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Paul Cirangle (COE)
I had an initial phone consultation with Dr. Cirangle today. My call was scheduled for 3:15pm but he was a hour later calling me. He first began by asking me which procedure I was interested in, and I told him VSG. He went on to say he has been performing this procedure since 2002 and he's personally performed more than 1,100 VSG surgeries. He went on to say there is definitely a RIGHT WAY and a WRONG WAY to do this procedure. It's a largely unstandardized surgery, and he said many surgeons do things in less than perfect ways unless they've been doing the surgery for many, many years to perfect the skill. I appreciated him saying that because it instantly put me at ease and let me know he's an incredibly knowledgeable surgeon. Plus, I think he's done more VSG surgeries than anyone else in the United States. That was critical for me--you know, to find THE man. We spoke for approximately 35 minutes and he wanted to make sure I had asked all the questions on my list. He has a terrific personality and he even joked around with me a bit. I am so, so excited for him to be my surgeon and I have no doubt he is the expert to do the procedure!
My impression of Dr. Cirangle has definitely changed since my initial consultation. He's been horribly late (3 hours late) for my scheduled phone calls and he even blew me off for one call. I understand if he's tied up in a surgery that takes longer than expected, but at a minimum, I would have thought his office staff would have called to tell me he's running late but nope. If you are an out-of-state patient I cannot recommend him. It's clear he prioritizes the local patients who have office visit with him. Case in point: They never even took a "before" picture of me, and when I walked into his office the day after surgery there were tons of "before" pictures of his other patients. His office staff is horribly disorganized. I had to be proactive and manage all the pre-op stuff. They don't consistently respond to emails. And I'm still waiting for the nutritionist to send me 2 weeks of supplements she said she's send me (and that I already paid for) 3 weeks ago. Not impressed. You pay for Cirangle's surgical expertise and that's about it. Very disappointed.
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The first person who ever made a comment about my weight was my gymnastics coach. I was 8 years old. When trying on my competition outfit I said it felt a little tight. The coach said, "Well then honey maybe you should lose some weight." That comment has been with me ever since. I wasn't even overweight at the time. Fast forward to 13 years old. I remember receiving the book, "Junk Food Diet" and some Denise Austin workout tapes from my Dad. I wasn't even overweight at the time. I think it's safe to say that kicked off my love/hate relationship with food, and it certainly gave me a complex about my weight. Since high school, my life has been one big roller coaster of losing and gaining weight. I am 5'7". I remember freaking out my junior year in high school when I stepped on the scale and weighed 150 lbs. I decided I needed to lose 15 lbs. And I did--very easily and very quickly. But then I slowly crept back up to 150 my senior year. When I left to go to college, I weighed 164 lbs. Around Thanksgiving when I came home from college I weighed 180 lbs. Okay, so I packed on a few pounds. Doesn't everyone do that in college? Beer, beer, beer, and late-night ordering pizza. Too much studying and school work to go for a walk. During my sophomore year I crept back up to 190 lbs. I went home that summer, hell-bent on losing weight. And so I did...by walking and following a strict diet. I dropped back down to 165 lbs. And history repeated itself...I went back to school, partied and ate like crap, and came home the summer of my junior year weighing 190 lbs. again and dropped back down to 165 lbs. My best friend said I wasn't any fun in the summer because I didn't drink--I just sipped water at the bars. Going into senior year I maintained a good bit of my weight loss until graduation in December 1995. Then the proverbial wheels fell off the wagon when I moved to Milwaukee, WI. It was the first time I lived by myself (and the first time I could eat "unsupervised" without roommates), and I was living in the beer and cheese capital of the world. Plus, I worked with 20 co-workers who were all my age and who wanted nothing more to do than "grab a beer" after work. Well, I packed on the pounds...and quickly. I found myself in the plus-size department and crying over it. I had reached an all-time high weight of 210 lbs. I remember calling my Mom and crying, telling her I never wanted to be that heavy again.
I moved to Chicago and really started to get depressed. All the girls were thin and very pretty. I felt major pressure. I went out all the time with my friends but I was so self conscious. One Saturday I attended a Weight Watchers meeting. I instantly loved the meeting leader. She inspired me so much. I joined on the spot. I had no doubt in my mind I would succeed and reach my goal. I was so vigilant about what I ate, and I followed the program to a T. Never one single slip up. From January to June 1997 I watched the pounds melt away...I lost 50 lbs and reached a weight of 160 lbs. The phone magically started to ring. Guys wanted dates. I was having the time of my life and smiling from ear to ear. One day I went to Weight Watchers to weigh in on a Tuesday which I wasn't thrilled about because I always weighed in on Sunday mornings in the SAME clothes. I got on the scale and I was up 1.2 lbs. It had nothing to do with my eating--I started my period and was very bloated. The WW employee looked at me and said, "What happened?" I was devastated. I couldn't believe she said that to me. I literally collapsed mentally and threw in the towel at that point. So I got really down about it, started eating and not caring about myself, and I slowly started to gain weight back. By the year 2000 I let my weight creep up to 190 lbs. That year I went off to grad school. The stress of a 1-year MBA program was really difficult. Plus, I quit smoking during school (unheard of, I know!). On graduation day May 2001 I weighed 215 lbs. How could I let myself get back up over 200 lbs? I promised myself I would never do that again...I moved to California in 2001 and spent the next 4 years battling my weight--losing a few pounds here and there but nothing substantial. I was traveling so much for work not to mention working in the wine industry, and I wasn't able to get into a groove like I did the summers in college. I didn't feel like I controlled my own time--work controlled me. Eating on the road killed me. And there were so many social drinking engagements..how in the world could I stick to an eating plan? I quickly ballooned up to 250 lbs. Disgusted, I attended Structure House in Durham, North Carolina to learn new eating habits and hopefully "cure" myself of obesity. I learned a lot from the program and I made awesome friends. I was there for a month (it cost me $10,000). It was money well spent at the time. I stuck with their eating program and lost 10 lbs. while I was there. While I was there I signed up to walk a 5K with other program participants. I was nervous--I didn't know if I could physically walk 3.1 miles. My Mom called and said, "Sure you can. You can do it." I walked an 18-minute mile but I didn't care. I was proud of myself for even doing it and dispelling my own negative thought that I couldn't do it. I will never forget all my fellow Structure House folks standing at the finish line, cheering me on. That was awesome. Thanks, Mom, you inspired me to walk that 5k. But after leaving Structure House I quickly learned that I had a serious problem--I was a compulsive overeater. I hadn't addressed the underlying emotional issues of why I turned to food.
