Before & After VSG with Cathy H 3

Before & After VSG with Cathy H., losing 147 pounds!

April 17, 2018

Why I Decided To Have WLS

I was overweight my entire life--chubby baby, chubby adolescent, chubby teenager. Food was love in my family, so we ate for every occasion.

I was a teenager in the 70's when skinny was in, so even though I was only a size 13/15, I was considered “fat” by the standards of the time. In 6th grade, my mom was so concerned she put me on a diet—1/2 sandwich and a thermos of soup every day, no chips, no snacks. I lost weight and was normal sized when I entered 7th grade. Unfortunately, I expected to be treated differently by my peers, but I wasn’t. I was still treated like “the fat kid.”Psychologically, I was so disappointed that I gave up and started eating again. I was a big sneak eater and all that.

When I graduated high school, I got a job in St. Louis, two hours away from my family, I remember thinking “Now I can eat whatever I want!”...and I did! My weight ballooned in the next few years. By the time I got a new job closer to home, I must have gained 50 pounds, and it just continued to go up and up as I ate nonstop. I am the classic foodaholic, and a rampant carb addict (in recovery).

I lost weight once when I was in my early 30's by going on a very low calorie, low-fat diet, and kept it off for a couple of years. But, as always, I slowly went back to my old ways and the pounds piled back on. I spent the next 20 years hovering around my highest weight of 360 pounds.

In 2008, I did all the pre-op and was on the two-week pre-op liquid diet to have lap-band surgery, when I decided at the last minute that, if I could do clear liquids for two weeks, then I could knuckle down and lose the weight myself, so I canceled. It didn't work. I did good for a while, but eventually let the old habits creep back in and the weight went right back up again. That was when I started researching VSG. I'd heard about it when I went to a seminar with a friend at SSM DePaul in St. Louis. I quickly decided that was the surgery I needed, as my biggest eating issue was portion control...or the lack thereof. I researched and studied, and knew it was what I wanted.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes—my blood sugar the day I was diagnosed was 264, and my A1C was 8.1. It scared the hell out of me, and I decided I did not want to be insulin dependent, or lose a foot, or all the other things I knew could happen with diabetes.

I immediately cut out all processed carbs and white flour and decided I would manage it with diet alone. I did well, but by the beginning of 2016, although I had lost 30 pounds, I still couldn't get my blood sugar below 127, so my doctor put me on Metformin.

I hated having to take meds for diabetes, but at least it wasn't insulin. Then I had emergency hernia surgery in February of 2016. At my post-surgery checkup, I asked my surgeon if he could also do my hysterectomy (I had massive fibroids and had needed a hysterectomy for years.) He told me I'd need a gynecological surgeon, but that I would have to lose weight before anyone would do the surgery. That was the day I decided to seriously pursue WLS, and made the call the next day to SSM DePaul Weight Management Services, and began my journey. That was March of 2016.

Before & After VSG with Cathy H.Before & After VSG with Cathy H.

Name: Cathy H.
Total Loss Since Surgery: 
147 pounds
Surgery Type: VSG
Surgery Date: October 31, 2016
Surgeons Name: Dr. Andrew Wheeler

My Surgery and Post-Op Life

Once I met with Dr. Andrew Wheeler at SSM DePaul, I found out my insurance required a 3-month doctor-supervised diet prior to approving surgery. I started that diet at the end of May 2016.

On August 2, 2016, I met with the surgeon, nutritionist, and psychologist to get the rest of my requirements met. The medically supervised diet ended on August 25, 2016, and a couple of weeks later, SSM DePaul submitted my paperwork to my insurance. I was notified 2 weeks later (end of September) that I had been approved! I could have had my surgery by the 2nd week of October but there wasn't enough time because Dr. Wheeler wanted me to do two full weeks of the clear liquid diet, so we decided on Halloween, October 31, 2016.

I weighed 299 pounds the day of surgery, having lost an additional 30 pounds between deciding to have surgery. When the day arrived, it was for a total of 60 pounds lost pre-surgery.

I was so excited; surgery was at 11 am on Tuesday, and by 11 am on Wednesday I'd had my post-surgery upper GI to check for leaks, was sitting in a chair and ready to go home. I had very low potassium, so had to take a couple of the nastiest tasting potassium drinks ever before the surgeon (Dr. Morales as Dr. Wheeler had to go out of town) would let me go home.

