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Confessions of a Fat Girl: The Last Resort

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Biological Clock Embroidery by Maximum RABBIT Designs

Ok, well it looks like this is becoming a bit of a series, this whole Confessions thing.  I’ve been trying to be as honest and open as possible about my efforts to lose weight, as well as about my issues with infertility.  I think the greater part of my reason for it is because it makes me feel better to get it all out.  I also continue to do it because I know that there are other people out there, like me, who find it helpful when others open up about their experiences. If reading my story can help inform someone or, at the very least, let them know they aren’t alone, then that’s a great reason too.

Anyway, let’s get down to the reason why I’m writing today.  There’s no leading up to this and I’ve found that the best way to do it is the tried and true ripping off the bandaid approach.

I am going to have weight loss surgery.  On January 18th, 2012 I am having gastric bypass surgery, which is shown in the video below, for those who don’t know what it is.

[youtube id=”l4vREUUv9Lw” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Ok, now it’s out there, there is no turning back.  I know some of you already know this, but many don’t and I’m sure for those people it has come as a bit of a shock to your system but that’s ok.  It was a bit of a shock to mine as well!

If you had asked me this time last year where I’d be right now, I would have said that I’d have all of my weight off and be about to start IVF.  I was after losing 85 pounds, feeling great and was well on my way to reaching my goals.  I would have puffed my chest out and exclaimed that NOTHING was getting in my way, I was a woman on a mission and I was kicking ass and taking names.

That was before this happened, before the fertility treatments began, before the hormones, stress, and disappointment that came along with the six months of fertility treatments.  I had totally underestimated the toll that would take on me and how difficult it would make losing weight.  Hell, how difficult it would be to keep the weight I’d already lost off… because I am an emotional eater and this was one of the most emotional experiences I have been through.  I wish I didn’t, and I’ve tried to change it over the years, but food has always equaled comfort for me.  So when I was loaded with hormones and dying with anticipation and anxiety over whether I had gotten pregnant that month, I ate.  When I realized I wasn’t pregnant again that month, I was sad, angry, and disappointed…. so I ate.

In the last year I have tried time and time again to get back on track and find that strength I had the year before.  I’d do detox after detox, tried having my doctor send me to another dietitian and still I couldn’t seem to make it happen.  Instead of continuing to lose the weight, I gained back half of what I lost and it felt horrible.

The thing is, I know many people feel that if you want something badly enough you just do it.  How I wish it were that simple, and I think if it were the world wouldn’t have the obesity problems it has today.  Nobody WANTS to be overweight, nobody wants to have the health issues that come along with it or to be made fun of and have their self esteem trampled into the dirt.  Nobody wants that.

In my experience (and I fully admit this may just be me) I have found that the more I had riding on this, the more difficult it became.  My biological clock has been ticking VERY loudly and not only my chances of having children, but also my husband’s, relied on me losing weight.  That’s a lot of pressure and that pressure and stress turned out to not be a motivation for me, but an obstacle.  It was constantly there nagging at me and stressing me out.

Weight loss surgery was first suggested to me by my gynecologist in 2006 and let me tell you, I did NOT take kindly to that suggestion at all.  I was furious that she would even suggest that to me because I’d started losing weight on my own and was convinced that I could get it done.  That was one of many times in the past six years when I was convinced I was going to get it done on my own.

Over the years I’ve tried the general eat less move more method, Weight Watchers, Low Carbing and everything in between.  Generally I’d lose 25-30 lbs and then whatever would happen, whether it was a family member dying back home, other family issues, winter blues or whatever, I would then turn around and gain it back… and then some.  Which lead to the great scale disaster of 2008, when I stepped on and realized I weighed over 300 lbs.

How fucking embarrassing it still is to say that.

As I said, I thought the recent 85 lb weight loss was really going to be it, as I’d gone further than I ever have, but it wasn’t, and what can I do about it now after letting another year slip by and gaining half of it back?

