Three Year Bariatric Surgery-Versary

It started with a random phone call from an Arizona number. I answered; they asked specifically for me…”Hi Heather? This is Tony, and it’s time to schedule your 3 year follow up with Dr. Ronoso.” My exact answer was, “Holy crap, 3 years already!? Are you sure?” She assured me she was sure and that I missed my 2 year follow up and they would love to see me. I informed her that I would have to make a few travel arrangements seeing as I live in Indiana. I was so committed to making this appointment possible. This past year I’ve been working on saying yes when I would instinctively say no. This opportunity came at the perfect time for me as I have just been feeling a bit “off’ and the appointment would be close to my 6 month post op from skin removal. So, I booked the travel and asked a few friends to join me on the journey.

Leading up to the appointment there were a number of phone calls and labs that I had to follow through on. But the best call came from Dr. Ronoso himself. He is just the BEST bariatric doctor. He was kind, concerned, and wanted me to know he was proud that I was making the journey to see him. I explained my “off” feelings to him much like I would explain that strange sound a car makes, in a series of single syllable words and grunts. He played along and said he would conduct a thorough review of all the data, labs, etc and discuss the plan further once I was at the appointment.

Hiking at Papago Park, Phoenix, AZAnyone who truly knows me knows that I am highly willful (some call that stubborn), competitive, hard on myself, has high expectations of myself and others, and is a goofball and that exercise is not my fave thing to do…like at all. It’s been a sore subject for me for years. I fight this internal banter with myself about why I need to exercise and why I don’t want to hundreds of times a day. It’s a flaw, and I get it. My friends see it and try to pull it out of me from time to time. The two friends I invited to Arizona knew that I wanted to go to TopGolf as if my life depended on it. But they also wanted to go “hiking” and I fought the heck out of it. We did find an amazing path (shared that on instagram) that was low key and in close proximity to our AirBnB. The weather was perfect, the air was breathable, and they enjoyed themselves too.

I headed into the appointment with a good attitude. I was checked in and saw Dr. Ronoso quickly. He was excited to see me, provided me with my scale print out. I cherish those print outs like baseball trading cards. He asked what my current goal is. “To lose weight.” He smiled slightly and said, “Well Heather, my goal for you is a little different than yours.” I instantly thought, “What the hell, aren’t your goals supposed to be my goals?”

He could tell I was confused and said, “My goal for you is to not gain weight. I’m okay with where you are. You’re still down 100lbs, your labs are perfect, you’re on 0 medications, and you are living life. You just now need to learn how to do life without diets, without exceeding your portions, and sticking to your vitamins. You’ll need to do extreme workouts. Get that heart rate up, take a break and get it up and repeat. The 2 year magic that bariatric surgery provides has become your normal life, you’ll not see that extreme loss of weight again. Unless of course you become a professional athlete. But, that’s not your goal nor is it sustainable. You’ve got this, and we are here to help you. You wouldn’t have made this trip if you weren’t committed to yourself and your process.”

I saw the nutritionist who reiterated the importance of not drinking any liquids 30 mins before a meal, eating for only 20 mins, and not drinking any liquids until 30 mins after I finished eating. She pointed me to a few new vitamins for Vitamin D deficiency and B complexes to help with my energy. Then, it was time to see the exercise specialist. UGH! I had never spoke to this lady before but she had a very calm demeanor. I explained my willful attitude about not working out, where I believe it originates from and she simply looked at me and said, “Heather, I truly believe what you are describing is PTSD.” I just stared at her with wonderment. She was right and I had missed it for the past 15 years. My college track years did a number on me mentally. She suggested that I see a therapist who specializes in PTSD symptoms and see if I can get myself in a better place with regards to working out. In those moments I realized that I can do this, I must rely on the support systems that I have accessible to me. I left the office with a better understanding of my future with regards to being a bariatric patient and a better version of myself. You can see my recap on Instagram.

I can barely wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been blessed with the gift of health. None of my journey to health has been easy, but I realize that anyone trying to achieve their best health/self fights a similar battle.

Queen Vagabond enjoying cool water in ArizonaWhat I have come to know:

  • I am worth it. We are all worth it if we stop tolerating the “I can’t” attitude.
  • It’s hard to lose weight, friendships, security and comforts, jobs, lovers, etc. in the process of putting yourself first.
  • All the things listed in #2 will fluctuate, with time, as life happens. If it’s not contributing to you being a better version of yourself, let it go. Remember that!
  • If you don’t take time to address your mental health it will be difficult to truly achieve whatever it is you desire. Attitudes, perceptions, and reality are all intertwined and complex…sometimes we just need help to find balance.
  • Goals are not someone else’s to determine your path, that’s your road. You’re the driver, and you set your course!
  • Re-freaking-lax and ENJOY the hell out of each day. As in any long journey, say traveling across the country by car, there comes a point when you put the car in cruise and just go with it cause ya only live once.

Wherever you are in your life journey, you’re there for a reason. Be observant, be grateful, be helpful, and love the journey for what it is.

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