Let me totally upfront here, I hate “group” anything. I hate working groups, I hate group therapy, I guess I am just not as much of a team player sometimes. I will do anything for anyone, but please do not make do a project with other people. But here I was on a Thursday evening in a room filled with strangers, in the mandatory Pre-Operative Bariatric Educational Program.
Questions and comments included “Does this mean I can never eat cake again?” “Is broccoli a vegetable?” “But I don’t like cooking, McDonalds is just easier” from the attendees and gems like this by the facilitators; “You can never drink out of a straw again,” “You cannot drink coffee for a year, or alcohol ever again,” “You must empty all the junk food out of your house,” “At first you should drink out of a sippy cup, to control how much water you are drinking,” “If you don’t do these things you will fail.’ I started to despair. I was willing to go through this for the positive reasons – weight loss, improvement of overall health and well being, and here I was hearing questions that shocked me and advice that basically made me feel as if my life was over, and that moving forward I would forever be the girl drinking tap water from a Tommy Tippee cup, eating kale in the corner at parties, otherwise my newly stapled stomach would expand and I would be fat again, or I would die.
Then came the food journals. I tried, I really tried. I wanted to use an electronic format so that it would mesh better with my life, but that was wrong. I finally developed a spread sheet which was acceptable. However, with the food journal comes the criticism of everything you put in your mouth. I used the wrong protein powder, my breakfast smoothies were all wrong because I didn’t add spinach and or kale to them, I should not have gone out for Mother’s Day dinner, and as for the cooking contest I participated in and won? Well that was just a high crime! I explained that I didn’t actually eat anything that I prepared beyond a half dozen sea urchins and a single scallop, but I guess this was a symptom of my need to cook elaborate meals …..
I struggled through the meetings, but they were utterly soul sucking. I had one make up class to do, as I missed one due to a work commitment, and after that class I literally waited in the parking lot for one of the attendees to reassure her as she was sitting there looking progressively more terrified throughout the 90 minute meeting.
In the midst of my fat classes, I found out that a friend had very quietly had the same procedure at a sister hospital, so we started comparing notes. He had never filled in a single food journal, he was drinking coffee, he was using a straw, he had never used a sippy cup, hell he had even had a piece of cake at his daughter’s birthday! He gave me hope.
After fat class was done I met again with the nutritionist, who by this time I had quietly nicknamed “Mean Melanie” because she never had anything nice to say, she always had a criticism. We spent 70 minutes together where we locked horns . I asked her about the differences between their program and the one at the sister institution – I was simply told “Our program is better.” I never did get a full answer, but by the end of the 70 minutes we had found some common ground. I agreed to do food journals, but in my spreadsheet format, she agreed to back off on the negativity
I had a final meeting with the “Awful Andrea” the NP, who it seems is well known for not being exactly warm and fuzzy. She doesn’t seem to trust me and I don’t like her so I guess we are even… and at least fat class is in the past…..