The weight loss surgery was given to me as an option by both my fertility specialist and my family doctor over the years. They didn’t really push it on me, rather just let me know it was there.  Every time I’d hold my hand up and tell them no.  I mean weight loss surgery?!   Were they out of their freaking minds?!!  When I declined they would do whatever they could, whether it was sending me to a weight loss program that paid for a gym membership, or to a new dietitian, they really did try to help motivate me and give me what I needed to try to lose the weight.

Looking back, I think the one thing we should have done, but didn’t, was see a therapist about WHY I am an emotional eater, and try to solve those problems. I think that would have gone a long way to helping me finally beat this issue once and for all.  Oh but we all know about hindsight…

After recent talks with my doctor, and the new dietitian (who I absolutely ADORE) together we have come to the following conclusions:

1. I will be 37 years old in a few months, and once I hit 40 any chances I have of having IVF are over.

2. After 35 years of age, the success rate with IVF pretty much drops by half every year.

3. After the re-gain, for me to now get to the HIGHEST weight acceptable for IVF (which also means the weight that gives me the lowest chance of success) it would take me 12-15 months.  I would still be considered overweight, still be hovering around the 200 lb mark and while I would be ALLOWED to have IVF by slipping in under the line… when taking my age and weight into consideration, my chances of getting pregnant would be very very low.

4. In that 12-15 months, with the surgery, I could not only get to a weight to be allowed to have IVF but surpass that and reach a much lower and healthier weight.  This would not only increase my chances of conceiving greatly, but put me in a much better position for a healthy pregnancy if I’m lucky enough to have one at all.

5. If, heaven forbid, the IVF doesn’t work, I won’t still be seriously overweight, emotional and trying to move on. I will hopefully have much fitter body, better outlook on life and feel more energetic and motivated to move on with life, free of FAT and INFERTILITY, for the first time in as long as I can remember.

6. I HAVE tried on my own, for YEARS. I have done the work, I’ve fought the fight and really made an honest to goodness effort to do this on my own, that is something nobody will ever be able to accuse me of, not trying my hardest on my own.  As much as I’d like to THINK I could get this done on my own over the next year, I thought that last year as well and I was in a much better position then.  I was 40 lbs lighter than I am now and felt a million times better.

7. If I don’t decide to take this leap now, and a year from now haven’t managed to get the weight off on my own, it may be too late.  As my doctors said, I’m at a critical point now in regards to my weight and age.  If I turn down the surgery now, and in a year still haven’t gotten the weight off, I risk missing my window completely… because when factoring in waiting and recovery periods with the surgery, it will be too late.  I wouldn’t be able to get it all done in time to still slip in under the age limit for the IVF.

This is not a decision I’ve made lightly, nor is it something I am taking lightly.  I don’t view the surgery as a fix for anything and I’m fully aware that unless I DO sort out my issues with food and do the work that I’ll eventually just gain all the weight back.  I know all the risks and rewards and have basically dedicated the past few months of my life to this.  I’ve been gathering info on the different surgeries available, visiting the clinic, speaking and visiting with people who have had or are going to have surgery, learning more about food and eating after the surgery and talking extensively about this with my close family and friends.

I have also been working hard to set up a support system for myself.  I’ve been trying to get to know other people who have been or are being treated by the same clinic, I’ve gone to one of their meetings and that was incredibly helpful and gave me a lot of insight.  I have a few friends who have done this and they’ve been wonderfully supportive and I’m currently working on getting set up with a therapist (outside of the one I see in the after care program from the clinic) to really dig deep and help me once and for all put an end to my dysfunctional relationship with food.

Basically, if I’m going to take this drastic step, I feel like I have to really do the work to make sure it sticks, because it’s really not a place I ever thought I’d be in my life.  Weight loss surgery was something I never thought I’d even consider because I had a lot of the same opinions other people who have never faced it have… it’s the easy way out, the lazy way out, weight loss surgery is for losers who can’t be arsed to do it on their own.

Boy, let me tell you… has my opinion changed since I have had to stare this beast face to face.  It’s anything but easy.  In fact, it’s going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It’s a massive life change, it’s going to be painful at times, sad at times and I’m sure there will be a few screaming fits in the mix along the way… but I’m hopeful that one day it will be worth it.

