Friday, March 29, 2013

Did my band fail me, or did I fail my band?

The first time I heard the catchy title of this article was in a magazine article written by fellow bandster and author Cher Ewing. Her article told the story of losing weight at a great rate at the start of her band journey, then slowing to a halt for month after month. She wondered if her band had failed somehow, but she was also honest enough to take a good hard look at her behavior and realize that actually, she had failed her band. She had become a happier, busier person, and also a somewhat complacent one. She decided to jump back on her bandwagon and finish her journey.

That article made a big impression on me. The idea that we can and do fail our bands was quite new to me at the time. Since then I’ve seen ample evidence of the truth of this, and many people have criticized me for talking about it. It sounded to them like I was blaming unsuccessful bandsters for their weight loss failure. I’m sorry that it came across that way, but I stand by my conviction that when any human enterprise fails, we must look for the causes (and the cures) in every nook and cranny. Your bandwagon stalls at the side of the road. First, check the fuel supply – is it adequate? Next, check the tires – are they inflated? And the driver – what about the driver? Is the driver properly trained and motivated? Perhaps the failure can be blamed (if blame you must) on a combination of factors: the driver forgot to fill the fuel tank; the wagon ran over a nail that pierced a tire; or maybe the driver should have chosen a different wagon altogether – maybe a jet ski or a skateboard?

Sometimes, no single or obvious cause for medical failure can be found. It’s very, very frustrating. Doctors deal with dilemmas like that every day, when all the examinations and tests reveal nothing clear or significant and yet the patient is still sick. Even diagnosing a medical problem can be complicated, never mind curing or treating it. For those of us without formal medical training, who are relying on what we read or hear from our doctors, friends, and online acquaintances about band problems, it’s an overwhelming and baffling business.
That was certainly my experience when my band problems began 15 months ago. For months I struggled to keep my balance in my ever-shifting WLS journey. Eventually I gave up trying to identify and understand every little detail, because doing that was taking too much of my energy when I needed to devote my energy to figuring out what to do next and then doing that. During that time, I lost my band and eventually had VSG surgery, and for the next 6 months or so, I had to concentrate on adapting to and dealing with my disappointment with my sleeve.
Although both my band and my sleeve were/are successes in that they helped me lose my excess weight, I'm not sure if it's even possible to call one a success and the other a failure. I'm trying (again) to get used to be a thin person and to adjust my expectations of myself and my sleeve. I'm often tired and struggle to decide what task to put at the top of my to-do list, but I pledge to make my health a top priority going forward. It's not something I ever want to take for granted.

No comments: