An awkward story about not telling people you’ve had surgery…

So, I have been incredibly private about surgery, which is interesting considering I write a very personal blog and post a lot of support forums, Facebook groups, etc. I’ve never felt comfortable telling just anyone and everyone about surgery because I didn’t want to deal with negativity, judgment, and I didn’t want the attention that comes with all of the nosy questions. So, although I would tell someone that could potentially benefit from surgery all about it no matter how well I know them – I’ve only told those people closest to me that I knew would be supportive.

Keeping the fact that you’ve had surgery on the down low can create some issues. First, the people that do know may feel as though they have to lie for you if asked directly by others, “Did so and so have surgery???” Also, they may fear it’ll somehow slip and they will be the cause of your secret “getting out.” Then there is the awkward moment when someone asks YOU directly if you’ve had surgery. This is one that I haven’t had experience with yet; however, someone DID ask me if I did it “without gimmicks” – I didn’t ask her to clarify what that meant.

Then there are the people, like the woman I talked to yesterday at a work function, that assumes just because you didn’t tell them you had surgery, that you didn’t have it.

Let me know back up for a minute. This woman I am referring to is what I call a “work acquaintance” meaning we’ve met at work and we have friendly conversations probably every 4-7 months when we actually see each other. I work on a large University campus, so if I’m not working directly with a person, it’s possible I’ll run into them at a function, but completely possible that I won’t see them for awhile. Last Fall when I was parking pretty far away from my office in order to get in a 25 minute walk to and from my building everyday, I would run into her when she would be walking to her car as well. At the time, she noticed I had lost a lot of weight and told me that I looked great. She was surprised to see that I was parking so far from my building and I had said I was parking further away intentionally in order to get in some physical activity during the day. We also commiserated on a couple different occasions about how difficult it is to lose weight. Nothing too interesting.

Cut back to yesterday when we were having a conversation, she told me I looked great, and then proceeded to tell me that she has told my story to her sisters on several occasions about how I lost all this weight and I didn’t even need surgery to do it. She then proceeded to talk about how I was “more likely to keep the weight off because I lost it the right way” and mentioned a few times that she knows people that had the “band surgery” and didn’t do well at all. She’s a nice person and her tone wasn’t judgmental; however, it was clear that she is misinformed about surgery and somehow my weight loss is superior for not having had it.

I was a bit shocked honestly when she said it. Not once did she ever ask me if I had surgery… she’s simply making the assumption based on the fact that she has seen me make efforts to get in more physical activity – so I must be doing it on my own in her mind? Or maybe she’s assuming that since I didn’t just tell her during our 5 minute conversations every few months that I had surgery, that I didn’t have it??

In hindsight… I do believe it would’ve been a good idea to correct her (in a perfect world I would have) … but imagine what kind of situation I was in yesterday. Am I really going to stop her in the middle of a work function with tons of people around, AFTER she has clued me in to her opinions on surgery, when I don’t even know her that well and say, “Actually, I did have weight loss surgery?” Like I said, in a perfect world I would’ve done it… and I would’ve tried to educate her a bit on the process. But, like I said… I’ve been private (which I think is my right), I wasn’t comfortable, and I was taken aback by the conversation.

Here’s my trouble now. This conversation has really painted me into a corner… because if for some reason she finds out that I’ve had surgery – which is a real possibility in a small town, and considering we have a mutual friend that DOES know I had surgery – I look like the jerk…. I look like the liar…. I look dishonest… when honestly, I’m just trying to live my life and be private. It’s completely my right not to share surgery with people that I don’t want to share it with… but THIS…. THIS is where it gets awkward and complicated. THIS is a situation I wouldn’t have to worry about if I were open about having surgery. So, if you’re pre-op… beware of this kind of situation, but in the end you have the right to do whatever you feel is best for you. If you choose to be private; however, things can get tricky…

5 thoughts on “An awkward story about not telling people you’ve had surgery…

  1. I am suuuuper worried about this as well. I plan on staying as private as possible. I’m an RD, and with that comes this extra pressure. But I bet I will get into some awkward spots like you.

    PS I totally love your blog and I think we’d be real life friends! But I doubt we live near each other!

  2. I relate to your choosing your privacy & the pickle that can put you in. I to went the private route…my husband & his sister are the only people who know what surgery I had (I also had several hernias repaired at the same time so most people just think that’s all I had done…they assumed & I didn’t correct them or elaborate). Yes, it may all bite me in the ass some day, but right now I just take it one day at a time & hopefully no one gets hurt feelings in the end.

  3. I couldn’t imagine keeping my surgery on the DL because I am a fairly public figure–I have a big online presence due to my class website, and the fact that I work in a school (where secrets don’t exist) made it difficult to hide the evidence that I’d lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. I am always educating people about bariatric surgery because there are so many misconceptions about it, so I use my experience to inform others. It helps that I teach to begin with. 🙂

    On a totally different note, good luck today! You are going to be great!

  4. I’ve had no qualms about letting a few people know I’m having Bariatric surgery. My family knows. My boss knows. Some of my co-workers know. It is what it is. I’m too old to let someone else’s opinion impact me too severely. Having said that, though, everyone has the right to choose for themselves how they will or will not handle situations in their lives.

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