I would have to say that many of my patients share some very similar qualities: Strength, hope, determination, persistence, drive and tenacity come to mind. So too do: Fear of failure, shame, embarrassment, confusion, trepidation. These are all normal and conflicting emotions that people who have chosen to have bariatric surgery experience. I can’t imagine many people go into this journey without having given it a great deal of thought. It’s not like deciding to try out Weight Watchers for 6 weeks, or signing up for an exercise class. People who have come this far have most often explored every avenue and tried every diet known to man. This is the ‘final straw’ and it HAS to work.
To make it work it takes effort, determination and perseverance. We know that the band is not a magic wand but is a tool to control hunger. A phenomenal tool when used properly however still just a tool. It doesn’t make a person feel ‘full’. It doesn’t stop a person from eating, it won’t ‘make them lose weight’ and it is certainly not ‘the easy way out’. The lions share of the work rests with the person who possesses the band. That person still needs to choose the right foods in the right amount, walk away after a small meal, resist temptation and increase physical activity. Most important they must have their head ‘in the game’. Without this their success may be limited.
For anyone who has struggled with their weight they know that these are not easy things to do, all of the time, banded or not. Having the support of loved ones is crucial to many people’s success. Many patients have told me that they couldn’t have been as successful as they have been without the support of their spouses or their families. Unfortunately nearly as many have said the fact that their loved ones don’t understand what it is they need from them has been a hindrance to their success…and hence the reason for this particular entry.
“A Generic Letter from a Banded Person to their Loved Ones”
Dear Loved Ones,
Please know that whether it appears to be so or not, I am trying as hard as I can. I live with this disease 24/7. I did not CHOOSE to be handed the obesity card…who would? I don’t want this disease any more than the renal patient wants dialysis. It’s not glamorous, it’s not sexy and its sure not fun. Obesity has to be up there with some of the worst diseases not only because of the other health issues it causes, but because of the stigma that is attached to it. So please be understanding and patient with me.
Please understand that weight loss with this band does not happen overnight. On average when my band is properly adjusted and all is going well I can expect to lose 1-2 lbs/week, sometimes it may be more and sometimes less, this is normal and I am not doing anything wrong.
It takes time to eat with the band. It is difficult for me to always be the last one at the table eating. How can you help? By slowing down. Eat with me. Put your fork down between bites and savour your food. Not only will you be showing me your love and support but you will be enjoying your food, eating less and aiding your own digestion.
Please don’t watch every bite of food I take. Please don’t say things like “do you think you should be eating that”? and “don’t you think you’ve had enough”? I don’t need a ‘food police’. When you say these types of things it makes me feel guilty and often ends with me eating more or eating in private…which makes me embarrassed and ashamed and leads to a vicious cycle.
Please be aware of unwittingly sabotaging me. If you know there are certain things at this stage that I can’t resist please enjoy them yourself but not in my presence. Please don’t bring those things into the house. Don’t “treat” me with something that you know is not a good choice and which you know I will find hard to resist. A backrub, a pedicure, a movie, a book….there are so many thoughtful gestures that will mean more to me than a food ‘reward’.
Rather than asking if I went to the gym or exercised today perhaps you could offer to join me on a walk or a bike ride. We could do something together that would get us both more active.
I have this band for the rest of my life. I am going to have good days and bad days. Please help me realize that one bad day is simply that: one bad day. I feel lousy enough if I get derailed. I need your love and support and understanding to help me get back on track. A hug and a “I understand, don’t worry, tomorrow is another day” will do me the world of good and be far more effective than condemnation.
I know you love me and do the things you do because you care and I appreciate that but I need you to understand that this is a journey I am on and I need the support of my loved ones. Please ask me every once in a while how things are going, how I am feeling and what you can do to help. That will make me feel loved and supported and help me reach the goals I am trying so hard to achieve.
Yours in Health and Fitness,