If you asked me 6 months ago about surgery, I would of said “I don’t think for me the risk outweighed the benefit”. In fact, many of you did ask me many times if I had considered surgery or even if I have had surgery.
When I was first diagnosed, I wanted surgery so bad. That was actually where a lot of my tears went. I was told no one in Australia would perform the surgery and I read so much misinformation that suggested if one lipoedema fat cell was left it would grow back. If I ever did progress to a stage where the surgeons would go ahead, it would cost me $60k because I have it in my arms, legs buttocks, hips and abdomen. It blew my mind because as you guys can see I really don’t have much to remove.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a cure and it won’t develop again. Remembering that the fat is just the symptom of the disease and we will still have a mechanism that doesn’t function within our bodies properly. I am now aware that many surgeons around the world encourage surgery for stage 1.
So how have I ended here? If I was diagnosed when I was 20, I would of saved every penny and had surgery. But I wasn’t diagnosed until many years later. My family suggested I should just go and have surgery, they just saw the disease as the fatty tissue not the disfunction in my body. But I wasn’t ready.... I felt like I needed to go down the path of body love and acceptance. I needed to heal my negative thoughts and negative comments from others that had shaped by body image over the years. I wanted to be able to sit with my whole-self and be happy. To walk past the mirror and smile. To have the confidence to be me in my current body.
I don’t absolutely love everything about my legs or my arms but I appreciate them and I understand why they look this way. This has allowed me to wear shorts for the first time in many years. I have walked along the beach in just a bikini, something that I could never do before.
That has been a huge part in me being able to enjoy this life beyond my body. There is finally an understanding between my body and myself and it has given me inner peace.
I have always said to Sean, that the day that I am ready to accept that my body may look worse post surgery is the day that I will be ready to go ahead with it. If I was guaranteed improved health, I would book in for surgery in a heartbeat. I also know that I am gracing my mid 30's and if I have surgery it will be a process over a couple of years. The younger we are the easier the recovery. I have thoughts of pregnancy and even menopause. I also have to have a little faith.
Sean knows I am a perfectionist (something I am working on changing). So how can a perfectionist be happy with results that may not look perfect? I came back to what the meaning of my journey is all about and that has always been and always will be to heal my body.The way I eat, the way I move, the way I now think is always about trying to help my body work the best that it can.
I have also been on a journey of self-awareness. It’s funny when you live with something for so many years how it becomes normal. One of my lippy friends kept suggesting that I did experience pain, that I am just not aware. When you are diagnosed and read everything that is out there, it all points back to the same question around pain. That you can’t even press your skin without being in pain. For most stage one and I know some later stage girls this isn’t the case. So for me I always have said, I don’t experience pain.
The more I sit, I realise that my pain is presented in a different way. More of a dull ache, sometimes a fuzzy feeling. It’s really hard to explain. I get heavy arms, and can’t hold them up for very long. My legs tire very quickly and if I eat a little too much sugar, drink alcohol and then eat carbs my tummy will be painful to the touch. Sometimes so much that I don’t like to have clothes touching my skin. But this isn’t very often and I actually used to think it was my organs from the alcohol until I pulled my skin out and touched it and realised it was actually my fat that was in pain. My pain doesn’t stop my life but should we even have to put up with any pain?
All these things just became normal, like always feeling cold, bruising easily. I just put that down to having low iron. The more I speak with girls the more I realise how much lipoedema affects so many aspects of our lives. So many ah-ha moments, to the point the we have a little joke at home that we blame everything on lipoedema.
I hear more and more stories about how many women didn’t think they had pain until after they had surgery and were pain free. It reminds me of the first time I visited the chiropractor and he asked me if I experienced pain. I responded that I didn’t and he look at me with confusion. You see, the x-rays revealed I have scoliosis and a little bit of degeneration on
some of my vertebrae’s. That night after he manipulated my spine I slept like a baby. I didn’t realise you were not supposed to feel your spine when you slept! So it makes me wonder what life would be like after surgery. Now don’t get me wrong. I still feel like my pain is well managed. A little ache here and there or a throb is all I get throughout the day and it doesn’t last long. The days that it does, it’s always food related and it will pass.
So here I am, ready to take the next step on this journey. For my health, for the possibility to heal some more. I don’t know who with or when but all I know is that I feel this is the next step for me. To heal, to live to keep moving forward.
Everyone’s journey is different and whatever your reasons for having surgery or not is your choice. Pain, health, mobility or aesthetics, no judgement. This disease unfairly takes your body away. We live in a time that this procedure is available and should be used as a tool if you are able to access it and it’s the right fit for you.
I would love to know how you went about choosing your surgeon. I feel like this next step could be harder than actually making the decision to have the surgery. Aimee x