It’s no secret the public at large perceives gastric bypass to be the lazy person’s cure for obesity. In fact some are so indignant about this medical procedure they passionately take a soapbox and criticize the surgery which will be performed on nearly 500,000 Americans this year.
Uncensored criticism is one of the most painful things a recovering morbidly obese person faces when they have WLS. Unlike other illnesses obesity is seen to be self-inflicted which allows others to forsake their manners to openly diagnose and treat the fat person. Any obese person will cite an incident where they’ve been told “Eat less, exercise more.” We know the slogan and for most dieters the slogan isn’t working very well.
Losing weight is never easy. NEVER. Not with Jenny Craig. Not with Weight Watchers or Low-Carb or diet-du-jour. Losing weight is not easy even with weight loss surgery. What is easy is being fat, staying fat and getting fatter. Losing weight is never easy. If it were easy would 60% of the population be statistically obese?
Long time post-op patients understand that WLS is not easy. How do we convince others that gastric bypass is not the “easy way out”? After all, being judged for taking the easy way out is one of the most painful things WLS patients’ face.
First: We must accept that this is a judgment we alone cannot conquer. Misinformation and celebrity spotlights have perpetuated the belief that WLS is easy, painless and without sacrifice on behalf of the patient. The misinformed public will always chose to believe WLS is the easy way out. Any patient who goes public with their surgery will face criticism, scorn and judgment. This is a simple fact borne of jealousy and misunderstanding.
Engaging in a defensive strategy seldom yields converts, it only distresses the person who had the surgery and who is already beaten-down from years of internal and external loathing. Accept that we are judged for having managed our personal health crisis with the best long-term option that medical science has produced.
Second: We have to stop the internal PR monster that bolsters perception WLS is easy. One of the LivingAfterWLS contributors, Kim Stover did this rather successfully in her workplace. Kim said, “I didn’t tell anyone except for immediate family that I was having WLS done prior to doing it. I kept it to myself because I didn’t want a single ounce of negative feedback from anyone. I didn’t want to walk in on a conversation about me not having the will power. About possibly dying. Once I had the surgery and there was no turning back, I had my friend at work send out an email from me that I had wrote earlier, explaining what I was doing and what I expected from everyone when I returned in six weeks. I set the boundaries for everyone and it worked out brilliantly.”
Kim works in an office of 80 people who commonly share their exercise plans and goals. Because she shares with them Kim’s co-workers know the exact cost she pays, every single day, to lose weight, to maintain her weight loss, to be healthy. I suspect Kim has never sat at the conference room table gobbling a Krispy-Kreme doughnut and laughing, “I can eat anything I want, just less”. No! Kim sits at that table with her protein bars, her sliced apples and her vitamin pack and water bottle. She is honest and forthright about the cost of WLS. She is proud of her accomplishment and accomplishment is just that: achievement with effort, perseverance and genuine stubbornness.
Weight loss surgery is NOT the easy way out. Is the last resort for people who are dying slow ugly deaths from complications related to morbid obesity. Patients exchange the cost of dying for the cost of living. It is the best “cure” medical science has produced for a disease that kills more than 600,000 people in the United States each year.
Easy way out? Not hardly.
The best way out for many of us? Absolutely.
Kaye Bailey © 2005 – All Rights Reserved
An award winning journalist and former newspaper editor Kaye Bailey brings expertise in writing and personal experience with gastric bypass surgery to EzineArticles.com. Having spent most of her life overweight Ms. Bailey is strongly empathetic toward the obese, particularly overweight children. This compassion compelled her to found the website [http://www.livingafterwls.com], a fast-growing resource of information, understanding and support for the weight loss surgery community.
The LivingAfterWLS.com site is complimented with daily blog. The blog, http://livingafterwls.blogspot.com offers readers the chance to comment or leave feedback about fresh content added daily. This site contains success stories and recipes, general information and WLS inspired topics. Complementing the site is a monthly newsletter titled “You Have Arrived” available exclusively to people who subscribe through the website or the blog.