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Edward Garber, M.D.
Dr. Garber was fantastic. When I started making calls to my insurance company and healthcare providers, he was recommended again and again by people I spoke with. He is very personable and easy to talk to and I was at ease with him. On the day of surgery, he was very reassuring, professionial and made me feel very confident and the surgery went very smoothly. No complications and I'm told I'm one of the lucky ones with no nausa or other post-surgery issues.
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I just had RNY surgery three months ago and this is my story. My mom put me on my first diet when I was 15 and weighed 119 lbs. I felt humiliated and ugly from that day forward. I started gaining weight in high school. I was heavy, but not fat. But even being heavy made me feel ashamed. It didn't help that my mother forced me on every hideous diet she came across. I was forced to eat nothing but whole cups of dry tuna, cottage cheese and green beans. I counted every calorie that I ate. I suffered through horrible soup diets. And I hated every minute of it. Food became the enemy and also the forbidden fruit. I would sometimes sneak junk food, but hated myself for it.
In college, I rebelled and ate everything I wasn't allowed to. By the end of my college career, I was 40 lbs heavier - now I was definitely fat. Still, I got on weight watchers and dropped 35 of those pounds. I started yo-yo dieting throughout my 20s. I would gain 30 lbs and then lose 30 lbs - time and again. Of course, my diets got stricter and worse. I started on weight watchers counting points and calories. But over time, I started restricting my food intake severely. I would bring a baggie of dry cereal to work and if the hunger pains got too severe, I would eat a handful of cereal until they went away. Dinner was a plain baked potato, no butter. And that was often my only meal of the day. Those diets never lasted too long because I simply love food too much. Once I started letting myself have normal food, the weight would gradually add back on and each time it would go 5-10 lbs more than my previous high weight.
In my late 20s I moved from my home at the beach, where I had lived a very outdoors and active lifestyle to Washington DC. I got a desk job where I sat all day, got cable tv which kept me sitting all night, and where my former social life had revolved around activities and sports, DC life revolved around going out with friends to the million and one restaurants. I gained around 40 lbs within the first 4 months that I lived there. I didn't believe it was even possible to gain weight that fast. However, my strict diets no longer worked and I was losing the discipline to even stay on them for any length of time. At this point now in my 30s, my weight truly got out of control. I still tried diets, but I no longer lost any more than 10 lbs. And that was quickly replaced, plus more. I finally stopped dieting all together and actually managed to maintain my weight for about 5 years. However, the damage was already done. At my highest, I hit 270. Every time I see that number, I want to cry.
My sister, who had had 4 children, was also struggling with her weight so we were constantly trying to support and encourage each other. The thing that struck both of us was that we didn't seem to have any control to stop ourselves from continuing to slide further. On top of which, I was so sick of thinking about food. The second I would think about trying to diet and lose weight, all the food obsessions begin. I would think about what I can have, what I can't have, trying to plan meals, already feeling deprived before I even started the diet - I was so sick of thinking about food I couldn't stand it. And the crushing guilt was killing me without me realizing it. All food was either bad or good. And every time I ate bad food, I felt guilty - and that was every day.
Of course, I stopped dating once I had really starting gaining weight. And now I was getting older and feeling like life was passing me by while I kept waiting for that magical day when I would really lose the weight and get my life back on track. I had thought about bariatric surgery longingly, but never had insurance that would cover it and also didn't want to take such a drastic step. My turning point came at a doctor's appointment shortly after I turned 40. My doctor came in and asked how I was, and it all came spilling out on her. She recommended a behavior therapist and after my initial hesitation about trying therapy, I went and loved it. I also started seeing a nutritionist.
My therapist really started getting me to change a lot my thinking about food - good food vs bad food, etc. And I also learned a lot about my eating patterns. I made a lot of changes, including starting yoga, which I loved. However, after a year, I was still not down even one pound, even with all the good changes I had been making. A midnight call to my sister had me agreeing that I would try one more year and if I still hadn't lost any signifiant weight, I would look into surgery even though my doctor was very against it. After discussing my frustration with my therapist, I thought I made a breakthrough when we found a way to make food a positive experiece instead of such a negative one. She had me create a reward plan with rewards that I would give myself for each 10 pounds I lost. I love to travel and have adventures, so I created a list of adventures I would love to do, as well as other rewards such as precious jewelry or some such I normally didn't allow myself. I lost 20 lbs over the next couple of months and flew a plane after the first 10 lbs and did a spa day after the next 10 lbs. I had really turned a corner - or so I thought.
Once again, the weight started creeping back on. By the end of the year, I had gained back 15 of the 20 I had lost. In November 2011, I called my insurance and found out they covered bariatric surgery - both lap band and RNY. I kept calling. Found a "program of excellence" hospital, received surgeon referrals, called the program and set up all my first appointments. On April 23, 2012, I finally had RNY surgery.
Today is exactly three months since my surgery. I have lost 54 lbs to date and have 76 lbs to go to goal weight. I finally bought some clothes this past weekend for the first time and it was exciting. I was down 3 sizes and even was thrilled with how I looked in a bathing suit. Since surgery, I have had so much energy and I'm happy. I hadn't even realized how depressed I was until it all changed. I do yoga and spinning classes and I kick ass! Everything feels so hopeful for the first time since that day when I was 15. My only fear now is not messing it all up by going back to bad habits. Actually, that's not my only fear. I worry I won't lose all the weight I want to. I worry I'm not getting all my protein in. I worry I'll have terrible skin sag. But I think these worries are good - they are my motivation to stay strong, use my tool wisely and never go back.
It's been so long since I've had hope for true change it feels alien - but euphoric. I'm trying to walk that line of forgiving myself, but staying committed to lifelong change. Right now, I'm feeling very confident in my future. I wish the same for everyone else going through the same process.