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Surgeon TestimonialRobert Quinlin, M.D., F.A.C.S.My first impression of Dr. Quinlin was that he seemed very kind and understanding of my situation. He took an interest in me as a person and patient.
His staff is wonderful. His office is run efficiently by a group of compassionate people who are really awesome!
I honestly don't dislike anything about Dr. Quinlin or his staff. They have treated me incredibly well.
I think that Dr. Quinlin and his staff deserve an excellent rating!
- Books & Literature - B.A. in English and Masters in Library and Info. Science
- Fitness & Exercise - Yoga makes me happy, running makes me feel free, swimming gives me joy.
- Travel - Anywhere. Let's go!
- Pets - I love my sheltie. His name is Dioji and he's sweeter than cookies.
- Theater - I work at a library / theatre and am surrounded by Shakespeare!
- Music - I love almost all kinds of music. My favorite musician is Billy Joel!
- Karaoke - If I could sing every moment of the day I would.
- Activism - Strong supporter of the ACLU and Human Rights Coalition.
- Adventure - You can't go wrong with a hilarious action film.
- Reading - Favs: JD Salinger, Shakespeare, Joyce Carol Oates, D.A Shapiro
Neen L.'s JourneyClick Here To View
Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
I grew up in a big Italian-American family, where making and sharing food together was the way we expressed how much we loved one another. There were always big meals and fun parties happening and from an early age I associated food with comfort and safety.
I was always an overweight kid. Food was interesting to me. My only saving grace was that I loved swimming and so I worked out for about an hour a day for most of my childhood and teenage years. When that came to a halt after I had shoulder surgery and broke my elbow in the same year, things really went downhill. It became a cycle of binge/starve/self-hate/repeat over and over again. Sometimes I'd just stop caring altogether thinking, "Why bother? What am I torturing myself for? I...
What I can offer at nine years... on April 29, 2013 5:10 am
Nine years ago today, I was pretty miserable. I was coming out of anesthesia, puffy, sore, and suddenly remembering that I'd just allowed a surgeon to entirely rearrange my digestive system. All I could think to myself was, "God, I hope it's worth this."
This morning, I got up and went outside. I swept off the porch, ran inside for my yoga mat and proceeded to salute the sun repeatedly. "Thank you for this beautiful day! Thank you for health! Thank you for this life! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" For 90 minutes, I did yoga in the fresh air, basking in its rays, and deeply appreciating what it means to be healthy.
The night before surgery, and a few days ago:
Then I came inside to a hot, fresh cup of coffee that my husband had so kindly gone to get me from Caribou Coffee. Black, with no room for cream, just how I like it. I made him some bacon to go with his vanilla latte, and for me, 2 almond flour-ricotta waffles with a dollop of plain yogurt and berries:
Now, unbelievably full from my 20g of protein breakfast, I'm off to work on finishing building a new piece of furniture that we bought for the dining room. I'll sit on the floor putting pieces of drawers together, and when I get up to check the instructions, my knees won't hurt at all!
Today I will spend with a huge smile on my face, remembering what was and being head over heels in love with everything that is. Two degrees, marriage, a dog, a house, trips to five countries, job at a beautiful library with the world's BEST colleagues, and 140 lbs later, I stand humbled, grateful for, and amazed by every moment. Every minute of pain, frustration, and self-doubt has been worth it. Every time I chose to get back up after a hard fall off the wagon has been worth it. Every day that I wake up knowing that I am healthy gives me the strength to keep trying, to keep working at improving, and to move forward embracing this gift of life.
I still struggle with many things. My relationship with food is a tenuous one, and I have come to accept that balancing my passion for baking and confectionery practices, with trying to maintain a healthy, protein-forward diet, is something that will always be a challenge. I understand that I will not always be able to be at my very thinnest. And my goal continues to be accepting myself as I wake each day.
It is not always easy to accept that person. Going through this process while trying to manage bipolar II disorder has been one of the biggest hurdles I've faced. The way that I respond to stress can be erratic, and it is a constant exercise in self-awareness to stay well-balanced. There are still days (albeit infrequently) that I wake up and wonder how long it will be until I lose this and end up obese again. But I am slowly gaining the confidence to understand that I can do this for the rest of my life. Unlike "dieting," this lifestyle is sustainable.
