Surgeon: Dr. Robert Rabkin, San Francisco, CA (Retired)
Surgery Date: March 15, 1999
Pre-Op weight/BMI: 332 Pounds ~ BMI 54
Current Weight/BMI: 124 Pounds ~ BMI 20.5
I was 37-years-old, when I began my WLS journey in November of 1998 through the help of the Internet and what I would call "Plain Old Simple Research". There was no information other than from research Doctors and studies, I found no patient Blogs, No websites designed to offer support, there was nothing to help me with my decision however I was determined to make a change.
My Research found that the BPD/DS was the most effective surgery for permanent weight loss and I was correct because I have lost 208 pounds and kept it off for 13 years and to be honest, I am no Angel!
I began researching WLS back then because I had just gained back 86 pounds of the 146 I lost with Phen/Fen in 1997; I was at the end of my rope and needed help fast. Remember that miracle drug? Today I think about the Health risks and then I remember I really did not care because I was losing weight so fast, and I swore I would become thin no matter the consequenses. So, the Government stepped in and took our miricle drug off the market! WHAT? How can that be, my last shot at "Fat Freedom", how could they do this? Eventually, I found out that the drug had caused a small pin hole in my heart, that was the reason it is no longer on the market. Yet another failure and I just kept eating until I felt better.
I looked everywhere to find resolution; I joined clubs, groups, and organizations. I exercised, jazzer-cised, aerobi-sized and yoga-sized. But, with every New Year I broke the mold and made it bigger each time until I no longer fit into the "Real" world. I could not fit in an Airplane Seat, my Medical folder had "Morbidly Obese" in RED ink across the face of it. Who was I kidding, I was born to be Fat, everyone else in my Italian family was "Morbidly Obese" and they did not cry about it as I had for more years than I care to remember. They just yelled for the 12th course at the dinner table and wondered why they only had 7 pieces of bacon on their plates and why there was no chocolate in their milk at dinner. I was doomed from birth and I did not even know it. Yes, I am a firm beleiver that Genetics starts the ball rolling and we just keep kicking the ball until we cannot kick any longer.
My life has been a struggle with one diet after the other, one failed relationship after the other, one Psychiatrist after the other, well you know the drill all to well I am sure. I am a Survivir of Sexual and Physical Abuse from Childhood and now know that I used food to hide the pain. I guess, looking in the mirror, I did not hide it very well at all. I got Certified in Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Rape thinking that during my healing I would shed the pounds, the pounds just kept coming on with each new decade.
So I found a way to stop the constant struggle that felt to me had no end in sight, no help for a future without the pity, aversion, and abhorrence of day to day life. I found Dr. Robert Rabkin, (Retired now but his Brother Dr. John Rabkin took over his practice, I found hope, I found freedom but most of all I found healing with each new door that opened.
I contacted my insurance company, Blue Sheild/Blue Cross of California and they sent me enough paperwork to choke a horse but I could not be detoured. A Psycological Exam? Why would I need that to have a Weight Loss Surgery? Is there some deep seeded reason why I weight over 300 pounds, and if I make a mistake on the test they will deny me? Anyhow, beleive it or not, I had no Co-Morbidies except for the occasional painful back and legs, well no crap people, I weight 300 pounds. So, now what do I do when I am healthy except for the weight? Well, my Mom was plaged with many Co-Morbides and I used hers as an example of what my insurance would be paying for down the road if I did not lose the weight. From High Blood Pressure, High Colesteral, Heart Problems, 2 replaces knees, so on and so on. They approved me the first go around, now what?
I had my surgery on March 15, 1999 in San Francisco California at 6:53 a.m., I weighed 332 pounds; my life would soon be reborn. I woke up groggy, I remember nothing the first 2 days and most of the days until I left the hospital 5 days later. I had trouble with severe bloating the first 2 weeks after surgery and got an infection in my incision that made me very ill for about 2 weeks. I got sick for 3 days when the bands passed but other than the above things I mentioned, I sailed through with flying colors. Now don’t get me wrong, there were times I thought I would just die but I kept telling myself that it would get better -- and it did.
After about 4 weeks I went back to work a few hours a day.
I got down to 172 pounds in about 18 months and decided the skin had to be removed from my belly. What I did not know is that, it was to soon, I had to much weight left to lose and if I had the Plastic Surgery now, I would again have excess skin in my mid-section. Well, my Plastic Surgeon never told me this so I went ahead and had 13 pounds of skin taken off. I had what they call "Panniculectomy/Abdominoplasty". This surgery was very painful and when I got home, the entire incesion opened up because the blood vessels could not fuse back together and died. So, for the next 6 weeks on a daily basis I went to the Surgeons office where he cut away the dead skin. When the dead skin was removed, I again went into surgery to close the rather large incesion. I healed after about 6 months and swore off Plastic Surgery for life.
I have lost 208 pounds as of 3/15/99 and feel wonderful with the progress I have made, the personal growth. For the first time in my life I see hope, I see a future that is normal, a future without the label of "Obese" on all my charts, but what about in my own mind? I am still a work in progress each and every day but one thing is for sure, I do know I will never be "Overweight" again, I have gained control over that demon.
To those of you considering WLS think about this as you make your decision, what would life really be like if we lived it instead of hiding from it?
We call it "The other side" -- the side where we get to be "Real" people and not people that kids laugh at, and adults shy away from. We get to know what it feels like to have arms wrap around us all the way and chairs that actually allow us to sit in them.
When I started my journey in 1999 and I checked the BMI scale I was 54 and that did not even register but 40 is Morbid Obesity. I held myself and cried when I checked that BMI scale again, not because I could wear a smaller size, not because I could feel arms wrap around me, but because of all the warm wonderful people out there that may never know how it feels to know what I do now, there is hope!
How cruel life is, how cruel people are, how heads turn for reasons unlike they do today. It angers me as I tell my therapist that inside I am SHERRI. A loving, caring, beautiful woman that just happened to carry around a wall that protected me from many hurts that I gathered from childhood that I must deal with now that I no longer have the "Wall of Fat" to protect me.
For all of you that are out there living with these hurts each day, wrap your arms around yourself as I have today and love yourself heavy or thin because I wish I had. The courage comes from within not from the outside, the place people see, the place where we are by far stronger than most because we have been to hell and back and can still continue to fight!
I pray that someday you all shall know inner peace, I am still striving for this peace, I thought I would find it by shedding the pounds but what I found was hope that some day I would and could actually heal..
~~~ Hugs, Sherri
My website is open for everyone, no judgements, no anger, just people who share recipes, idea's for staying strong, most of all we have been down the same paths and survived to tell about it.