Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bothersome to me...

Over the years, there are things that have alerted me in getting to know many weight loss surgery patients.

There is often sense of anxiousness to have surgery.  Sure, I understand you have struggled with this for a long time and you have been pursuing the process for months or even years.  However, the process has many stages and each setback has it's own lesson for each individual.  I know, insurance companies are frustrating to deal with, financial issues are even more difficult to overcome, but embracing the knowledge that this path will not be the easy path, in my theory, is part of the lesson to be learned.

I have heard many patients with insurance complain about having to pay for anything out of pocket.  This is personal to me, but if you're going to complain about having to pay out of pocket for anything whatsoever while your insurance company will be putting up thousands of dollars to pay for your surgery, I think a step back needs to be taken here.  Count the blessing that you have insurance that is willing to pay for your surgery. Many other patients do not have this option.  Paying $300-500 for a trained psychologist or psychiatrist to do your mental health status is better than having to pay out of pocket for everything to the tune of thousands of dollars, right?

What I often find is that people don't really understand how insurance works.  While you are insured, others within your company and/or the organization as a whole, carrying the shared burden of your expenses.  Many often see their needs as their entitlement to services, but truly, others are in leveraging your cost of services.  Millions of Americans do not have access to the same level of care, through no fault of their own, their work situation and company size and benefit offerings differ.

Count your blessings.  When you hear, "Six month supervised diet and exercise program," and think to yourself, "I must start all of my work all over again?"  Try not to feel anxious, try not to feel discouraged, but rather, continue to approach this process as practice for post-surgery life.  These are the behaviors you will need to develop once the procedure is done anyway, so why not embrace the process?

Let's also get to the bottom of it.  It's not just (too much food) and (lack of movement) that caused the weight gain.  It could have been many other issues.  The complexity of hormonal imbalance due to related medical problems (i.e. having babies, thyroid issues, steroid treatment, etc., etc., etc.) None of these occurred overnight.  The weight will not leave your body overnight.  And you shouldn't want it to!  The goal is not super speedy weight loss, the goal is healthy weight loss. Anytime I hear someone say they are losing 5+ pounds a week, I worry.  It's not natural for the body to lose that much weight in a week.  Even post-op, 2-3 pounds a week is a healthy rate.  It's not uncommon for people to lose more, but the truth of the matter is that if you are losing more than that per week, you also need to be very careful your body has what it needs nutrient-wise to stay healthy.

And here's the counselor in me... Learning new behaviors is not easy.  After surgery, we are forced to live on liquids, so weight drops off fast.  As we develop appropriate changes back to solid foods, there is often a lack of guidance in surgical centers. If you haven't deal with the inner demons and are intimidated by going to counseling because you're afraid you'll have to talk about X, Y, or Z, well then, the changes to self-sabotage may be higher than you think. You may not realize that because your boss made a judgment toward you about how you're losing too fast made you go home and stuff yourself with chocolate, or because your mom said you looked sick that you choose to starve yourself because you didn't feel like eating.  This is where the head work comes in.

This is where talking to a trained professional gives you the opportunity to discuss exactly what's going on inside your head when people say things that are offense and you are, in turn, take it out on your body by not caring for yourself.  This is where working on building your self esteem comes in.  This is where looking deep inside your behaviors becomes so important to finding the new you.  This is where the real work lies.  It's not all about what you eat and how you move.  It's about how you respond to the stimuli in your environment that causes reactionary behaviors that might sabotage your success. It's learning new ways to cope with old problems and finding the best way to cope with new problems.

It's about self care.  It's about creating the new you and your new environment.  It's about redefining yourself and finding new things you like to do, eat, act and handle emotions. It's about self love. It's about realizing that you can not change the people around you, you can learn to be a good influence on them.  It's about dealing with your demons and working through the issues and resisting the temptation to transfer the problems to other addictions. Not all of that work can be done alone.  Your surgeon maybe amazing, but he can not get inside your head and change the way you think.  Neither can your therapist, but they can certainly help you find your best way.

So, when you complain about paying for services that can help you, realize that helping yourself is something that must be done anyway.  We often don't flinch at paying $80-120 at the salon or spa for self care, but then think that it's too much to pay that to see someone who has had much more education to prepare to help us with mental health matters. It's a double standard that many don't realize they have.

Though, plugging my own profession was not my intention of this blog, my intention was to put the message out there.  The process doesn't end with surgery.  The process ends with us becoming confident, healthy, and full of life to stand up for ourselves and understand how to be the best we can be.  If we find ourselves going down a path to self destruction or sabotage, then we need to realize that there is help.  Finding good help is priceless.

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