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Surgeon TestimonialRobert G. Martindale, M.D., Ph.D.
I recently emailed Dr. Martindale to see how he's doing. He was so nice as always. This man is amazing. I can't even imagine someone so thoughtful and passionate about a field like this, but he his truly devoted to helping those people like myself who have lost all hope of living anymore. I just hope he know's what a difference he's made in so many people's lives.
I went to see Dr. Martindale for the last time before he leaves for his new job in Oregon. I will miss him so much. I gave him a heart shaped box filled with Hersey kisses. I told him at this point I had lost 250 pounds. I had counted out the kisses and give him one for each pound I had lost. This man is amazing. He's been such an inspiration in all that he does for other. He took on my case when no one else would do it and for that I can't thank him enough. He's saved my life and my husbands. I can't ever repay someone for doing something so special for me. Dr. Martindale will be grately missed at MCG. What a shame to lose such a special surgeon.
I will have to tell you. I've been to now going on my fourth surgeon. Up to this point I was not 100% impressed with the ones that I had gone to. There was something about each one of them that held me back from wanting them to do surgery. I feel extremely BLESSED to have Dr. Martindale as my soon to be surgeon. This man is HIGHLY educated in this field. When we came in to meet me he was very friendly and kind. I felt like he was concerned about me. You could tell from the way that he talked about this that it was a passion for him to help people. He gave time for me to ask questions and did so very wonderfully. He made me feel very good knowing he deals with many patients that are over 500 pounds and has a true concern for those super obese. There are NOT many in this field that will even do surgery on someone these sizes, yet he takes the chance and helps us. What a man! Just to tell you some pluses. He takes the gallbladder out during surgery, he said it only take 3 minutes while your there. I said what about insurance, he said he doesn't charge them for it. He's done over 500 bariatric surgeries dealing with mostly high risk patients. He said to keep in mind he also does other surgeries such as hernia repairs, and other gastrointestinal surgeries, as well as be a professor, and he goes to other countries donating his time to help the less fortunate. He's done maybe 50 patients under 500 pounds the rest where over 500 pounds. He said the average BMI is 60, whereas most are around 45. I felt a huge relief that he's so experienced with high weights. The highest weight he did was over 900 pounds. I asked him about deaths. He has not had a patient die on the OR table. He has however lost 7 patients and he went into full details of each one, he said that patients had died anywhere between 8weeks to a year for various reason. He's only had 3 leaks. I asked him about certain patients and he remembered each one of them. That said a lot. Anyway I spent an hour and a half with him. He also knows and understands about my lymphedema. He felt that I would lose a good bit of weight from therapy. I could tell how he spoke that this was a passion. He said he does this surgery to save people's lives and give them life back. I fell in love with him. While he was talking to me I could see a glow around him. It was the most amazing experience, when we left I KNEW it was right and had major relief. I fully trust him and would put my life in his hands.
I orginally went to Dr. Gooden in Augusta. He said that he didn't have an OR table big enough for me. Dr. Goodens staff was fine, I just wish someone there would have asked prior about my weight instead of waisting my time and the surgeons time. I was disappointed. This is just my opinion I would not recommend some to go to this surgeon. I was not impressed with his office or how his program was set up for the obese. I am now going to see Dr Burrowes in Atlanta on the 29th of October.
I went to a Siminar for Dr. Duncan. I will say that I was quite impressed with this man. He is very smart, and had great dry humor! I would recommend him to anyone. His program is very well set up and he took the time after the siminar to talk with me personally. He only now does the Lap RNY. He does however have associates that do the open percedure too. I sent my packet to them and I'm suppose to go see him on November 20th. Provided I pick him to do the surgery.
