Kay’s RNY Story – 180 Pounds Lost and NO Diabetic Meds!

Steph Wagner

June 29, 2016

This success story is one that is so dear to my heart! Kay was a patient of mine from the beginning of her journey. As she shares her story and talks about her husband being at every appointment…I can attest to that! She worked so diligently to lose 34 pounds BEFORE her surgery date! Not only is she 180 pounds lighter, she also flew in an airplane for the first time in over 30 years!!!  

1. Tell us about your weight struggle prior to surgery.

I started getting chunky around the 4th grade. By the time I was in 6th grade I weighed about 130 pounds. By the 8th grade I was up to around 200 pounds and at high school graduation I was 250 pounds (or more). As a high schooler, I tried several different diet programs including hypnosis. I tried diet pills as well as the programs with prepackaged foods. (Which in the late 70’s were very bad!) I lost about 50 pounds but of course, gained it all back. When I got married in 1983 I was a size 20-22. My husband was in the Navy and we moved 1000 miles away from home. I remember the first time he had to leave for a long time and I decided to fly home. I could barely fit in the airplane seat. That was 1984. I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I never got on another plane (until recently). I even missed out on a trip to the Mediterranean for 2 weeks to see my husband because of my fear of being unable to fit in the airplane seat. Eating was the way to I got through the lonely times. Even when I was involved with Wife’s Club, it always involved food.

2. Share what led you to surgery and what brought you to ultimately make the decision?

Unbeknownst to me, my husband and parents had been worried about my health. My weight had gotten out of control to where I could no longer get out and do simple shopping with my husband. He had to do most nearly all our housework plus work 40+ hours a week. So, at one of my regular doctor’s appointment my husband looked at me and said “don’t get mad but, your mom and I are worried about you.” Then proceeded to ask my doctor if he recommended weight loss surgery. He said it might be a great idea and we discussed it for a bit. I asked for a recommendation of a doctor in the area. They called me with Dr. Le’s information and I got on the website to read more about it. Then I called and signed up for the free seminar in April 2014. I received a lot of good information at the seminar and felt that it was going to be the right path for me. I brought my packet home and filled out the papers and my wonderful husband went by the hospital and dropped it off at Dr. Le’s office the next day over his lunch hour. So begins my journey of one of the best decisions of my life.

3. Did you feel well supported in your decision?

I must say that I had the greatest support system between my family and the people at Dr Le’s office. My husband was great. He never missed an appointment with me. He even asked questions to help us. He shopped for everything I needed to get me started on the weight I had to lose before surgery. He stopped snacking on foods I couldn’t eat. (He even dropped some weight) I also received great information and advice at my appointments. I guess I just needed the extra push I received from family about getting the surgery. I had known 3 people that had gotten gastric bypass surgery and not one of them has had good lasting results. But, I have to say that none of them have had the support I had. Be it from family or doctors. Not one had to go to all the doctors I had to go to including seeing a psychologist. They didn’t have the personal notebook with all the info they would ever need. When I started I couldn’t understand why I had to go through all this before surgery. Now I know I needed all that to prepare myself for my new life.

4. Tell us what surgery you had and on what date. If comfortable, share how much weight you’ve lost.

312 pounds at my first weigh in on May 2014

278 pounds at last weigh in before surgery – I had Gastric Bypass surgery Oct. 1, 2014

I have lost 180 lbs!!! I now keep my weight between 130-135 pounds. In my notebook I set my goal at 150 pounds but, when I hit that goal the weight kept coming off. I have leveled off at this weight and have stayed here for over 10 months and feel comfortable here.

5. How where the early weeks and months after surgery?

I was lucky and was able to go home on Thursday after my surgery on Wednesday. I walked as much as they let me and sipped my water. I had very little pain. I was completely off my pain medication in 3 days. I was out to the store in about four days. The worst part for me was smells. I remember my mother making supper for my Dad and husband the first night home and the smell of the food cooking was more than I could stand. It took about a week for me to settle down a bit. But, for months smells would just over take me. Even when in the grocery stores. Also my taste had changed. The things I enjoyed eating on my diet before surgery I couldn’t even choke down anymore. Including protein shakes. I found it a real challenge to get them down. I also found that I had to limit myself to no more than 5 bites of food at one meal. We called it the 5 bite rule. I used my phone as a timer so I wouldn’t eat to fast. It worked best for me if I waited one to two minutes between bites. I had trouble with getting enough protein at first.

6. Tell us about your life now… how it’s different, what you miss, what you love more than ever.

Most importantly, I am now off all my medication for diabetes including insulin and pills! I was taking both as well as high blood pressure medication. My A1C when I went to see Dr. Le the first time was over 8. Before surgery it was down to 5.6 and now it is at 4.6. I can now go shopping with my husband. Which we really both enjoy! I can go walk around festivals and even plan out which ones I want to go to ahead of time. I always want to go and go. Before surgery it would sometimes be weeks and weeks before I left the house. Usually only for doctor appointments. But, best of all I was not afraid to fly on the plane anymore for fear of not fitting in the seats. First time on a plane since 1984. I can’t say I miss anything enough to where I say to myself that I wish I had not had surgery. I also love that I now go to my husband’s company functions. I was able to donate all my old clothes to a former employee who is now a social worker and works with schizophrenic people. AND of course clothes, clothes and more clothes. I have now pushed my poor husband out of our closet.

7. How do you stay focused on a healthy bariatric diet in the midst of a busy life?

With just my husband and myself it is fairly easy. We try and not eat out much. Before we always just stopped and grabbed a bite before we went home. Now we just go home to eat. I only cook meat and veggies for supper. When we do go out to eat and we either split the meal or I ask for a doggy bag before I even start to eat my meal. I only keep 5-10 bites out and box the rest up for meals later or for husband’s lunches at work. I try and keep to a timed schedule for eating. No more than 4 hours without eating and I drink water or unsweet decaf-tea in between meals. I try and use my Gazelle or air walker thirty minutes a day, five times a week. When we watch TV in the evening I bounce up and down on my big exercise ball. I utilize the recipes from the Steph’s Best Fork Forward cookbook and before the cookbook I started my own notebook with recipes off of the foodcoach.me website. I have learned to cook with spices. I never had so many spices in my cabinets in my life! I weigh myself twice a week. If I find myself at over 135 I figure out what it could have been and adjust things. I try and go to as many monthly support group meetings as I can make. I love helping explain to new people what to expect and hope it may help encourage someone. I know it helps me to know that I am not alone with my experiences and struggles I have. I do what Dr. Keller (psychologist) advices us to do when I think about wanting to eat and I distract my mind from food for 3-5 minutes. I keep word search books handy or play solitaire on my phone. If nothing else there is always a chore to do around the house or something to reorganize :)

8. What do you feel was the biggest challenge in your journey and is still a struggle?

Water intake is still a struggle for me. Also, exercising. I break my workout time into two 15 minute sessions during the day. Taking small bites are a challenge. It may seem strange but, I struggle with seeing the new me in the mirror. When I put my new clothes on I think “I’ll never fit into this.” Or when we go go out to eat and are seated at a booth I still look to see which side has the most room between the seat and table. I still struggle with meat, mainly beef .

9. What goals do you have for yourself these days?

Number one goal is to stay at my new healthy weight. I want to maintain my weight-loss so I can stay away from taking any medication. Exercise at least 5 times a week on my own and go out and walk parks or festivals on weekends.

10. What words of advice and encouragement would you like to share with other post-op patients or patients starting the process?

Do not let anyone tell you or fool you to think this is the easy way out. Believe me it is NOT. But, it is the most rewarding. You must follow the advice and the notebook you are given. It is a very, very big help.