Strangers Like Me – The first step in the Bariatric Surgery process

Athena Perez

June 21, 2016

Everyone has that moment where they finally just say – “I give up.”  Ugg. I really never thought I’d be there but I was. I’m tired of fighting my legs; they just won’t let me do much of anything. I can’t live life being immobile and taking pain pills every day. It can’t be good.

I went to visit my folks at Christmas time; I do the 18-hour drive down to San Antonio at least once a year so I can leave the stress, work, and clients behind and just be with family for a week or so.  It’s the only time I have to “myself” every year.  The drive for my legs is a killer. About every 15 minutes or so, my legs (especially the right) has to change positions. I can stretch them out, move them back in, turn them the right or left, but bottom line I have to wiggle them or the knees will lock up. Taking pain pills on the road is tough because they make me drowsy. The driving part of the trip has become dreaded every year.

I was on my way home and by the time I got to northern Iowa, I just couldn’t go on. I was in so much pain that I’m crying while I’m driving in the middle of a blizzard. I couldn’t see anything. By snowstormthe time I pulled up to the motel, I didn’t honestly think that I would make it to the front door.  It’s hard to explain; my legs just stop working. They won’t move and sometimes I just can’t feel them anymore. Every step I take feels like a knife that drives itself into my knee cap.  They were so stiff I had to throw them around which means I am grabbing both pant legs with my hands literally pulling them forward – right foot, left foot and so on until I made it to the check-in desk. The horrible pain on the drive caused my whole body to stiffen to a point where I couldn’t even turn my head properly. I’m sitting on the toilet in the motel room that night bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t even move so that I could properly go to the bathroom. It was the most horrid feeling in the world.

When I got back, I made the first phone call that would set me on this journey that I’ve been on for six months now; Bariatric surgery. It wasn’t my first choice, in fact, it’s my last resort.  I considered surgery before, but I always felt the people who decided to have surgery were looking for the easy way out. I despised the idea and vowed it would never be me.  Eating right and exercising was the only logical option for sustained weight loss. I knew this.  However, as fate would have it, moving is difficult and most forms of exercise are impossible. Then what do you do? I’m in a vivid catch 22. I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.  I owe it to myself to use every tool available so that I can walk (at least partially) normally again. My condition won’t allow my leg ever to be perfect, and I would have this problem even if I were thin, but it’s got to be much better not having as much pressure on it. I must believe this is true.

horizontal runningMost people dream big. Maybe they have a dream of climbing Mt. Everest or…….. going skydiving.  They want to “ride the big wave” in Australia. My dream is to be able to walk both of my dogs around the lake.  I dream of getting to go to Mall of America and walk all four levels in one day. I will never be able to run; it wasn’t in the cards for me. However, maybe I will be able to walk a 5k one day. You don’t realize how important your legs are until they prevent you from doing things that people take for granted.

I initially thought if I wanted surgery it would be an easy process. Little did I know what was in store for me. My first appointment was January 8th, 2016; an introductory session with five Bariatric doctors and a crowd of nearly 100 people looking into the same thing as myself. All of these strangers here………… just like me.



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I’m Athena Perez, a Christ-loving dog mom and CrossFitter who has lost over 200 pounds on a long journey of self-discovery. I’m obsessed with sharing everything I’ve learned to help you too!  

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