by PATRICIA MILLER
Saying good bye to a loved one. Facing your own mortality and knowing your current health will lead to imminent death. Choosing one or the other. Is there anything more difficult?
As you’ll hear me say often, the decision to have weight loss surgery was not an easy one. As a believer in natural medicine, including my own unassisted births, I felt surgery was my least favorable option. I read all the statistics, I watched videos of procedures. I knew the risks: infection, coma, death, etc. They weighed heavily on my soul. But in my gut, I knew I had to do it.
For months, I had been steadfast with doctors’ appointments and testing, constantly taking notes. As surgery drew closer I was more aware of my fears. I realized my goodbye letters could be my lasting legacy. It was time to write them. Would they comfort my loved ones if I passed? My hands shaking, I began to write letters as a wife, a mother and a daughter. Each letter was a version of this:
“I love you. I want to live the rest of my life, our life, healthy and happy. I no longer want to be trapped in a body that does not allow me to feel joy or fully participate in family events. I don’t want to burden you. This choice was made as the best chance to live life to the fullest with you. I never wanted you to be embarrassed or ashamed of me. No matter what happens, I am freer and happier today than before. If I leave you, know that I love you and will miss you more then you will ever know. I will never be too far away and will see you again.”
I cried…a lot. I wept not only for the things I thought I would miss, but for the hardship I would leave behind for those I loved. And while it was imminently important because of potential surgical complications, I knew without surgery, my fears would eventually be realized. Diabetes, stroke, or heart attack were waiting to knock on my door. This became a gamble I was willing to take. I was willing to fight to win over certain death.
Still, so many claim surgery is an “easy way out.” My struggle, weighing the options, and ultimately facing death were not easy.
Even six years later, when I question my surgery or want to eat the dangerous foods, I look at those letters. I see my children’s faces and know my leap of faith was the best choice. I was given a second chance and I have no desire to go back. I will not allow addiction, food addiction, to take away my future.
I continue to weigh my options. I’d rather celebrate an occasion with a family walk or kayak trip, over eating a piece of cake. Because I’m worth it. Because they are worth it.
Thankfully, weight loss surgery gave me the tools to make those decisions. I continue to search out knowledge and learn about nutrition. That will never stop.
Life is about choices. I chose and continue to choose to live.
Every day, every choice, every pound, one at a time. It all adds up. And there’s nothing easy about it. Addiction is addiction. And it’s never easy and its never over.
Patricia Miller is a weight loss surgery patient and advocate. She has appeared on the “Today,” “Better Connecticut,” and “Connecticut Style.” Follow her on Instagram, @worththeweightmedia.