Dr. Burrowes was a very informative, and smart man. The longer I sat and spoke to him the more I understood that he does this surgery for the soul reason to give someone their life back. His office was very nice. You can park on the 3rd level in the parking garage and go across the cross walk into the office building. Take the elevators to the 5th floor. It's not very far to walk. His office had chair with and with out arms. As a very comfortable couch. His staff was very kind and took their time with me. Once I got in the office I didn't wait to long. I was then taken back to get weighed and also they take your picture with some measurements. They had no problems with my husband accompanying me back there. We then watched a couple of videos. Dr. Burrowes is a huge fan of the Fobi pouch, which was designed by a surgeon in California (Mathias A. L. Fobi). (http://www.cstobesity.com) I knew going in that he was liked this percedure over the others. If you want to have that done you will have to pay out of pocket $4500. I told him that I could not get the funding for that and would prefer just the RNY without the Fobi. He had NO PROBLEM doing that. Infact he does SIX percedures. RNY, VBG, LAP-BAND, D/S DUODENAL SWITCH, and FOBI POUCH. He said that most insurance will only pay or allow the VBG and RNY. Any other would be out of pocket expense involved. My overall view of Dr. Burrowes was very impressed. He's definately on the HIGH end of the scale. His death rate is very low and he had done over 1000 of this surgery. He took the time to answer all my questions. He doesn't want an answer that day. He told me again all the risks involved. I got a very thick aftercare booklet that explained what I will be able to eat, things to expect, a long list of potential problems that can be resolved by the patient to cut down on calls to his office. It listed ideas for meals. I was extremely impressed. It also described what to expect 1-4 days. I guess what I most impressed about is how he does the percedure. He does it open with an incision of 2-3 inches long!! I know that he is a very skilled surgeon and feel this will be the one for me.
Well, I decided to go see Dr. Duncan today. Just wanted to feel him out too. I was very disappointed. I knew before I went that he doesn't want you to gain weight, but he wants you to do that for 90 days supervised BEFORE he will do surgery. I understand him wanting to shink the liver, but when I've been trying to diet since May this made me somewhat upset. I've been doing all I can. Not to meantion I was told on the phone that Dr. Duncan would be there. NOPE! He had an associate take a look at all of us. I was told one on one and I'm very upset that I went 150 miles to not ever see the surgeon. Total waste of my time. The staff is friendly, but people need to be told before hand the truth.
Amy Williams's JourneyClick Here To View
Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
It's been a very hard time all my life. It started from the day I was in 1st grade. I was always a tall child. I was picked on from then until the day I graduated high school. The kids were so cruel and it was very hard for me to get thru somethings. I wanted to kill my self. I was not happy with my self. I didn't seem to have many friends. The friends that I did have they are not around anymore. Most of then have not even attempted to talk to me. It had been very hard to deal with no friends. I didn't start feeling better about my self until I met my husband. He was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
December 30 2004 on December 30, 2004 12:00 am
Well I did it! It's been over a year since my parents had first joined the local Y. I've been thinking about joining for some time now, but really the best exercise is going to be swimming. It's been hard to show my legs in public, but after talking and talking about it, my parents helped me to go. A friend on Obesityhelp sent me a swim suit. It's black with a white stripe and it's two pieces. I can't even remember the last time I was able to even wear a swim suit. It's been years. My parents have an in groud pool. I've always loved swimming, but the last couple of years I wasn't able to enjoy their pool because getting in and out was so hard to do. I had to wear a shirt and shorts. Getting in would make me feel so much better and even my therapist has told me in the past that this is the best form of exercise for my Lymphedema. So I didn't want to join right away cause if I didn't like it who wants to throw money away on a membership, so my mom called for me and got me a 1 day visitors pass. Kenneth went with me. I got there and there were about 10 people there including kids. Kids are always my biggest fear, cause they say things so openly. I don't mind people thinking things about me, but please don't say it! My parents got in the water and so did Kenneth. I was sitting there and finally took my pants off. I thought if I would sit there and let everyone see my legs it wouldn't be a big deal. So after the initial shock, I walked to the ramp and walked in. I told myself before I had walked over there that I could do this! I got in and the weight on my joints went away. It felt so nice! I loved it! They have these exercise bar bells for the water and I used those a couple of times. I didn't really get a routine down cause I wanted to just get use to being around people. Then more people ended up showing up. I was nervous to get out, finally I just did it. I didn't care anymore. It just felt nice to be able to get out. I don't think the fear of people seeing my legs will ever go away. Kenneth and I decided to join, we are going tomorrow to sign up. It's fixing to be a new year and what a way to start off the next year! I also went to get my hair cut. There was a lady there who was there when MTV followed me around, she keep looking at me very weird then finally said "you have no wheelchair!" I was like yeah, I don't need it anymore! That felt so weird to say and also weird to be able to sit in their chair! I fit!!!
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December 28 2004 on December 28, 2004 12:00 am
Yesterday was 7 months since surgery! WOW!
