Bariatric Surgery Progress: Looking Over My Shoulder

Photo Credit: Kristina Daniels, 2008

Yesterday, January 25, was the 6-month anniversary of my surgery date. 6 months! Yay!

It was also the date of my 6-month follow-up with the folks at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics, which was not quite as “Yay”.

In December, Lor had her 6-month check in. She was patted on the back for her weight loss, commended on her dropping H1aC numbers, and released into the wild. “Maintenance mode” after bariatric surgery means the patient can stop logging meals, and start eating whatever they want. You have proven your ability to operate within the restrictions of your new diet without having to be watched like a hawk.

So I went into yesterday’s appointment with a mixture of confidence mixed with some nervousness. What if I had missed something in the last 6 months?

Turns out I did.

Not Precisely A Triumph

My blood panel revealed that I am suffering from a B-vitamin deficiency. Normally this would indicate that I need to add some fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet. Since we already hit the salad bar with every single meal we eat, I am instead going to have to add yet another supplement to my already large daily pile of pills.

I am also suffering from a low red blood cell count. Now, these issues are commonly related – B12 is used in the body to make new red blood cells. But I had been suffering from anemia for years before the whole bariatric surgery process began. I am already on a daily iron supplement. The original thought was that my weight loss was going to clear this problem right up. Guess not.

There was no talk about how great I am doing,  no discussion of releasing me to “maintenance mode.” I was scheduled for my one-year follow up in July and left waiting in vain for the brass band.

My Weight Loss Is Better Than Yours

It is critically important for any of us going through the bariatric surgery process to not compare our journey to anyone else’s. Invariably, we only compare ourselves to those that we think are doing “better”, and wonder why we aren’t achieving what they are.

For me, though, it is tough to not compare myself to Lor. We live under the same roof, for goodness’ sake. She is motivated daily. While I am writing or gaming, she spends hours every day counseling and advising other bariatric patients online.  She believes that half an hour of cardio a day is not quite enough and would like to do more.

Whereas I am still having trouble even getting to the gym some days. I still crave bad things – not because I am hungry, just because. I do not keep a hawk’s eye on my health 24/7. Our capacities for food are even different – she is full after 3-4 ounces, I can now manage 6.

And, as a result, she has been released to maintenance 6 months after her surgery. And I get to wait another 6 months.

The Height of our Expectations

Many of you are wondering how in the heck I am disappointed.  Silly, right? I have lost 102 pounds already! Why not celebrate that instead of worrying about a couple of minor health hiccups?

The truth is, I inflated my own expectations. I have been waiting for this blog post for weeks now. My intention was to talk about what a struggle the last six months have been, but how I persevered and overcame. Maybe show off some before and after pics.

Kind of an “I love me” kind of thing, right?

Instead, I find that, in comparison (which I should not be making), I haven’t done as well as others I know. There are still issues to overcome. I am still not there yet.

And, this is really a valuable lesson. Because, the truth is, I will never “get there”. Every day that I do not push forward represents a day that I fall behind. It is as simple as that.

The triumphant photos will have to wait for another post. Instead, I will work on no longer looking behind me and instead concern myself with what I can do today.

Disappointed But Resolute,



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