• Kayla Landaeta

A Letter to My Pre-Op Self

Dear Pre-op Kayla,

It’s been a long road to this moment, but you are here.

The first time holding my nephew, and one of the first photos I saw that got me worried about my weight.

It’s hard to think of where to start this letter. Should this be for the version of you who started her first anonymous tumblr to document her dieting and healthy living attempts in 2011? What about in 2013 when your coworker went public on facebook that she had the vertical sleeve gastrectomy and was super successful - when you finally reached out to someone to talk about your weight? That was the same year you took your first online seminar about bariatric surgery, and realized your insurance didn’t cover surgery where your college was. What about in February of 2015, when you took your first seminar for the Park Nicollet Bariatric Clinic and officially requested your official pre-op packet?

Getting here took time. When you are a great success someday, people will ask if you have any regrets, and similar to so many others you will joke that you just wish you had done it sooner. That’s true - you will wish your circumstances were different, that weight loss surgery would have been an option sooner. But you will learn a very important lesson going through this process and being fortunate enough to talk to other patients around the world - it happens when it is supposed to happen. Realistically, if you had surgery while far from home, in college - you have no way of knowing if you would have still been this successful. Being further out from the pre-op process has taught you that patience and perseverance are so important, as those will help you embrace the post-op lifestyle and be successful long term.

The pre-op process will truly teach you patience, but man - it is also going to teach you to fight for what you want. When you see flaws in patient education, when you realize no one has booked a certain appointment, or your pre-op packet disappears and no one follows up - you fight. You call everyone and navigate a challenging process with insurance and multiple doctors. Unlike before, when a roadblock comes up - you don’t give up and think this isn’t for you. You push harder.

Day 2 of my all liquid diet before my surgery 8 days later. Anthony took me to the Science Museum to keep me busy and my mind off of the food I couldn't eat.

One thing you will learn is trusting those you surround yourself with. At this point, Anthony has been with you through thick and thicker - a solid 9 years of loving you. You are scared to tell him that you want a major surgery to help yourself. You have fears he will for some reason think you are cheating, or taking an easy way out.

As your mother will tell you - if he thought that any of that was true, then 9 years of history with him doesn’t matter. If he wants you to be healthier for your future - then you know what type of man he is.

(Spoiler alert: he’s pretty freaking awesome, and learns everything with you to try to be the best supporter and cheerleader you can imagine. Your relationship will evolve to be even more loving, trusting, and fun - so just tell him already.)

At first, you will only tell a couple of your closest friends due to fear. Your friends, your family - they will be confused. They will have a lot of questions, they are scared for you. Don’t take it as judgement - realize they love you. Educate them. Show them the success stories you have found on social media, bring them to support meetings. Talk about your plans, your education. Show them you are ready.

You are so fortunate to have the insurance that you have, because they never ask you to lose weight or crash diet - they work on consistency and changing your habits. Take everything they say to heart. Find ways to make it work for you, and work on implementing small changes. Build off of them. Get better. Suddenly you will be living a healthier, happier life - and unlike an extreme diet - you don’t want to quit.

The famous selfie that changed it all. Surgery Day - November 9, 2015.

You were going to be private about your surgery. You didn’t want the judgement, you said. This was a personal decision - no one needed to know who didn’t need to know. It isn’t until you are in your hospital bed getting your IV that you realize - the only reason you knew this was an option was because of that coworker who shared her story. You realize that you refuse to fail this time, unlike all of the other diets you tried without having any accountability.

So you snap a selfie, post it on instagram and facebook - and basically tell everyone to take you as you are.

Instagram friends meeting up for a Weight Loss Surgery meetup in NYC 2017.

This snap decision will change your life in ways you could have never imagined. Without that snap decision, you would never get the hundreds of messages saying you inspired someone to change their life. You would have never met some of the most amazing friends - who understand your struggles. And you for sure would not be writing this blog post. Sharing your story and life online will end up becoming the biggest reasons you remained accountable to yourself and your goals - and you will learn how to be comfortable in discussing a topic that you never used to be able to talk about before.

The next year and the rest of your life is going to be a huge learning curve. It’ll be fun. It’ll be terrifying. It’ll include mourning over your former life and celebration at how much better your life can be. It’ll be awesome. So let’s continue, shall we?

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