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I can't believe how my life has changed in what I consider a very short time. Today I went to see my PCP who had not seen me since my leg infection 7 weeks post-op. She saw Kenneth, but didn't really recognize me! She was so happy for me. She said "you look great, what amazing results" She took some blood work for my thyroid and also took a look at my levels my surgeon took back about a month ago. She said my folic acid level was a little low. She wants me to now take prenatal vitamins on top of what I'm taking now. She said it was not very low, but she wanted to make sure I'm getting what I need. It seems she is also telling me I have PCOS Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
She said she felt things would greatly improve with more weight loss for the PCOS. Since surgery my cycle is much more irractic, in fact it's been 6 months since I even had one. She said it's very common in obese women. Thinking of all the awful things obesity does really opens your eyes. So she ordered some blood work to check some hormone levels.
I would have to say the most exciting part was I walked all over the hospital today. I would tell Kenneth, I don't think I can make it, then the next thing I would know I would be there! I had so much fun, I cooked dinner for my family tonight (parents & hubby). I even went to the store and didn't have to use a CART, walked all over! It's like I'm in a whole new world, I see things from a different angle now, it's weird to me to shop standing up! LOL! I know I must have walked about 2 miles today.
This morning my mom said I looked "normal". I told her I felt normal too. To me normal is living, and being able to do things for myself. I was able to sit in a chair with arms without a second thought, I looked people in the face today and smiled, you know what? They smiled back. I'm still obese, but the way I see myself, the way I feel about life has drastically changed. I no longer think about what others are thinking of me. What good is it going to do to please everyone else? It's done nothing in the past, but cause stress. I'm quite happy and content with who I am. I couldn't be happier with how things are going in my life. This second chance at life is such a blessing.
Soon I'm taking that plunge and going to get out and go swimming at the YMCA. This will be one of the biggest steps I've taken in this journey, but because I want this tool to work I'm going to do it.
Good bye 220 pounds forever!!
Goodbye high blood pressure!
Ps. Kenneth is still awaiting insurance approval. They are requesting cardio clearance, which shouldn't be to hard to get since he had extensive work up not to long ago.
December 25 2004 on December 25, 2004 12:00 am
Last week I posted my wonderful news about my parents coming home for Christmas. I haven't seen them since they left me 6 days post-op! Anyways......
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They arrived, and here's my mom trying to get in the front door and I'm coming out the garage door to meet them. My dad's eyes got HUGE! He was speechless I believe! So then I looked around and saw my mom at the front door. So I ran back in and opened it. She was shocked. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. She said "my baby lamb" Ok so call it mushy, but she has pet names for me
So I grabbed her and gave her a huge hug. Then told her to come in, first thing out of her mouth. "Oh Amy! You can walk!!" We went over to the couch and sat down. She was looking me up and down and said you look so beautiful. Then my dad finally came in and I jumped right up and gave him a big hug too. When I turned around to sit back down, my mom was fighting back the tears. We sat and talked for a long time.
The next day I'm just doing my normal household work and my mom kept saying "you are going to wear yourself out". I said no I'm not. I went to put up some laundry and I could hear her down the hall with my dad. "can you believe her, she won't sit down". Later that day she said "I'm so glad you had this surgery. We were willing to mortage our house just to make sure you live longer. It's just changed you so much." My dad said "It's a miracle"
Just hearing all these nice things being said and seeing just how happy they are for me is a present that is priceless and something I'm so glad they have both been able to witness.
Just had to share !
December 22 2004 on December 22, 2004 12:00 am
I'm so excited. I got notified today that my website won an award. It was voted a winner for 2003-2004 Golden Web Award! A friend of mine submitted my website for the award! I feel so honored my site was a winner!
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December 22 2004 on December 22, 2004 12:00 am
I'm so happy! I finally am under 400 pounds!! YAY!!
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I got on the scales and it's 398 pounds! I can't believe it!
Not only am I under 400 pounds for the first time in probably 7 years. I'm also no longer super morbidly obese!! I'm just morbidly obese per the BMI chart! I doubt I'll ever hit the normal end of the BMI chart, but during this whole weight loss process being a certain number was never a goal. I want to be able to live again and really I'm reaching that goal every day. I can do things I couldn't do just almost 7 short months ago. Having this surgery was a small price to pay to have the results that I'm having. I feel so good. The things I can do now just really surprises me and they do every day! I've been able to even cross my legs. I was able to buy size 11W shoes from Walmart!! I use to be in 13W and even couldn't wear them, I had to resort to wearing slippers, if I could find those in my size. I've lost 2 shoes sizes!!
