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Weight Loss Surgery. The Easy Option?

There was a discussion over on the Tivo Community Forum about weight loss surgery that got me a little worked up. I posted a rant over there, but I’ve decided its worth posting here too.

My wife has lost roughly 187lbs in the 21 months since her weight loss surgery. It�s stopped now since she’s pregnant with twins (kind of hard to lose weight with that going on).

This isn’t something I discuss much since I consider it an essentially private matter for her. However if it does anything to diminish the ridiculous notion floating around that surgery is some kind of easy cop-out solution, well it needs talked about.

There’s a whole raft of things to consider here. First off you have to look at her health when considering such a drastic action. She was morbidly obese. Her family had a history of diabetes and of heart problems. She suffered from sleep apnea. Oh and she got migraines which were apparently weight related too. And finally we were having zero luck in getting pregnant (something very important to her).

We didn’t jump to surgery lightly. Before I met my wife she had tried many many different diets. She had successfully lost weight, but always ended up regaining it. She had also tried several different medications to help her. One of those Fen Phen is already off the market for causing heart problems. Another, Meridia is now the subject of review.

When she was on Meridia she was able to lose a good 50lbs but at that point the weight loss just stopped and nothing short of increasing dosage would start it again. So already we can see she had medical issues that had to be addressed and that the surgical option was probably safer than the available medication.

I was still very resistant to the notion of surgery. All surgery is dangerous, there’s a risk I don’t care for. And it was another year, with her weight continuing to increase before I gave in and agreed she should have the surgery.

So why couldn’t she just use some “will power”, eat better, eat less, exercise more and lose the weight naturally?

Because no one, no one has that much will power. She couldn’t exercise much because she had bad knees, because she was overweight. She was also always tired, because of the sleep apnea which makes exercising even more difficult.

She works an office job for 9 hours a day plus 1.5 hours commute time each way. That�s 12 hours of the day taken up right there. By the time you throw in sleeping, eating etc. Doesn’t leave much for “living right” does it?

What about eating better then? Again, life works against her in this. There’s no one at home to cook nice meals. We have to make things when we get home (around 7pm) and we really need them ready before 8. The cafeteria at her work offers lots of greasy options, but the only remotely healthy options are salads, and you know what. Some of us (both me and my wife on this) don’t like eating salad. It�s like eating grass as far as I’m concerned.

So perhaps she should have done something earlier. When? She comes from family that firmly believes if your plates empty it must be immediately filled. That food is the ultimate reward for everything. If the people around you are shoving food in your face, you aren’t going to lose weight.

And then there’s the most fundamental problem. The reason my wife was morbidly obese and I at my worst was never more than 25lbs over-weight. She was hungry. She was always hungry. And it sucks being hungry.

Through in a slowish metabolism and you’re in deep trouble. I’m lucky. Even at 32 with my metabolism definitely slowing down, it still burns up enough calories that I was able to reduce my weight (I’m probably 5lbs over-weight now) with just some slight increase in exercise and a small reduction in food. That would never have worked for my wife.

So we come to the surgery. This was not in any way, shape or form easy. It was painful for her, though her recovery was fast. She was stuck eating jello and apple sauce for several weeks.

Early on, when she was just getting onto solid food again, she caught a cold. She had trouble keeping food down, she had trouble drinking enough. She got dehydrated and we had to put her back in the hospital for a week. That was scary believe me.

Things have improved a lot since then. She’s lost a load of weight. The sleep apnea is gone. The migraines are gone. Her energy level is up. I don’t expect to see her running a marathon any time soon, but she has no trouble walking wherever she might need to go.

She’s happy. She enjoys being able to go into regular clothes stores and find things that fit her. Her perception of herself is vastly improved. She is now optimistic about losing weight and much more open to trying things to achieve it. Before, it was never going to work, so why bother? And perhaps most importantly, she’s pregnant and we’re having twins.

So don’t tell me that it�s an easy option. There’s nothing easy about that surgery. There’s nothing easy about after the surgery. Two years out it’s looking good but the first 6 months were tough to watch and I doubt she’d have said anything good about the surgery till at least a year on.

And don’t tell me that it was an “easy way out”. She tried everything she could before going to this extreme. It was a last resort. The only practical option available.

Don’t dismiss the effort that my wife made and what she has achieved by doing this. You may be terribly proud of your weight loss (and why not, I was proud of losing the 20lbs) but don’t diminish other people just because they chose a different route.

Don’t sit back and declare that your way is the one and only “true” way to weight loss. You can’t equate your particular circumstances to everyone else�s. You don’t have that right.

Eoghann Irving is amongst other things the creator and Editor of Solar Flare. He has a life long interest in all forms of science fiction and fantasy and a pressing need to share this interest with anyone who will listen. Find out more at his personal website

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