A Letter to My Post-Op Self (Pt. 1)
Timeline: 1 Day- 2 Month Post Op
First off, I know. We prepped for months for this, we read every blog, we watched every vlog, attended every appointment and seminar trying to prepare for life after surgery. You are quickly learning that living the life and reading about it are two very different things.
The pain goes away. The not being able to tolerate more than a sip of water goes away. I know it seems like the end of everything you knew - in a way, it is. But life will eventually go back to a new normal. Allow yourself time to heal. Your little tummy is like a newborn - it’s a big learning curve taking care of it - you have to pack a bag of all the necessities when you leave the house to make sure you are set up for success. Plan your protein, plan your fluids. Don’t worry, it gets easier. Similar to babies, one day you will look back on these days and reminisce - “man, remember when two bites of yogurt filled me up like thanksgiving dinner!” - it won’t always be like that. That’s the point - this will not be your entire life. This is you healing.
Enjoy your restriction. Don’t push yourself to eat more than what your belly wants. Eat protein - you are healing, and need that nutrition. Don’t eat something that doesn’t help you hit your goals. The second you realize mashed potatoes actually sit well on your stomach - you will want to eat them over your protein-filled tuna salad. This is the ultimate honeymoon stage of your weight loss, where so many bad habits can be broken and so many old cravings can be dampened. It’s only a couple months - stick to the plan and don’t deviate - this is your big chance to do it right.
The holidays and events will be hard. Even though you don’t physically feel hunger like you used to, seeing your favorite foods is difficult, and having to constantly talk about your surgery at every family gathering when people look at you, trying to understand how you are here right now - it gets old. Find your “why” and hold onto it tight. At thanksgiving dinner, hold your baby niece tight and enjoy the conversation around the table. If it becomes too much, go pet the puppy in the living room and take a break. It’s OK - put yourself first.
Walk. Even when you don’t want to. This starts your habit of moving every day. It also helps the gas pains after surgery the most.
If you can, stay busy. Don’t sit at home alone and watch TV. The food commercials will make you cry, or even sob. No one will tell you this until much later, but all that fat that your body is burning up for fuel is holding onto a lot of estrogen for you - meaning your hormones are going crazy. You will feel slightly insane. You will eventually realize this isn’t normal and chat with your OBGYN who will hook you up with an estrogen based birth control. It will help. This too shall pass.
When your doctor tells you that they don’t typically recommend a therapist until 4-6 months post op - push back. Even though you got cleared by the psychologist before surgery - you just had major surgery, you were not working for 3 weeks and then started a brand new job. Your hormones are crazy, and all of your coping mechanisms are now gone.
Go. To. A. Therapist.
Find your tribe. Talk openly online and find others who understand. You will feel less alone and less like an anomaly among your friends.
Always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and every hard point will bring you to a brighter future. Stick to your plan, trust the process. You got this.