Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Circle of Trust

When I got my insurance approval, I as so excited that I was ready to tell everyone I passed on the street. I managed to resist that urge, and instead stuck to my original plan regarding who to tell, and when.Back in the late summer when I had decided to procede with surgery, I had a short list of people that I chose to inform. First was my immediate family. I started with my parents. I remember thinking for ages about what to say, answers to questions they might ask, and what to do if they weren't in favor of the decision. I think the "what ifs" and possibility that they might not respond supportively were the worst and scariest part. I was so nervous that I almost cried when I called them. Luckily, I was correct in thinking (hoping!) that they would be all for it, and was pleased to hear that they would help out any way I needed. My sister and brother said the same thing. I also told my close friend Carol, who was proud of me for taking charge and making a huge step to change my life. I scheduled a time to talk briefly with my boss and 1 coworker that I work closely with daily, and they too reacted favorably and said to just ask if I needed anything. My boss told me to take off as much time as I needed to recover.

Over the next few months as I got further along in the pre-op process, I slowly started telling more close friends. It was great as each person had only positive replies, and offered assistance. I was so glad to have correctly estimated their reactions, and was pleased to reconfirm the friendships. As the number of people who knew about my plans grew, so did my support network. It was such a relief to know that I could go and talk to people if I was having a tough day, and to have people to share in my successes and milestones. My parents had asked about telling other relatives. I decided to keep it in the immediate family for the time being, but told them that they could tell whoever they wanted as soon as I had a surgery date. I figured that when that happened, it was definite enough that I wouldn't have to deal with explaining to a larger group if, for some reason, I didn't end up going through with surgery.

Another reason that I chose not to tell the world right away was the notion of "taking the easy way out". I've written previously about having felt this way myself in the past, and can see how it's easy to think this way about bariatric surgery, especially for someone who is low on information but full of preconceptions. I was not willing to deal with the potential that someone would want to debate about why I should or shouldn't have surgery, or convince me that I could do it myself with simple diet and exercise. I knew this was the right decision for me and had the support of my doctors, family, and friends. Thankfully, throughout the entire process, this never came up.

I had also decided to send an allstaff email to my coworkers a few days before I took off. I know many choose not to fully disclose, but I preferred having everything in the open so that I wouldn't hear little whispers and theories, especially since I would shortly be undergoing significant physical changes. This way, there was enough time for people to ask any questions and offer well-wishes if they so chose, but not enough time for me to hear unwelcome horror stories and potentially get scared off. Again, this timing was carefully chose to help ensure that I was 100% set on surgery before widening the circle of people who knew what was happening. Here is the email I sent:

"Dearest Merion Family,

Over the past several months I have been going through the process of getting approved for weight loss surgery. The time has finally arrived; my last day will be this Wednesday, then I go under the knife December 20 and will be out for about 4 weeks. I wanted to put the word out myself since I’ll be out of commission for a while, and would hate for some crazy rumors to crop up during that time (no, I didn’t secretly win the lottery and retire to paradise!).

The procedure I’m having is called gastric bypass, or Roux-en-Y; if you want more information about what’s going to happen, try this website by UPenn (where I’m going). If you have other questions, are curious, or just want to check in please do; however please remember that this is a tremendous and stressful life change, and there might be days when I’m not up for it. I’ll try my best, but we’re all only human!

Thank you all in advance for your positivity, support, and well wishes - as we like to say, it’s the Merion way!


In the end, I was pleased with the pace and amount of information I shared. I think that by controlling the flow of information like I did, I set myself up to have the greatest chance of getting to surgery, and getting there feeling confident.

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