Thursday, March 18

The Five Stages of Banding

With all due credit to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, I think the five stages of grief are very applicable to the process of getting a lap-band. Here's my interpretation with my own spin on her five stages:

The Five Stages of Banding

1. Denial

"I don't need the band."
"I would never take the easy way out."
"I can do this on my own."
"Only xxx people need the band (replace xxx with any combination of the following: really fat, lazy, weak, co-morbidities)."

This stage typically lasts from the first time you hear about the band (or like me, someone approaches you about it; in my case, it was my mom) until you're sick and tired of losing weight only to regain it again and again and realize that this problem is bigger than you (no pun intended). It's typically a temporary defense.

2. Anger

"How did I let myself get so fat?"
"Why do I need the band when everyone else can just eat what they want and not gain weight?"
"Life is sooooo unfair; I don't want to have to have surgery just to lose weight!"

Once you hit this stage, you realize how deep in denial you were. Maybe you are still pissed off that you feel like you should be able to do it on your own and are angry at yourself. You are out of denial, and excited about the band, but still pissed that it's come to this. You're angry that you have to do 6 months of dietician-supervised dieting. You're ticked that you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. You're just ticked off at the world.

3. Excitement

"I'll be completely thrilled and consider this a success if I just lose 75 lbs/get to onederland/fit in a size 16."
"I have my band - life is wonderful!"
"I know I am going to lose 100 lbs in the first six months. I've seen so many people do it. This is going to be awesome!"

The excitement stage can come and go and overlap with stage 4. This stage typically hits as the surgery date is set, the surgery date approaches, even post-surgery before bandster hell hits. The liquid diet causes you to lose a bunch of weight, you're seeing successes, you're doing it! It's an exhilirating time, although as with most highs, it's often followed by a low...

4. Frustration

"The band doesn't work for me. Why did I even do this?"
"I'm NEEEEEEEEEEEEVER going to get to restriction."
"I've only lost 1/3 of what I thought I would have by this time; I'm a failure."
"Wow, this really isn't the easy way out."

The frustration stage coincides with bandster hell. It's like coming down off a high. For most bandsters, from the time of approaching their family doctor to actually getting the band, is many, many months, and once they've been through all that, they are ready for the band to work now. NOW. They've been patient and jumped through all the required hoops, and now that they have the band, they are ready for it to work immediately.

Pretty much every bandster cognitively understands that bandster hell will happen, but after going through stage 3, they are pretty sure it's not going to happen to them. Or it won't be that bad. Or long. Wrong. Whatever the struggle is - the emotional side of losing weight, lack of restriction, slow fills - it can be very difficult. As noted above, some bandsters will bounce back and forth between stages 3 & 4 several times.

5. Acceptance
(Please note, I am not here yet. But this is what I've gathered from reading blogs and LBT.)

"The band really works if I am patient and work with it."
"Hitting onederland/wearing a size 16/losing 75 lbs actually wasn't the be all - end all I thought it would be. The journey is really the reward."
"I CAN do this."
"I am doing this."
"Banded life is good."

This is where the rollercoaster kind of flattens out. It's back up from the dip of stage 4 but of course is not as high as stage 3 was. And that's a good thing. It's the place where you coast along, doing what you need to do while living. Living your life - the good banded life. You're at good restriction; you are keeping up with your fills; food is no longer central to your life and every thought you have. You might experience periods of both excitement and frustration, but not to the same extent (not as high/low nor does it last as long) as when you were in those stages.

I am firmly between stages 3 and 4. I still get excited, but then the next day, or even the next hour, I am frustrated. I'm frustrated with the lack of restriction, the length of time between fills, and so on. But I am excited by how much weight I've lost, how far I've come, and how much work I've done both physically and emotionally to coast into stage 5 very soon.

I'd love to hear what you think of the five stages and if you can relate!


  1. What a great analogy, thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a wonderful post! Really, really, really great! Wow!

  3. Amazing and brilliant... I am not sure where I am, it changes by the day-- but congrats on your great progress.
    we CAN do this- you are DOING IT!

  4. This is such a good post! I definitely fall between stage 3 and 4! Mine is hour by hour at times :)

  5. I am all stage 3, baby!! Surgery in less than a week!

  6. I too am firmly ensconsed in stage 3! 6 more days to surgery!

  7. i am totally stuck at stage 4! someone help me see the light!

  8. LOVED that!! I am somewhere between 4 and 5...I have my moments of both.

  9. This is the best post I have seen in a while. Having read Kubler-Ross, I can see every stage and I think you are bang on. I'm still in the excitement stage (3) with big buggy eyes, expecting to be the best bander in the world :-) But I know I have to get through the other stages but let me have my dream for a while longer.

  10. You know i would of never thought i related to step 1 at all until i read this. I remember thinking about getting banded and then saying no thats just rediculous. Thanks for this post it opened my eyes to alot considering i am now in step 3 :)

  11. I'm finally in stage 5 but ho boy.. have I experienced the other four too.

  12. love very true!

  13. Very nicely done, I love Kubler-Ross! I would have to say that I am bouncing between stages 4 and 5...this is a great post. Now I'm feeling like I better post something profound soon.

  14. Wow! This was a great post. If you read my post from this evening (I get banded tomorrow) you'll see that I requested some advice and this is PERFECT! I may even print and post on my fridge. Thanks!

  15. i am at 4.5 -- i am mourning the loss of my good friend... large quanties of food. :-(

    great post!

  16. DENIAL: "I'm not going to think about diets any more, I don't want to talk about it, I don't want anyone to mention it."
    ANGER: that men frequently get away with being on the large side without the media making them feel that they must be slim to get a partner.
    EXCITEMENT: No, not for me. Replace that with "hope". Hope that I'll climb out of the hole eventually.
    FRUSTRATION: Or impatience - the single most recurring sentiment I've noticed in the thousands of blogs I've been reading for the past 18 months. Until you overcome it your journey to slimness/normality will be a stressful one.
    ACCEPTANCE: Only as far as overcoming impatience is concerned, see above. I would replace it with SELF KNOWLEDGE - the final stage when you understand how to make the band work for you and you're successfully maintaining your target weight. (Sigh, I wish!)
    In the meantime the grief continues...

  17. Great post.

    I'm also between 3 & 4, except that I just had my first taste of 4 today. I wish this knowledge would allow me to skip the step, but I don't think it works that way!


  18. Great post. I have reached stage 5 (almost 7 months out). But working the band and deciding whether to get another fill is an ongoing thing, so for me there are still some highs and lows.

    With acceptance comes the realization that you are not your weight. That losing weight is not who you are. That you need to start focusing on the rest of your life and just let the band do its job in the background.

  19. Great post. I found you by way of Dinnerland. You've summed it up really well. I'm in 4 hoping to get to 5.