My Bariatric Surgery Affected My Entire Family
By Monica Ganz, PhD
In January 2002, I had gastric bypass surgery. I consider this as "my great beginning". I went into surgery one person and came out a new person; but, what I forgot to take into account was how this transformation was going to affect my entire family.
My husband of 30 years never wanted me to have the surgery for he loves me for who I am. After surgery, he was not sure what to say to me about food. He was concerned about my health and was always trying to make sure that I was eating enough. He was also concerned when I was having issues with food. As I was losing weight, many people would compliment me. I could see that he was proud and happy that I was getting smaller and more importantly healthier. As I reached my goal of losing 340 pounds, I was getting more attention from people. My husband became more attentive and possessive. This was wonderful because it felt like we were on our honeymoon again. We became closer as we talked about everything. Communication was the key to the successful transformation. Our relationship is stronger and closer today than ever before.
My daughter was 17 when I had my surgery. I was 340 pounds when she was born; so, she only knew me as this gigantic person. She was very supportive of me having surgery. However, she was not sure what to expect, for that matter neither did I. About two years after my surgery, we visited my sister. My daughter gave her a hug and held on for the longest time. When she finally let go of my sister, who was also quite large, she said, “That was a mommy hug. I don’t get mommy hugs anymore.” I was devastated. It was the first time I realized I was no longer the mommy that my daughter had known all her life. My hugs were different, my hands were smaller, and my lap was not the same. It was a period of adjustment for her and me. As I got smaller, I tried on some of my daughter’s clothes and to my amazement they fit. I was so excited and yet she had a funny look on her face. I did not think much of it at the time until my husband came in and pointed out to me that I should not wear her clothes because it was bothering her that we were the same size... I, her big mom, was now the same size. I never realized how those things made her feel. Again it took a period of adjustment and many conversations. Once again communication was the key. We now love shopping together and are comfortable sharing many items.
As we go through the metamorphosis of weight loss surgery, we need to remember how this might affect the ones we love. They may be afraid we will not survive the surgery let alone the changes afterward. We all go through massive changes and our friends and family need time to adjust to what we are experiencing. They may not be sure what to say to you, or feel jealous that you are losing weight and they are not. Just keep talking with your friends and family throughout the process. Focus on the relationships instead of just the fact that you are losing weight. Do not use food as the focal part of your relationships. We all hate when others become our food police so remember not to be the food police for others. The more you talk and keep communications open, the less chance there is for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Keep focused and remember why you had the surgery in the first place.