As promised Monday, my friend Rachel answers some questions about the gastric bypass surgery she had this morning in Charlotte. I just spoke with her. She’s groggy … and grateful.
Right now, Rachel (not her real name) is 5’4” tall and about 208 pounds. She wants to lose 80-85 pounds, hopefully in about six months’ time. Here’s the rest of the interview:
I believe the weight-loss process is 90 percent mental. What are you doing about the emotional piece?
As I stated earlier, I can’t eat when I’m upset. Food is the last thing I want, and it is no comfort to me during those times. What I MUST work on is portion control. I hope this highly invasive, life-altering surgery will restrict me from going off with big plates full of food.
Four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. In 10 words or less, tell me why (snicker, snicker).
Seriously, I think the circumstances vary for black women. We all have different stories, so I won’t rely on what I see as stereotypes about us to explain it away. So, in 10 words or less I’ll say America is a food desert with too many unhealthy alternatives.
Do you know folks who’ve had this procedure? If so, what’s the best advice you’ve received?
Yes, I have a dear friend and soror who had it seven years ago, back when they cut you open, and a beloved first cousin, also a soror, who had it a bit earlier than my friend. My cousin doesn’t talk about it much; she just showed me a before picture that helped me understand why she didn’t come around to many family gatherings. THAT picture spoke a thousand pounds – I mean words. My friend led by example. During the time she was preparing for her surgery, a coworker of mine had the surgery by the same surgeon my friend was going to. The coworker died. Frantic, I revealed this fact to my friend, who reassured me by telling me she knew of the coworker, and that the coworker had not followed doctor’s orders. The coworker had started eating solid foods without her doctor’s blessing. My friend followed the doctor’s orders to the letter, and she did it cheerfully. She had been morbidly obese all her life, and she was anxious to have this life change. So what the doctor said was what she did, and she didn’t second guess him.
So, in what ways do you think your life will change after the weight is off?
Well, I’ll have to go shopping, which I LOATHE. However, I wonder if I loathe it because my weight has fluctuated so wildly. Nah, I don’t like it because the sales women get on my nerves. (“How is that working for us?” is my least favorite cheerful question. I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “Look, hussy, are YOU in here struggling into these clothes? Huh? Huh?”) Seriously, I hope and believe that I will finally get back to my ideal weight, and that I will work hard to stay there. I think it will be a real boost to my self-esteem to be at the weight I’ve striven to get to all these years, and just work, one day at a time, to keep the weight at that level.
Are you going to become an insufferable diva?
Gosh, I hope not. I was absolutely insufferable back in the mid-1990s when I was buffed AND cut. I was foine, girl! Also, it felt really good to have rippling, but not bulging muscles. I think that gaining back more weight than I lost back then was very humbling, and I won’t be such a diva this time. I still know it can all go south pretty quickly.
There are some serious side effects and complications, and I’m scared for you. Are you at all worried?
Yes, I’m very concerned, and my children are frantic, mainly because I won’t be near family. Also, they don’t think I need the surgery. I know that I must follow the doctor’s orders to the letter in order to survive. I’m reassured because I’m going to be in a Bariatric Center of Excellence for the procedure, and my surgeon has a very strong reputation. I’m also relieved that I won’t be cut from chest to pelvic bone. Whew.
I’m thinking about buying some boobies once I’m down 100 pounds. Are you going to have any plastic surgery once your weight is off?
I really hope I won’t need it. I’ve been heavy for so long I can’t predict how much skin-sagging to expect. I’ve typically had good skin tone, though, so I hope I can exercise the saggies off. I won’t be getting it for cosmetic reasons; I don’t want to fix anything but my weight, and I’ve resigned myself to living with the boobs I was blessed with. Also, my insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic/plastic surgery unless I’ve been disfigured.
I’m calling dibs on all your fat clothes, but only the high-end stuff, OK?
You’re welcome to them, but you won’t be needing any fat clothes yourself!
Everyone should have enough money to get plastic surgery. ~ Beverly Johnson
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.