In 2006 I learned about Team in Training--the Leukemia and Lymphoma's program to train people to run half marathons and marathons to raise money for blood cancer research. I decided to attend the first meeting. Not more than 15 minutes into hearing people's inspirational stories, I had my checkbook out, ready to write the check and sign up to run my first half marathon. Wait, what was I doing? I didn't like running. I couldn't run for more than 20 seconds without wanting to quit. For 5 months I trained with a great group of people and discovered a completely different side of myself through running. I'm a naturally competitive person so I followed that training plan like nothing else. I even stuck to it while I traveled for work. I ran in the dark. I ran in the pouring down rain. I loved it with every fabric of my being. I HAD to get my miles in!! I participated in small races (5Ks and 10Ks) to support my training and to keep my interest level up. The weight melted off and I dropped down to 200 lbs. I raised $4,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and in June 2006 I ran the Vancouver Half Marathon. Little did I know that that experience would kick off my LOVE for running. From June 2006 to June 2007 I ran 6 half marathons in 6 cities I had never been to, and I ran more than 40 different 5Ks, 10Ks, and 10 mile runs. I LOVED running. It was my thing. It was my oasis. In June 2007, I ran the Deadwood Trail Half Marathon with little training beforehand. I figure since I just ran a half 4 weeks prior I didn't need the training. Well, I was wrong. The course was 100% downhill which wreaked havoc on my knees. At mile marker 9 I felt a sharp shooting pain in my right knee. I slowed to a walk and then tried running again but I couldn't run. I kept trying. All of a sudden I felt the same pain in my left knee at mile 10. It was unbearable pain. But I couldn't give up and I had to run it in. My Dad was waiting at the finish line, and I would be damned if I didn't run across that finish line. I soldiered on and managed to endure the pain while I ran across the finish line. I collapsed in front of my Dad and told him I couldn't walk. By the time I got to the hotel, I was in severe pain. I called my doctor and he put me on major painkillers. It turns out I blew out both IT bands in both knees. All I could do was rest and ice them. It crushed me. Running had become my passion. I didn't want to be sidelined. Running kept my spirits up and my weight at bay. It brought me intense joy. And all that had been taken away from me. About 3 weeks after the race I went out for an easy run. I couldn't run more than .3 miles without getting pains in my knees. I was devastated. And depressed. I didn't enjoy any other form of exercised (I hated the gym scene) and so there I was, back to eating again. Plus, I couldn't get my weight below 200 lbs. I hit a stall. I took a new job and moved to Chicago. When I got there, my world got turned upside down on two levels--1) I had a nasty boss, and 2) the Chicago climate was not conducive to outside exercise like it was in California. Plus, I was a Brand Manager for a bourbon brand, and I was out at the bars, drinking all the time. To make matters worse, I broke bones in both of my feet. That sidelined me for a grand total of 16 weeks. I was miserable and extremely depressed. All I did was eat and be miserable. From November 2007 to May 2009 my weight skyrocketed up to 275 lbs. Suddenly I started having health problems--shortness of breath, erratic periods, irregular heart beats, and mood swings. And if things couldn't get any worse in 2009, I lost my job, my grandma died, I put my cat to sleep, and my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in June 2009 and subsequently passed away August 2009. I was at an all-time emotional low in my life.
Which brings me to today...at an all-time high weight of 275 lbs. and researching bariatric surgery. My Dad wrote me a letter when he was sick with cancer. It said, "Jennifer, it would have been nice to walk you down the aisle. I think you know I've always been worried about your health." I was very stung by that. There was a part of me that resented the daylights out of those words because my Dad could never find a way to talk to me about my weight without putting me down or making me feel bad. But I know deep down he wants me to be HAPPY and healthy. He initially told me not to have bariatric surgery but I'm at my wit's end with my weight. I cannot do it on my own. With the VSG, I am bound and determined to succeed this time. With my Dad's support from up above and my Mom's support at my side, the one who said, "Sure you can" to me when I questioned whether I could walk a 5K, I know this will be the beginning of a beautiful new journey for me. I look forward to a healthier, happier me, and I look forward to pursing my dream of owning a spa and crossing the finish line of many more half marathons!