Making the decision to get a Tiny Tummy took about three years, but once the decision was made, things started to roll pretty quickly... seminar, physical, psych exam, insurance approval, pre-op blood work, slice. From start to end it took about three months and two of those were spent waiting for my new insurance to kick in. All of it - every, single, moment - was fraught with insecurities and worry. I was convinced that at every point and juncture someone was going to tell me to just get my shit together and go lose weight the "normal" way.
None of it, however, caused more anxiety for me than the psychological exam. I stressed for a week about what I was going to say to the clinic's mystery psychiatrist that would convince him that I was ready for the surgery.
The day of the exam I arrived at the clinic around 10 a.m. and was promptly handed a 564 question survey that asked questions like, "Do you see dead people?", "Have you ever wanted to set fire to a house?" and "Do you want to be a botanist?"
I only see dead people in movies and EVERY TIME I WATCH A GAMES OF THRONES FINALE and I've only ever entertained the idea of burning a house down for as long as it took my way-too-drunk brain to process a request from my equally drunk HLP (hetero life partner) to "...go torch some shit!" before she promptly passed out in the back seat of Mr. Adams' truck about ten years ago. But that botanist shit? Was that a trick question? Like, if I don't give a shit about plants and whatnot, I couldn't possibly care for a tiny tummy?
After the questionnaire, a student came out to the waiting room and set a clip board in front of me with a sheet of paper attached to it that had a circle, square and triangle printed on it. "On this sheet is a circle, square and triangle," she said. "Can you point to the circle?"
After proving that I had as many brain cells as your average fish fly and the hand to eye coordination of your average primate, I was asked to perform some simple math equations like, "What does 2 + 2 equal?" Further vindicated in my assertion that eighth grade Algebra would never again be relevant in my life after age 13, I was invited back into the clinic to meet with the psychiatrist.
I sweat bullets as I watched a string of clients march in and out of the psychiatrist's office. At one point and time I started to second-guess my decision as an attorney visited with the psychiatrist to discuss, what I can only assume was, a malpractice suit that was going to mirror all the things that were, inevitably, going to go wrong with my own surgery. (I honestly have no knowledge of what they were discussing - the attorney could have been a client for all I actually know.)
After an hour-long wait I was finally called into the psychiatrist's office. We exchanged pleasantries before he launched into a litany of questions. "Had I tried Weight Watchers?" Yes. "Had I tried Atkins?" Yes. "Had I tried Curves?" Yes. "Had I tried the cabbage soup diet... juice cleanses... exercising... fasting... hypnosis... the South Beach Diet... willing my first born to an angry, yet forgiving, body-sculpting god?" Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
We talked briefly about my support system - Mr. Adams, my parents, my daughter and Jillian, therapist to the stars. He asked me about my job, about school, my sex life and what my weight loss goal was. "I don't have an actual number in mind yet," I admitted. He continued to write with fury in a notebook.
"That's good," he said, looking up. "So what are your goals?"
"I want to live long, to be able to cross my legs and to hold a downward dog yoga pose without fear of crashing onto my face."
"Those are good goals," he responded, shutting his notebook. "You'll do well."
In the end, one of the most important conversations I have ever had in my life lasted all of 10 minutes and cost me approximately $350. And, for the record, I am happy to report that being a plant scientist is not a prerequisite for allowing a surgeon to remove 80% of your stomach.