See their experiences before and after bariatric and metabolic surgery
- JOLEE'S STORY
Pre-surgery BMI: 36After
Current BMI: 27.3
My mom was overweight and had a lot of complications that go with being overweight, including high blood pressure and diabetes. One February night, she had a massive heart attack and spent the next 74 days in the hospital on a ventilator that she would never come off of. I didn't want to die like that. I didn't want my future spouse to have to watch me die like that. I didn't want to put my son through that. I wonder sometimes, if my mom had gotten a band in her 30s, would she still have died in her 60s?
Now that I’ve had my surgery, I feel like I fit in more, instead of being so much bigger than everyone else and "out of the game." And this is crazy, but I can run! Like if I want to get out of the store faster, I just run across the parking lot to the car. I know that sounds nutty. But I can run. I don't hate it. And it doesn't knock the breath out of me! I guess the key change is happiness. I'm happier. I have better self-esteem.
- KIM'S STORY
Pre-surgery BMI: 37After
Current BMI: 31
I’ve been overweight my entire life. I was born with a partially formed hip joint that wasn’t discovered until I started walking. Since I was immobile for long periods of time, my family used food as a way to soothe me. I’ve carried that habit into adulthood—using food as a device, not only to comfort me, but also to alleviate boredom. As an adult, I was more than 100 pounds overweight and, outside of work, I was basically a shut-in. I realize that it must affect my two sons (now ages 8 and 13) to have a mom who is so overweight.
After researching bariatric surgery options, I decided that the gastric band may be the best choice for me.
My insurance company required 6 months of doctor supervised weight loss attempts prior to approval for the surgery, I also had a psychological evaluation and met with a dietitian. I finally had my surgery and within 10 months I have lost 70 pounds and my BMI has gone down to 31. I am still considered obese and a long way from goal but I feel secure in knowing that I have the proper tool to help me continue losing weight. I have every confidence that after a lifetime of battling my weight, I will finally be able to say “Mission Accomplished.”
- MELODY'S STORY
Pre-surgery BMI: 50.5After
Current BMI: 36.3
I had been heavy as a child and was consistently going the wrong way and getting heavier and heavier. I had looked into surgery for about 3 years before I actually had surgery. I felt that I could lose weight on my own or that I was not heavy enough for surgery. I was also held back by frustrations with insurance coverage and the inability to pay cash for the procedure.
At the time that I started working for Dr. Watkins [a bariatric surgeon], I was excited about the new opportunity to be in a position where there was constant support and a constant stream of people who know what I am going through and who understand how being overweight affects otherwise normal people. I was nearing the 300-pound mark, and I was scared and ashamed of that…I decided to have the gastric band surgery. It was a successful surgery, and I was on my way. Now, I am lucky enough to be able to make the first step easy for other patients. The first step is always the hardest and most overwhelming one.
I can finally get control over what is going on with my body—maybe not with my life, or things that affect me, but I can control how I react to those things, and eating is not the answer. Now that I know what the state of my health was before surgery, and looking back on how I looked, not only aesthetically, but seeing the unhappiness and despair of my facial expressions, I wish this could have come sooner. I was prediabetic and had high triglycerides, not to mention that I could not walk upstairs or walk quickly for a short distance.
- CARL AND LYNN'S STORY
Pre-surgery BMI: n/aAfter
Current BMI: 35 (Carl), 25 (Lynn)
Our journey together began 11 years ago, but our struggle with obesity has spanned our lifetimes. During our relationship and marriage, we found out that we shared a bond so parallel that it would cause us to take action at the very same moment in time. That bond was obesity; we both grew up trying to fight it, and until recently we both had lost.
Much like in a twist of fate that brings two people together, we found ourselves faced with issues stemming directly from obesity, which could no longer be ignored and required some sort of resolution. Giving up was not an option. We had tried 45 different diets with no long-lasting successful weight loss. That’s when we made the decision together to invest in our health and look toward bariatric surgery. We were suffering from severe sleep apnea; Lynn had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and had hyperlipidemia. I had chronic pain, plantar fasciitis, and asthma. Lynn was on over 17 medications for various ailments, 85% of which could be directly linked to obesity.
Now, 18 months after surgery, Lynn and I find ourselves sharing yet another common bond—we are healthy. Lynn is medication free, we are both sleep apnea free, and my pain and plantar fasciitis are gone. Together we have lost 310 pounds and counting. Today we find ourselves sharing new adventures and a new lifestyle. We recently went on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera and hiked 7 miles in the mountains!
- TRACY'S STORY
Pre-surgery BMI: n/aAfter
Current BMI: n/a
Tracy is 35 years old, married to her high school sweetheart and the mother of four daughters. She works at a hospital and attends school, majoring in education. Tracy lost control of her weight after the birth of her second daughter, and successive births exacerbated her struggles. Recently, Tracey decided to have the sleeve gastrectomy procedure and has lost 95 pounds in 1 year. Tracey is a role model for others wanting to gain control of their health and her journey can be followed through her personal blog: http://www.heartonmysleeveblog.com
“I must say the greatest thing that has happened to me in the year is that I am no longer on any medications. Before surgery I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and chronic lower back pain. Today I am healthier than I have ever been. My decision to have this surgery was to resolve all of these issues and I am happy to say that is has worked for me.”
- BETTY'S STORY
Pre-surgery Weight: 386 lbs.
Current: 225 lbs.
I have been overweight my entire life. My whole family has weight problems. My mother and grandparents were diabetic, and at age 42, I was also diagnosed with diabetes and had to give myself five injections of insulin per day. My sister is in a wheel chair due to her weight, and I knew I didn’t want to end up like that. I knew I had to do something.
When I went to a hematologist for a vein problem in my legs, one of the nurses asked if I had tried to lose weight (to help with my vasculitis). I said I had tried dieting, but always seemed to gain the weight back. She recommended that I look into surgery. So, I went to a seminar with a bariatric surgeon and chose LAP-BAND® surgery, because it was less invasive and could be reversed if needed. (I was afraid of bypass at that time.) Also, I was not a candidate for bypass surgery until my vasculitis healed.
I was happy with the band at first, but then I started to have some problems with it. My surgeon told me I could have the band removed and go to a dietician, or I could have gastric bypass surgery. I felt I wouldn’t be able to manage my appetite without surgery, so I chose to move ahead with it. And by this time, my vasculitis had healed, so I was an eligible candidate.
I had gastric bypass surgery in April, 2012. Within one month, I was off insulin. Within three months, I was able to stop taking my high blood pressure medication. My cholesterol also dropped 50 points. By September, I had lost 140 lbs and I had knee replacement surgery. By January of 2013, I was off the walker and cane and had lost another 20 lbs during rehab.
I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish. I like being active! I am getting my dog out for walks to help him stay healthy. I started biking during rehab and I am now planning to ride some local bike trails. I am 60 years old, and I am finally living!