Whisper or Shout? When to talk about WLS
by Kaye Bailey
It seems to me in the WLS community there are two kinds of people: the Shouters and the Whisperers. In fact, the way in which we present our weight loss surgery story is as personal as electing to have the surgery itself. Some of us are very private, the "Whisperers" and others of us are very open, the "Shouters."
The decision to shout or whisper is complicated because choosing weight loss surgery as a tool to treat our health and in many cases save our lives is often considered the fat person's easy way out. There's not a fat person out there who hasn't been told to simply eat less and move more. And when that simple remedy doesn't work and we resort to weight loss surgery it must be because we are lazy and lack willpower.
So the Whisperers quietly have their surgery, perhaps telling a small circle of friends the truth while to the public they say it is a hernia operation, gallbladder or an extended vacation to the coast. It's easier for some to keep their secret rather than receive unsolicited advice and warnings from people who know oh-so-much about WLS, the complications and the pitfalls. When weight loss becomes evident the standard response to questions is "I've changed my diet to focus on lean protein and I'm active in an exercise program," or in other words eating less and moving more. That is the truth and that is the answer I gave. I didn't have the confidence to defend my decision and I didn't believe it was anybody's business to know the measure I took to get control of my health. I was a Whisperer because I simply could not bear discuss what I believed at the time was a personal character flaw: I was fat and needed surgery to fix it.
The Shouters, on the other hand, are proud share with anyone who will listen the miracle of bariatric surgery and how weight loss has improved their quality of life. But they also pound the pulpit with the message that WLS is NOT the easy way out. They are confident in their decision to share and often their enthusiasm for healthier living is contagious. Kim, one of our LivingAfterWLS Neighbors said, "I tell everyone, that is willing to listen, about my surgery. I'm always very clear about how much work it really is. I show them by walking every day at my lunch and by making healthy food choices, consistently."
Overall I think we do the best we can on any given day. The only right answer when it comes to whispering or shouting is to be true to you.
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