What About Those Roundabouts?

I don’t know if roundabouts are only in our lovely state of Michigan or if other states have such puzzling road redo systems. I think Michigan is the only state whose roadway landscapes consist of orange barrels that we dodge all summer long making our commutes into work a real challenge. I am often puzzled by our road commission and wonder what they are thinking.

For months last year two roundabouts were created close to our home, one within a block of the other. Not too many people knew what they were until they were actually finished and open for traffic. A roundabout is actually a type of road junction at which traffic enters a one-way stream around a central island. The concept is that traffic will flow more freely without the need of traffic lights. This would be a great idea except for one thing; traffic would probably flow more smoothly if there weren’t so many directional signs to read. Each of our roundabouts has a minimum of 26 signs to read and follow. The speed limit is a low 15 miles per hour which you could understand as it takes so long just to read the signs. Funny is that one sign has been run over already. Someone obviously didn’t read the sign that states, ‘Don’t run over the signs’.

I imagine that true road rage is being on a roundabout with someone in front of you who has to read every sign. What a concept, road rage at 15 miles per hour. Apparently the idea is that circling the island as opposed to stopping for a light makes us feel like we are still moving. Even though life is already fast enough it seems we need more things to make it faster and more confusing.

Every time I go into the roundabout area I think this must be how life is for so many people. We are often going around in circles and not really sure we will find the direction we need to be taking. There are frequently too many signs telling us which way to go and we can still miss the sign that guides us in the right direction. We might even run over a sign that would be helpful for us. We don’t want to stop moving even when we know we may already be moving faster than we should. This fast pace may lead to anger and frustration. Maybe this could be called life-rage.

You must know I will relate these roundabouts to bariatric surgery individuals in one way or another so this is my theory:

Everyone who has had or going to have bariatric surgery must feel they have been going in circles for many years of their lives. They have had the exasperating and often hurtful experience of trying multiple diet and exercise programs with ultimately no successful results. It would appear they have gone around and around and not able to find a beneficial direction until they decided to have surgery.

Yes, there were many signs, most of them warning signs. There were the co-morbid signs of: hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux, bad knees, bad back, big heart, and the list could go on. There could have been more than 26 signs indicating the need for intervention for the disease of obesity. It wasn’t until the sign to have surgery led the individual in the right direction.

Most people who have had bariatric surgery still manage to run over a few of the directional signs. They do not heed the surgeon and staff’s guidance to attend support group meetings, take required supplements daily, have regular recommended office exams, eat nutritionally and exercise. Unfortunately these ‘signs’ when not followed may lead the individual down the wrong road to weight regain and poor health. Didn’t they read the sign that said, “Not following the signs may be hazardous to your long-term health?”

It has been witnessed that when someone is losing weight and feeling invincible is when the problem really begins. They notice the remarkable weight loss, clothes getting smaller and their energy level increasing. This may be the time they think the surgeon and staff really doesn’t know what they are talking about. After all what else do they need to do? They might realize whatever they eat, good or most likely bad, will still result in weight loss. It’s the first year and life is grand, the beginning of the time most refer to as the honeymoon period. For whatever reason it appears these individuals forget that any honeymoon is short lived. Life after bariatric surgery is not easy; it does require work, perseverance, staying on track and following the proper signs for the rest of one’s life.

Maybe there was some ‘life-rage’ going on prior to surgery? It decreased soon after surgery with the weight loss along with increased self-esteem. Weight loss would appear to be the answer to the emotional pain they had carried all of those years. Could the weight loss have been a band aid to the underlying issues which should have been addressed all along? Could life-rage begin again if weight regain occurred? Were they properly counseled about weight regain and how it can happen even as early as the first year? And if they were did they listen? Will they begin to go around in circles once again?

Needless to say we can all relate to life as being one big roundabout. If we are not careful we may find ourselves going around in circles and never realize which direction we should be taking. If the direction taken for the disease of obesity is to have surgery, everyone must keep in mind that it is an elective surgery. It is not one that is required as in other diseases such as heart disease where open heart surgery is mandatory. Bariatric surgery is one that each individual is requesting to have done. It is the direction they have personally chosen to take and it does not come without a price. It will always be challenging to the mind, body and spirit.

I truly believe before anyone chooses surgery they should have a well-rounded education about what to expect. Eating disorders, past unresolved emotional trauma, and addictions should be addressed before they are led in the direction of the operating room. Yes, it is the responsibility of the surgeon and staff to guide these individuals through counseling and proper referrals but it is primarily the responsibility of each individual to know that weight loss is not the end all be all to the recovery from the disease of obesity.

For those who are planning to have obesity surgery and for those who have already had it done my best advice would be: don’t keep going in circles, have a plan, take the direction that is the best for you, get over any life-rage that limits your ability to be happy and last but not least, follow the necessary signs that will keep you healthy.

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