Disclaimer: Despite the impression you may get from what I write below, I am happy I had the surgery and I would do it again, three times over, just for the results I've had so far. Any mature adult knows that nothing is all good or all bad, and to live with the bad sometimes you just have to bitch.
- I miss over-eating. I don't miss the effects of over-eating, i.e., the guilt, the weight gain, the bloated and listless feelings, the self-hatred, but I do miss the experience of sitting down to a big meal and expressing my love for the food by just plowing through a whole lot of it. I miss being able to enjoy several different foods at one meal, I miss just the sheer satisfaction of making my preferences known by consuming vast quantities of them.
- I miss clean plates. At home, I can make a meal with appropriate portions, that's not a problem, I have a pretty good eye for what I can eat, and if I make a mistake it is almost always by under-estimation of what I can finish. When eating out I am always given too much food. In about eight weeks of eating out about twice a week, one time, one blessed time, did I order something I could finish--a fou-fou grilled oyster appetizer at a mid-town seafood place. That was so awesome.
Every other time I either have to send a half-eaten plate of food away at the end of the meal, or worse, I end up with a doggie bag. I am so sick of take-out containers. I know, it sounds great, getting to re-visit wonderful meals at home later, a "free" extra meal, but the fact is if I get back to eat it, the food is old, it degrades during re-heating (or it has to be eaten cold), and frankly I just don't want to be eating the same thing all over again, no matter how much I enjoyed it earlier.
Just this morning I threw out about a half dozen take-out containers from my fridge. I hate the waste, plus I know that this material I am sending to the landfill is among the least environmentally friendly. Decomposing food creates methane, which is a problem for our little blue planet.
- My friends are self-conscious eating with me. A close friend keeps joking that she wants to send me back to the surgeon to get my stomach put back in because she feels like a pig and a drunk when she shares a meal with me. I eat about a third of what she does (even though she is slender and athletic), and a stingy pour of wine is enough for an entire evening for me now.
I thought it would be great to go out with friends, share a plate, and then split the cost with them, getting us both a meal at a cut-rate price, but the fact is no one really wants to do that with me. I have one single solitary friend who will do this with me, a colleague at work, and everyone else is reluctant to order what they want for fear of displeasing me, so I just go ahead and waste money on my own meal.
I'm not sure what my exceptional friend's deal is, she is just totally oblivious to these issues that my other friends have. She simply orders what she wants, pushes a bit of it off on to my plate, and then goes back to eating her meal without a second thought. It's fantastic. Why other people can't do that is just beyond my comprehension.
- What food I am eating is so much less important to me now. I just don't get as emotionally aroused by food any more. I don't have to have my exact preference. As long as it is palatable and nutritionally dense I am fine eating just about anything, which sounds great, but it is as if I am a big music-lover who has suddenly gone deaf.
I used to get really excited about the prospect of some fine Texas BBQ, for example. I'd enjoy the build-up of the anticipation, I'd enjoy the experience of obtaining it, and I'd enjoy the satisfaction of sitting down to eat. Then, I'd enjoy the satisfaction of having enjoyed a great meal. Maybe I am romanticizing my past, I don't know, but now when I do the same thing, the experience is a big let-down. It's just not the same.
One might think that's great, because it was that obsession with eating that was killing me before. Yeah, right, go ahead and believe that bit of fat-hatred, that's what everyone else does, but that's not the whole story. There are plenty of people who love to eat who are not obese, and if I still had the part of my stomach that I had removed yet I was somehow magically transformed into someone who doesn't like to eat as much as before, I'd still be obese.
- Frequently, eating makes me uncomfortable. Not all the time, and usually it is the result of some avoidable mistake like eating too much too fast, but it really sucks to sit down to meal, take a bite, and then have to force the rest of a small meal down because I have completely lost interest in it. Often I end up fighting what I can only describe as a bit of mild nausea at the prospect of having to finish my meal.
- Related to the above bitch, I miss being able to eat quickly. I actually didn't do it that often, particularly in recent years, but occasionally I used to enjoy the fact that I could grab a sandwich, wolf it down in a couple of minutes, and then not have to think about eating for the next few hours. Now, eating is a 20 minute affair at a minimum.
For example, last night, I had gone a little longer than I should have between meals. I was not really hungry (I never am), but I was more interested than usual in eating and I was a little bit thirsty. I had just finished a busy day and I was looking forward to some time for myself. I got a sandwich and some iced tea, took a bite of the sandwich and washed that down with a healthy swig of iced tea while I was really concentrating on reading this week's New Yorker magazine and voila'--nausea. I had eaten too much too quickly, in one bite. Bummer. I sat there for a few minutes waiting for the nausea to subside, as it always does, but I had absolutely no interest in the second bite.
I finished what I planned to eat anyway, but it was a chore to complete, not the respite from my busy day that I anticipated. That may be the bottom line here, I miss being able to rely on the fact that I will consistently enjoy eating.
- Taking meds is a daily hassle now. Ironically, one of the big, global reasons I underwent this surgery was to reduce what we call my "pill burden" in medical parlance. That so far has been a major fail. I had a handful of pills to take before the surgery, but pre-op I could gulp them all down in one handful. I can't believe I used to bitch about that.
Now, I have twelve pills to take every day, eight of which have to be taken with food, and I have to take them one by one, each a few minutes apart. It takes thirty minutes of concerted effort to get this done every day--twenty minutes during some meal, ten minutes at some non-meal time.
Repeat disclaimer: This is a bitch session. It is not the sum of my feelings about my decision to undergo this procedure and change my life this way. Even given knowing everything above beforehand, I still would have made the same choice, three times over, just to achieve the results I have achieved so far.
I just want people who might be considering a similar decision to go into it with eyes open. There's a lot of good, but there's also some bad, just like there is with any good, successful life change. Everything is a mix, this is my bummer-list. I have a much longer "jumping up and down with joy" list to come. This one is much easier.
next - my pot problem