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Okay Sherree, tell us about your weight struggle prior to surgery.
Diabetes and heart disease runs in my family. Both of those can be controlled with food choices. I weighed 170 after having my third child. I ate right and exercised when I could. I have an active job. I thought I was doing the right things!!
What led you to consider surgery? What ultimately brought you to make the decision?
In the first couple of years after I had my third child I put on over 100 pounds. I saw my regular doctor and she said on paper I was healthy. She told me to be active and eat better. (which I was already doing). I was heartbroken. I looked up other reasons for weight gain with healthy diet and exercise. I went to see a cardiologist. After many tests they said I had Mitral and Tricuspid valve disease. This killed my metabolism and cardio exercise no longer was working for me. He said he could replace those heart valves or I could have Gastric Bypass to give me the malabsorption and prevent my body from storing everything I was eating.
Did you feel well supported in your decision?
My mom was absolutely against it. Her aunt had Gastric Bypass in the early 80s and died in the hospital. My sister had suspicions I would start the process and not follow through. (She has ended up being my biggest supporter!) My husband told me to do what I needed and tell him how he could help. My boss at work told me to do what I needed and how she could support me at work.
Tell us when and which surgery you had? If your comfortable, share how much weight you’ve lost.
I had RNY (Gastric Bypass) on February 11, 2015. My high weight was 280. I’m at 130 now. (Less than 18 months out and down 150 pounds)!!
Tell us about your life now…how it’s different..and what you miss…and what you love.
I love playing with my kids. Roller coasters. Hanging upside down on the monkey bars. Doing #Spartan races with my sister. Buying clothing in the stores, not online. Being able to cuddle on the couch with people because I can fit with them. There are days I miss the pre-food at restaurants… Breads, tortillas, etc. There are days I miss cake and ice cream. There are days I’m stressed out or sad and I want food to comfort, and celebrate me. I have learned other ways to comfort, and celebrate things.
How do you stay focused on a healthy bariatric diet in the midst of a busy life?
Remembering when my dietitian told me protein MUST be higher than the carbs is THE MOST simple way I’ve stayed on track. There are many prepared items at the grocery store and even gas stations when I’m in a pinch. It’s not easy the first few times when looking at the labels on practically EVERYTHING!! But once I found several things I like that meet the criteria, I now have “go-to” items.
What do you feel the biggest challenge has been in your journey…and is it still a struggle?
My biggest challenge is getting my water in. My pouch is very small. When I drink I can’t eat. I practically have water on me 24/7. I am almost 18 months out and still can’t seem to get a system in place. I have done certain things like getting a CamelBack for when I do walks around the neighborhood and yard work and such. I also use it for races.
What goals do you have for yourself these days?
I feel like I’m at a good weight so I’m not weighing myself every day anymore. I’ve set small goals for now like doing the Zip-Line in downtown OKC and iFly. Both of which I was passed weight capacity. Now I need to get over my fears, lol. Long-term I would like to hike the hills in New Zealand and trails in the Galápagos. BIG goals but things I want, and physically CAN do now!!
What words of advice and encouragement would you like to share with other post-op patients or patients starting the process to surgery?
Pre-surgery advice– listen to every professional about the rules and possible psychological barriers you will face. I’m extremely tough and felt I was going to be “fine.” I know it’s the same thing, but it’s so important!!! And drink your water!! And as your body is changing, love it. It’s going to be weight and shape. Proportions will be strange sometimes lol. It’s a long-term life change. No instant gratification. It’s not a sprint. Be prepared for the marathon of change.
What other questions and or comments would you like to discuss with the bariatric community?
A question to others – those of you that do not have plastic surgery afterwords, how do you emotionally cope with the changes to your body? (comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get this conversation started!)