Confessions of a Fat Freelancer

Working at home is not conducive to exercise. Add sitting all day (and well into the night) to a family history of diabetes and thyroid disorder, and you have the recipe for one plus-sized challenge.

Welcome to my life.

image credit: Kokhanchikov

I struggle to keep my weight and blood sugar down, and my job doesn’t help me stay healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. It has to be the best job in the world, aside from baby panda snuggler. But it’s a lot of sitting. Don’t talk to me about standing desks, either. Standing doesn’t work for fat people; we need back support.

Losing weight is complicated and different for everybody. Contradictory new science surfaces every day. Depending on which headlines you click, you might learn that exercise alone doesn’t work, women just aren’t wired to lose weight, and diets don’t work.

Losing weight seems impossible.

After decades of trying, I still gain and lose the same 30 pounds over and over. Six to eight months to take it off with (relatively) grueling exercise and calories that wouldn’t satisfy your average 8-year-old. Back on in a couple of weeks. Up and down like a seesaw with only one kid. I can push really hard and go up a little, but I’m going to come down hard and fast.

So what’s a freelancer to do?

image credit: adrian_ilie825

A surprising number of my friends have opted for bariatric surgery. My cousin had it done and has lost 145 pounds. Even more striking than the weight loss is the life in her face. She is energetic and enthusiastic, and when she talks about conquering her long struggle with weight, diabetes, and health issues, she is incandescent. I love seeing how she has changed. Jean, if you read this, I am so proud of you. If anyone deserves to be healthy and happy, it’s you.

Research tells me surgery is a good option. I’ve looked at the science and the statistics, talked to people who have had done, and had conversations with several doctors.

Lately I’ve been following the Twitter account of Dr. Mohit Bhandari from the Mohak Bariatric & Robotics Center, because he tweets out stats, videos, and other interesting tidbits about the surgery. He’s a pioneer in the robotics field and quite an accomplished surgeon. Since he’s already done more than 3,500 bariatric surgeries and 250 robotic surgeries, he clearly knows what he’s doing. Too bad he’s on another continent. His successes in the field are epic.

I had no idea robotics were a thing. The videos are fascinating, but also really gross, so consider yourself warned.

The risks and rewards of bariatric surgery

The arguments for the surgery are pretty compelling. Facing the facts, I’ve been losing this battle for 25 years. I was reasonably fit all my life, but after my second child, my thyroid bit the dust, insulin resistance developed, and it all went to hell. I’ve tried just about everything and my health is only getting worse as my behind gets bigger.

Several studies have shown that about 73 percent of bariatric surgery patients with diabetes saw significant improvement in blood sugar and insulin resistance after surgery. Some of them go into remission immediately after surgery, and more after significant weight loss. The 27 percent of patients whose diabetes did not go away were much like me — long-term diabetics with high insulin resistance.

There’s a pretty good chance I’m stuck with diabetes. But that’s not the only reason to have the surgery.

Obesity itself is death. It’s a constant strain on every organ and muscle in your body. If I remain fat and diabetic, I can expect a shorter lifespan and system-wide complications that can range from blindness to amputation. Losing weight will make me feel better and help control my diabetes. It could lengthen my lifespan, give me more energy and better focus.

Still, the idea of having the surgery terrifies me. How will my life change? Will I be able to eat like a normal person? Will I ever enjoy food again? Is the reward worth the risk? You tell me.

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