The Lead Up
In thirteen hours, I take the next step in this whole bariatric process. Back in September, I went to a follow-up with my bariatric surgeon and asked when I should think about getting all the extra skin removed, and he said now would be the right time. He said he recommended it as the final step in the journey.
That was the first shock. For some reason, I had gotten it into my mind that skin surgery, the step that would take off a bag of fatty skin from my lower abdomen that’s been there since before I was 20, was something I had to earn. What did “earn” mean, though? I’ve already lost over 100 pounds. My weight has been steady for months without the rebound I’ve heard of from others. What else did I think I needed to do?
Nearly 20 years ago, I tried getting a tummy tuck. I went to a surgeon who first told me I needed to lose another 20 pounds. He said that weight loss for people “my age” was nearly impossible, though.
I was 36.
I lost the weight and paid him far more than I could afford for the surgery, and instead of doing an abdominoplasty, he did liposuction on my inner thighs and under my breasts. It wasn’t what I asked for, it wasn’t what I paid for, and at the time, I didn’t know what to do. I never talked about it, I tried not to think about it, and to this day, I have a hard time thinking about it. Every part of that experience was deeply damaging, starting with this man’s dismissive assertion that I’d never be able to lose weight, and that what I wanted was not just a waste of time, but an outcome I didn’t deserve.
I went into the entire bariatric surgery thing knowing that I’d be facing this scenario at some point. What I have on my side is many more years of life experience, and a good grip on the knowledge that what happened to me the last time should never have happened to anyone. If the statute of limitations on medical malpractice hadn’t long since run out, I would have sued this man for everything he was worth (which would have been a whole lot financially and very little morally).
But this leaves me in such a weird place. In twelve and a half hours, I’m having the surgery I wanted decades ago.
The Next Few Hours
But that’s not the only thing freaking me out. The other thing is the surgery itself.
The doctor came highly recommended, and I’m sure I’m in good hands, but this will be the fourth abdominal surgery I’ve had. I had my tubes tied after my younger daughter was born, I had an emergency gallbladder removal, and then bariatric surgery. After every one of them, I was in a lot of pain. When you can’t use your abs, anything that involves changing position is hard. Standing to sitting, sitting to lying, lying to sitting, sitting to standing, agony to agony. In a perfect world, I’d be able to stand on a step with my back against a soft surface, and the entire thing would gently lean back until I was lying down. Not going to happen.
The anticipation of pain is a punishment all by itself and is the basis of many forms of torture. It’s why I believe most doctors avoid the use of words like “pain” and “hurt.” Most doctors will come at you with a bone saw and tell you that as they take your leg, you’ll feel “discomfort.” But this doctor has told me more than once that this procedure is “very painful.” It wasn’t just the one time he said it during the initial consultation. There was also the several times he said it during the second consultation. And the eight million times it was mentioned in the sheaf of paperwork I had to sign in the pre-op appointment. These people want to make sure I know this is going to hurt. A lot.
Into the Future
This is the final step toward becoming something I’ve never been. As of tomorrow, I will be yet another size and shape. There are certain clothes I haven’t worn because they just don’t look right, and this surgery will remedy that. It will make finding bathings suits and skirts that fit easier. It’ll mean that I won’t be dressing around the one part of my body that’s still out of proportion.
This is it. The last step. The last thing I have to do. Apart from the familiar maintenance of eating right and getting enough exercise, this is the last step toward a goal that I’ve realized is always going to hover on the horizon.