Monday, August 31, 2009

Dealing with a family member's weight situation

Tomorrow, my mother's husband, M. is having lap band surgery. I've known about it since June, but I was not sure whether he was 100% positive. It turns out he is, because he thinks this is the only way he can lose the weight.

The story of M. is not much different from others who have tried to lose weight. M. has been on several diets. The last one was Atkins a number of years ago. Though he did lose a substantial amount of weight, he was unable to sustain its difficult regimen and deprivation. Like most dieters, when he went off Atkins, his weight returned. That was the last major diet that I can remember him trying. Since then, he hasn't been on any diet to my knowledge. His doctors and family are now concerned since he has developed diabetes, has high blood pressure, and has had a mini stroke.

I tend to sit on the fence with this. Part of me knows from literature research how there is a lack of
pre-screen mental evaluation, especially among those with gastric bypass surgery. It's also been suggested how crucial follow-up care is (and not enough get) I also know of several people who have had this same procedure done. They have rapidly lost the weight but eventually regained it later in life.

I know M. is well aware of the side effects, how his eating habits will change, etc., but as my mom says, "he is ready for this." I know his decision is already made, but I can at least voice my concerns here. I worry about whether it will really change his mindset/lifestyle or whether it is only a temporary solution to the problem. I fear this will only cause an elimination of foods rather than learning to take a moderated approach. Like many people, he's always looked at his failures as a lack of willpower, thus, feeling like if he just wasn't tempted, it would all be better. Therefore, if you take away the ability to eat, he will be thin, happy, and all will be well.

I also fear how this will affect my mother and her eating habits. My mother is not a cook, and I can seriously imagine her just eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner or just sleeping through dinner (she is the type who could fall asleep right after work).

The other fear I have was from a poster I read on a board discussing whether the side effects were worth it. The poster said,
"I can't eat and enjoy foods like I did preband. That is the only side effect I have . Since that was the whole point of having surgery, I can't complain about it, even though a pain free hamburger sounds good every now and then."

M. has always been a person who has seriously enjoyed food. In all honesty, that's always been one thing I admired about him--that he could enjoy food with all its taste and
scrumptiousness. Just like as in anorexia and starvation, I worry that that will be gone for the sake of becoming thin.

At this point, I know I don't have much say, but can only hope for the best. I hope he receives adequate follow-up care and can join a support group. In some ways, I'm not sure M. knows what he is in store for despite saying he does. I hope this won't be about restriction but instead incorporating a more healthy lifestyle, e.g. adding in some moderate exercise. Though I sit on the fence with this approach, I hope it works for him, especially from a medical standpoint. Because in reality, I can only imagine what he might feel for himself if it doesn't. A FAIL. And that just
continues the cycle all over.

Note--*I hope I do not offend anyone reading this post who may have had lap band or gastric bypass surgery. I know everyone must make their own decision which they feel is best for themselves. I also realize that my perception may be clouded by years of eating disorder abuse. I'm also hoping that I do not come off as judgmental, because I'm truly not trying to be.


Eating Alone said...

The lap band was my last option as well. The Dr. that does it also ran the center where I went for my diet. If you can talk to him about OPTIFAST. Yeah, I know it suck's and really fed into my ED but it allowed me to get to a much healthier place for my body. With my T we are working on getting my mind there as well. I know the fun of yo/yo dieting for many years and the toll it taks. Even with that I'm glad that this Dr took the time to tell me that while she could do it, she hated doing them. You don't get nutrion the same you have a much higher chance of morbitiy (?) within 5/10 years of even not losing the weight. This procedure does not address the issue's and it doesn't always work!

Sorry I get pumped up about this. For most people being normal or a little over or under is just about nutrion. I think most people could get the weight off if they went to a nutrionist for a 6 month period and still enjoy life and food. For some, those of us with ED's then it's a little harder but if you don't get that under control first this surgery can really hurt you.

I know that people think that this is there last chance. It's not. The medically suppervised diet I went on I lost over 200 lbs. Since I got off it I've lost another 40. This was done in a about 16 months. I don't think I'll put it back on but I am not sure. Durring the program I learned a lot about food and what normal eating is supposed to be, now with the help from the nutrionist and therapist I'm working on getting it right.
No binging, no restricting, just proper nution, and a healthy lifestyle.

Wow really sorry about getting on the soapbox.

Rachel said...

Reading your post, I do have to say that I'm relieved that he's at least getting the lap band surgery, which is reversible (I believe), instead of a much more permanent and digestive-altering surgical procedure.

If this were my family member, I'd probably try and be as supportive as I can since it's clear that he's already made what he feels is the best decision for him. I would be on-hand, however, to listen to him talk about any problems from the surgery and offer as much help in that respect as I can. Many people who've had WLS keep mum on any negative side effects because A) they think that they're worth it or that they deserve it because they're losing weight; and B) the negative side effects of WLS aren't advertised much, so people who have them can feel like they're just the anomaly.

Best wishes for a problem-free procedure.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the surgery goes well for him.

Kara said...

I really appreciate this post. Very interesting. Thanks for writing. Sorry I haven't been very good about commenting on your blog lately. I still read, and I will do better about commenting. I hope you still read my blog...

I Hate to Weight said...

i think you were very fair in this post. i can't imagine anyone being offended.

i'm on the fence too about what i think about these surgeries. in this case, he's made his decision, and you sound very supportive and considerate.

that being said, i think the most important thing is how this effects YOU. as someone with years of EDs, i don't know i'd feel in the face of the surgery, it's after-effects, and how your mom's husband will be eating (restricting?)

maybe i'm over-stepping. no matter what you're feeling, i hope you take the best possible care of yourself.

Tiptoe said...

Thank you everyone for your concern and thoughts. It was very helpful for me.

Eating Alone, I appreciate getting your point of view. A medically supervised diet might or might not have worked for him. I think he found anything where he had to "restrict" himself a little daunting on his own.

I agree with your points about how the surgery can be detrimental if the mental health aspects are not addressed. I'm very glad you are working on that now and will hopefully be in a better place both physically and mentally.

Rachel, yes, lap band is reversible. Your points about WLS and people feeling like they can't talk about their side effects is an important one to address. That whole feeling of thinking that this is what it takes to be thin or healthy seems a bit paramount for many after this procedure.

Dark and Twisty, thanks for your thoughts.

Kara, yes, I still read your blog. :-) I'm behind on blogs in general so haven't been commenting as much in general. If there were just more than 24 hours in a day!

Melissa, thanks so much for telling me I was fair in this post. I did need to hear that as I'm always worried about offending.

As for me, it doesn't affect me on a daily basis, simply because I am not there with him. For me, it is more of a worry and concern for himself and others around him. In general, I seem to be doing what is "normal for me.

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