As a weight loss patient, one of the most serious and commonly asked questions is: “Do you have a good support system?” Like everything else in this blog, I have decided to be bluntly honest! I’m writing based on my experiences and if I may help someone who’s going through the same thing, then great!
So, the question that I asked myself was… Do I have a good support system?
When I was asked that question by all my nurses, doctors and even the surgeon – I absolutely, without a doubt in my mind say “yes”. I mean, I have two amazing daughters (14 and 19) who live with me and are totally there for me. In addition, I have 2 very close “bestest” friends who I know will do anything they can for me. When I ask each one of them if they support me, they answer, “yes”. Doesn’t that mean they support me? In addition, I attend a WLS support group plus the support groups on Facebook and Twitter. So, “YES!” I have a good support system, right!?
I went into my “Pre-Op” appointment alone. It never occured to me that I should, or would even want another person at the “Pre-Op” (before operation) appointment. I’ve been to all my appointments on my own. Heck, I always go to doctor appointments alone, don’t you? Quite frankly, who thought I should of asked someone to join me? Personally, I call it being very independent (or stupidity), I don’t know. I rarely ask for help and end up doing everything on my own. I have done it alone all my life. Just ask those I love.
So, after the surgeon went over information on the procedure and gave me my actual surgery date, the nurse came in to briefly (10 minutes) talk about what to expect before, during and right after surgery… I came home from my “Pre-Op” appointment with a head swirling and a thick folder! Generally, a folder of “to-do’s”. Too much to do.
Once I came home, I was so excited to share my real, actual surgery date with my family! YEA!!… It’s Official! Finally, there was a real solid date scheduled! It was happening! A real date! I just couldn’t wait for my loved ones to share in my excitement! Woo! Hoo! When I excitedly shared the date with each of my loved ones, I was truly disapponted by the responses I received. Hmmmm?…. The feeling of being alone set-in…
The next day, I sat down and opened the thick folder to read everything. I knew I needed to read it and get started with many the tasks. I needed to schedule tests and get my blood work done ASAP. I went over each and every piece of paper that would supposedly prepare me for the before, during and the days and weeks after surgery.
After going over everything, I will admit, that I was totally overwhelmed. It wasn’t just the appointments that I needed to schedule that overwhelmed me, or the pre-bloodwork… and, it wasn’t the pre-registering at the hospital or the pre-surgery paperwork which needed to be filled out…. it definately wasn’t the arrangements to make so some of the medications I currently take will need to be in alternate forms (because the size will be too large and will get stuck)… Nor was it the pre-written prescriptions that I had to fill now for my surgery on July 25th that overwhelmed me… and, it wasn’t that I needed to find vitamins in chewable or liquid form (no sugar) (that I would be taking forever), or the searching for some special antibacterial “soap/stuff” (to wash with the night before and immediately prior to leaving for the hospital to decrease surgical infection)… and it definately wasn’t the reading on what I can expect right before my surgery or reading about the expections immediately after surgery. It wasn’t even the (lack of) diet to follow one week prior to surgery… or the “no food or drinking 12 hours prior to scheduled surgery” that started making me very emotional, nor was it having the surgery itself… and it definately wasn’t the fact that I needed to go shopping ahead of time to buy an assortment of clear liquid products for when I return home from the hospital, etc. etc., etc…. it was ALL of it! It was ALOT… it was overwhelming for any one person to handle or to manage alone. I felt all alone!
There was so much more, but you get the idea. I felt like I needed to hire someone! Personally, I got a little emotionally over whelmed and wished there was someone to talk with or to “support me” to understand it all. Someone to tell me we can do this together. I tried to bring up the topic to those who love me and “support me”, I even brought up my folder, and asked if I can show them a few things (no one had time), but the real truth is they just didn’t get it, they didn’t understand.