After the potassium and much begging and pleading, I was released at 7 pm for the 2-hour trip home. My recovery was really easy (I'd had a few surgeries by then and this one was one of the easiest for me). There was some pain the first few days, but after a week I didn't need any pain pills and was getting around good. I went back to work after two weeks, to a desk job, so no problems there.

I decided from the beginning that all those foods that I had once thought I couldn't live without, would no longer be a part of my new life.

I know everyone has different experiences, and different motivations for having WLS, and plans for what and how they will handle post-surgery life. I did the low-carb, low-fat, high-protein diet that was prescribed by my surgeon and program for the first five months after surgery.

I lost well, but hit several very long stalls, and was having problems losing at that point. I'd read a lot about the Ketogenic way of eating, and decided to give it a try. I switched to Keto at 5.5 months post-surgery, and have not looked back. I started losing again, but I was so much more satisfied with what I was eating than when I ate low-fat. So, I now live the Keto lifestyle and have no intentions of changing.

I have also weighed, measured, and tracked/logged every single bite I take, and every ounce I drink since Day 1 post-op. I find the tracking keeps me accountable, and mindful of what I eat. I eat three meals a day with no snacking and have done so since the beginning. Although my plan had allowed snacks, snacking was an old lifestyle habit that I had decided to break and never pick back up, so I stuck with three meals only and it works for me. If I stay up really late, I may have/plan a 4th meal, but that doesn't happen often.

I met the initial goal I set with my surgeon of 175 pounds at 10.5 months post-op. Since then, I have decided my ultimate goal is 150 pounds, and as of this writing, I am 3 pounds away from that goal.

I feel as though I am living someone else's life. Every day living life at this size is a new experience for the adult me, as the last time I weight this I was 13 years old!

I can't get over how well I can move, how I don't lose my breath after five minutes of shopping, how I don't have to worry if a chair is big enough or strong enough to hold me, or where I will be able to buy clothes. I can go into any store and buy something to's an amazing feeling! Although I'm still getting used to how I look now, I look at before pictures and don't recognize that woman either. It all seems a lifetime ago, but it's been 18 short months.

I tell people that Dr. Andrew Wheeler is the man who saved my life, and I truly believe that with all my heart. Had I kept on the way I was, I have no doubt I would have lived a very shortened life. I hope and pray I have done enough to extend my life expectancy because I have so much I want to do, I'm not ready to go any time soon!

A Special Milestone / Non-Scale Victory

There have been so many NSVs since I had my surgery.

Among them is wearing cute and fashionable clothes, buying and wearing knee-high boots for the first time since I was a kid.

Going out with a group and no longer being the biggest person in the room.

Fitting in theater seats with a lot of room to spare.

Not worrying about how to maneuver through a restaurant without having to ask people to scoot their chairs up, or bumping people with my belly/backside!

The one big milestone/NSV for me though was a promise I made to myself that when I had lost 100 pounds since surgery, I would Zip Line! I worked at a summer camp this summer, and because of them was able to make my milestone dream a reality. On July 26, 2016, I rode the zip line at camp, and it was FREAKING AMAZING!!! What a rush! Now I have so many other things I want to do that I could never do before, that my bucket list is growing by leaps and bounds!!

I’m also happy to say that not only have I gotten to stop one of my blood pressure medications, but my last A1C was a very, very normal 4.8! I couldn’t be happier about that for sure! Oh, and I lost enough weight that I was able to get the hysterectomy I desperately need, too!

Has been a part of your journey? has been a huge part of my WLS journey. I first found it after canceling my lap-band surgery, when I was looking for success stories of people who had VSG surgery. So much of the advice and information I read here helped me to make my decision to have surgery and to make that a comfortable and informed decision.

I lurked for 10 years, but once I made the call to start the ball rolling for my own surgery, I dove in and started posting. Every day since then I have read the posts, absorbed the knowledge, and now I try to give back by offering my own advice and information about my experience to new members looking for help on their own journeys.

I have a full-time job now that I love, and it keeps me from posting as much as I used to, but I try to weigh in (pardon the pun) whenever I can. OH is part of my daily accountability routine, and I plan on it staying that way!

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