The RNY process and tool re-taught me how to eat, and these days I enjoy almost everything, just in smaller portions. I've learned that my food addiction can be managed--not perfectly, but I am slowly learning how to recognize the signs that the urge to binge is coming along, and deal with it before it spirals out of control. And as I said, it isn't perfect. I've had some really bad binges--and you know what? I came out of every single one of them okay. It's what my husband reminds me every time I turn into a puddle of tears over gaining a few pounds. "You've always been okay and gotten back on track. You've always been able to get to where you want to be. You're not going to screw it up." And he's right.
Aside from my family, friends, and this supportive community, there are a few pieces of writing that have helped me during the hard parts of my WLS journey. One is in a letter to a fan (the "need a pick me up?" link referenced in my signature), where Stephen Fry writes,
"I've found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:
Here are some obvious things about the weather:
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
It really is the same with one's moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness - these are as real as the weather - AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE'S CONTROL. Not one's fault.
They will pass: they really will."
If you have a free moment, the whole letter is really worth reading.
I carry that in my heart, and also meditate on this poem by Rumi:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Those are the words that have kept me thinking forward. So if there is any advice I can give you, pre-op, post-op, or non-op it is these four things:
Never, never give up.
Remember that life has infinite joy.
Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.
Take your ego out of it, and be compassionate with yourself.
Bring love and open-mindedness to situations as often as you can, and open your heart to the world. If you can do that and use the positivity you find to give yourself confidence, you will get through it--even when you feel like you can't.
Best wishes to all of you who walk along this journey with me. I am always grateful for your support, and hope that every single one of you finds the path that brings the most happiness.
Namaste (The spirit within me honors the spirit within you.)
Long-term post-ops with regain struggles, click here to see some steps for getting back on track (without the 5-day pouch fad or liquid diet): http://www.obesityhelp.com/member/bananafish711/blog/2013/04/05/don-t-panic--believe-and-you-will-succeed-/
Always cooking at www.neensnotes.com!
Need a pick-me-up? Read this: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/it-will-be-sunny-one-day.html
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The Fear of Impermanence on April 25, 2013 8:31 am
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Weight loss tickers are a blessing and a curse, in my humble opinion. Every time I see a tracker in someone’s signature line, I worry about the sentence that often follows: “X number of pounds, gone forever!”
Forever is a very long time.
In fact, to stay at the same weight even on a weekly basis is very close to impossible. Everything from plain water to hormones affect how the body uses the energy we provide via food. When I did do daily weigh-ins, there was almost always a difference day-to-day, sometimes as much as 4-5 lbs. That isn’t a bad thing. It just means that my body was working differently at that moment. Maybe I was stressed out and it caused my body to release a whole bunch of cortisol, which has been shown to stall weight loss. Maybe I over-salted dinner the night before and was retaining water. Maybe I gained some muscle from weight training, but didn’t lose any fat (yet).
This is all a pretty roundabout way of saying it, but the weight is never gone forever. As much as we want to believe that we are entirely in control, we are simply not. Yes, you’ll lose weight as long as your body is using more energy than you feed it, but it’s not a linear thing. It’s up and down, and it will always be up and down.
And to be entirely honest, there are times when it won’t matter to you. There will be times when you do not care. Last fall, I watched my mother-in-law slowly lose her battle with ovarian cancer. I confided in a friend at the time that I wasn’t sure I could be there when she passed. I’d never seen a person die, and the thought of it terrified me to the point of hyperventilation. As it grew more imminent, I felt tension run through every muscle and joint in my body. All the yoga and running in the world did nothing to make me feel better. I did what I always do when I’m mad at life and cooked, because it’s soothing to me. I spent entire days standing in my kitchen with bad reality television on in the background while beating the hell out of batches of bread dough. My heart felt broken, and I didn’t give a damn about food. Every time I wanted to complain that I wasn’t losing weight and it must be because I was eating like a pig, I thought of my mother-in-law stuck in the world’s shittiest situation. She couldn’t get up, walk around, go outside…and she couldn’t eat at all. She would barely touch watered down ginger ale. Worst of all, she was trapped there knowing that there was only one way it was going to end. During the last few awful weeks my husband and I would drive home from his parents’ house late at night and immediately turn into the strip mall, stop at Rite Aid, and buy a candy bar for each of us. We freely admitted to one another that it was “eating our feelings.” And as much as I wanted to care…I couldn’t. I couldn’t care about anything except to worry about what the next day would bring to a situation wherein I had not one ounce of control.
She left us in October, exactly four months to the day after my husband and I got married. Eventually, I was able to mourn and deal with the hurt in other ways, but not before I’d put on a bit of weight. All I could do was what I’d tell anyone else: Have compassion for yourself. What is past cannot be undone, so you might as well move forward from here.