I won’t lie, I’m scared to death.  I’m scared of the surgery, the time in the hospital, making the huge changes that are required, how people are going to react to me doing this, of possibly gaining the weight back someday, of complications or crappy side effects (like losing hair, ugh!) and a million other things.

That said though, I am confident in my decision and I know that this is the right choice for me at this time.  It wasn’t six years ago, it wasn’t four years ago and it wasn’t this time last year… but it is now.  I will be operated on by Dr. Bruno Dillemans in Brugge Belgium, who is one of the top bariatric surgeons in the world, so that is very comforting.  The reason the surgery is taking place in Belgium is because I am having it done via a private clinic outside Amsterdam, rather than one of the hospitals in Rotterdam.  The waiting period for the surgery at the hospitals in Rotterdam is between 9-12 months, which when you factor in the 12 months I’ll need to set aside after the surgery for the weight loss, is too long in my situation.  Thankfully my insurance company forwarded me to this clinic which has only a 3 month waiting period.   The super surgeon is an added bonus.

I have waited until almost the last minute to write about this because I wanted to tell the people who are closest to me and I wanted to give myself time to process it and be confident and secure enough to deal with everyone’s questions and reactions.  I was very insecure about this in the beginning, I felt like a total failure and like I WAS giving up, but I don’t feel that way anymore.  I know that if all I wanted was an easy or lazy way out I would have jumped at the chance one of the many times it was mentioned to me over the last six years.  I also don’t think I have failed, I managed to lose 85 lbs, which is something a lot of people can’t do at all, let alone with as much riding on it as I have had.  I have tried my hardest to do this on my own and I no longer see this as a failure, rather just choosing another path that gives me the greatest chance of achieving my goals.

Another reason I feel comfortable enough to be open about this now is because of how unbelievably supportive and understanding my close friends and family have been.  In the beginning I was terrified to tell people for fear of how they’d react but everyone has been so understanding and supportive.  Sure, they are worried for me as it is a major surgery and a life changing event, but like me they are hopeful that whether the IVF works or not, that in the end this will all lead to me having a healthier, happier and more productive life.  Even those that I thought would have a sort of *shock horror* response have not had that at all, quite the opposite actually and their support has meant the world to me.

I will have the surgery on January 18th and I’ve been sure to make no big plans for the first few months of the year, as there is quite a long recovery period and I won’t be working on a lot of calories in the beginning so I won’t have a lot of energy. So for those nearby please don’t be offended if I am a bit scarce for a while, hopefully I’ll be back in action soon!  You are all welcome to come by for a visit though!!

Well, that’s all my news!  I’m going to stop now as this has, in true Canadutch style, turned into a total novel.  I know I’ll re-read this and there will be 100 little bits of info I’d wish I’d included but I’m going to try to restrain myself!

About Tammy

A Canadian living in France with her Dutch hubby after 17 years in the Netherlands. A total TV and movie junkie who is never not knitting. She also enjoys other crafts, nail art, cuddling her dogs and general geekery. Otherwise just working on getting by and making a life for herself in her 'new' country.

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  1. Hugs to you Breigh… I have to say your post really hit home with me… actually you bought tears to my eyes because I sooooo understand those feelings of desperation, exasperation, anger and sadness you and your husband must be coping with. I really hope the surgery works out for you, and if it doesn’t that you guys reconsider going the adoption route. (We used international adoption for our daughter who is Sri Lankan by birth, and we’re so blessed to have such a bouncy, bubbly ray of sunshine in our lives).
    I admire your hutzpah and think this blog entry is one of the most heartbreakingly honest and touching things I’ve ever read. Stay strong and may your future be blessed with the pitter patter of tiny feet.
    PS: You make beautiful things! I admire your handwork.

  2. Hi there, I’ve been lurking on your website for awhile and after reading this entry, just had to come out and ask whether you’ve considered adoption? Hubby and I adopted our daughter last year after enduring years of failed IVF treatments (God, I HEAR your frustration!) and can’t imagine our lives without her.