I asked myself, “Do I r-e-a-l-l-y have the support that I really need? Saying “I support you”… and now “supporting” does it mean something different? I’m an analytical person and I really thought about this, especially because I became emotional and overwhelmed. I was worried, I mean, will I know what and when I need to ask help? Will someone help me? Will someone take me to the hospital? Will someone bring me home? Will there be someone at home the first few days when I’m in pain? How do I ask for the right help? Oh my! Do I just “tell” the people who I love so dearly (and who love me back) what to do to support me now? Really? Like delegate to everyone “what to do?” This just didn’t feel right.
What is the definition of support? sup•port
səˈpɔrt, -ˈpoʊrtShow Spelled [suh-pawrt, -pohrt] Show IPA
verb (used with object)
1. to bear or hold up (a load, mass, structure, part, etc.); serve as a foundation for.
2. to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
3. to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
4. to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction: They supported him throughout his ordeal.
5. to maintain (a person, family, establishment, institution, etc.) by supplying with things necessary to existence; provide for: to support a family
So, maybe my answer of whether I have support is both: Yes and No
“Yes” … because (1) These amazing people in my life love me more than I could ever imagine, they accept me for me and they will back me and my decisions up always, (2) If they don’t understand my decisions they will ask me for my “why’s” (which they did), (3) They are my life. I love them, and they love me and want what is best for me, and finally (4) I know they want to “support me”.
“No” … beause (1) These amazing people do not know the whole process involved (or seen inside the folder), (2) They do not understand the surgery or maybe even all my dietary limitations, (3) They don’t understand the importance of the folder and what I need now. (I mean, how could they?) and (4) They don’t know the questions to ask.
My conclusion… YES they support me! And, I will have a great support system… eventually, we both need to work together.
However, how does anyone know “how or what” to do beyond emotional support? Beyond a hospital visit? This word “support” is much too vague! Support is also about the physical. The “doing”, the “asking questions” and actually taking an “active role” as soon as that surgery date is set. The time will go fast, and each week there are things which must be completed.
By following the definition above, saying that you support someone -or- actually being involved in the support are two totally different things. So with this, I want to share how to support someone you love who is going through anything, including Weight Loss Surgery.
And, to my readers if you think of anything I have not listed, PLEASE comment so we can all learn together! I personally believe this is a process.
Once the surgery date is announced… Be Involved!
1. Please – accept my surgery date. If I’m excited – please share that with me!
2. Please – let me know if you can be at the hospital or not.
3. Please – let me know if you’re open to driving me to the hospital.
4. Please – let me know if you’re open to driving me home from the hospital.
3. Please – mark your calendar with the date, so you don’t forget.
4. Please – assure me that you’ll be there for me (even at a distance).
5. Please – ask me questions, if you haven’t already or help me make a list of things to get, buy, do, etc.
6. Please – ask if there is anything you can do. (Remember my swirling head?)
7. Please – ask if you can pick up any the “foods” that I may need (before & after surgery)
8. Please – think one step ahead of me right now. I need your help!
9. Please – help me with what I need for the hospital & right after.
10. Please – learn a little about my type of surgery (Ask me questions or Google it!)
11. Please – if I show you a folder full of “stuff” be open to review it with me.
12. Please – if you live with me, know what ingredience I can not tolerate anymore.
13. Please – don’t just say, “You know I support you”
14. Please – don’t say, “Now you’ll be skinny”. HELL! I’m having surgery!! Not a cosmetic procedure!
15. Please – ask me “Anything related to my surgery, diet, work, just anything” I need to know you care!
16. Please – understand that from my surgery date forward my life will change forever.
17. Please – JUST KEEP LOVING ME. This is my first time, I may be going through an emotional.
18. If you try to actively do or say anything from this list… I will feel your support. I may not act like it, but I need your support. I love you!
WHAT I NEED TO DO? I will let the people who love me support me. I will try to talk with each person and let you know what I think I need. I did learn (trial & error) that I do need to ask for help. It’s not easy for me to ask for help.
I’ve found that to “Support Me” is somewhat a joint effort.