To say that I have lost 140 lbs forever is a complete, utter lie. I’d like to think that I will never allow myself to become overweight again, but I will not always be my very thinnest. And that’s okay. That’s something to be aware of and accept. Because the last thing I want is for every weight gain to send me into a puddle of tears and a downward spiral. As soon as the self-hate starts, so do the binges.
Do not fear the impermanence of the situation. Hard work and focus pay off, even when you wander off into the field from time to time. A good friend told me once to remember that two steps forward and one back is still progress, so when I feel like I’m failing myself, I try to remember that.
Have compassion for yourself today. Remember that "doing your best" means something different every day. We are not robots, and each day brings new feelings and challenges. Take your ego out of the situation and respect what your body and mind can do in the moment.
A number does not define your success. It's the other victories like physical fitness, a longer and healthier life, and feeling more confident that really change your perspective. And while the number may not be permanent, the lessons you learn along the way can always be kept with you. And I guess that is really what this all boils down to:
Value the lessons and the experience, not the number on the scale.
Oh, and don't forget to enjoy life while you're at it.
All hail, Northeastern! on April 24, 2013 6:33 am
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I found my blue shirt from my alma mater hiding at the bottom of the drawer where I keep lounge-y clothes. Given my upcoming surgiversary, I just had to see then and now. How have I never taken this picture before? Here's the night before surgery, and nine years later.
Change never ceases to amaze me:
Nine Years of Thankfulness on April 16, 2013 12:50 pm
Nine Aprils ago, I was of my own free will, laying in a hospital bed and staring at my hands. They felt naked. The ring mom and dad got me for my confirmation and the one my aunt gave me at my high school graduation were safely tucked away in the overnight bag I left with my parents.
“You know you can’t keep this a secret.”
In a matter of weeks it was going to be obvious. I was already wondering how I’d feel about the questions and (potential) judgment from others. It had already crept up from friends I expected would be supportive, and scared me off of saying much to anyone outside of my immediate family.
“You realize this is permanent, right? This is for the rest of your life.”
True. And at eighteen years old, what clue did I have about permanence? Was I even mature enough to be making a massive life decision? My heart raced a little more quickly.
“You can do this. Would mom and dad ever support you doing something like this if they didn’t think it was going to help?”
I found myself wishing that hospitals didn’t have such stark white walls and fluorescent lights everywhere. All I wanted was a soothing blue ocean, and I tried to picture the summers we spent on Satellite Beach basking in the sun and eating pizza at Bizarro’s.
“Pizza. That’s going to be a hard one.”
Why was I thinking about food? This was the worst possible time to be thinking about food. For the next 6 weeks, there wouldn’t be so much as a crunchy Cheerio in my diet. The kitchen at home was already full of soup, tuna, cream of wheat, and eggs. Even eggs were out for the first two weeks. The panic came back and I suddenly wondered how fast I could get the saline IV out of my arm, and bolt out of the hospital before anyone noticed.
And then there was peace. There was nothing. There was silence.
“This is going to save your life.”
I’d technically been obese since my early teen years. I was always overweight as a kid, even when I swam year-round, but teetered into obesity once high school hit. Between school, marching band, drama club, forensics, a job at the YMCA, a job at the jewelry stand, and time with family and friends, eating right didn’t make my list of priorities. By the time I was a junior, I was only pretending to not hate every single thing about my body. I wanted to be pretty, so I wore lots of jewelry, dyed my hair fun colors, bought sparkly clothes at the plus-size store, and tried to convince myself that it was okay. But simultaneously, I tried every single diet in the book. Changing myself became an obsession, and I went to lengths that I am not proud of to try to lose weight. The “safe” ways like South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, or liquid diets stuck for awhile, but every attempt had an end, everything I tried failed at some point. Temporarily, I could shed a meager 10-20 lbs. but it always came back. I’d find myself buying boxes of cereal to replace the ones I shamefully decimated in a matter of a day or two, destroying the empty boxes and throwing them in a trash can away from home. I tried to hide the binges, but after awhile all it took was looking at me to know that what I ate in front of others could not possibly be ballooning my body at such a rapid pace.