    • Hey OzzyGirl! Thanks for posting, I love hearing from lurkers hehe Adoption isn’t for us, not because we don’t want to raise someone else’s child, but for a number of other reasons. Firstly, we never imagined this road of trying to conceive would go on so long (almost 12 years now) or that we’d be in our late 30’s and still trying. Also, there are not a lot of children for adoption in the Netherlands. There are a lot of foster children but not children for adoption. They are very much in favor of doing everything possible to maintain parents’ rights and keep families together here. So adoption for us would mean going outside the country which can be very expensive. We feel like we are at the end of a very long road now and if the IVF doesn’t work we have resigned ourselves to letting the idea of children go and move on to other adventures. We just don’t feel that this late in the game, after so much struggle that we’d be up to starting an entirely new expensive and emotionally draining process.

  3. Just want to say I will be thinking happy thoughts next week and I hope everything goes smoothly and that the recovery period is a breeze. :)

    You have worked very hard for your health and your goals. I really wish you ALL the best with the surgery, the weight loss and IVF. Big hugs!

  4. You continue to inspire me with your honestly and your commitment. I hope for all your best in this. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey.
    michele´s last post ..Christmas Review

  5. I stand in awe of your courage to not only come forward with your story but also your decision to act upon something you obviously feel so passionately about.
    I will be thinking of you on the 18th and wishing you well from Canada.

  6. Breigh, I think you have tremendous courage and I wish you the best in your upcoming surgery. The way you express your experience with being overweight – well it could be me. My doctor keeps asking if I’ve considered lap band. I keep putting it off. But, I turned 39 two weeks ago – and the man who was the closest thing I had to a boyfriend (he was also overweight) died two months ago. I keep thinking his weight had to be the cause – he was only 41 and died suddenly.

    Good luck and keep us posted. You are an inspiration! –Darlene

    • Thanks! I didn’t feel that the lapband was for me but I have met some people who have had great success with it. Having WLS is not an easy decision to make and it’s not for everyone. You will know the time is right if / when you get there. I can totally understand your fear and I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your partner :( Good luck with your decision, I wish you all the best. If you ever need anything don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  7. Tammy,

    I can’t believe that it is coming up so soon for you! I completely understand how scary it all is, but know you are going to come through this at the end a whole new person!

    Just keep thinking that this is YOUR year! I can only say positive things about my own experience with WLS and have no regrets, as you know. It isn’t an easy decision to make, nor is it the easy way out to weight loss.

    It was one of the most difficult decisions that I ever made and it radically changed my life. The road has had its bumps, but none that outweigh all of the positives!

    This is your first step to getting to where you want to be and we are very proud of you! Anything we can do to help, you know where we are.

    Big hugs and we will be sending positive thoughts your way on the surgery day!

  8. I am just in awe of your honesty and bravery! You have strength and determination and I can tell from what you wrote that this wasn’t an easy decision, but at the same time, I can hear the hope and excitement that finally making the decision has brought to you.

    Just want to say that I’ll be thinking about you a lot as you go through this and I am here if you need anything. WISHING ALL GOOD THINGS TO YOU this year!

    And sorry for the somewhat judgemental icon that is attached to my post here…it in no way represents my thoughts. ;)

  9. Good on you, here’s wishing you ONLY good things in 2012. you can do it.

  10. Hi Breigh.

    I stumbled across your blog post, and I wanted to let you know that we just launched a social network for people who have had, or will have, bariatric surgery. The site is a bit slow at the moment, because it literally went online today. But I’m actively “recruiting” new members right now. You might find it to be a good support network.

    The website:

    Thanks for your time, and good luck with your procedure.


  11. You are awesome, awesome and even more awesome. I am so excited that you will only be a few months behind me in this process (even though it is a little different). 2012 is going to be our year!! Now, our luck we will lose all our excess weight and then the world will end. ahahahh
    kara´s last post ..Nose Picking, Willy Grabbing and Scene Stealing: Our Christmas!

