Before & After DS with Johnetta’s 175 Pound Weight Loss!May 17, 2016
Celebrating Johnetta's Journey Before & After DS
I had my first diet when I was 10 years old and was on a proverbial diet my whole entire life. Everything from Fen-Fen, Weight Watchers, shots, pills, cabbage diet, peanut butter diet, every crazy scheme imaginable.
For me, the decision to have a form of bariatric surgery came after watching my mother’s failing health. Over the last three years, and taking a good look at myself and saying enough I made the decision to have some kind of surgery. Six years ago, at my parent’s 50th anniversary, I weighed 459 pounds and felt miserable. I still went to work, mowed our lawn, worked in my flower gardens but I felt like I was slowly losing interest in my life and the power to do very much. When my mom went from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair and then later was bedridden, I knew if I didn’t do something drastic that would soon be me losing my own mobility.
We had signed up for our new year of insurance and we received a letter in the mail about CIGNA providing a health coach to those wanting to lose weight, stop smoking and several other health-related issues were listed. I called and asked for a weight loss coach. Several days later a wonderful weight loss coach (Susan) called me and we talked for three hours about my life.
Susan set some goals for me and I started a journey to lose weight. After several months of walking, making adjustments of portion control, I asked Susan about weight loss surgery. Susan suggested I connect with my primary care physician and talk with him. So I made an appointment with Dr. Scott. A few weeks before my appointment, Dr. Scott had the opportunity to go attend a "Meet the Physician" clinic offered by Centura Hospital. He called me at home that night and told me that he found "the absolute one to do your surgery. I just know that this is the doctor we’ve been looking for and I have several patients that will benefit from his knowledge and expertise." That phone call started by weight loss journey that would change my life!
I went to the website of Bariatric & Metabolic Center of Colorado and watched the videos done by Dr. Joshua W. Long. After watching Dr. Long, I knew that I'd found my bariatric surgeon. I made the hardest telephone call I’d ever made the next day. Like an addict admitting their addiction, I had to say those words "Hello, my name is Johnetta and I need help." The receptionist was wonderful, handled our conversation so well and put me at ease immediately. I made my appointment for March 18, 2015. Step two of my journey had begun.
On my appointment day when I arrived at the center, I was immediately put at ease and felt like I was the most important person there. I met with an RN, was photographed, weighed (starting weight with Dr. Josh 413), submitted my paperwork, met with a psychologist, dietitian, the physician’s assistant and then with Dr. Long.
Dr. Long explained every surgical option available to me and then asked me what I was thinking. I told him that I wanted the Sleeve (VSG) and didn't want a Gastric Bypass (RNY). I shared with Dr. Long that I'd lost three friends to that surgery and it wasn't for me. Dr. Long posed the question if he could give me the same results as a Gastric Bypass but without the all the fears if I would want to know about it. Dr. Long went on to explain the Duodenal Switch (DS) surgery. After listening to him, and talking it over with my husband, I agreed that it sounded like the best option for me.
My DS surgery was tentatively scheduled for July because I needed to accomplish a few things first. I needed to stop using straws, drinking soda (which I'd already done), attend dietary classes, and get insurance clearance. I also had the opportunity to work with the staff of Dr. Neal Wolkodoff at Porter Adventist Hospital. Dr. Wolkodoff did a total body composition report and set some weight goals for me to reach my ideal weight for my body build. Everything fell into place and I was ready for my WLS.
Insurance can be a problem and due to some coding issues, it took until September 1 for my surgery to happen. By that time, I had increased my walking with my walking/workout partner (she had sleeve surgery June 2014 and was doing great). By my surgery day, my weight was down to 380 pounds. I was so pumped up and ready for this next step in my WLS journey.
The morning of my surgery, my husband asked me if I was ready and I told him a resounding "yes, was he? My husband kissed me and told me "Honey, I’m your biggest supporter, I love you and know you can do this." He's my biggest cheerleader and talks about "our" journey. My husband has told me "I loved you when you weighed 459 and I'll love you when you reach your goal at 210 pounds. I love that you're getting healthy and making yourself a priority."
I spent one and one-half day in Parker Adventist Hospital and received tremendous care and support. I healed well and the day after surgery I walked so much in the hospital that the nurses were amazed at my progress. I just wanted to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. I felt great.
My journey hasn’t been without some big ups and downs. 22 days after my surgery my mom died. I put on four pounds during the two weeks surrounding her funeral and aftermath. But Dr. Long and his team were right there to support, guide and encourage me. My dad had a stroke 4 months after my mom’s funeral and my son got sick from strep with mono. But I haven’t let those bumps in the road deter me from my goals.
I haven’t let those bumps in the road deter me from my goals. To date, I’ve lost 161 pounds. Since my surgery I’ve lost 82 pounds and have between 45-50 more to go. I feel fabulous. I haven’t been sick and I have energy like I haven’t had in years. Every day I make the conscious effort to be happy, healthy and make the best choices I can. My personal motto through all of this had been "It’s not what I’m losing but what I’m gaining." I’m gaining a healthy me and losing the weight that was slowly killing me.
Overeating hasn't been a problem. In the beginning as a post-op, I had to turn off the voices of my mother and grandmother telling me to clean my plate. Coming to the realization that I didn't have to clean my plate and that throwing away food was acceptable was probably that biggest hurdle. Now, I have no problem walking away from food.
My personal motto through all of this had been "It’s not what I’m losing but what I’m gaining." I’m gaining a healthy me and losing the weight that was slowly killing me.
Every day is a blessing and I embrace it with a smile. If I can help someone else through the process or just realize that weight loss surgery isn’t the cure, it’s a tool. The other day a friend gave me a plaque that says "Life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Emerson." I think I might have to get another one to hang in my office because it’s so fitting for my journey!
A Special Milestone
I have never been able to just walk into a store in my hometown and buy clothes. That reality hit home a few weeks ago when I walked into a store and tried on a Woman's size 28 dress that just hung on me like a sack. Next, I tried on a size 26, then a 24, then a 22! I'd been wearing a 5X or Woman's 32-34 for so long that I just sat down in the dressing room and cried!
That same day I had another special milestone/non-scale victory (NSV) and discovered that I didn't have to use a seat belt extender anymore. Great day!!! Very emotional in a very positive way!
The other NSV that I had was the ability to be open and discuss my weight, weight loss surgery and my life with others in a magazine published by our hospital and local newspaper. That made my decision so real and made me face a lot of things. I believe the word is "transparency" - it brought a lot of that to my life!
How has ObesityHelp.com been a part of your journey?
I didn't find ObesityHelp until after my surgery. It has been a wonderful resource for me with "after" surgery questions and issues. I've also shared the website with others thinking about having surgery.
Share Your Before & After Success!
Do you have Before & Afters, special milestones and non-scale victories from your journey that you’d like to share? The OH team wants to hear from you! Visit our Before & After Submission page for details.