It got worse when I went to college. For the first time in my life I was making food choices entirely on my own, and the freedom was almost intoxicating. Grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies for lunch, all washed down with a big glass of diet coke? Hell yeah. Breakfasts comprised of double Pop-Tarts and Odwalla smoothies? Bring on the sugar rush, baby. I’d catch myself every so often, and the shame would draw me back toward the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Before I knew it, everything would flip again and I’d be hiding in my dorm room destroying half a box of penne. Writing that out now makes my face turn hot and red. After all these years, I’m still embarrassed at what I couldn’t just control. People don’t think about someone obese having an eating disorder, but that’s exactly what it was.
At my highest weight--somewhere in the 280s.
And so there I was, nine years ago, freezing in a thin hospital gown, 280ish uncomfortable pounds packed on my bones, and a little sick to my soon-to-be reorganized stomach. Dr. Quinlin pulled back the curtain to my little cube in the surgery prep ward and gave me a warm smile. “How are you doing this morning?”
After all, this (wonderful) surgeon was about to make a bunch of incisions in my abdomen, close off a rather large portion of my stomach, bypass a long section of small intestine and reattach the rest of the intestine to the remaining egg-sized piece of my stomach. That’s the short description of Roux-en-y gastric bypass. For the next week and a half, I’d have only clear liquids, the two weeks after that clear and opaque liquids, the four weeks after that just soft foods, and finally a slow reintroduction to coarser solids. Basically, I was about to be an infant again. I was going to re-learn to eat, and in doing so, try to undo almost 2 decades of bad habits and damage to my body.
A simple diagram of RNY gastric bypass surgery.
Dr. Q gave me a smile and a pat on the arm. “You’re going to do great, okay?”
A few hours later, my new life began. It was like hitting the reset button, getting the fresh start I always wanted. Starting from scratch.
And what a miracle. What a life it has become. There is not a day that goes by that I do not believe that Dr. Quinlin saved my life in April 2004. Yes, I have had to make an effort—one that felt unbearable at times for the first year post-op. Yes, I still have to work at making good choices every day. Yes, I still have to fight the (much fainter) urge to fall back on disordered eating and a distorted perception of food.
But do you know what I can DO now? I can bike 20 miles, I run 5k and 8k races, I do ninety minutes of yoga six days a week, and go through body weight circuits like a champ. And mostly I do all of this just because I CAN. Because there was a time that it felt so impossible, and so far out of my reach that I didn’t even dare to dream of it. There was a time when I was out of breath after one flight of stairs. I always believed that even if I was somehow thin, surely I would never be athletic.
At the Race for a Cause 8k - October 2012.
People often think of gastric bypass as some golden ticket, or “the easy way out.” There’s not a post-op alive who hasn’t heard that line and had to grit their teeth and smile thinking, “You have no (expletive) clue what you’re talking about.” It’s not easy to withstand those first few restrictive months, the physical healing takes a long time, restaurants are difficult for the first year post-op, finding 70 grams of protein everyday can be really hard, grocery shopping was a nightmare at first because I had to evaluate every label and ingredient, and I had (and have) to be ridiculously careful consuming sugar or alcohol; the former because I hate feeling nauseated, and the latter because I would like to remember entire conversations. If you were (as I was) a major food addict prior to surgery, there’s a good chance you’ll look somewhere else for comfort. If you aren’t prepared it can turn into something ugly like alcoholism. As a regular contributor to a weight loss surgery forum, I can tell you that it is a familiar refrain. Trust me when I tell you that this was not an easy way out. It was as hard, if not harder than any diet I ever tried. The reason it worked for me was its two-fold approach: Restriction and malabsorption. Since the stomach pouch is quite small, the amount of food that can fit is much less than normal, and since part of the intestine is bypassed there is a reduction in the amount of calories that the body absorbs. The malabsorption is effective for about the first year and a half, but the restriction remains permanently for the most part. It is not uncommon for patients to experience some weight re-gain once the “honeymoon” period is over. I most certainly did. I put 30 lbs. back on before I looked in the mirror and thought, “Don’t waste this. You got your second chance.” I’d accepted remaining overweight because it was better than being obese.
“But that isn’t why you had this surgery. You had it to be truly healthy.”
So I re-grouped, started tracking my nutrition and exercise, and worked to find the balance that helped me get to and maintain a weight in the normal range for a woman of my stature.
...and totally jumped out of a plane.
I am quite literally half of myself. But unless I told you (and I do tell people because it has been such an incredible life change), you’d probably never know I had surgery. You’d probably just think I have a small-ish appetite. I still eat all of the things I used to love, just less, and I’m a lot pickier about the quality of the food I eat. We have dairy, meat, and poultry products delivered from a local farm once a week, and buy as much of our produce from the nearby farmers’ market as much as possible. Sometimes that isn’t so great for my wallet, but the way I see it, food is part of my health care costs. And my health is more valuable to me than I can explain.
