Hello everyone! Three years ago this month, I was staying in Amsterdam and woke up one morning to find my husband having an emotional meltdown. As a result of that situation, I made the decision to have WLS (without knowing much about it) and a few weeks later my life changed forever.
I am an American from San Francisco and I lived in Hawaii for 10 years. In 2011 when I was 57, my husband and I sold our home, sold our business, and traveled for one year to figure out the next chapter in our lives. Our life-changing events all happened during this year of travel.
I was also 205 lbs (223 at my highest weight). At 5’3″ that wasn’t attractive or healthy, but I had no idea what a huge toll it was taking on my husband and my marriage. I had always been heavy but I had only gained about 2 lbs a year during our time together. Doesn’t seem like much, does it! Well, we had been together over 25 years… that’s 50 lbs! And I was 170 lbs when we met. During all those years, he had worked hard watching what he ate and exercising regularly to maintain his weight; he is tall and weighed around 155-160 lbs during our entire time together.
So here we were in the land of tall, gorgeous, healthy, fit people, all riding bicycles, and I felt like I was the only fat person in the entire country. Plus my knees, feet and hip hurt… so at 57 I was hobbling around like an old lady. And I felt like an old lady! I had never been thin, so I just thought this was who I was meant to be.
Back to the meltdown. My husband was SO frustrated. He loved me more than anything, but he is a very visual and sexual person. (Listen up ladies… most men are!!!! Don’t kid yourself!) He was not attracted to the person he loved most… and now he was surrounded by gorgeous women in a city with lots of sexual energy. So after years of not saying anything about my weight and all the crap that goes along with being heavy, he basically let it all come streaming out in one huge dump. It took me completely by surprise and the next few weeks were like a weird nightmare or dream… a bit of both I suppose.
Looking back, it was like A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” but after lots of talks and tears and (me) being incredibly pissed… I had to admit… he was right. If he had gained 50 lbs (on top of being heavy to begin with) would I want to have sex with him? Would I be proud to introduce him as my husband? I have to say it would be tough for me as well. I like to think I would have handled it a bit more diplomatically than he did, but hey, none of us is perfect.
Like every person reading this blog, I had tried everything to lose weight… nothing worked. Unlike many people reading this blog, I did not have any huge eating disorders, nor was I a closet or binge eater, but I did have a body type that just would not lose weight with a traditional Weight Watcher or other diet plan. I wasn’t perfect by any means, and I have never pushed myself physically or maintained any sort of regular exercise program. But I knew that weight was my single biggest problem (and even without the marriage issues, I had to face the fact that a lot of health problems were beginning, all related to my weight), I knew I needed to do something drastic and non-traditional, and I knew I needed to do it FAST.
As those of you who followed my blog know, I chronicled that first year of WLS each Sunday. I did that because even though it was my personal journey, I thought it was important to capture what happens as you transform from a heavy person to a thinner person, and I thought it would be helpful and inspirational to others. If you have not read the account of my first year and are curious about how it all unfolded — especially if you are about to go into surgery — I think you might find it as inspiring as others have. Start with the About Me page and it will guide you to the beginning.
So let me just summarize that interesting time: We did our research and concluded that WLS was the best option, even though we had barely had a conversation about WLS before then and had never heard of the Vertical Sleeve. We found an experienced and highly rated surgeon in Germany, paid the money, did not have to jump through any red tape or hoops, and three weeks later I was waking up with most of my stomach gone.
WLS was not exactly on our “year of travel” itinerary, but it sure made it more interesting! It changed my marriage. It changed my knees, my feet, my health. It changed the way I live, eat, dress, and how I act with other people. It changed our sex life. It changed how happy I am to be alive. IT SAVED MY LIFE.
Now here I am exactly three years from those days of transition. We are living in Amsterdam permanently now, I will be 61 years old tomorrow, and I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I am living a dream life.
In order to stay connected to my weight loss journey, I semi-regularly go onto the Vertical Sleeve Talk forum (now called the Gastric Sleeve Surgery Forum of BariatricPal.com), although I don’t comment as much as I used to. But I have come to realize that even though it was only three years ago, I was one of the early ones to this surgery, and I certainly feel it has been successful. Has it been easy? Not always, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember it being that hard, either. There is little out there for how things work 3–5 years out, so I decided to write my blog again — not every week but when the mood strikes — and share what you might expect once you have lost the weight. But my biggest goal here is to try and inspire others, just as I have been inspired by those before me.
Just a brief synopsis of what my weight and food intake looks like three years out. My lowest weight was 134, but the honest truth is that lasted for about five minutes. I have generally bounced between 137 and 142 for the last year. I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get back down to 134 but have not been able to do it (and sadly I have about 8-10 lbs of excess skin). Like all of you, I don’t lose weight easily. But because our life is filled with lots (and I do mean LOTS) of company, dinner parties, and a big social calendar, we have lots of wine, food and goodies around. I believe I do eat them in moderation, but even in moderation, this is the weight it keeps me at. I still eat small portions at meals; in fact, most of the time when we go out, I will order soup and then just have a bite or two of my husband’s meal. I’m still a very cheap date! I have just recently joined a gym and that seems to be helping as I am now back down to 139. So stay tuned. The good news is that I can eat anything and everything with no problem… the bad news is that I can eat anything and everything with no problem! Once you lose the weight, you will understand that one better!
I ended my weekly blog in October 2012. I had reached my goal weight of 138 (and have pretty much kept it there since that time). But I realize that I now have an important reason to continue my story. As a result of my husband’s courage to finally be brutally honest with me, and the subsequent decisions we made (having WLS, moving to Europe, and a few other big items), we have designed a dream life that works better than our life has ever worked before. I hope that we can be an inspiration to others to examine their own lives and say, “What do I want my life to look like?” Once you start being honest with yourself and those you love (even if it hurts), and once you get this albatross (your excess weight) off from around your neck, you can start creating the life you want and deserve and become a more genuine and interesting person to yourself and others.
I think I now eat normally, but that’s about the only thing normal about me. My life has never been normal — or traditional — by most people’s standards (as in living in the suburbs and having children and grandchildren; I was in the corporate world, owned a couple of businesses, and do not practice any religion). I admire and respect those who have followed the traditional path, but it has not been my path.
Why do I tell you this? Because in November 2012, our life changed again and became even more full, vibrant, and interesting — and I could never be living it if I had not had WLS. You will just have to wait until my next post to find out the story! I am very proud of my new life, but I suspect many people on this forum might find it odd or even bizarre. Some might even find it immoral! But whether or not you agree with everything I do, perhaps by telling you about it, you might learn something about a different lifestyle and be inspired to have the courage to create your own new world. We all have different backgrounds, qualities and insecurities, and if we don’t hurt anyone and respect the differences, then we can all live in a better world.
I will share this much right now: I am going to an erotic masked ball in Berlin next month… a new adventure for me! So for the first time in my life, I bought some very sexy lingerie: a garter belt, stockings, high heels, a little black dress… and a mask!
So consider yourself warned! I would never be crude, I have always tried to be articulate, and even when I was heavy, I tended to be a bit provocative. So if you’re not into provocative and you would rather read about protein shakes, pre-op diets and tests, waiting for approval, paperwork, red tape — the topics I seem to find most often on the forums — then please take yourself off my list. I respect that and you will not hurt my feelings.
But if you want to read more about how someone in her late 50s / early 60s had WLS and is happier than she has ever been, feels healthier — and sexier — than she has ever felt, and is having the time of her life, then stay tuned because that is MY LIFE. It’s been a wonderful adventure and you just never know where the twists and turns might take you…
Queen of Crop