We've had quite a few conversations with friends and family members in recent days, talking about the nuts and bolts details of the upcoming surgeries. While the great majority of these conversations have been strongly supportive, a few have been...less so. One recent conversation with a family member springs to mind.
The family member in question had lots of questions about what I was going to be giving up as a bariatric surgery patient. "So, no more beer, ever?" he asked at one point.
"No," I explained, "no carbonation at all. It makes the stomach pouch expand, and you wind up right back where you started."
"So, like, no Cokes either?"
"No, none. I need to avoid coffee too - caffeine is a diuretic, and staying hydrated is super important after the surgery."
"No coffee!" he exclaimed. "I need coffee in the morning to wash down my breakfast!"
"Yeah," I explained, hanging on to my patience with both hands. "Can't really wash things down while eating anyway. You can't drink while you are eating at all. You need all the space in your stomach at meals for food."
He leaned back and crossed his arms, clearly disgusted. "No beer, no coffee, can't even drink when you want. That's not living, That's just surviving."
Now, I personally have a strong opinion on survival - I think it beats the alternative. And, I understand that the relative in question isn't suggesting I should bite the dust in the name of drinking beer. It is a question of quality of life that is being raised here, not life vs. death. And, as it happens, I have a certain amount of experience in evaluating quality of life. Over a decade of dealing with Epilepsy has had me questioning many times: Is this really worth it? And, despite all the things that Epilepsy has forced me to give up, I have always come back with the answer that life itself is worth continuing, even without the various components that I used to previously enjoy.
And, here's the thing: Bariatric Surgery may not only extend my life, but it also has the potential to give back many of the things I have lost previously. Reduced weight could increase my activity level enough so that I could start weight lifting again. It could remove my dependence on a machine to help me breathe at night while I sleep. It could mean a reduction in my arthritis symptoms, meaning I am no longer in constant pain. Heck, it even has the potential to reduce the dosage of my anti-seizure meds - meaning that the "brain fog" I am constantly in might be lifted somewhat. Sounds an awful lot like a new lease on life, where I am currently just surviving.
Is that worth giving up Starbucks and Samuel Adams? Yeah, I think so.
Considering Switching to Bushmill's,
PS - If you have a family member who is considering bariatric surgery, be supportive - a good support structure is a necessity to be successful.