My wonderful surgeon has left his current practice and partner (who is an asshole) to begin a new practice. He asked for patients to write a testimonial if they would like, sharing honestly about their surgical experience, both pre- and post-operatively. I have chosen to do so, and I have added pictures. My choice in the title of this post was a personal challenge to Jennifer McKinney, who shills diet pills chocked full of DMAA and caffeine; she claims to have lost 75 lbs, but all her photos are (badly) photoshopped. I told her I’d put brand spanking new pictures of me on here taken with a camera phone….no editing, no tricks, no nothing. Here I am in all my glory, weighing approximately 242 lbs. I have gone from wearing size 26 jeans and a 3x shirt on the day of my surgery (11/6) to wearing a size 18/20 shirt and 18/20 denim leggings tonight.
My testimonial to my wonderful surgeon and my journey is here, and the photos will follow:
“Most of my life when someone would ask me to describe myself using one word it was this: FAT. Not wife, not mother, daughter, sister, funny, smart, talented, or a menagerie of other words. My size was how I saw myself first and foremost, and it seemed quite logical that “fat” would be how others would sum me up as well.
What started out as an extra twenty pounds during my teenage years became an extra 150 pounds by the time I entered my early thirties. I married and divorced an abusive man, I suffered from severe depression and paralyzing anxiety, I worked ten years on the night at a job I loathed more than loved, I kept an odd sleeping schedule which left me too tired to exercise, I remarried (a wonderful man I’d known since high school), and I had carried to term and born two perfect, healthy boys. I became a stay-at-home-mother in mid-2010, and I continued to gain weight from depression and a couple of glasses of wine every night. I weighed myself on January 1, 2012 and found that my 5’5’’ frame was carrying 290 lbs. I wore size 26 pants and 3x shirts. I wore flip-flops year-round because bending over to put on my shoes was a hassle. My husband constantly told me he loved me and was attracted to me, but it went in one ear and out the other.
In early 2012 my good friend Deena was entered in a contest to win free bariatric surgery (a lap-band). She made it into the final four. I made a deal with her one night over dinner. I would vote for her, and I would get all of my family and friends to vote for her. If she won, I would get bariatric surgery too and we would go on this journey together. Deena won by a landslide, and I kept my word.
In keeping with the spirit of us going forth together, I made an appointment to meet Deena’s surgeon, Dr. Kurt Sprunger. I was amazed at how quickly the office staff fit me in—I expected a month wait at least, but I had an appointment to see him the very next week. I found his office staff to be quite helpful. Dr. Sprunger saw me on time, and introduced himself with a smile and big handshake. It seemed like he had all the time in the word to sit and chat with me. We talked about my eating habits, my depression, my anxiety, using food as comfort, emotional eating, health problems caused by obesity (which I had none….yet), and, most importantly, what did I want to achieve. When he asked me what I wanted to achieve I broke down in tears, and I remember this man looking me straight in the eye, handing me a Kleenex, and telling me, “Its ok. Tell me the truth.” The words tumbled out of my mouth so fast, interspersed with sobs, that I’m amazed he could understand me. “I want to be a better mother to my boys, I want to shop in regular stores, I want to feel sexy, I want to enjoy sex again, I want to look in the mirror and smile at myself, I don’t want people to automatically judge me by my size, I want to get excited about leaving the house, I want to be happy, I don’t want to isolate myself anymore, I don’t want to shop online anymore, I don’t want to be a diabetic, I don’t want to have a heart attack, I want to grow old with my family, I don’t want to drink to numb my feelings……” He smiled and said that all of those things could be mine with a healthier lifestyle, and bariatric surgery would be a great choice for me.
We discussed the various surgical procedures, and he stated that with the excess weight I wanted to lose (150 lbs) that the traditional Roux-En-Y gastric bypass would be the best choice. Woo-hoo! We had a plan. I was given a checklist of things required before surgery (part from Dr. Sprunger and part from the insurance company). We were looking at surgery in the autumn if all went well.
For months and months I jumped through hoop after hoop like a trained poodle. I met with a psychologist, a nutritionist, a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, had blood work, and visited my own doctor once a month for six months to check my weight. I attended a wonderful pre-op seminar given by Dr. Sprunger’s staff and was told exactly what to expect before and after surgery. I was told to start my liquid only pre-op diet one week prior to surgery. Most importantly, I had the date: November 6, 2012.
I got up on the morning of October 30, 2012 (my oldest son’s 7th birthday!) and began my pre-op diet. I weighed myself, expecting to see a slight increase as I enjoyed some vices (carbs, fast food, and wine) in the previous weeks. I officially started my journey at 293.5 pounds. Seven days without food seemed so foreign to me; I had dieted and deprived myself umpteen times, but I had never, EVER dieted without food. My meals consisted of protein shakes, sugar-free Jell-O, chicken broth, beef broth, water, and decaf tea. The day before surgery all I could have was water and a bottle of magnesium citrate (a laxative).
The morning of surgery I was promptly checked in, weighed, gowned, had IVs started, paperwork signed, and met with both Dr. Sprunger and the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist gave me something IV to help me relax, and I have a vague recollection of being rolled into the OR and scooching onto the operating table. The next thing I remember was waking up, very sleepy, with a nice man offering me a spoonful of ice chips. I was in minimal pain. I was told that surgery was over, everything went fine, and that my husband could visit in a few minutes. It was all over.
After an unremarkable two day stay in the hospital I was discharged home. The pain was moderate, but the narcotics took care of it. After four days I was on Tylenol. It didn’t hurt to have a bowel movement or walk around. I was a challenge to drink all of the fluids and protein shakes daily, and I managed. I was rarely nauseated and didn’t vomit. One week after surgery I laced up my tennis shoes and took a brisk one-hour walk. I felt so alive!
My post-op journey has been terrific. Would I do it again? YES! Would I encourage you to do it? ABSOLUTELY! Do I feel satisfaction eating such small portions that seem like snacks to regular people? YES!! Dr. Sprunger has answered my questions/concerns, and I have followed his post-op rules. I know that I’ve only lost 52 pounds, but it feels like so much more than that. My husband says it feels like he is hugging a different woman. I wear a size 18/20 shirt and pants. I can bend over and paint my own toenails. I can walk for hours, briskly, and not give out. And my self-esteem is through the roof. I wear make-up and take time with my hair now. I smile at people instead of stare at the ground. I play with my kids all the time. And my husband and I are right back where we need to be.
Thank you so much, Dr. Sprunger. None of this would have been possible without your skill, care, compassion, instructions, or desire to make the obese healthier.”
The morning of surgery at 293.5 lbs:
And today, 50+ lbs lighter and more confident:
And there you have it! One woman full of changes, a new attitude, a new set of dietary rules to abide by, and someone who is finally happy.