I have been waiting a long time to write this blog, I am big and I am still in Beijing. I started this very public journey to lose weight last May (read more here). My expectation was to drop at least 20 kilos and have “magical” before and after pictures; people would be wowed by me wherever I went. Less is true, I gained weight; instead of losing it. I now have more weight-related medical issues than before. When I started this journey I was 102 kilos, now I weigh 115 kilos and my body mass index (BMI) is over 40. I feel I have exhausted all my resources to lose weight.
My decision to have weight loss surgery has not been a very public one; some people knew I was trying to have this surgery but I did not write about it. I wanted to be 100 percent sure, and have my insurance cover the surgery before even committing to this step. After a long and very frustrating time, I have final approval from the insurance company and will be having a bariatric sleeve gastrectomy surgery this month.
I have come to learn that weight loss surgery is a very controversial topic. People have their opinions ready, even if they are skinny and have never lived in an obese body. I have lived in both, and now I am here to tell my side of the story. Weight loss surgery is my last resort to finally get healthy. I have been fighting with my weight for the last four years, rapidly gaining 40 kilos. After my daughter’s birth, I suffered from severe postnatal depression and gained weight. The weight gain triggered sleep apnea. Due to poor sleep, I gained even more weight. This triggered more depression. The spiral was never-ending. After extensive therapy and many many tears, I finally felt cured after three years of this severe postnatal depression. Now, almost five years out, I still take anti-depression medication, and I don’t know if I will ever stop. I feel fine and am super content with my current mental health now, and I don’t want to rock the boat. Or sink it.
I have come to a place where I am actually happy. This, coming from a person who has been severely unhappy in the past. My life in Beijing has been a rollercoaster of amazing experiences and meeting even more amazing people. Expat life has been such a blessing for me. Beijing has been such a blessing for me. I have arrived at a point where I need my body to match my happy nature.
Weighing 115 kilos does not come easy. I am used to living in a body that is half this size. I have severe sleep apnea; I stop breathing while sleeping so I have to wear a special machine when I sleep. At this point, I am even unable to lie down in bed and read a book without choking. That’s how fat my neck is. The last month I have had high blood pressure on several occasions. I can’t put on my shoes without huffing and puffing. I can’t get up from the floor when playing with my child. I can’t run without feeling terrible. When somebody asks me to walk from the office to Sanlitun I curse them; I feel out of breath thinking about it.
People tell me all the time, “Pauline you don’t look overweight.” And I am glad my big personality masks my big body. However, the scale does not lie; 115 kilos in weight and 169cm tall is real. And, this combination is considered morbidly obese in medical terminology. And you know what? That’s how it feels every time I choke in my sleep. This procedure is considered a life-saving surgery; for me, it means that my life will be much healthier. It means that, hopefully, my weight-related health issues will disappear over time and I’ll have a better outlook on life. Being obese is not healthy; it comes with concerning health problems. I am scared to think what would happen to me if I continue to gain weight as rapidly as I have in the last four years.
I know that many people have opinions about this surgery; thinking it’s the easy way out. I can tell you it is not. This surgery requires major life changes, and it will be a difficult path to recovery. But, you know what? I am ready to make this change for me and my family. I want to put on my shoes without feeling out of breath. I want to play with my child on the floor without thinking to myself, “How the hell will I get up?”
I can imagine that after reading this you might have many questions and concerns. And, you know what? I had many questions too, so I went and got answers. I have added some websites below if you would like to do some of your own research too.
The medical team at OASIS International Hospital has been supporting me on this journey towards a healthier life. The doctors, most of all, have been beacons of hope in some dark and challenging times. The doctors listened to me; they have advised me, and taken care of me. I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to be a patient of Professor Chih-kun Huang, who has great influence on this type of surgery all over the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will grab with both hands.
Beijing has been filled with love and support since my family has moved here. I have confidence that with my family and lovely Beijing friends, I will have the strength to battle through this period of my life. And, per usual, I’ll update you with honesty and most likely the ugly truth.
Find more information here. Or simply GTS!
Photo: Pauline van Hasselt