The Growing Concerns I Have When It Comes To Bariatric Surgery…

I’ve known of a number of people over the years who’ve had bariatric surgery to help combat their growing obesity issues. While I’m definitely all in support of anyone looking to reduce their weight to help make them a healthier person, I’ve had growing concerns around the fact that bariatric surgery is fast becoming THE “go-to thing” to make that happen as quick as possible.

My biggest and immediate concern comes from the several I’ve known to have died from complications from this surgery over the years. Recently, I thought a close friend of mine was going to be another one to add to that list, as the day after his procedure was over, his sutures opened up within him, causing body fluids to leak into his system, which led to almost catastrophic failure of his entire being. It’s scary things like this that make me wonder if people seeking this surgery realize just how serious and invasive of a surgery it really is. I often think people aren’t worrying about it as much anymore because it’s being done so frequently these days.

Just as much of a concern of mine beyond the surgical complications of the procedure itself, is the change of life that I’ve learned comes immediately after the procedure is complete. With the stomach having been shrunk to an infinitesimally small size compared to what it was before, eating habits have to change dramatically right away. But, for most of the people I’ve known who’ve gone through this procedure, eating habits up until just before their surgery remained out of control on most days. The hope for them was that the surgery would correct this. But, if there’s one thing I’ve absolutely learned when it comes to this surgery, it’s that it doesn’t correct that desire to overeat whatsoever. The desire is still there after the surgery is over, yet the body can’t eat like it did before because there isn’t much of a stomach left to put in all in. Honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard from those who knew this post-surgery, but still overate anyway and found themselves sick and throwing up more than once.

Sadly, bariatric surgery isn’t necessarily a permanent solution either, because one can gain any of their drastic weight loss back over time given the remaining stomach has the ability to enormously expand all over again. Case in point, I had one friend who dropped from over 400 pounds to under 200 after his bariatric surgery, only to several years later be back close to his original weight.

With all this in mind, I’m actually thankful my partner Chris never had this surgery done. When I met him, he was around 360 pounds and had been considering doing it. I wasn’t in support of it one bit and honestly, I stand by that still to this day because the path Chris took after I expressed my concerns surrounding it was a far healthier one in my humble opinion. It was one that involved counseling to get to the root of why he was constantly overeating, one that involved 12 Step recovery and Weight Watchers to keep him accountable with others struggling with the same issue, one that involved making much healthier eating choices on a daily basis, and one that involved going to the gym two to three times a week as well. The result? Over the course of the past five years, Chris has lost around 100 pounds!

Nevertheless, if I were to make any type of judgment as to why so many people are pursuing bariatric surgery nowadays, regardless of knowing about the potential complications that can arise from it, it’s most likely because a path like the one Chris took to lose weight isn’t a quick and easy one. Rather, it’s a much longer one that dealt with facing himself and going within, making sacrifices, and pushing himself to move beyond various sedentary areas of living.

Don’t get me wrong, for someone who might be morbidly obese, doing bariatric surgery may indeed be necessarily right away. But, unfortunately, I’m seeing many who aren’t morbidly obese and are just overweight, going under the knife, hoping to become more fit without having to do any of the difficult spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical work that can be done to lose weight naturally and in a much more natural process.

So, in light of all this, this is why I remain concerned for all those who might be considering, seeking, or placing reliance on a surgery they hope is going make their life totally better and totally healthier. Because, in all reality, it may indeed make their life far worse and far sicker or quite possibly change nothing at all, other than temporarily removing their ability to eat to excess…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Another Year Older And Another Year Clean And Sober!

Yesterday was my 47th birthday, as well as my 24th completed year of sobriety from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m just a few years away from hitting “The Big 5-0”. And to think I’ve been clean and sober for almost two and a half decades now, it simply boggles my mind where all that time went?

At 47, I must admit I find myself struggling to fully accept my body shape, which is far from the tone and sculpted look I once had. Every time I look in the mirror I seem to see a new aging spot or wrinkle now, and dam those love handles! Yes, I know, the outer body is not where the truest beauty comes from. Believe me, I’ve written many articles on the subject. But, I am human being who grew up in a family filled with too much vanity and so the aging process hasn’t been an easy one to accept. While I do feel my heart and soul is far more attractive than they used to be, I still live in a mental world filled with a bunch of superficiality issues, which seem really hard to overcome sometimes. Sadly, I once was a guy who regularly walked into bars or other public venues, solely to get hit on and actually lived off those ego trips to survive. But now as I face the other side of things, where I seem to hardly get noticed for my looks, I realize I need to continue to go spiritually deeper. Which is why I’m grateful that I’ve been working on my spiritual state a lot over the past bunch of years, because ultimately, I believe that’s the most attractive part of a human being overall. I just wish I could instantly erase all those parts of me that still focus on the outside versus the inside, as they tend to prevent me from seeing my truest beauty. Nevertheless, beyond being another year older and another year hopefully wiser, I’m also another year clean and sober as I mentioned already, which, on some level, is pretty darn amazing compared to the guy I used to be.

