***This week – I asked my Hubby to write his reflections on the journey and transformation that I’ve made. I know that since I’ve started this blog – I’ve mentioned a lot about him and how supportive he’s been. I know it’s been a big change for all of us and I thought it would be nice for my readers to hear his side of the story. I’ve read in other blogs and support groups that sometimes when one spouse has the surgery – things can go down hill. I honestly think that we have become closer as a result. I did not read his reflection until just now and I am very overwhelmed and touched by his words.***
Living With Someone Who Had Weight Loss Surgery
The Decision (Sorry LeBron)
When my wife first approached me about the possibility of having weight loss surgery I had a quick and immediate answer for her: “NO WAY!” I had heard horror stories of people having their stomach stapled and almost dying. As a football fan I had followed the story of Charlie Weis closely. He was an overweight football coach for the New England Patriots and Notre Dame, who had weight loss surgery and nearly died from complications from the surgery. There had also been enough other stories in the media about people who had died or nearly died from the complications associated with weight loss surgery for me to think that it was unsafe. So, when my wife asked me what I thought about her having weight loss surgery I immediately thought of the risk and the chance that she could die or get sick, and since we have a young family and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my best friend I didn’t want her to get the surgery.
That first conversation was kind of on a whim and I don’t think that Mathy was serious about having the surgery at that point. But clearly she was in the early stages of considering that life altering option. A few months went by and we started to have occasional and casual conversations about it. Mathy was starting to do some research about the surgery and I think she was coming to the realization that it was her best option for living a healthy life. She knew that I wasn’t on board with it, but over the course of several conversations, and as I started to be a little more informed about how far the surgery had come over the years, I became more receptive to the idea of her having the surgery.
Eventually Mathy convinced me to go to an informational meeting about weight loss surgery at EMMC in Bangor. I was still not 100% convinced that this was a safe option for my wife, but I knew that I owed it to her to be open-minded and go to the meeting. Plus, I knew that I should be as informed as possible if we were going to make this decision. Going into the meeting I had done a little bit research on my own (not nearly as much as Mathy had) and I knew that weight loss surgery had become much safer in the last decade or so, but I was still a little skeptical. Two things that I learned in that meeting helped me overcome my concerns. One, was that EMMC had the top weight loss surgery center in the Northeast and one of the best in the entire country. That put me at ease knowing that she would be in the hands of some of the best doctors in the country for this surgery. The second thing that I learned was the most powerful. The presentation included some statistics about the dangers of the surgery, and they did admit that there was a chance of health complications and even death, but the statistics showed that the sleeve weight loss surgery, that my wife wanted, was less dangerous than having your gallbladder removed. My wife had already had that procedure done and I remembered not being worried about her long term health for that procedure. So that really put my mind at ease. That combined with my wife’s resolve and commitment to getting this surgery being as clear as day, I told her that day that I was behind her 100%.
Let me make one thing clear at this point. My wife is an intelligent, smart, determined and independent woman and she did not need my permission to get this surgery. The fact of the matter is that if she decided to get the surgery I would’ve supported here no matter what. But, she was smart enough to know that this wasn’t just a decision that she needed to make, but it was a decision that would affect our whole family. Our kids were too young at the time to really have any input into the decision. But my wife knew that the changes that she was going to have to make to be successful would affect all of us. So I’m thankful that she made the effort to educate me and give me the time to process what her decision would mean for us and our family.
The only disclaimer that I had for her was that we would support her as best we could, but she was the one making the change not us. I would give emotional and verbal support and I would certainly be willing to try new foods and recipes, but I wasn’t the one having the surgery she was, and there were going to be times that I was going to get dessert and she was going to have to exhibit strong will power. While that might sound selfish I thought it was important to be honest with her, so that she could prepare herself to be successful. After all, that would be a reality that we would eventually have to face. She said that she understood that and she knew that she wasn’t going into this alone, but we agreed that in a lot of ways this was going to be a very self-reliant journey that she was embarking on.
Mathy deserves all the credit for her success. She has completely changed her lifestyle and she’s made permanent changes which is the hardest thing in the world for human beings to do. She’s managed to somehow become half the person that she used to be (literally) without changing who she is emotionally or socially. I know she’s made tremendous strides with her self-esteem and self-confidence, but in so many ways she is the same person that she was before her transformation.
Just over a year ago in December of 2015, Mathy and I checked into the hospital in Bangor. We got there very early in the morning but it wasn’t long before she was in surgery. The plan was to be there for two nights and three days and then return home. Mathy had long since synchronized our work schedules and we were very lucky to have Mathy’s Dad Joe and Step-Mom Angela come to our house to take care of our kids while we were in Bangor. It also worked out well that my team’s basketball schedule didn’t have any games during this time. Any coaches wives out there will attest to the fact that this is a minor miracle. Mathy’s surgery was scheduled long before we knew what the basketball schedule would be so this was a bit lucky. As luck would have it I was also able to scout two future opponents in the Bangor area one on each night that we were there. Mathy was comfortably resting in her hospital bed with good nurses to take care of her, so I snuck out to scout a couple games. Gives you an idea of what living with a coach is like! Shout out to Mathy for being such a supportive coaches wife!!
Back to the surgery. The hours spent in the waiting room were really a rollercoaster. As I mentioned earlier I knew she was in good hands, but I couldn’t help but worry and think about “the worst”. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to go see Mathy in quasi holding cell just outside of the operating room. There was a long delay to get Mathy into her hospital room, but it was a relief to get to see her for a few minutes. Once she was in her room she was able to rest and slowly start to begin the next phase of her life. From the very first day, while she was still in the hospital she already showed a fierce determination to start to move more often. We starting by walking laps around the nurses station while she was still attached to the IV’s.
She eventually was released from the hospital and we drove home. During the ride home Mathy was incredibly optimistic and she had an aura about her that told me that she was going to be successful in this journey. That same aura hasn’t left her to this day, over a year after the surgery. But, it was clear to both of us that the hard work was still to come.
Life After Weight Loss Surgery
Mathy asked me to write this piece about what life was like to live with someone who had weight loss surgery (I may have gotten a little carried away with Part’s I and II). To be honest, I don’t really know how to answer the question. I mean it certainly has been challenging at times, but life was already challenging. We have two young kids and we both work full time jobs, so life was already challenging. I guess the biggest change is that we had to reshuffle our priorities. Mathy’s trips to the gym, exercise classes and jogging took priority over other aspects of our lives. Which means that I get to spend a lot of quality time with our kids, which I love doing anyway, so it wasn’t really an adjustment. Mathy and I have always had a good give and take that allows the other to do what’s important to them. She takes care of the kids by herself many nights while I’m gone for away games, and in return I try and be there to allow her to do her hobbies and her exercise.
The biggest change for me was Mathy’s appearance. She’s lost over 150 pounds and when you look at the before and after pictures it’s like a different person. But having been a long side of her throughout the process I didn’t really notice the slow but steady changes. But obviously she has changed a lot physically. It has been a bit of a mental challenge to get used to that. She’s always been beautiful, but now she gets more attention from other people for her good looks and that’s been a new emotion for me. I’m not a jealous person, but some feelings of jealousy have crept into my mind and I haven’t really had to deal with those before. She also looks so different, that sometimes I wake up next to her and it’s like being with another woman, which really creeped me out for a long time. It was definitely an adjustment.
As far as the food goes, things in our house haven’t changed as much as you might think. We do spend more money on groceries because we sometimes prepare two different meals. For example, the kids and I might eat pasta and Mathy will eat a summer squash instead. But, that’s just one small change. The side dishes are the same and the sauce is the same.
Mathy loves to cook and she likes to try different recipes (thanks Pinterest). But that was true before the surgery, so I’ve been trained well to be open to trying new foods and new recipes. So that hasn’t been much of an adjustment either. I have to go back to something I said in Part I, Mathy deserves all the credit. She has tremendous will power. She is the one that has to watch us eat our regular sized portions and sometimes seconds while she eats a quarter sized portion. She’s amazed me with how well she’s been able to do that.
I can’t speak for everyone who has lived or does live with someone who had weight loss surgery. It’s different for everyone, obviously. But if I was going to give some advice it would be this: Be prepared to play the role of a support person, and be honest from the beginning about what your plan is. Be prepared to see your money disappear into a new wardrobe, but continue to say “yes dear, you look beautiful!”. Accept the fact that there is going to be some transitions. Be ready to make changes and try new things, but also be willing to speak up and say what is important to you and what foods you want to keep in your diet. Find a balance.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the weight loss surgery and the transformation that goes along with it can be daunting for everyone involved. It’s also a very personal and even, I imagine, sometime a lonely venture. Support people, like family and friends play an important role, but from my observations it’s going to boil down to the determination of the individual. That’s what amazes me the most about my wife. The confidence, determination and will-power that she has shown throughout this process has been out of this world. She’ll shrug it off as ho-hum, but what she has done, by making permanent changes to her life, will set a great example for her children for the rest of their lives. When they see their mother being active and eating healthy she is setting them up for the same type of success and for that reason and many others I am incredibly proud of her and her accomplishments.
- Barry Terrill
P.S. There was a third thing that I heard in that weight loss surgery information meeting at EMMC that helped convince me that the surgery would be a good thing and that was it is proven to increase the sex drive of middle age women…let’s just say that the jury is still out on that one!!
I am so grateful that my hubby is on this journey with me. He is my anchor and I strive to be a good person in his eyes everyday. I would not want to be on this journey by myself and I’m so grateful that he puts up with my craziness. I really agree with what he said about finding a balance – it is so important. You have to have time for yourself – in my case it’s time for runs or working out. We really are a great TEAM!!
I hope you have found something to take away from this weeks post! Stay tuned – I have some fun stuff coming up. If you have any comments, concerns, or questions – please do not hesitate to comment here or message my Facebook page here.