surgery saved my life!"
Surgery Date: July 1996
Surgery: Gastric Bypass
My Life Before Bariatric Surgery
My weight wasn't an issue for me until I reached the age of 23. It was at that age, after a family tragedy, that I
discovered binge eating. From that point on, I used food to help me deal with life's ups and downs. I tried every
diet that I could find and made up a few of my own. My weight went up and down like a roller-coaster for ten
years. As I topped the scales at 357 pounds and looked in the mirror, I no longer recognized myself. I was very
depressed and filled with self-hatred. In an attempt to understand and control my food intake, I joined an eating disorder
group and began individual therapy.
Making the Decision
I never slept soundly because of all the aches and pains my excess weight brought
about. One night, as I was tossing and turning, a commercial caught my attention. It was a commercial by
Barix Clinics for a life-long weight loss solution. It caught my attention and for the first time in a long time, I
had hope. My husband called and set up a consultation in April of 1996. In 1996, bariatric surgery was not well
known. There were no Internet sites to search and gain information; no message boards to interact with other bariatric
surgery patients; and really only one surgery option--an open gastric bypass. So, armed with the information from
the surgeon, I discussed the surgery with my family. My daughter was only three years old at the time, but my sons were
ages 11 and 13. They understood enough of the pain that the excess weight was causing to encourage me to go through
with the surgery. I knew that if I wanted to see my children grow up, I needed to lose the weight that was sucking the
life out of me. Bariatric surgery was an opportunity to do just that.
Making Success Happen
July of 1996, I began my life-long journey to a healthy weight. I finally had hope that I could lose the excess weight
and keep it off once and for all. Within the first two years, I lost 222#. I felt so much better. I had
so much more energy. I was, and still am to this day, fully committed to making healthy food choices. Each day,
I make my lunch and snacks for work. If there is a birthday party or other celebration at work, I indulge in a sugar
free cookie or a piece of sugar free chocolate instead of a sugary dessert.
I still love to eat, and
that will never change. I sometimes still measure my food, especially if it is something that I really like and know
there is a big potential to overeat. I have become a very creative cook, changing recipes to feed my family and meet
my nutritional needs. I have found so many great recipes and food choices out there. There is no reason to feel
deprived--just find the foods you love, alter the sugar content if necessary, and enjoy them in smaller amounts.
In 1998, I became the Support Group Leader for the Warren, Michigan Support Group. Being part of a support
group keeps me accountable. I want to be a good role model for others, as well as for myself. I find that I both
get and give support through the support group. It has been an important part of my journey.
How My Life Has Changed
My surgery was 13 years ago and throughout that time, I have maintained
a healthy weight despite life's ups and downs. I cannot tell you that maintaining my weight throughout this time is
always a cakewalk. It is not. I have an eating disorder. The surgery did not take that away. I continue
to attend therapy, I receive support from my support group and family members. I continue to work hard to overcome the
issues in my life that allowed me to become obese in the first place.
In 2004, my brother was diagnosed with lung
cancer and despite treatment, we lost him in 2005. During this time, food again became a comfort for me. I gained
back 20 pounds of the weight that I had lost and maintained for so many years. I am so grateful that I had the tool
of bariatric surgery and all of the positive lifestyle habits to help me through this overwhelmingly emotional time in
my life. I gained 20 pounds, not 120 pounds. I am still healthy--not perfect, but healthy.
I celebrate the anniversary of my surgery. I know that it saved my life. My sons have both graduated from high
school and my daughter is now a junior. No matter what happens in the days to come, I have learned that life can be
short and I do my best to live it to the fullest and never give in to challenges. My favorite affirmation is, "I
don't have to be perfect to be loved."