I Weighed 257 Pounds
I walked past myself in the mirror and saw a woman that I didn't recognize. She had sad, dark eyes. Her face was bloated and covered in acne. She didn’t care about her looks. She wasn't the real me.
At 37 years old, I weighed 257 pounds.
I lived with insulin-resistant Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, had high blood pressure and cholesterol, was on diabetes medications, and my fertility was in jeopardy. Due to my insulin resistance, weight loss was nearly impossible regardless of exercise and dietary changes. I felt unwell from medications, unwell from my poor health, and unwell emotionally. I hated feeling sick all the time.
My doctors recommended bariatric surgery, which is a weight loss surgery that helps you lose weight, stabilize hormones, sugar levels and cholesterol, and can treat chronic acid reflux disease. Bariatric surgery can also increase fertility for women with insulin-resistant PCOS. There are two types of bariatric surgery: the Gastric Sleeve, where a portion of your stomach is removed and then cut into the shape of a banana or sleeve, and Gastric Bypass, where a portion of your stomach is cut into a smaller pouch and bypasses your small intestines to your new pouch. The bypass basically rearranges the anatomy of your stomach. It’s a more invasive and riskier surgery. Both surgeries, however, offer the same weight loss health benefits.
For over a year, I thought about having the surgery. I was scared due to the risks. Then, one morning I walked past myself in the mirror and saw a woman that I didn't recognize. This woman had sad, dark eyes. Her face was bloated and covered in acne. She looked sickly. She didn’t care about her looks. No man would be interested in her anyway. She wasn’t the real me, who took pride in herself and her appearance, felt strong and healthy, laughed and smiled often with a sparkle in her eyes.
I wanted the real Jeanine to return. I knew I had to do something big to change my path: bariatric surgery.
I walked into my first appointment. Anxious, I asked myself a million questions: would it work? Would I have severe complications? Would I die on the operating table? The doctors reassured me that my fears were common, and while there was a possibility of complications, chances are I would be okay. The surgery, however, couldn’t happen unless I attended three months of nutrition classes to learn how to eat healthier, read food labels, and start a new way of eating. Post surgery, my new eating lifestyle would consist of high protein and sugar free, low fat, and low carb foods. Along with my nutrition classes, I underwent a cardiology check, an endoscopy, a mental health evaluation, and two weeks of pre-op, where I drank protein shakes for two consecutive weeks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and ate one healthy dinner in the evening. Those two weeks felt like hell; I had to detox from sugar and the whey protein shakes killed my stomach.
The detox turned me into a straight bitch. I constantly snapped at people, even at work. One day while drinking my protein shake and trying not to think about food, I overheard my supervisor and coworkers conversing about Chinese food.
“Oh, I love fried rice with shrimp and a side of crab rangoons,” one co-worker said.
“I love that noodle dish with the brown sauce, what's that called? Oh wait, Lo Mein with a side of fried broccoli in brown sauce,” my supervisor pointed out.
“What about those potstickers and fried ribs? Mmmm!” my co-worker responded.
I imagined every delicious, fried piece of food. Enraged, I wanted to shout, “Shut the fuck up!” I stared at the protein shake in my hand. I couldn't drink it. I felt nauseated. I cried my eyes out. Because I was angry that I couldn’t eat what I really wanted to. I couldn’t feed the monster that lived inside of me that would tell me to cheat on my pre-op diet. In that moment, I questioned my decision to have weight loss surgery.
Somehow I found the strength to continue with the plan. I walked into the hospital two days shy of my 38th birthday, excited about this new chapter in my life while still feeling terrified of potential complications. As I was wheeled into the operating room, I said my goodbye to my mother who accompanied me. Will this be our last goodbye? I thought.
I entered the operating room. It felt as cold as ice. Oxygen mask on. Eyes felt heavier. Count back from 10. Fade to black.
Speak Up. Be Heard.
How has your weight affected how you feel and love yourself? Share with us in comments!
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We walked in hand in hand. I turned to D and beamed. This was a monumental moment for us as a couple. We knew what it meant to merge our friends and family together under a Midtown, rooftop bar in NYC. D and I were a serious couple. We were the real fucking deal.
I floated up the stairs. Nothing could kill my vibe. I surveyed the room as I entered and didn’t see any familiar faces. D held me by the waist with his right hand and waved at a girl at the bar with his left. “That’s my friend, Grecia,” he said. And he led me to her.
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