“G” is for Gastric Bypass Surgery

While presenting at a BNI Visitor Day recently, there was a man in the front row that looked familiar. When the visitors introduced themselves, I knew. Afterward, I asked him if he and his wife had sold a house in Antioch 15 years ago. His eyes bugged a little and he said yes. I smiled and said “I bought your house!”

Cool story, right?

The really interesting part for me was the conversation that followed. First – he was shocked that I remembered him (I still get their junk mail, so…). He then said that he never thought I would “do something like this”, there was no way he would have recognized me and finally…”I had no idea you had a sense of humor”.

It got me thinking about the last 15 years and the changes in my life.

Of course he didn’t recognize me. The last time he saw me I weighed over 500lbs.

Of course he never thought I would be a public speaker…15 years ago, I wouldn’t have been.

No sense of humor? That hurt. To be fair, the final days of escrow were a little contentious, but still…no sense of humor? Ouch.

As I mentioned in “D” is for Dogs”, I got Gandhi because I was preparing for gastric bypass surgery and needed a walking partner. My first walk with Gandhi was in July 2002. I made it to the house next door before I was out of breath and my back hurt. At our peak, we were walking 5-6 miles a day…before breakfast.

My highest recorded weight was 530lbs.

I had GBS on January 6, 2003. GBS patients often call their surgery date their “birthday”. I feel like that sometimes. That is when the world shifted for me. I didn’t realize, until I lost a couple hundred pounds, how affected I was by my weight and all the ways I was treated differently because of it. I always thought I broke the stereotypes of overweight women, that what other people thought didn’t affect me. In many ways I did (and do) break those stereotypes. In others…not so much.

Most of the people in my life now have only known me post-surgery. Those who did know me “back in the day” traveled the journey of transformation with me. That is why it was so interesting to run into Ron. He “knew” me for a moment of time a lifetime ago, and we have not crossed paths in 15 years.

Flash forward to 2011. I was diagnosed with severe iron deficient anemia and had to get blood transfusions. It was scary, with lots of tests, infusions, needles and ER nurses giving me sideways glances which I was later told was because they did not know how I was standing upright given my red blood cell count.

I was talking with a girlfriend about what was going on and she got really angry and said “I bet you wish you never had that surgery now, don’t you”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the absolute best decision I ever made. Sure, I have “stuff” to manage, like my anemia. I can deal with that because I believe that without the surgery I would be dead. Monitoring my iron levels is much more palatable than dead.

I often wonder if I would have had the courage to do some of the things I do now, pre-GBS. Would LDI have happened? Would I have ever have become the Cane Corso girl I am now? I really don’t know. I think about how confident I thought I was and realize that much of that confidence was really just bravado. Now, fifteen years later, with distance and maturity, I recognize the difference between confidence and bravado…most of the time. I am human after all (shhh, don’t tell).

The lesson…the biggest, I believe:

Appreciate the road you traveled because it will help you appreciate the road you are on so much more.