Editor’s Note: Follow Laura’s bariatric surgery journey (stomach stapling) here. Laura is a 27-year old woman who’s incredibly loving, kind, and adorable. None of that will change….she’s always been and will always be one of the kindness human beings I know. I also want to mention that Laura has two great aunt’s who’ve had the same surgery and has several obese relatives including myself, her “favorite” aunt :). She’s by no means in this alone. I love you Laura!
Those who know me on a personal level know that I have struggled with my weight for a long time. Looking back it started when I was young, but really came to be a problem when I was 15. As a child I was semi-active, I played soccer and enjoyed time outside but food was an issue. I would crave things and not know how to properly remove myself from those feelings and it ultimately became a much bigger problem.
When I was 15 I played soccer for multiple teams and focused on getting in shape. I jogged every other day and was cautious of how I acted around food and what I ate. When boys came into the picture I soon learned that food was usually the focus of our time together. We would go out to a movie, go out to dinner, go to the Fair; basically anything that had food involved was an option. My focus became less about staying in shape and more about having fun and it ended with me going from a size 10 to a size 16 in a few short years. I wish I could go back to myself at this age and really have a lesson about how those choices would contribute to a future struggle with body image and medical conditions.
Fast forward a few years, I’m now married and my husband and I are ready to try to have children. I struggled for a year without getting pregnant and really was frustrated with how it was going. It seems no matter what we were trying a baby was not in the cards for us.
I finally spoke with my doctor about my feelings and we dug into my medical background to find out what might be the root cause of the issue. It was determined after a few months that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS for short. This came to a shock to me as I wasn’t fully sure what that meant or how to deal with it. The bottom line was I needed to lose weight in order for my body to recognize the hormones it was producing each month in order to ovulate. After a year of trying everything I could to have a child it came down to my body not releasing that precious egg each month.
Once we had the diagnosis my doctor and I returned to the problem, how do I get pregnant. After a few tries, we found a combination of medications (Clomid and Metformin) that helped me finally achieve that goal. Unfortunately, the happiness of achieving pregnancy was extremely short lived.
Looking back, my mom has expressed concern about why she didn’t notice there was a problem right away. My pregnancy was not fun, I was constantly cramping, I couldn’t wear normal jeans because they hurt my abdomen and I was frequently spotting. At 9 weeks pregnant, I finally knew there was a much bigger issue then some cramps and spotting. I had insane cramping and noticed that I was no longer spotting, but severely bleeding.
That night in the hospital was one my husband and I will never forget, I wasn’t permitted anything stronger then Tylenol and after an emergency ultrasound proved that there was no fetus in my uterus but there was lots of swelling and a blockage on my tube I was rushed into surgery to have my tube removed. It turned out that the embryo decided my left fallopian tube looked cozy and decided to make its home there. This resulted in my tube rupturing and my life being in danger of internal bleeding.
After a few months of counseling and really focusing on myself we decided to try getting pregnant again. We went back to the drug cocktail that worked but after three attempts we were unsuccessful and I was emotionally sabotaging myself. I quit working out, I quit going to see my nutritionist and I continued to feel upset and frustrated with my body.
Weight Loss Surgery: Making the Decision for Myself
May 2013, was an interesting month for my husband and I, I decided that if my problem with getting pregnant focused on my weight then I am going to do something completely selfish and take care of me first. I researched online and found that weight loss surgery has been successful at lowering PCOS issues by 90% as well as a host of other major health issues. This could be my opportunity to lose weight and start a family, two things I want desperately in my life.
I spoke with my husband about the whole situation and he agreed that this would be an option but he wanted me to speak to a fertility specialist to see what they suggested. Looking back, I am so thankful that my husband is supportive of my decisions and willing to work with me to improve our quality of life. I made an appointment with the fertility specialist and one with the bariatric surgeon and decided we would see what they said and then make a decision on how to proceed.
The fertility specialist ordered a hysterosalpingogram, a long and fancy word for an x-ray with dye contrast in my uterus to see if my tubes were open. We knew that one was gone from the ectopic pregnancy we had but the other was a mystery. A few minutes into that procedure and it was official, I have a blocked tube. So now I have no working fallopian tubes.
The options were laid out for me, I could have a surgery to remove my blockage, but because I’ve had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, I am likely to have one again and may end up with that tube being removed or I could try in vitro fertilization. In vitro is not a cheap option, it takes financial planning and a dedication to having a child not to mention a strong understanding of the hormones that are being pumped into your body. I asked the fertility specialist about my odds at being 250 pounds and doing in vitro, they mentioned that being overweight makes it especially hard to harvest eggs and I may end up having to do multiple egg retrievals in order to have enough to try the procedure.
Weight Loss Surgery: Taking Control
My heart was broken; this idea went from being potentially a $17,000 dollar procedure to over $30,000 dollars. After some tears I asked the fertility specialist what they thought about bariatric surgery. I’m not sure what I expected her answer to be but surprisingly she was extremely happy that I had considered the option. I got the go ahead to take a break from trying to have a child in order to have surgery to help me lose weight.
Now weight loss surgery is not an option that one can jump into lightly, I am lucky enough to have coverage though my insurance for this procedure which makes a world of difference as they do not cover in vitro or any other reproductive procedures. After looking more into my options and meeting with my bariatric surgeon I felt I had enough information to make a sound decision. Knowing I’m not alone for the full financial cost really made my decision clear to me. I’m having weight loss surgery.
I can’t begin to express the feeling of joy that I have about this whole process, for the first time in a long time I feel in control of my life. I’m not wishing and hoping that things work out; I’m standing up and taking ownership for my body and my actions. I know that having PCOS, low thyroid, and sleep apnea are because I’m severely overweight but the weight didn’t just pound itself onto my body… I put it there. Being able to say that has taken some time. I’m the victim in the situation but I’m also the one doing the attacking. It’s a strange concept but it’s one I’m learning every day. I have a choice and dang it; I’m going to do what’s best for me before I worry about everyone else. I’m going to have weight loss surgery.
This is the new me, and new me… welcome to the world.