In 2012, I became the very happy recipient of a gastric lap band. In 2019, I’m having it removed. On Monday to be precise.
Not of the surgery itself. Surgery never bothers me, and this is a quick, easy procedure (if you’re a surgeon…) But the thought of going back to fully unrestricted eating is, quite frankly, terrifying. On numerous levels.
Prior to the lap band, I’d spent nearly 46 years of my 46 years obsessed with food – eating too much, feeling guilt, trying to eat less, failing, dieting, gaining weight, losing weight, gaining it back with a little bit extra. In tears, and absolute desperation I turned to my GP who then gave me a referral to the lap band surgeon. I saw the surgeon on a Thursday and had the procedure the following Monday.
From that point, weight peeled away quite consistently. But the flip side of that happy coin, was the rapid expansion of my already disordered eating, into a return to full blown bulimia. Which I’ve battled the last seven years.
I felt I was finally in control. Until I wasn’t.
As my life fell apart in 2015, I had to finally face the reality of a long-standing, deeply embedded eating disorder. I’m gradually doing that.
My lap band is no longer functioning correctly. Due to use and abuse of the band – through restricting, purging, binging, purging, binging, purging, purging, and so on – even with an empty band – I struggle to eat a balanced diet, losing a lot of the meals I eat, whether I want to or not. So it has been determined the only way to solve the problem is to have it removed.
it’s not urgent – I could put this surgery off for months – but I’m not really into deferring stuff that needs to be done. So the removal is scheduled for this coming Monday, and the emotional reality is just starting to sink in. I’m going to be just like before – unable to control myself around food. At least that’s how it feels.
I feel like an abject failure.
I failed all my life to eat in any way that could be construed as normal. And now I’ve failed to use the most extreme weight management tool we have available to us – surgical control of food intake.
While I have learned a ton of useful tools in the four years I’ve spent with my psychologist, and I spent a miserable but highly effective seven weeks in an eating disorder clinic last year, I am terrified of relapse. I haven’t even fully recovered yet. I know I’ve made big strides in many areas, but I also know I’m still fragile. So quite frankly, knowing that once I’ve recovered from my surgery, I will be able to eat with absolute freedom and abandon, is starting to send me into a panic. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a good idea.
I know absolutely everyone else thinks removing the band is a terrific idea, but all those everyones don’t have incessant food obsessions screaming in their head day in and day out. All those everyones learned other ways of dealing with the normal stuff life throws around. And all those everyones won’t have to control the movement of my fork to mouth. Nobody can do that but me.
I desperately hope that in the weeks and months to come, I declare the removal of the lap band the best thing since sliced bread. That it offered me the freedom to eat healthily and intuitively – the ultimate aim for all us eating disordered folk. But I desperately fear the opposite will be true – that I’ll lose control, slip back into old habits, regress to my old binge eating self – with or without some kind of purging. Or possibly the fear will overwhelm me so much, I won’t eat at all.
I’ve been utterly blessed to spend two amazing weeks focusing on myself – a week in Sydney at a writing retreat, followed by a week of camping at the Bay of Fires – swimming, kayaking, staring at the night sky, and just lazing around with a beautiful friend. The whole two weeks have been incredibly cathartic and healing in a myriad of ways – physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually. But today, the reality of what I’ve signed myself up for on Monday just started to hit. And before I go stark raving mad, I needed to write all the catastrophes out of my head. Because interestingly enough, writing it all down, abates the fears. Catastrophes are far better outside my head than inside.
So Monday is the big deal. I don’t know what the future holds (because of course none of us do at any time), but as I fear the worst, I’m trying to hope for the best.