I'm up very late tonight, my parents are on their way home for Christmas. I'm so excited, but so nervous too. I guess what is so nervous to me is I wonder if they will see a difference. This will be the first time I've seen them since I got home from the hospital. I believe they left about 2 days after I came home. So here I am I've lost 217 pounds and I do see it in the pictures and mirror, but I really wonder will others see it being I've been a big person all my life. I mean when I graduated high school I was around 310-320 at the time. When I was 14 years old I was about 297 according to hospital records. I just feel sometimes people won't even see a change because I'm not under those weights, so they still might see me as never changing. Does this makes sense? I want so badly to be under those weights and I've made it a goal to make sure it does happen this time. I do worry my weight loss has slowed down, I knew this was coming, but then I look at other people who started out about the same weight and most of them are still losing even after 3 years out. My main source of encouragement is Lissa Reed. I look at her profile on obesityhelp often and I know if she can over come all that she has then I can too. So my next goal is to be 350. I can't believe I'm even typing 350 cause it's hard to fathom that even happening to me. This surgery has simply been unbelievable. The changes have happened so fast for me. I worry they will soon be over, and I will wake up from this wonderful dream! I want to be successful and I have all intentions of this being a success for me. So once I hit that 350 mark, then under 310 will be next step! I can do this!!
December 15 2004 on December 15, 2004 12:00 am
It's been amazing finding out the things that have come from sharing my story with others. Just recently I found out about someone else who's been in some way helped by sharing myself with others. This is exactly why I have my website and why I'm so active on message boards. It's all about getting the word out about Lymphedema. It makes me feel good to know I've helped someone in some way or another. Someone posted about this recently on the Obesityhelp website and I wanted to share it.
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CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST
Kenneth's insurance paper work was sent in this Monday. So now we are awaiting approval for the surgery. It seems that some people are saying that he's taking the easy way out. Boy I guess they don't understand that his life is in danger like mine was. He's only 35 years old. He's tried dieting like I did. Dieting is a short term cure. It you don't change your whole outlook on eating and make it a lifestyle change it's not going to do anything for you expect cause what's called YO-YO dieting. You lose, you gain. That's what Kenneth's been doing for years. He was told if he doesn't get this weight off quickly these foot ulcers will continue to get worse and he's risking a lot to be told it might then cause him to lose his foot. I guess some people don't understand once you reach a certain weight this surgery is eccential to help. I have no doubt that if I had not had this surgery I wouldn't have lived long. This surgery I know had prolonged my life. I have watched BOTH of my parents suffer from YEARS of being overweight/obese and then finally heart attacks. My mom (bless her heart) has had her independence taken away at such a young age and I can't help but believe it was because of the many years of obesity. I took a look at my life and realized I can't live the next 20-30 years like my parents have. I grew up watching them suffer and I didn't understand how much of a toll their weight was causing them until I watch them both suffer major health issues. I can't be like that I'm only 28 years old! Kenneth is only 35. These are suppose to be the best days of our lives. So we have both decided to take charge of our life and do something now. Once we both have a heart attack there is no going back. The damage is done. I guess it all boils down to this is my life and if I decided this surgery was my only option than it's my choice. It's certainly NOT been easy. I risked my life to be healthy. I didn't do this for vanity. It's constant work. This is a lifestyle change that I will have to deal with the rest of my life. Thankfully even though the cravings are still there it's taught be a lot to have this surgery. It's taught me portion control. I feel full for the first time in years. I didn't know what it was like to feel full unless I had literally stuffed myself. Kenneth has the same issues now and I totally understand. Kenneth's father suffered early heart attacks again because of his obesity. So for both of us this surgery is our tool to help better and prolong our life.
Today I found out who my secret pal was for the year. Those that saw me on MTV might remember the gift I got from my pal and how happy I was when I got it. It was so nice to get my final Christmas package just recently. I found out who she is. Her name is Marcie. It's kind of ironic, but her husband also had the surgery. They both have like us and they are both young. They live in Chicago. I was so happy to find out it was her. It's meant so much to me all these past months to have her constant support.
CLICK HERE FOR MARCIE'S WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY
A very good friend of mine sent me a beautiful christmas present. She told me when she saw it she thought of me. It's an angel with brown hair and is holding a cat. It's so cute. She is a very special friend.
Another friend of mine is still in the hospital. I'm so saddened about this whole ordeal. I've talked with him several times in the past few months over the internet. His name is Jeremy. He lives in Ohio. He's been in the hospital now for close to 4 weeks as a result of the surgery. He went into surgery weighing nearly 800 pounds. His BMI was 108. He's only 20 years old. The surgery went well, but about 3 days later his temp was not going down. He got to a dangerous level of 106 degrees. They eventually had to go back in to see what the problem was, they thought he had developed a leak. When they went in they found a huge infection. Then during that surgery he went into liver and kidney failure. He's dealt with one thing after another. Finally they were able to fine what they think was the source of the infection. There was some stool left in his intestines. They ended up having to give him a colonostomy which they said could be reversed later on down the road. Jeremy still remains in critical condition in SICU he's on a ventilator and has a trachea. His whole family has been worried sick about him. He also has lymphedema like me.
