I have dubbed 2014 to be the “Year of Commitment to Change.” Because, really, I’ve always had some sort of commitment issues. Not with my relationship with my husband or my friends or family, but with myself.
Years ago, I (albeit grudgingly, because I was diagnosed at 21, which should have be the height of “fun” time for me in college) made a commitment to myself to take care of my diabetes. When I was diagnosed, my doctor basically said there are 2 types of people with diabetes: those who live with it, and those who die from it.
I chose to be part of the former, and have taken numerous steps and changed my lifestyle dramatically over the past 19 years to make sure I was going to live, and live healthy, for as long as I possibly could. I’ve worked diligently to learn how to count carbs, take the right amounts of insulin, discover settings on my pump that help me avoid post-prandial spikes, acquired a CGM – the list goes on and on.
I go to my regular 3 month endocrinologist appointments like clockwork. I get my labwork reports. Everything looks pretty darn good, like it has for many years. My HbA1c is 6.1, and has been hanging out in the 6’s ever since I went on the pump in 2003. When I was pregnant, it even dipped into the 5’s.
At my last appointment, my endo and I had one of the most serious conversations we’ve had in years (the last one being in 2008, which was the “I’m trying to get pregnant” one, and I was reduced to tears because I felt it was never going to happen. But it did.) Our new-and-serious conversation revolved around my weight, which has steadily gone up since I was diagnosed with Type 1. I was a healthy weight back then at 21, I was an avid hiker, and loved to exercise. Fast forward almost 20 years…..a sedentary job, maturing into my 30s (and now, 40s), a bout of depression, the roller coaster of hormones when trying to get pregnant, and then the pregnancy itself have helped me put on so much weight, I am now categorized as “morbidly obese.” Just saying that makes me cry. I have explored the gamut of diets, exercise, changed how I eat, and definitely lost some weight along the way, but never enough to get down to a weight where my feet don’t constantly hurt, where I can sleep well at night, where I have enough energy to play with my daughter for hours, or where I can take up an exercise regimen without hurting myself in some way and losing track. I’ve been stuck in a rut of metabolic syndrome that has made gaining weight, despite my best diet-and-exercise efforts, far easier than losing weight. It’s discouraging, and my body is so very tired of constantly fighting some kind of pain from carrying around all this extra weight.
My endo says, “You are healthy, except for your weight. The medical issues, pains, etc that you have all revolve around your weight. Have you ever thought of having bariatric surgery? I wouldn’t recommend it for most of my type 1 patients. But you….I think you can do it. And I think you’ll see that as a tool, it will help you get to a place where you can manage your weight once again, and not get sucked back into the metabolic syndrome.” For some background…my endo is a Type 2 himself. He had gastric sleeve surgery 1 year ago. I’ve seen the change in him – he looks, and tells me most importantly, he *feels* AMAZING now. He told me that he would refer me to his surgeon, he would go to the pre-op and post-op support meetings with me, and we could even do group personal training sessions with his personal trainer. He is on board to help and support me, which helps calm *some* of my fears about having an elective weight loss surgery as a Type 1 diabetic.
So….here comes the commitment part. If I want to do this, it’s going to require a LOT of commitment to changing, well, just about everything. I have to commit to a LOT more doctor visits over the next year. I have to commit to going to support group meetings. I have to commit to learning about how nutrition and digestion will change with the surgery. I have to commit to a non-impact exercise routine (to save me from injuries and so much foot pain) and know I will deal with blood sugar fluctuations as a result. I have to commit to overhauling my diet and changing the way I consume food and drink. My diabetes management, that I’ve spent so much time perfecting, will drastically change – both before, and certainly after the surgery.
I have already tried to track down other Type 1’s who have had gastric sleeve surgery to ask them how they have managed, and if they have had any major complications or issues. I have yet to find any. I feel like I’m navigating un-chartered territory here, and it’s scary. But, I’m even more scared of what my life will look like (or, if I will even be alive/healthy) in 20+ years if I can’t get rid of this extra, exhausting-and-debilitating weight. I’m sure there will be people in the DOC who are going to frown upon this choice I’m making…who think I *should* be able to lose 125+ pounds just by diet and exercise alone. Unless you have been THIS weight that I am, and struggled with all my injuries and aches, you have no idea how daunting it is, or how excruciatingly painful. I need a dramatic change, I need it soon, and this is what I am going to do.
My first steps:
1. I am owning up to this commitment I am making – to take a risk that will change my life and my health for the better.
2. I am sending out feelers everywhere I know to find other Type 1s who have had gastric sleeve surgery. I’ve posted to a few bariatric surgery pages already, and found plenty of Type 2’s who have done it, but not a single Type 1. I’m hoping the DOC can reach out it’s arms and find someone within it’s ranks who has done this as a Type 1 and is willing to chat with me about it.
3. I’ve had my 1st consultation with the surgeon, and have scheduled nutrition counseling and a sleep study. Still to come: psychological evaluations, support group meetings, and various other tests and examinations to make sure my body is a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery.
Even if I end up on this journey not knowing or being in contact with anyone else who’s done it that’s “like me,” I can at least document what’s going on through my blog, and I hope it will help someone else in the future. Wish me luck & strength, folks, and here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!!