    • Oh Kara, what would I do without you girl!! This is going to be a crazy insane year for us both and I hope that we are able to keep motivating each other and help each other through this journey. I still think we need to save up for a skinny poolside holiday! haha

  12. I’m sure that all was hard to write even though I’m sure it was a release, too. I hope the operation goes well. Do take care of yourself and I hope the new year holds many good things for you. Hang in there.

  13. This is something I’ve considered considering for a couple years now, although to be honest I don’t think I’m heavy enough to qualify, although I have 65 pounds I can NOT get and keep off. The most I ever get off is about 30 and then, like you say, something happens and it all goes back on.

    I really feel your frustration on that end of it and I think it’s great that you’re doing something to improve your health. I wish you all the best.
    calliope´s last post ..Nah, We Cool

    • Calliope, I don’t know how they do it everywhere but the clinic that I went through decides mostly according to BMI and whether there are weight related health issues. Their general stance is that they will do surgery if you have a BMI above 40 OR above 35 together with weight related issues like diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea etc. In most cases for the lower BMI they push for the lap band. I think above a BMI of 45 they go for the bypass. I’m not sure how tall you are but with 65 lbs extra you may slip in for a lap band, I’m not sure, you’d have to talk to your doctor about it. It sucks trying and trying and just having it come back on, I feel ya!

  14. You remind me of my daughter – doing all the research, thinking it all through and making the best decision for you. I will be thinking of you on the 18th and sending all my best vibes and good thoughts your way.

  15. I really admire you for being so honest and open about your life. You know what you want and you are working damn hard to get it, that’s amazing! I really wish you the best with your surgery and a very speedy recovery. Here’s to 2012! xx

    • I already spoke to you on Facebook but I just wanted to say thanks again! Hopefully we’ll get a chance to meet up again sometime in the spring when I’m feeling better :D

  16. I know you’ve thought so long and hard on this and you are doing what is best for you,so yah for that! People who love you are going to love you no matter what and that’s what counts. Ill be thinking of and praying for you. Big hugs. Xxoo

    2012 is going to be your year!!
    Lori´s last post ..Merry Christmas

    • Yeah you’re right, the support from everyone has been amazing and anyone else, well I’m not really going to concern myself. I know why I’m doing it and that’s all that matters. Looking forward to seeing you again soon! :)

  17. I know you didn’t come to this decision lightly and I know how hard you have tried over the years to lose weight the “regular” way. I do worry about you as I would anyone going under the knife but I am confident that you will be just fine and hopefully the end result is being at an acceptable weight to have IVF, and finally being able to have a baby. I said it before and I’ll say it again – I care about you a lot and totally respect your decision!! If I can do anything at all please reach out. xx
    Renee @pinkypie´s last post ..Week In Review:: Christmas Edition

    • Awww thanks Renee, that means a lot to me. You’ve been there the whole way and you played a big part in kicking off my initial weight loss by getting me hooked up with Weight Watchers, I really appreciated that. I’m so glad you were able to be there for my ‘last supper’ hehe Maybe sometime in Feb you and Ron can come by for a visit? We can gab while the guys scurry off to the Lego Lair! :P

  18. I’m very happy and super proud of you and this decision. You’ll fly through it because of your motivation! And a big WOW about the sugeon! What a bonus! Congratulations, Tammy…you deserve a wonderful outcome!

    • Thanks Suz! Oh I’m SO happy about the surgeon. Not only is he an amazing surgeon that trains people all over the world for these surgeries, but what a casanova, oh my word! I have only met him via video conference so far but from what I hear he’s a total charmer in RL.haha Most of the women leave with a big crush on him! :P

  19. I wish you nothing but success and happiness! You’ve obviously put a lot of thought and research into it all, which should help you in the long run. I’ll be keeping you in mind and sending positive thoughts your way!
    Alison´s last post ..Yodeling Flamingo

  20. I’m so happy you’ve reached this decision and are going to do what’s best for you. You have nothing but my love and support for your bravery and determination.

    I’ll be thinking of you on the 18th, and many, many times between now and then, and of course afterwards.

    You rock.
    MissNeriss´s last post ..2011, AKA "The Rollercoaster"

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