Same jersey, just 9 years in between pictures.
So here I am, nine years later and 135-140 lbs. less than my highest recorded weight. There is one pair of size 22 pants that hang in the very back of my closet. Every so often when I am feeling truly discouraged, I fit myself into one leg of those pants and remember all that I couldn’t do, and everything that I can do now. It might not be a big deal to someone else, but to me it’s nothing less than miraculous. Could I have lost weight and maintained that loss without weight loss surgery? To be honest, I’m not sure. I understand so much more about obesity now that I know my problem was not simply a lack of willpower. I’m not sure what I’d be like today if not for RNY surgery.
But I know what I really am today, and what I am is so grateful that I still cry my eyes out every single year on April 28th. My heart overflows with gratitude for Dr. Quinlin and his staff. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me to achieve a healthy and active life, the life I never dared to dream of as a food-addicted, ashamed teenager. Every single run, every single yoga practice, and every single healthy check-up I think of you. I will never, ever forget what you did for me, and the compassion and care that you showed every step of the way.
Oh, how things change...(click for full-size timeline!)
I remember the first time that I wasn't bothered that I couldn’t find a cab outside of the Prudential Center and would have to walk the mile home carrying 6-7 bags of groceries (a Thanksgiving turkey for dinner with friends included!).
Looking up at the cloudy, gray November sky at that moment, it was more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen in my life.
A moment of grace and gratefulness.
Ciao for now,
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Don't Panic! Believe and you will succeed. on April 5, 2013 8:37 am
I can't tell you how often I read a post on one of the message boards from a panicked, scared fellow WLSer who has regained either a small or a significant amount of weight over the years since their operation. The common themes among these posts are fear, shame, and even complete hopelessness. I think that often these individuals don't realize that they are not alone and that they have taken a HUGE first step by acknowledging their issues in a semi-public setting. We can't solve a problem that we are unwilling to admit is there.
I liken this to my bipolar II depression. For a long time I didn't want to admit that it was as big a problem as it really was. It wasn't until it very nearly destroyed a relationship with someone dear to me that I admitted to myself and my psychiatrist that my refusing to take medication for it was doing more harm than good. I'd always thought "If I tried harder, I could beat it on my own." But that isn't the case when there's a true, chemical problem in the brain. Something is off-kilter. A diabetic wouldn't say "Oh, I don't need to test my blood sugar or take my insulin." They might end up in a diabetic coma! So, what was I really doing? I was hurting myself and people around me because I didn't believe that I had a disease that required treatment and regular maintenance. When I finally said, "Yes, I have a problem and I need more help" to my psychiatrist, I was able to begin the road to finding a treatment that truly worked for me.
So...you're 2+ years out and the pounds are creeping back. You're ashamed, you feel like you've failed at WLS, you're afraid of judgment, and you might even feel some self-hate. What is that going to do? Nothing. But if you say out loud, "Look, this is what happened and I need help," then you can get some advice, or get that off of your chest and not feel so alone in the struggle. Everyone on here has been there, stuck in a body that makes them feel unhappy and unhealthy. And so from time to time, we have to remember that our bodies require maintenance and healthy treatment.
My advice to long-term post-ops looking to lose re-gained weight or lose more weight to reach a goal (I wanted to be considered in the 'normal' weight for my height) is pretty static. It's about taking simple, small steps, and adding new ones in as you become comfortable with the steps you've taken thus far.
You can have the success that you are looking for, I promise. You have to believe that you CAN. Say out loud "I WILL!" and start with something small. Whether it be taking the stairs in lieu of the elevator, picking a hard-boiled egg or string cheese over a sugary granola bar for a snack, or just taking some time to meditate past a head-hunger craving, every single small step counts.
These are the steps that I took, and those I suggest to others who have goals that they are determined to achieve. Please remember that what I write here is what worked for me, so please consider it in the context of your own limits and expectations:
-Eat whole foods and avoid things that have been heavily processed (i.e. bagged sandwich breads, frozen foods--too much sodium and preservatives, and boxed mixes.) The cleaner and more local foods you eat, the better satiated your body will be. Make friends with some of your local farmers and go to local markets if you have them.