CLICK HERE Jeremy's Profile
December 5 2004 on December 5, 2004 12:00 am
Honestly I'm a very modest person and for those that know me personally know I don't like to talk much about my experiences with MTV. The reason is because I don't want people to get the wrong impression of me. When I did the show, I didn't get "paid" to do it. I volunteered to do this to help educate people about what life is like for most obese people and also help educate others on Lymphedema. Just the struggles we face, the torment that most of us face and the embarrassment that comes along with this. Really even now the magnitude of how the show has impacted people doesn't sink in to me. After nearly 5 months since the showed aired I get emails on a regular basis from people who have seen the show. People who will write and say they don't struggle with their weight, but now better understand the issues that we face. These simple words make such an impact on me, and makes me know that it was truly all worth doing the show. It was very hard to expose myself like I did, but I'm thankful I did it. I wanted to share a couple of emails that have meant so much to me. Thanks everyone here who have supported me in one way or another. I truly appreciate it.
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Here is just a handful of the emails I've got.
my name is Ernesto and I'm from Italy.
Yesterday I watched MTV italian channel and your story was on.
I think you are a fantastic and brave person, and I hope you to have a long and happy life with your family.
You are one of the best persons I have ever seen and your example can give HOPE to many people.
Sorry for my elementary English
Hello, my name is David and I am fifteen years old. Just the other day, I saw my sisters watching a show called true-life. I watched over the course of an hour, your journey and decision to undergoe WLS. I just visited your website and read your bio, it was truly amazing! Good luck and congratulations on your success! You remain in my prayers,
My name is Anna. I'm 19 and a sophomore in college. I remember watching your True Life show this past summer and being so touched by your courage and love of life. I think I cry even in reruns when you are so happy to get the gift from your angel. You are very inspiring.
I must say that I am not overweight or anything, but I have always been very insecure about my weight. However, watching your show makes me have a greater appreciation for life, and not such a superficial outlook on things.
Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and let you know how much your show has opened my eyes to how precious life is. I love reading your journal and realizing how much you appreciate life and how you truly value it. It's very inspiring.
Hi ,my name is Sean, i am 13 years old and i live in New York. I was watching MTV one day and i saw True life "I'm Obese" so i decided to watch it. When the show was over i wanted to fine out you address or website. And i finally did. I just wanted to say that i hope the surgery went GREAT!!! i hope you do very good on your quest...Just remember you don't have to be skinny to be beautiful.
Good luck and Good bye for now,
December 3 2004 on December 3, 2004 12:00 am
This has been a stressful week for me and a good one.
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Some of the good moments, a friend of mine after a long wait got her surgery. I was able to walk a good bit. I got to the waiting room and all they had were chairs with arms. I thought this is just great. Most of us know how those waiting room chairs are so narrow. I took one look at Kenneth and he knew what I was thinking, he said sit on that solid table. So I went towards the table and just sat down, BUT it was not on the table. I fit in that chair with ARMS! It's been YEARS since this has taken place. I didn't have the pain of squeezing in it or not fitting anymore. It's felt great!
Then tonight after another visit with my friend Kenneth and I went out to the parking garage and I told him I just wanted to see how I fit in the truck on the drivers side. So I got in, had to move the seat up, plenty of room between me and the steering wheel. I told him I wanted to drive home. Haven't drove in 4 years. It felt so good, now that my legs can be moved so much easier it was so easy to drive again.
I got my drivers license renewed today and I didn't know the person in the photo. I see myself in the mirror and I just sit there for several minutes in awe how different I really look.
My friend Sarah is at the same hospital I had surgery, in fact the room across the hall from where I was. We ran into one of the nurses that I had. She had no earthly idea who I was. She noticed Kenneth right off and Kenneth said you remember her. She looked and looked and had no idea. I mentioned MTV and it finally dawned on her. She said I looked so different "healthy". The nurses at the nurses station didn't know who I was either. They were all amazed. I'm in that stage I don't know who I am anymore, the person I've seen for all these years is not who is appearance wise looking back at me anymore.
All I want to do anymore is go do things. I can't fathom how things will be in 6 more months.