Put Up Or Shut Up

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:

095

096

And today, 50+ lbs lighter and more confident:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

carmencrop

 

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.

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33 thoughts on “Put Up Or Shut Up

  1. You are awesome!! And gorgeous and honest… I could go on and on. I am excited to hear about the changes in your mothering and being a wife – life changing!!

  2. WOW … I LOVE the pics … you were gorgeous before but you’re glowing now, amazing to see … absolutely amazing.
    Love your testimonial … your doc will be well chuffed x

  3. I could not be happier for you, Snort. Not if I tried. Not even a little bit. You are brave and bold and strong and courageous and beautiful. BEAUTIFUL!

  4. Looking good girlie! I can see the joy radiating from you. By this time next year, you will be amazed even more!

  5. You look stunning! I love the sparkly shirt; it goes well with the sparkle in your eyes. And those shoes!!! I bet you’re having a blast dressing up with your shoe collection. Wowza!!

  6. My daughter went for her 6 month post sleevectomy visit today and has lost 104lbs. She runs every day, is down to at 12/14 depending on where she shops, is so happy and makes 2 statements over and over to me. The first and biggest is:” I am no longer invisible to people Mom. Before no one ever really saw me.” And the second is: “I can shop anywhere now and it does not take me 3 weeks to find something to wear when I am invited out. I feel cute” Carmen, I see these wonderful changes in what you wrote and in your pictures and am glad to see you becoming visible and cute. You go girl.

  7. Are you sure that is really you?? Went back for a second look and the way you are standing could be an optical illusion.. not to mention your cute shirt with all the shiny stuff is deceiving!!!

    JUST KIDDING…. I gave you a “way to go” earlier today… You didn’t think I would miss a chance to give you some trouble did you??

    you are amazing and keep up the good work…. Would love another day in the life, like how your diet has changed if any?? Being nosey 🙂

  8. You look great and it is obvious by your writing that you are experiencing much more than just positive physical changes, but mental and emotional ones too. Way to go! I have been looking into weight loss surgery for about 6 months now, and my biggest question, since you said you were an emotional eater, and that is a big problem of mine as well, have you dealt with a moment where you were stressed, or sad, or mad, or (fill in the blank) and wanted to turn to food as you did in the past? If so, how did you get through that moment? I am just concerned with what happens at those times. Thanks for any advice. Keep up the great work!

    • Hey there, Kelly! I have wanted to answer everyone’s comments like I normally do, but I wanted to answer your question. I was an emotional eater for many, many years. I ate out of boredom. If I wanted to celebrate I went out for dinner or ice cream. If I was sad or homesick I ate comfort food. I noticed my habits continuing when I started my pre-op diet that was just liquids. For 7 days all I could have was water, jello, protein shakes, popsicles, and broth. I’d catch myself opening the cabinet door or just staring inside the refrigerator. The surgery has helped alot mainly because my stomach is so fucking tiny. I made the mistake of eating out of boredom once (three Triscuits) and was so miserable that I barfed. There are changes that happen inside the body, the stomach, and the receptors for hunger. Some days I actually have to remind myself to eat. I have to think constantly about what I eat because I can get sick so easily. And since I’m losing weight and gaining energy, I find myself doing more housework and playing with the kiddos more instead of stalking the kitchen 🙂 Good luck wherever your journey may take you.

  9. You look amazing and I am SO happy for you. I completely understand everything you spoke about because I struggle with the exact same things. I am totally an emotional eater and any little thing can set me off.

    I know it probably sounds weird/creepy/whatever to say that you are proud of someone you have never met and only “know” online, but I am so proud of you! You have inspired me to do something about my own weight issue and seeing your pictures is a great motivator.

    And…you have the pleasure of knowing that you are doing it the RIGHT way, not like someone else we know. 😉

  10. You look amazing, and I’m very proud of how far you’ve come (I’ve been a semi-regular lurker of your blog for the past six months). I too had roux en y surgery, three years ago. I was 331 lbs at my heaviest, and 286 on the day of surgery. I’m now 158 lbs, and the difference in not just how I LOOK but how I FEEL and what I can DO is all just so amazing, and so incredible.

    I wish you continued success on your journey. 🙂

    P.S. Take your vitamins and drink your protein!

  11. First, I’d like to say that you do look great. You’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, and you look happier and healthier.

    But I don’t understand your “challenge” to MckMama. I just don’t get it. She has lost weight from diet pills, you’ve lost it by surgery. Neither are natural (and are essentially in same in my mind). Has she photoshopped pictures? Oh, I’m sure of it. But she’s still lost a considerable amount of weight, just like you, in an “unnatural” way.

    • Thank you, Suezy Q for the compliment 🙂

      My beef with MckMama is that she lies about everything. I have been open and honest about my choice for surgery, struggles with obesity, and progress. She is quite evasive when posting photos or giving details; she will tell anyone what they want to hear in order to get them to buy her diet pills and line her pockets.

  12. Hey Snort! This is Meda/Mom still stealing Michelle’s account lol. Just want you to know how very proud of you I am. You look fabbuulous dahling! I know this is a hard struggle for you, but you are doin’ it! Keep up the great work. Sorry I have not posted in awhile, but have been having some health issues. Just remember you are freakin’ awesome!

  13. You look fantastic and I’m sure you feel the same way! I am in the beginning stages of my surgery process and let me tell you, I am so excited and cannot wait for the changes in my life! I know it’s not going to be easy. My mother had it two years ago and it saved her life in more ways than one. She looks and feels great. I found out good and bad news about my insurance. My policy though my employer does not cover it, BUT my husband’s policy that I’m covered under does AND they do not require 6 months of dieting. I’m trying to get all of my appointments in this month so my surgeon’s office can get everything sent to the insurance company for approval.

    Thanks for sharing your story and I look forward to all of your updates!!! Keep up the good work!

  14. I’ve been a lurker on MWOP for a long time and one here for a very short time. I’ve always loved your witty comments and have fallen completely in love with your blog. It definitely puts things in perspective for me (I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer and there are days I just want to pull my hair out, cry, and quit, but you help me through in your small way). I have to say you are beautiful, inside and out, and I’m thrilled that you’ve taken this journey for yourself. I’ve always been a bigger girl (becoming much smaller since being in a third world country for almost a year) and had a really hard time struggling with it. I’m so happy there are people like you out there. You are a true inspiration (or as my dancers back home would say, “a real girl power girl.”)!

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