To Sleeve (or Not to Sleeve) Series - #10, Isn't Having Surgery too Extreme?

(This is part of a series I posted on my other (formerly anonymous) blog, An index of all posts in this series is located at the bottom of this article.)


In other words, “shouldn’t I be able to do this on my own? — without the extra tool WLS provides?”

At it’s root, I think my question comes from my ego. I don’t want to have to NEED the help. Not for this. I mean, I’m an accomplished man in so many other areas of my life. I was senior class president in high school and finished at the top of my class, I completed a double major magna cum laude in undergrad and had a job offer several months before graduation, and I earned my Master’s degree (summa-cum-laude) while working full time. I’m married to an amazing woman, I’m father to two wonderful sons, and I have the privilege of working as a pastor in the largest church in my denomination for 1000 miles. I’m in the middle of writing a book, I’ve traveled internationally to speak, and I’ve done a ton of personal/psychological/spiritual work in my life. I’m emotionally intelligent, extremely competent in terms of household, automobile, electronics, and carpentry maintenance. And to top it off, I’m an excellent cook (I do all of it in our home). The list goes on and on. (I’m humble too btw. HA!)

So why can’t I muster up the self-control to put the fork down?
Why do I need to get my stomach cut open in order to accomplish this one thing?
When I’m so proficient in so many other areas of life, why is it that I can’t figure out this singular area?

I had a the first consult with my (potential) surgeon last week (Dr. Mathew Rawlins of the Rockwood Clinic in Spokane, Washington) and I actually posed to him these very questions. Surprisingly to me, he’d heard this line of thinking before. Many times.

In fact, he told me that he’d had a physician not long ago who had gone through the process of having bariatric surgery who had expressed the exact same sense of exasperation. As a doctor, this person knew well the sweetness of success in life — and yet at the same time this person was also morbidly overweight.

Dr. Rawlins told me the same thing he told that physician — he talked about how I need to give myself a break. About how our culture and state of food works against our biology. About how there’s so so so much more than willpower or self control that contributes to getting a person into the health situation I’m in. And about how there’s so much more that gets people out. He talked about how the stigma we’ve created around weight is unhealthy and damaging to people; making the problem worse even. And then he finished by saying that he has many patients who end up putting surgery on hold for a while — or permanently. Some are successful in changing their lives and losing significant weight without surgery. Many are not. And he says that he cheers them on no matter what.

All of this was incredibly encouraging and humanizing to me.

I feel the stigma regarding my weight that sifts through in this American culture. Although internet comments can’t be regarded as mainstream thought, I do think they give an idea of many people’s unfiltered feelings. Read through the comments section of any mainstream article about bariatric surgery and you’ll read countless negative tomes about the shame of cutting oneself (as opposed to what is assumed as buckling down and getting one’s eating under control — as if that hasn’t been done dozens of times only to fail again). (See This Atlantic ArticleThis one from Mercola, and this one from CBS). It’s hard not to internalize that.

For now — I see surgery as a tool. Just like the scale I have on my counter and that crazy protein powder concoction in my pantry. Those are tools for me to lose weight. The app in my phone? A tool. My bicycle I ride for exercise? A tool.

If I end up going through with having surgery, I will simply be adding yet another tool to my belt. It certainly won’t be taking the easy way out. It will be more thoroughly equipping myself for the task at hand. And that’s something I know a whole lot about!!