move on, I had plans! I felt the meetings were a waste of time and that these delays were annoying. In the end, I understand why they make you go through all these hoops for this life-altering decision. You have to be ready for the changes, able to cope, and yes, I could probably have done it, but didn’t, deep down, want to.
After the psyche evaluation, which I passed (I know, many of you might be surprised), I had to go see a nutritionist. For three months. She required me to keep a journal. I can’t tell you how much I HATE to keep a journal about ANYthing. It always feels like someone is going to use my own words like that, real words, honest words, personal words (nothing like my fiction) against me. Not only that, but then she decided I needed another month, was not at our scheduled meeting due to her illness (ironic, right?) and I had to have a zoom meeting with another nutritionist who didn’t know me, didn’t read the journals (I could tell) AND I totally could have snowed with my ‘tell her what she wants to hear’ BS. I didn’t, but I COULD have. It was all so pointless and I think it’s how they bilk the insurance for their outrageous fees.
So, they tell me now they are waiting to hear from my insurance company to see if I’m allowed to have the surgery. Allowed? After all this you are talking about if I’m allowed? I remember thinking, get ON with it already! I had thought I’d have had the surgery in January, and if so, then I could have the summer I had planned! I was going to GCLS (Golden Crown Literary Society) and I was already scheduled to be on three panels which I was genuinely looking forward to. I was also going to Canada with my then girlfriend and we were going to do the Lake Superior Circle Tour. I’d bought all the rock-hounding equipment I’d wanted for a while, and was ready and waiting! We planned on Lake Superior for agates, amethysts, and a little-known glow in purple light stone called a Youper! If we were even luckier, we’d find Petoskey stones and who knew what else?
I get a call from the surgeon’s office. I need to get a health check (which I’d also had in February) from my general practitioner. I’m like, doesn’t the one I’d had in February count? (I have to have one every year for blood work because the radiation therapy ruined my thyroid and I take meds for that). She said, I don’t know, let me check. Took two weeks to get back to me to say, no, you have to have a new one so we know it’s safe for the surgery. I called my general practitioner’s office to get the health check. They are like, we don’t do these health checks until your surgery is scheduled. Um, catch 22? I couldn’t have the health check without the surgery scheduled but they won’t schedule the surgery without the health check? Grrrr. I call back the surgeon’s office and they take SIX WEEKS to straighten THAT out.
Then, after all this time, it would have been nine months since start until surgery! I was impatient. I knew that the Canadian trip was not going to happen if I had the surgery in June. I’d already been told by the doctors to cancel the GCLS trip since I’d be healing and unable to travel at that time in July. Sigh. Letting down a few people. I’d really wanted to see some people I only see at these events, friends that I only communicate on Facebook or Twitter as well as fans.
By the time they got back to me, I was getting pissed. I mean, really, SIX WEEKS? C’mon, that’s unprofessional and my calls to them going unanswered? I started emailing. At this point I’m fed up after all these months of jumping through ALL their hoops. I’d dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. But they couldn’t behave in a professional manner and I was to entrust my life, my physical well-being to these incompetents? I was done. I told them, no, I didn’t want the surgery because I couldn’t TRUST them!
Meanwhile, Covid 19 had come on the scene since February and that was an additional worry. They didn’t know enough about it and having major surgery really wasn’t a good idea. So, because I was certain the diet wouldn’t work for me, the changes in my habits, etc, I was relieved to have said no. My girlfriend at the time I could tell was disappointed, but hey, love me as I am, and she did…however, she wanted me happy and healthier.
Fast forward to the end of summer and beginning of fall. I’m seeing a therapist for my back because the pain has gotten very bad and I’m considering another life change. One of the therapists listens to my story about the gastro-bypass surgery I had been considering. He told me he was relieved I hadn’t done it. Due to the fact that I’d had cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation I had a compromised system. The by-pass would probably have killed me in about six years! Holy cow! He explained to me a few other things, things I could eat that would help me lose the weight, still give me the nutrients I would need, and keep me healthy. Wow, one decision and all this! Amazing.
He further told me that yes, I’m overweight, which we will work on, but I hadn’t lost the muscle mass. I’m a big woman, always been stronger than most women, and, a few men, and the muscle is still there. I just have to use it, or get back to using it. It was such a relief to know that. I didn’t even feel awkward, talking to a man my age, in my bathing suit, in a pool over all these concerns. Btw, they made me wear a mask, in the pool, to stay healthy with ‘social distancing’. It was weird, because when the cloth mask got wet, I felt like I was smothering!
I write this not only to remember what had happened, but because not all life-altering decisions have to be made. Even though my process took nine months and I would have regretted it if it had been the four months I thought it was originally going to be, I would have regretted more that I only got six more years to live my life!
I have been lucky that it’s been nineteen and a half years since I was told I had cancer. That I had a ‘mere’ 4-5 months to live, and I’m still here. None of my books would have been written if I hadn’t stuck around. I’m still accomplishing things that I want to take on. I’m still a viable member of humankind. Who knows what I’ll do next? Who knows what I will accomplish next? How much I could contribute in the next thirty or so years? I hope to be looking back at this blog and still sharing with all who read this. I hope you are around, healthy and happy and functioning, pain-free to read these and my books and see what I accomplish.