Last November my beautiful wife asked what I wanted for my birthday. I thought about it and told her I didn’t need anything. I told her that I have all I ever wanted in life and was the most content man I know. All of this is very true; she and our wonderful children are a true blessing and a gift to me. I walked away for that conversation with a little whisper in my ear saying “ya, but”. I had to admit to myself that there was something I wanted; something that I have wanted for about five years now. It’s something I have wanted since the first time I thought I could lose all the weight and keep it off. I went back to my wife and told her what I really needed to do and without batting an eye she said “let’s do it”. So after visiting three doctors and getting past the sticker shock, on May 20, 2014 I am going to have surgery to remove the vestiges, the old reminders, of what I used to be. I am going to have an abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck”.
Your skin is an amazing organ. It expands and contracts to fit the size you become and if you are a bit overweight when you are young, and lose the weight in fairly short order, your skin will shrink back and heal itself. But for those of us who were extremely heavy or are older, that skin is not as elastic as it once was. You have generated extra skin to accommodate you, that now you have lost a substantial proportion of you, it hangs on you like unfilled sacks. To me when I look at my stomach in the mirror I am reminded of what I was like being heavy. When I see it, it is an emotional weight that I carry now. I do not think of the excess skin as some kind of badge of honor to the fact that I have kept the weight off. But it still felt like vanity to want or need to get rid of it.
The excess skin is a daily reminder of what I did not like about myself back then, and that I never want to be that person again. In the past I talked to some family members and they thought the surgery was unnecessary. A waste of money. I am not sure if they genuinely felt that way, or whether they thought I couldn’t keep the weight off. People who know me well are so lovingly behind me in this journey. In fact they see the surgery as a reward for all the hard work. They feel I deserve to complete the job I started in 2008. They are also at the point of chiding me for even considering the idea that I am being vain. I love my peeps. They keep me wanting to look deep into the mirror and see the true me.
The next few blogs will chronicle my journey through the surgery and my recovery afterwards. I am both afraid and excited by the prospects of the surgery. I am afraid that the removal of the skin has for so many years been a goal, and I really haven’t thought about what lies on the other side. What is it like to lose part of yourself – even if I didn’t like it! My wife, the beneficiary of 3 cesearean sections, tells me that there will be a lot of pain on the other side. I don’t think it will be so bad. My surgeon says it won’t be so bad – he’s not reknitting abdominal muscle like he does with many of his female post-baby patients. Nevertheless, I am somewhat haunted by the image of me without the deflated bags of skin.