Before & After VSG with Donnakayeb, down 100 pounds!May 11, 2021
Why I decided to have WLS
Before & After VSG with Donnakayeb: Beginning at the age of 13, I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. This caused my weight to go from 105 to 155 over the span of one year. As you can imagine, at the age of 13, this was very devastating for me. It was not until I was 15 that I could have 90% of my thyroid removed, thus starting a lifelong struggle with my weight. I was so traumatized that the only way I could cope with this transition was to become apathetic to my body’s image.
Throughout my adult years, my weight slowly continued to creep up. The biggest contributing factors to this were having children and not paying attention to how out of control the problem became. I always knew I was overweight but tried not to let it bother me. I kept myself busy being a mom and trying to take care of my family. I never discussed my weight or my struggles with anyone.
I would make jokes about being overweight so people would know that I was aware of it. This was my way of acknowledging the issue before anyone else could point it out.
I tried several commercial diet programs, and they would help temporarily, but the weight would just keep coming back as I would relapse to my old eating habits. I finally had to realize that it was not my thyroid problem or being too busy, the problem was me and my eating habits.
I always tried to convince myself that what I chose to put in my body was not really “that bad.” I even went to the gym a few days a week, disillusioned with the fact that this effort was for little to no gain.
As I got into my 50’s, I had to have several surgeries that were not weight-related. However, they did make me realize that I needed to get myself together. My children had moved out and established homes of their own. I am a grandmother now, and I want to be there for my granddaughter and my kids. My children’s father passed away in May of 2013, at age 59. This was a wake-up call, as it was time for me to become accountable and take care of myself. For me as well as my family.
Between 2015 and 2018, I was diagnosed with prediabetes, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Due to these conditions, I was on five different medications. Three were for my blood pressure, one for cholesterol, and my thyroid pill (which is a maintenance drug since I only have 10% of a thyroid).
It was during the holiday season of 2017 when I boarded a plane to come home from visiting my children, and I could not fasten my seatbelt. I was so horrified and embarrassed I refused to ask for a seat belt extender. It was at that moment that I knew I had to do something about my weight.
In January of 2018, I went to my primary care doctor to discuss the elephant in the room, and by that, I meant myself. I brought up the idea of weight loss surgery. Knowing me very well, she was extremely helpful in her words, “let’s get you going in the right direction.” She never shamed me or made me feel bad about myself. From those words, I was able to forge my path to a new me.
Before & After VSG with Donnakayeb
My Surgery and Post-Op Life
In January of 2018, I made my first appointment with Dr. Quilici’s office. I met with the dietician, Jacqui Abarca, for a class to explain the three procedures offered by the doctor. I went in thinking I was going to get the Lap-Band but after hearing about each surgery I opted for the Gastric Sleeve.
I made this decision based on what I had learned about some of the issues with the Lap-Band. Also, in a prior surgery, I had part of my colon removed, which kept me from having Gastric Bypass. After that class, I met with the doctor, and he told me I was going to have to change my life. I was so offended because the idea of changing the core of my life was inconceivable at the time.
Regardless of how I felt, I started doing the homework given: food diaries, nutrition classes, and support groups as I was instructed. Still bothered by the doctor’s words, I started talking with the dietician about how I did not want to change my life. It was in one of those emails back to me where she called me out and said, “if you do not want to make the changes, then maybe this is not the best time for you to have weight loss surgery.” After that, I went back and read my emails, and all I read was excuse after excuse as to why I did not want to change. That is when it all hit me; if I wanted to achieve my goals, I had to do exactly what Dr. Quilici said and change my life. And that is where my journey really began.
I decided to go through the pre-op process without telling anyone because it was such a personal decision I did not want to be persuaded by anyone else’s opinion. I did not even tell my husband because the final decision had to come from within me.
I finally told my husband and family three weeks before my surgery. They were terribly upset with me, but I had to stand by my choice. I did not expect anyone to understand my decision because nobody else was in my situation and could not possibly understand what I was going through.
I had surgery on July 20, 2018, and I had a very tough recovery. I followed the post-operation program as directed. It was not easy, and it proved to be extremely trying at times, but I just pushed through.
Before & After VSG with Donnakayeb: Significant Milestones
One day at the support group meeting, a lady stood up and said she was going to participate in the Wonder Woman 5K in November 2018. It was my dream to be able to finish a 5K, and to be honest with you; I never thought I could do it. I decided to join her and a few other members of our group.
I set a goal for myself to complete the race in 45 minutes. I accomplished my goal and finished in 42 minutes. When I crossed the finish line, proud tears of joy ran down my face. Since that first race, I have run in over 20 races, mud runs, terrain races, and obstacle courses. In April of 2019, I was able to run a 5K in 26 minutes, and I won first place for my age group. This is the life I wanted for myself.
Now today, over 2 ½ years later, I continue to set goals for myself. One goal I have for myself is to get 10,000 steps in the morning before I have my breakfast. As soon as activities open, I would like to run a 10K. I can play and run with my 5-year-old granddaughter, and I have run several races with my daughter. I can fasten my seatbelt on an airplane with room to spare! I can even walk down the aisle of an airplane without turning sideways.
I go to as many support groups as possible. Every day I must make a conscious decision to eat the right things and keep myself on track. Not every day is easy, but I do my best. My dietician, Jacqui Abarca, is my lifeline for any questions that I have about food and nutrition. Our psychologist, Dr. McCoy, is also at our group meetings and is extremely helpful for whatever we are feeling and going through.
Overall, I feel it was the best decision for me to make at this time of my life. I hope by telling my story, I can help someone else make this life-changing decision and show that with dedication, anything is possible.
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