Preparing for Gastric Sleeve Surgery during COVID-19

By Lainie Farence

In this blog post, guest blogger Lainie Farance shares how a lifetime of struggle with her weight led her to make the decision to undergo bariatric surgery only to have her surgery postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

I have had weight issues my whole life, and I do not mean the weight that inevitably comes on in so many children during their prepubescent years. I mean my entire life. According to my parents, my first diet was imposed on me when I was three years old due to high blood pressure. 

The first diet I can remember was during my fifth grade year. I was a happy and outgoing girl and was not really aware that anything was different about me. However, the differences sank in as I vividly remember bringing diet cookies and sugar-free/fat-free pudding for lunch while so many of my “normal” friends shoveled our school’s deliciously fatty pepperoni rolls into their mouths. I began to associate delicious food as something everyone else deserved. The moment I was away from the monitoring and the food restrictions, I gorged myself on whatever was available, thus giving birth to my quantity over quality mentality. The more and the bigger the better. I didn’t want one handful of chips, I wanted the entire bag. I didn’t want a regular chocolate bar, I wanted the king size one.  

Moving into adulthood I found myself overweight, pre-diabetic, and unable to maintain weight loss for longer than a few months. Losing the weight was never difficult for me; I limited calories and 60 pounds melted away. Feeling proud, I rewarded myself with food – I deserved that trip to the buffet and that dessert – unknowingly undoing all the hard work I’d put in. Then the shame set in and I gorged myself again, the weight came back on, and feelings of failure developed; a cycle I lived through over and over. 

At the age of 38, I finally had enough of the cycle, and I made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery, a bariatric procedure that removes 75 to 80% of the stomach. Surgery always seemed like the “the easy way out,” but I knew it was time to accept that maintaining weight loss was impossible for me without some help. 

While I was excited for this journey, I did not anticipate the obstacles from my insurance company that would make this dream seem like an unachievable pipedream. The stipulations are quite strict. I must: 

  • slowly lose 35 pounds over a year (not fast like I used to do),
  • attend monthly weigh ins and nutrition classes,
  • figure out how to manage the expenses (this will not be cheap!),
  • have a number of doctor appointments and approvals (cardiac testing, psychological testing, visit my primary care physician, etc.), and 
  • under absolutely no circumstances gain ANY weight over the prep year. 

But I accepted that if I wanted this surgery, I had to meet these guidelines, and I moved forward with positivity. That is, until COVID-19 happened. 

My emotions are connected to food, and I am also a person who suffers with anxiety; the current climate of our world is filled with uncertainty and unknowns. It’s been even more challenging to keep up with the weight loss during this frightening time. Being at home all day has made me teeter on the edge of not eating right. My surgery has been postponed, and there is no solid reschedule date as of now, which feels as though I’ve put in 10 months of hard work for nothing. However, as my emotions and anxiety normalize, I am getting back on track so that when things do go back to normal, I will be ready to change my life. I realize we are all anxious right now in one way or another, but we still must strive to keep going in life. I am no different.

Lainie Farence lives in Fairmont, West Virginia, where she works as an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing. She enjoys swimming and spending time with her husband, two dogs, and five cats. 

Thank you Lainie for sharing your story with our readers and good luck with your surgery!

If you have a story to share with our readers about participating in a clinical trial, overcoming adversity, or living with a chronic condition, please let us know. We’d love to have you guest blog for us. Guest blogging helps others learn about your struggles and increases awareness and understanding. We will help promote your website and social media accounts as well as your favorite advocacy group. Contact us to get started sharing your story now!

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