Welcome back, to the conclusion of Joy’s story! This is the final segment in our weekly 8 part series on Joy’s Journey. What an inspiring story! If you missed any of the earlier segments, please catch up on the website at:
Moving forward, I knew the last piece of my recovery puzzle would be to focus on weight loss, once again, since I was now tipping the scales at 260 lbs. and on so many meds. Bottom line, I got a referral to Mayo’s Bariatric team in August 2014 and began my journey to better health. After going through their very thorough psychologic, nutritional and medical screening, eight months later I had gastric bypass surgery (4/21/15). It’s not for everyone, but it was the BEST decision for me, and I don’t regret it for even one second! Anyone who says it’s taking the “easy way out” has NO CLUE! I’ve also heard, “I know someone who had it and they gained all their weight back!” This surgery is only a tool, not a miracle cure. YOU have to do the work in order to be successful! The many medications I was taking went in the trash the day of surgery, with the exception of my nerve meds, so YAY to that! Now a mere 8 months later, I’ve lost 101 lbs. The surgery will physically keep me from eating foods I shouldn’t: bread, pasta, rice, high sugar and high fat foods as they can potentially cause me to have dumping syndrome (sweating, vomiting and feeling miserable for a few hours). I don’t know if this is actually true as I’ve not had any desire to try them.
I attend monthly aftercare meetings at Mayo which address any issues we may encounter. I’m learning skills, like I did in pain rehab to deal with my lifelong chronic pain, to deal with issues in my life and not turn to food as my temporary solution. It’s such a strange feeling to actually “sit in” the discomfort instead of stuffing the feelings down with food.
Not even a week post-surgery, my husband had a herniated disc impinging on his sciatica nerve and I had to take care of him. He’s never sick, and he was in so much pain that he slept sitting up at the kitchen table for 10 days straight. We encountered several obstacles in getting him care, and I was so overwhelmed and stressed I wanted to eat … I wanted potato chips and lots of them! Then I thought to myself, I can’t, even if I wanted to … Oh no, now what?! It sounds silly but it was my first light bulb moment that life as I’d known it would no longer be. I used to grab food, stuff it down with the uncomfortable feelings and it worked, although momentarily. I always regretted it soon after and then would beat myself up about it and get caught in that yo-yo loop again.
I’ve faced other issues, close family issues that have brought me great pain and many tears. I have learned to accept and deal with them. I’m OK, I’m enough and I feel for the first time in my life I will succeed against this beast! I am, however, not delusional to think I’ve won this war. I’m a work in progress and will be for the rest of my life. I’m very limited in the exercises I’m able to do because of my nerve condition. I have stuck to my pain rehab physical therapy and I walk short distances at a time.
So you see, I’m not a “diet success” story. I’m just a woman who’s learned the “why” about her obesity and how it has affected her entire life. Trust me, no one at 53 thinks they’ll have a stroke and suffer its lifelong consequences just because they like to eat pizza, fried chicken and all those “tasty” foods! I believe in my heart of hearts, no one is obese because they simply love to eat. I feel they live to eat instead of eat to live because of some life event, person, or combination of the two! If this were not true, I doubt these statistics for obesity in the United States would exist:
Obesity and Overweight – Data for the U.S.
- Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 35.1% (2011-2012)
- Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity: 69.0% (2011-2012)
Source: Health, United States, 2014
Last year, my New Year’s resolution stated “2015 is going to be my year of change from the inside out”. It’s the first resolution I’ve ever stuck to and accomplished. I’m nowhere close to being finished, so my resolution for 2016 is to become more as mentally and physically strong. I want to help others who are struggling and offer support if they need it. Here’s to making that become a reality! Those who’ve followed my story over the past two years on Facebook and supported me with their love and concern mean the world to me. I’ve had many say I was their inspiration, and many people have reached out in private messages to ask for help. Talking about and sharing my story has been my way of healing. If I have helped anyone else by doing so, I take it as a blessing. God is good! Thank you for taking your time to read this.
Thank you so much, Joy, for sharing your story from beginning to … I won’t say “end” because we know the end hasn’t been written yet! And, we are so encouraged and inspired by your journey through trials, medical issues and emotional challenges to be the success you are today!
~Blessings to everyone ~ and may each and every one of you find the strength and inspiration to tackle the challenges in your life.