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A Little Lap Band Goes a Long Way Toward Diabetes Control

So in my first few blogs for DiabeticLifestyle.com, I’ve talked about a number of “weighty issues.” Losing weight, maintaining weight loss, keeping blood sugar levels on an even keel, even while on vacation. I’ve talked about my own successes and failures over the years and even said that I was finally able to “slay the dragon.” And now I’ll tell you how. I had weight loss surgery.

weight loss surgeryOK, before you think, oh crap, she took the easy way out, let me make one thing very clear. Weight loss surgery is not the easy way out! In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It represents a huge change in a very important relationship in one’s life – the relationship with food. Forever. I don’t know about you, but food and I have always had a very close relationship, one that I’ve enjoyed my entire life. But when the diet programs were not helping me control my diabetes, I had to do something or face the kind of permanent consequences I didn’t want to admit loomed ahead. To tell the truth, I was much happier just continuing to stick my head in the sand, as was my lifelong M.O., but I was running out of options.

So my internist insisted that if I was going to look into the prospect of weight loss surgery, I had to go to one of the largest and most respected medical centers in Los Angeles and see one particular surgeon, Dr. Scott Cunneen, director of bariatric surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The big cheese, I thought. Reluctantly, I made the call. At the first appointment, I was momentarily distracted when this youngish guy walked into the room. Turns out it was the doctor.  He’s older than he looks, the nurse assured me. Good, I thought, because he looks twelve!

The doc gave me my options which, at that time, were two – gastric bypass and the adjustable gastric band, or lap band. (LapBand© by the way, is a registered trademark, but like Kleenex and Xerox, has become the widely used generic term for all brands of gastric bands.) Since I didn’t want some guy I hardly knew rearranging the plumbing, I opted for the band. I needed to lose weight in order to regain my health. I had a teenager at the time, just graduating from high school, and I wasn’t done with him yet. I’ll get you there, said the doctor. Today, six years and seventy pounds later, I’m happy to say that he was true to his word.

The easy way out? Hardly. Learning a whole new way to eat – chewing every bite a million times, not drinking beverages while eating, not being able to squeeze some of my favorite foods through that damn band – steak, sushi rice, bread, certain fruits and vegetables – all things of the past.  But what I’ve gained is even be more significant than what I’ve had to give up…I got my health back. My A1C returned to a normal level in a matter of months. Shortly thereafter, I was off my three diabetic medications, a reprieve which lasted four years. When the numbers started to go up slightly, I was put back on one medication, a low dose of Metformin, which was almost immediately cut in half.  I could live with that. 

And so that’s how I became the poster child for lap band surgery.  I’ve spoken at pre-op seminars and support groups, participated in panel discussions at conferences and have been interviewed by newspapers and web sites (including this one!). And the story’s not over…in fact, a new chapter is about to begin. So stay tuned, come back and see me in a couple of weeks. There’s much more to come. Meantime, if you have any questions or comments about weight loss surgery, please use the comment section below.  It would be cool to get a conversation going, wouldn’t it?   Or, if you prefer, feel free to drop me a line at info@weightyissuesbook.com.  I’d love to hear from you. Stay well!

 

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