Recently I chose two different surgeries to remove excess skin left after weight loss.
The first, back in August, was on my upper arms. For years I’d had chicken wings, or flags, that waved whenever I moved my arms. When I swam, I heard a whap, whap every time my arms entered the water. Often, when wearing a short sleeve shirt, I’d hear the same sound as my arms contacted my torso. It was embarrassing to wear short sleeve shirts and to put on a bathing suit.
Good-meaning friends told me to exercise more. I thanked them for their advice, knowing that I’d been focusing on my arms while working out at the gym. I’d even hired a private trainer to help, but even all his great exercises made no difference.
The wings weren’t going to magically disappear. I met with a surgeon who explained what she could and couldn’t do. She could remove excess fat, but my arms would never be skinny. I didn’t want skinny: I wanted normal.
The surgery went well, but the recovery impacted my life in ways that I hadn’t foreseen. I couldn’t swim, bathe or walk uphill. When I walked, I had to keep my arms loose at my side. I had to wear a compression garment for six weeks. It was so tight that it hurt.
I whined, but not too much. After all, I had done this to myself.
There was another surgery that I desperately wanted: to remove the roll of excess skin around my belly. The surgeon explained, once again, what she could and could not do. I would still have droopy legs and poofs of skin that would stick out whenever wearing a bra. She would remove and tighten front, back and sides. It sounded good to me.
Whereas the first operation was three hours in length, the second was seven. As an after affect, my asthma has been triggered. Considering that it had been largely dormant for a number of years, this was a disappointment. But, I did it to myself, right? So I don’t complain.
With the first surgery I could do many things as long as it didn’t involve lifting. I could sit at the computer and type for hours. With this surgery I have had to remain on my back for much of the day. Now that I am 20 days past the surgery date, I am able to sit for longer, walk about on flat surfaces and resume doing some of my favorite things as long as they do not involve exercise.
And, once again, I have to wear compression garments that are terribly uncomfortable.
There have been times when I was tempted to whine, but then I’d remind myself that this surgery was an option that I chose. I do acknowledge that the roll of skin is gone and that makes me smile. However, I am still limited as to what I can do. Sitting here while I type this is taxing my body. I will soon be reclining, but I won’t complain since I did write something new! Yippee.
I realize that people make huge sacrifices every day: eat food or pay the rent. Put gas in the car or buy new shoes for the kids. Live in a homeless shelter or sponge off of friends and relatives. Stand in line for free food or be too proud to ask for help and therefor go hungry. In some countries, running for your life even though that very act endangers your same life, is a tough decision to make.
Whenever I am inclined to whine, I think of those less fortunate, those who are unhoused, hungry and poorly clothed. How can I complain when my discomfort is self-imposed, while for those poor individuals, they are in those circumstances because of unaddressed mental issues or due to the high cost of housing that they cannot pay even when working full time.
I am blessed to be able to afford the operations. There is no doubt that if I had wanted this done years ago when we had young children at home, there would have been no money for such extravagances. These are the things that sustain me, that keep me focused on the outcome, not the current discomfort.
I swear that no whining will pass through my lips. I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.
You are also a very tough, strong-minded person. (And you are entitled to whine a little bit!)