Introduction

Welcome to The Chrysalis, the blog wherein which I am detailing my weight loss journey after having a LAP-Band™ implanted. If you have a “No Fat Chicks” policy, this is not the place for you.

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting that the problem exists. I’ve long since admitted to myself that I have the problems I have, but this blog won’t be quite as effective if I don’t share everything that needs sharing. Therefore:

Hi. My name is Katt, and I have a problem with food. And by “problem with” I mean “addiction to”. Sugar is my primary trigger, specifically donuts, cupcakes, certain candy bars, and certain types of cookies.

I’ve always had a problem with food, for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I would eat so much at parties that I would be in pain for hours because of how full I was. I plan to examine my theories as to why I have the problems with food that I do, but that will be in future entries. For now, I just want to introduce myself and establish some background.

I am 5’5″ and weigh around 240 pounds.

Introductory image

As seen here in about as much fabric as a bathing suit.

When I was a freshman in high school, I weighed between 130 and 140 pounds. There are those who might argue that for a woman who’s 5’5″, that’s still overweight. I know that at the time, I thought I was incredibly fat. Given that I was thirteen, I’m not horribly surprised.

By the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 190 pounds. Sometime shortly after I moved out on my own (which I did less than a month after I turned 18), my weight skyrocketed to 285 pounds. The stress of planning my wedding brought me back down to 250, and I am currently, as I said, hovering in the neighborhood of 240 pounds. According to the BMI (which, for the record, I happen to think is a load of shit just in general), I am morbidly obese.

My decision to pursue LAP-Band™ implantation came after years of failed efforts on my own to lose weight. With diet and exercise, the furthest I’ve been able to bring my weight down to is 240 pounds. I have despaired of ever again being at my goal weight of 130 pounds. Even so, bariatric surgery would seem to me to be a pretty drastic idea…were it not for the hernia.

I have been diagnosed, by means of an upper endoscopy (or an “esophagogastroduodenoscopy” to be really technical) to have a hiatal hernia. For those not brave enough to click the link, essentially part of my stomach is protruding above my diaphragm. I have talked to a surgeon in an effort to get the hernia fixed. He told me that because of the pressure my weight is putting on my insides, that while he could fix the hernia, it wouldn’t likely stay fixed.

While this hernia doesn’t actively cause me pain—usually—it does cause another problem, which is also a problem commonly experienced by those who are obese (but who don’t have hernias).

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease is an extreme form of acid reflux disease. My case is bad enough that for approximately four and a half months in 2011, I had a chronic cough (which, as a singer was taking its toll on my sanity). That doesn’t sound that bad except for the fact that the irritation and inflammation in my airways combined with the amount of stomach acid I was aspirating made it hard to me to catch my breath, even while sitting perfectly still. I was inhaling more stomach acid than I was air, and it was making me desperately short of breath. There’s nothing quite like sitting at your desk at work and feeling like you’re suffocating from the inside.

I’ve actually been taking daily medication for acid reflux disease since I was a junior in high school. I started on omeprazole and was on it until April 2011, when I was diagnosed with GERD. I am currently taking 60mg of Dexilant. For comparison, I was taking Nexium for a month or two while my insurance whined about how expensive the other medication was. Nexium might as well have been a sugar pill.

So. I have a weight problem. I have a hernia. And I have GERD. Add all those factors together, and a LAP-Band™ starts to look pretty attractive. And this is even despite the life changes I’ll have to make in order to live with the band.

For instance, I won’t be able to have cake anymore. I won’t be able to eat bread of any kind anymore, really. This is because bread has a tendency to get stuck. So no donuts, no sandwiches, and no soft tacos. I’m not supposed to drink while I eat anymore. I’ll have to slow down when I eat, and focus on chewing my food more thoroughly to make sure my food doesn’t get stuck. I often rage internally about how annoying it is that I have to take time away from my creative projects for eating, so slowing down is going to be a challenge. I won’t be able to eat at most of my favorite restaurants anymore. My options for food indulgences will be very limited. But I’m actually ok with all of that.

You might find that difficult to believe, but I’m ok with it for several reasons. Number one, I really don’t need to be eating a lot of that crap, anyway. One of my problems with food is that I have little to no self-control or willpower when it comes to foods I enjoy, and most of the foods I enjoy are junk. But if I’m not physically able to eat a lot of my favorite junk foods, I think that will help me get over my emotional attachment to them. Yes, I know there’s still likely to be a problem there from a psychological standpoint, but I plan to do plenty of focusing on those aspects of my problems, as you’ll see in future entries. Plus the surgeon I’m working with has a psychiatrist on staff that I can visit whenever I want to.

Number two, I’m tired of this emotional dependency I seem to have when it comes to food. I have no use for it, and it’s hurting me.

Number three, both sides of my family have members with both diabetes and heart disease, two conditions which I am more likely to develop the longer I’m overweight. The hereditary heart disease is a generation or two away from me on either side, which is still far too close for comfort, but both of my parents have some form of diabetes.

Number four, I will admit, is pure, unmitigated vanity. I hate being this size. I want to be a size 12 (or smaller) again. I will never be tall and willowy like society’s trendsetters seem to think I should be, and I’m ok with that. I’d just love to stop feeling, to be frank, like a fat sack of crap.

And number five, the LAP-Band™ isn’t like gastric bypass surgery or gastric sleeve surgery, two other common types of bariatric surgery. My stomach and my small intestines will not be cut, stapled, or mutilated. LAP-Band™ patients are not known for having the malabsorption issues that patients of the other two procedures are. The band is adjustable, which means my weight loss can be slowed down or sped up depending on what my doctor and I think is appropriate. And best of all, the band is completely removable.

So that’s why I’m here. I have a consultation with my surgeon in January—my insurance actually approved me for the band this year, but I wouldn’t have been able to cover whatever they didn’t, so I had to wait. After that, if I get approved again, I’ll be scheduling my surgery and continuing on my journey. Other topics I plan to blog about include:

  • Food and my past and current relationship with it
  • How my relationship with food is changing because of the band
  • Exercise
  • Body image
  • Periodic progress check-ins, which will include more photos

and other things as they occur to me.

As for why I’m putting all this out here on the internet…

I wanted to let people like me know that they’re not alone. I know what you’re going through. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no hope and no options. I know what it’s like to feel, in some dark place in your heart of hearts, that you’re repulsive in every way while still at the same time assuring the world around you that you don’t actually feel that way. I know. And if my story can help even one person like me feel more positive about their lives—whether or not they decide to look into any sort of surgical options, whether or not they actually are happy with their bodies as they are—then all of this shit that I and my problems have put myself through will be mollified.

Finally, before I conclude this entry, I have one last thing to say. I’m only going to say this once, so pay attention.

I am not pro-skinny, and I am not pro-fat. I am pro whatever weight makes any given person feel their best and be their healthiest. Whether you like yourself better at 130 pounds or at 240 pounds, I don’t care. That’s your preference. This blog is about me and my preferences and how I’m dealing with what I’m dealing with, and I have no intent, through the relating of any of the above, to tell anyone anywhere what to do with their bodies. Your journey is your own.

Until next time, happy holidays, and thanks for reading.