Yesterday at around 7 a.m, I did a live shot with WCSH’s Bill Green in front of the chow line as all the BikeMaine riders tanked up for the day’s journey, talking about my weight loss, my decision to go with bariatric surgery, and how my bicycle fits into all of that.
It went well and it was fun – I’ll post the clip if I can find it – and as I set to work planning the day’s communications and talking with local reporters, I really didn’t give it another thought.
Until I got recognized out on Route One as the guy who was on tv with Bill Green that morning. And not just once. Bill, it seems, is pretty popular up in Aroostook County.
Ed. note – In addition to producing the blog, I’m also the Communications Director for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine – although (full disclosure), Oct. 19 will be my last day in the position. I’m moving on to open a full-service communications and content-creation shop of my own. This week, we’re up in northern Maine with BikeMaine, a fully-supported, week-long rolling adventure that shows off the best of what makes Maine such a fantastic place to live, work, or visit. If you like what you see here, please click that SUBSCRIBE button in the sidebar.
But the cool thing was, each time it happened it was more than just, hey, you’re that guy; people seemed to have listened closely to what Bill and I had talked about, because they all wanted to know more about my experience with bariatric surgery, to continue the conversation.
And they all had questions. So, they asked them, and I did my best to answer them.
Here are the ones I heard the most, and the answers I gave.
How’s that whole bariatric surgery thing work? On July 5, 2017, I had something called the Sleeve Gastrectomy, where the surgeon goes in and actually removes about 80 percent of your stomach. That left me with the capacity to eat about a half a cup of food at a meal. A lot of people go with another procedure called a gastric bypass, where the surgeon basically reroutes your small intestine to bypass most of your stomach, producing a small pouch that has room for, yep, about a half-cup of food. They’re both effective, but there are some differences. It’s really up to the individual.
Why’d you go with the sleeve? Honestly, because it just felt right. There seems to be a lower risk of complications with a sleeve and, some recent research notwithstanding, they’re both about the same, statistically speaking, when it comes to the amount of weight lost. That lower risk of complications thing, though, I’m not gonna lie: that was big.
Are you hungry all the time? Actually, no. I’m hardly ever hungry. In fact, a lot of times, I have to remind myself to eat.
That response almost always got some serious northern Maine side-eye, because it sounds counter-intuitive. How can you not be hungry when you’re eating only a half-cup of food?
The reason, evidently, is that hunger is related to a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin, it seems, is produced in the stomach, so when a majority of the stomach is removed, the production of ghrelin diminishes accordingly.
So, truth be told, I don’t really get hungry, so to speak. But I do know that i have to eat something every four hours or so during the course of a day to stay focused and keep my energy up. So I do. #sleevelife
Do you ever regret having bariatric surgery? Absolutely not. In fact, I should’ve done it sooner. I’ve lost the same hundred pounds three times in my life, so clearly what I was doing wasn’t working – and, tbh, I had a helluva lot more to lose than a hundred pounds if I ever wanted to get down to a normal BMI.
I actually came at it once before. Bariatric surgery is not just something you wake up one day and decide to do. There’s a whole program you’ve got to through. You meet with social workers, nutritionists, and the surgeon, and at each instance, they’re evaluating your chances for success, along with the insurance company. You’ve also got to lose some weight on your own. Just ‘cause you want it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it. Like anything else, you’ve got to work for it.
My first run at it was one of those times I lost a lot of weight on my own and thought, yeah, I can do this – only to gain it all back and then some.
So, I met with the social worker, and the nutritionists, and the surgeon, again. And I filled out the paperwork. Again. And this time, I went through with it.
And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
And let’s be honest, that’s who it was for.
Got any questions about bariatric surgery, or my experience with it? Go ahead and ask. I’ll answer as honestly as I can.