You see, 24 years ago, I couldn’t go a day without getting boozed up or mind-altered. It was my only solution back then to calm the terrible voices in my head that reminded me quite often of being molested, getting repeatedly verbally disciplined by my parents, feeling not good enough, and always getting picked on. Some say it’s hard to remember their alcoholic and drug addicted days the longer they remain clean and sober. Thank God that’s not the case for me, as I continue to remember it all too well, which honestly is a good thing, because it serves as a great reminder of why I never want to return to that part of my life EVER AGAIN.

Regardless, turning another year older or another year clean and sober may, on the grand scheme of things, not be that big of a deal to others, especially as that number of years grow. I’m inclined to agree, yet even so, at 47 years old and 24 years of sobriety, I feel extremely thankful I’ve made it thus far, solely because of having lived such an incredibly convoluted life up to this point.

So, as I head towards 48 years of age and 25 years of sobriety in 2020, I end this birthday article by stating something positive, which is how I have faith that even in this constantly aging body that no longer fits the image I once worked so hard to keep up, that the best of my life is actually yet to come. And that’s all because I continue to ask God to be at the helm of my life on a daily basis, and with God at the helm, I truly believe I’ll be headed in the best direction I can ever go…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Not Everyone Knows How To “Live And Let Live”…

I think it’s important to respect all my neighbors so I frequently utilize a slogan I learned in my 12 Step recovery life, that being to “live and let live”. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case in reverse.

Essentially, to “live and let live” means to accept people for who they are, where they’re at in life, and to tolerate their behaviors. In other words, it simply means to let each and everyone be themselves, even when there may be things that others are doing that trigger you immensely.

Of course, it’s always my hope when applying the “live and let live” principle that it will extend in reverse, where people like my neighbors will accept me for me and let me live my life without judging me or my day-to-day actions. While for the most part that’s been the case since moving into my neighborhood, I recently experienced a situation when it most definitely wasn’t.

Before I go more into that, let me first say that most who know me know that I spend an incredible amount of time keeping my yard and gardens looking neat and orderly. It’s definitely an obsession for me at times, especially during my most unfavorite time of the year when the half a dozen or so 50-year-old maple trees surrounding my home begin dropping countless helicopters to the ground, cluttering up my gutters, my gardens, my ponds, and my grass, all doing their best to make thousands of new trees wherever they land and creating blockages where they can’t. While I’m sure many probably don’t care about cleaning them up as much as I do, I opt to spend a good bit of time for those few weeks each year clearing them out until they’re gone for good for another year. How that gets accomplished is through the use of several shop vacuums, a leaf vacuum and a blower. Sometimes, when the crop of helicopters comes down in such high droves it takes an entire day to clean them all up. While it’s not my favorite task, it does occupy my time and keeps me away from a number of unhealthy things and thoughts. Frankly, I consider it to be a healthy outlet for my recovery life from addiction. And if you knew me for who I used to be when I intensely engaged in a number of addictions, you would definitely agree that an obsession over my yard clean-up is far better than what I used to spend my time doing.

That being said, after one of those particularly high-wind days that brought down tons of those annoying little wonders recently, I was outside with a sponsee who I hired to help me clean up the mess when one of my neighbors began to complain about the noise my shop vacuums were making. First the wife expressed how much it was driving her husband crazy, then he expressed it multiple times as well later that day and several subsequent days after that too. I felt guilty about it, but shouldn’t have, because I had done the work during the 9am to 5pm time frame. But what made me more upset was the fact that they do something regularly that drives me crazy too, except I accept it and regularly apply the “live and let live” principle when it comes to it.

What I’m referring to is their use recreational marijuana. Throughout the day on most days, I must endure the smell of pot all around me. It tempts me, specifically on those high pain-filled days when I just want to take a hit and lessen it somehow. Thankfully, I never have, although it was offered to me in years past before any of them knew I was in recovery from addiction. But, even now with all my neighbors knowing how much of an alcoholic and addict I once was, they continue to enjoy their use of weed in open air on most days. Yet, I have always applied that principle I learned in recovery and done my best to “live and let live”, never once complaining or showing any discontent about their use of marijuana.

So, when my neighbor began complaining about the clean-up noise I created for the majority of an entire day, I found myself feeling aggravated at how they weren’t applying the same principle. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this principle and ends up judging others as a result, hoping it will somehow remove the annoying stimuli and make their life better. From personal experience though, it never does, as something always seems to follow it that’s just as annoying.

Nevertheless, while my neighbors may not and never understand, or ever fully apply, the principle of “live and let life”, I will continue to practice it with them because at least it helps me to accept them just as they are, to love them no matter what they do, as that is the very root of what I feel Christ would do himself. And hopefully one day, they may see that my yard and garden obsession that annoys them immensely at times is really no different than how I feel about their pot obsession, as once they do, maybe then, they too will learn to fully “live and let live”.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson