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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Malu Fernandez: WLS In The Philippines

Imagine living in a country where ladies size 10 is "Plus" and 150 pounds is considered obese. Imagine being 300+ pounds and living in that country. Imagine yearning to have gastric bypass surgery to lose weight and regain mobility, but the cost of surgery and travel to the United States is too much. Imagine then that a team of US trained surgeons brought weight loss surgery to your country. Then imagine feeling all alone without a support network after having WLS.

This is the true story of Malu Fernandez, one of our beautiful community members, who writes to us from the Philippines.

My name is Malu Fernandez. I am 39 years old and I had WLS June 8 2005. I live in the Philippines where a size 10 is considered extra large or a plus size, this I know because I am one of the first people to open a Plus size shop. I had been wanting to have the surgery for the last three years but it was never available in my country. To have it done in the USA would cost me forty to fifty thousand dollars not including the travel expenses. Bear in mind the average income in this third world country is 3000 a year. Plus being 322-lbs meant only business or first class seats another four thousand.

At any rate a new team of doctors trained in the USA brought the surgery here for only ten thousand dollars. So I did it. The first two weeks were a living hell I puked all day without even eating I was so weak I kept telling myself you paid ten thousand dollars to puke all day what an idiot!

Like everyone else I was instructed to eat pureed foods which I couldn't even swallow it made me puke even more it felt like I was eating regurgitated food finally I rebelled and ate a soda cracker; it was heaven and I finally stopped puking. To date I lost 40lbs but I seem to be obsessed with my scale and when my weight fluctuates I freak out. I didn't even own a scale for years simply because I just didn't care any more. Getting WLS was just because my mobility was being threatened by my obesity and my health wasn't doing any good either.I have been on diets all my life and none ever worked out I have lost a 100 lbs and gained it back simply because I couldn't control my appetite and I am an emotional eater. WLS helps me control myself because I simply cannot overeat.

However, in a country where if you weigh 150lbs they call you fat (my sis weighs 93lbs) WLS does not have the same kind of support that the USA has in terms of visits to the nutritionists group therapy etc... There is a support group but there are not enough members to give enough feedback. For instance I can't deal with drinking my vitamins they make me puke what are the alternatives? I can tolerate regular cranberry juice (but stick to diet) I can tolerate diary,I can't tolerate meat(I used to in the beginning) I can only tolerate seafood. Rice which is a staple in Asian food I can barely swallow but I can eat pasta.

But I don't have anyone here to tell me if what I am doing is right or wrong... my doctor is very competent but he travels all around Asia all the time to perform WLS so he is always out and he says there are no set rules because everyone is unique even in terms of weight loss but I cant help getting paranoid when I hear someone losing 75 lbs in 2 months and I am on my 3rd month only having lost 40lbs.

This month I got myself enrolled in a gym with a personal trainer who I see 3x a week. I even count my calories and don't exceed 1000 calories a day but still I don't know if I am losing weight fast enough despite the doctor's constant reassurance that I'm fine. My paranoia still exists that I would screw this up just like all my other diets that have failed. But after reading some of the stories on your website I realize that I just need to calm down and be patient and continue to work hard but every day is a constant battle.

Please leave your comments of support & understanding for Malu. If you would like to send her a personal message Email me and I will forward it to her.

Thank you Malu, for sharing your brave and inspirational story with LivingAfterWLS.


Nanci said...

Hi Malu,

It seems like you’ve had a hard time with getting surgery – and adjusting to a new lifestyle. It sounds like your first 2 weeks after surgery were absolutely terrible. I hope things are getting better for you.

I haven’t been through surgery yet (still waiting for approval), so I can’t give you any advice, but I sure can relate to how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off. If I totaled up how many pounds I’ve lost and regained over the years, it would probably amaze me.

I think I will probably be just as paranoid as you about losing the weight, because WLS seems like my “last chance.” I also fear failing at this like I’ve failed at other diets. But you’ve already lost 40#, which I think is just great, and before you know it you will be at your goal weight. Try to remember, everyone loses weight at a different speed. You need to congratulate yourself for coming this far. It took a lot of courage for you to have this surgery and commit yourself to a healthier way of life.

I wish you good luck during the rest of your WLS journey. I hope you keep us all updated on your progress.

Hummingbird1964 said...

Malu I can really understand what you are going through. I lived in Manila for 2 years as a child. At 5 ft 4 and 135 lbs I towered over my classmates and always felt huge.

As far as not having support, there is plenty to be found on the web. Keep doing what you are doing (reaching out) and you will eventually find what you need.

Post ops differ sometimes in that some of us stick to a strict 3 meal a day regimen while others (like myself) do better on several small meals. The common denominator seems to be that most of us who are successful focus on protein first at every meal and we exercise regularly. Most of us (especially in the first 6 months or so) will consume the protein portion of our meal first and then IF we have room left, we may consume vegtables and/or fruit. For me, it was protein and salad or protein and fruit for most meals. No sweets. I only started doing starches when I got close to my goal. And regular exercise will always be part of my life if I want to keep my health.

The best advice anyone can give you is to do your research (lots and lots) and then figure out what you can live with because you have to find a method that you can live with the rest of your life.

Best of luck to you on your way down!

Hummingbird 1964