1 Year Surgiversary – 4 Take Aways from Duodenal Switch Surgery

I can’t believe I am even here to discuss being 1 year post op Duodenal Switch. I’ve sat down to write this a few times, but every time I’ve tried, I find myself choking up on the tears. This journey started long before I landed on any operation table. The time it took to get to this point was filled with uncertainties, struggles, ups, downs, fears and hope alike. To start, I just want to lead with how GRATEFUL I am for it all.

Nobody Should Make the Decision But You

I say this respectfully. I am so grateful to have a husband who was supportive of my journey to wellness. He kept an open mind even if initially he may have had reservations. He listened to my concerns and made sure to HEAR me without judgment. Any opinions he did have, he shared them with love, and never projected his fears onto me.

I understand that everyone doesn’t have a supportive significant other; but supportive platonic or familial relationships are JUST as vital on this journey. It’s ok to share your journey with family or friends, but only if they are capable of supporting your decision despite their personal views on the matter for themselves. At the end of the day, this decision is one that should not be taken lightly. Weight loss surgery of any kind should be rooted in pursuit of wellness for your health. Your mate, your family or friends don’t know your health status like you do (unless you’ve shared), so make a decision that YOU can live with; not them.

Mental Health Care is a Must

Throughout this journey I’ve made this statement, and I will continue to stand 10 toes down on this sentiment. Chances are, if you’re having weight loss surgery, your weight has gotten to a place where it has an adverse effect on your health. There is so much tied to the fat experience, and for many of us it’s linked to trauma and emotional set backs. Speaking for myself, I am an emotional eater. Eating, binging, purging and starving are apart of my history. It was how I coped with things in my life since childhood.

It was not until I was an adult that I began to learn the connection between my underlying health conditions, how it impacted my mental health which in turn impacted my emotional health, which in turn impacted my physical health. It’s a vicious cycle. In order to pursue weight loss surgery, I had to be honest about my relationship with food, my body and my mind. I couldn’t go into this lifelong alteration of my body and not do the work to make sure my mind was prepared. Weight loss surgery is a MAJOR surgery that is so much bigger than weight loss. It is going to affect every facet of your life. If you want to have an advantage on a successful surgical journey, you must care for you mental health before and after surgery. It should be apart of the foundation of your journey.

People Around You Will Change

It may not be a pleasant thought to consider, but it’s a realistic and dare I say almost inevitable fact. I wish I had all the answers as to what triggers people to be bothered by the choices that individuals make for their bodies. I honestly did not believe anyone would be upset by my choice, but I was wrong. Strangers on the internet accused me of hating myself. People I knew personally distanced themselves once my weight loss became visible because they were unhappy with themselves.

Despite how sobering it was for me to see some of this unfold, I made the choice not to take it personal. I know my why. I know why I chose to do this, and if anyone would willfully ignore that simply because it didn’t fit the narrative they created in their head; that is a personal problem. However, it’s not my problem.

My Quality of Life Has Improved Tremendously

I had health issues that were not caused by weight, but weight certainly exacerbated those health issues. I spent a long time taking solace in the fact that once I had been diagnosed, I was somehow vindicated. My body wasn’t just suffering because I was fat. I was born with a congenital birth defect of the hip, I developed thyroid disease as a child. And yet, knowing these things to be true didn’t change the fact that being 400+lbs (500 at my highest) was negatively impacting my symptoms.

Since surgery, my mobility and stamina increased because losing weight relieved pressure on my hip. And the benefits of that occurred before I got my hip replaced! The swelling and joint pain I used to experience at an exponential rate gradually disappeared. The inflammation markers on my blood work are finally in the normal range. I have also been able to reduce the amount of thyroid medication I take. I have more energy and I feel better. That has truly been the greatest gift of all in this journey.

The Wrap Up

I remember feeling so disheartened when surgery didn’t happen right away in 2019. I couldn’t see then that the time simply was not right for me. The extra time it took gave me the opportunity to work on moving my body comfortably with exercise, learning how to navigate with confidence in a body with a disability, find a therapist who understood how to help me, and even finding the right surgeon for the job.

I learned how to be strong in my weakness and to find support and strength through prayer and my family. I learned that I took the basic things in life for granted until they were no longer accessible to me. That lesson taught me to never take for granted the privilege to have the basics. I learned how to invest in my health, advocate for myself and live a full life despite the limitations my physical body created. Being on the other side of this surgery has opened me up to ensuring I lead each day with gratitude, ground myself when I’m not taking into consideration the privilege I have, and to MOVE as much as I can simply because I can and it feels GOOD.

I know that weight loss surgery is not a miracle, it’s a tool. However, I am so glad it’s a tool that I have in my toolbox and that it has given me a second chance in life to do things differently.

Until next time,