-If you eat starches as I do, be sure that you are eating whole grain ones that have a high fiber content. These are more satiating and you will find that you crave a little bit less, and every little bit counts. If you are so inclined, learn to bake your own bread and have even more control over what is in it. High fiber will also aid your digestion, as will things like yogurt with live active cultures. It is my opinion that denying carbohydrates in any amount or thinking of certain foods as "bad" leads to feelings of resentment. For me, that triggered binges, so I focus on balance now.
-Pick one day a week to make meals ahead of time. The worst problem I encounter is when I don't have options for meals and make quick, not ideal choices. I usually slow cook something, make some noodles, soup, and a cold salad and keep those in the fridge or freezer for easy access to pre-portioned meals.
-Exercise! If you're already exercising, try increasing the length or doing something different. I found that my body gets used to a certain kind of exercise if I do it for awhile and I'd end up stalling my progress. Now I alternate yoga, running, being on the elliptical, and some strength training for maximum benefit.
-Remember the basics: Protein first, veggies second, starches third. If my plate were to be divided into four quadrants, two would be taken up by protein, one by veggies, and one by a healthy whole grain like brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole grain noodles, or homemade bread. The starch only gets eaten once I get enough protein at the meal.
-Measure your portions. You might think you're eyeballing it correctly, but it takes a whole extra 10 seconds to toss it on a kitchen scale. I like my portions of bread to be 2 oz. or less, and my protein to be anywhere from 4-6 oz. I also log my food and exercise daily on a tracking website to assure that I am getting adequate protein and other nutrients. This also helps me see long-term trends in my weight loss and maintenance.
-Be compassionate. Some days you will want a cookie. Eat a (small) cookie and move forward. Don't take the time to beat yourself up, because all it will do is start a binge. Be kind to yourself.
-And finally, come and vent here when you feel frustrated. We are always here to listen and support you.
Do you want to be Batman? Superman? All around healthy and strong? You CAN. Take it from someone who has been 280 lbs and stands here nine years later at 139-144 on any given day, acknowledging that it is still hard work every single day. But that does not mean impossible. That does not mean miserable.
BELIEVE in success. When you start to hear yourself saying, "I can't," Get that apostrophe and letter 't" out. Kiss them goodbye!
You can and you will. And if you really want to be Batman, well...here's living proof:
With all my very best wishes,
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In March of 2004, I was home for my first Spring Break from college. While I was loving my first year away from home, the weight problems that had haunted me my whole life had become significantly worse. Whether it was the stress of living away from home for the first time, or college, or using food as comfort, I don't know. I suspect it was a combination of many things. What became crystal clear to me was that I needed to make a change...a big change. I needed to re-learn how to eat, and manage portion control in a better way. Having been on many diets, (some good/some bad) I knew exactly what my pattern was like. I'd be really really good for a while, and as soon as the weight loss stalled, I'd get down on myself and feel like it was hopeless. It was so easy in those moments to just binge for comfort (which, consequently would make me feel worse). It was a pretty sad cycle, and one I wanted a permanent vacation from.
After discussing options with my parents, I decided that I would like to consult a bariatric surgeon. After a wonderful recommendation from a colleague of my father's, I had an appointment to see Dr. Robert Quinlin that very week! Apparently, after hearing my situation and knowing that I would only be home for a week for spring break, he made room in his schedule to meet with me. Dr. Quinlin was very up front with me. After explaining the surgery itself, he laid out what the road ahead would be like in terms of insurance approvals, physical/mental evaluations, and post-op care. After the surgery, I was responsible for following the plan. Of course, there would be worlds of support, but the bottom line was that I needed to decide if I could really make a life change.
I wanted to. I could. I said yes.
The stars must have aligned for me, because my insurance approved me, my PCP signed off on my physical evaluation, and a wonderful therapist evaluated me and wrote that I was mentally prepared to make the change. The date was set.
On April 28, 2004 my life changed. From that day forward, I was a post-op with five tiny incisions as the only outward sign that anything inside of me had changed. But inside, there was a small pouch and a section of intestine bypassed. It was time to move forward.
I have had my ups and downs over the past four years, but I have never regretted it. I've never been so sure of anything in my life. Gastric bypass was a tool that helped me get my life back. Sure, at the beginning it was a difficult adjustment, but four years out, it seems normal to me. It's normal to eat half of a sandwich, it's normal to turn down birthday cake (or have just one bite), and it's normal to eat a meal off of a dessert-size plate. It's normal to me because I don't want to go back to the way I was then.
Now, I get to live every single day. I can run for the bus if I'm about to miss it without losing my breath and I can fit into the same pants every day. I'm content and I don't constantly feel like I have to lose weight anymore.