Before & After VSG with Karen Mack, down 110 pounds!April 6, 2021
Before & After VSG with Karen Mack: Why I decided to have WLS
When I decided to have surgery, I was 41 years old, and wow, did I feel old. I was tired all the time, I had no energy even to spend time with my husband or teenage kids, and I was frustrated all the time because of how terrible I felt.
I had a new granddaughter, and sitting on the floor to play with her was exhausting and painful. Standing in the kitchen to cook for my family (I have 4 children now grown ages 17 -27) was brutally painful on my back and knees, and my orthopedic doctor wanted me to have a full knee replacement in both knees.
The pain kept me from sleeping well, and not sleeping made me want to eat unhealthy foods. The combination of bad foods and lack of sleep combined with pain prevented me from exercising, walking, and be able to live and complete simple tasks, which began to affect my moods and, in turn, started to negatively affect my relationships with friends and family, especially husband and kids.
My doctors told me I needed to take medication for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. My blood pressure was so high that at any moment, I could have had a stroke or heart attack. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother be ill and live on medication to live, and in the end, I did not want to live life like that.
Every day I was suffering from this exhausting cycle. I could not break out of it even though I knew what to do; I could not achieve the energy and focus needed to be healthy.
I had seen an ad for the gastric balloon and called the number. A week later, I was in the office of a specialist, and he point-blank told me with the balloon, I would basically be wasting my time and money because of how overweight I was and suggested the sleeve. I thought to myself how pathetic it was that I must have surgery to lose weight. I felt so shameful.
I went home and spoke with my husband, and after a good conversation, he said he would support me through the process and help where he could. And he did. He has sat through support group meetings and built friendships with the new friends I have made on this journey with me. My doctor's office and other patients in the support group look at him and consider him one of us, lol!
So I started the process, and all my specialist and dietary appointments required by insurance, and ½ way through, I had to switch doctors because of a change in coverage. I felt so defeated until I found DR. Aranow and his staff with the amazing support group they had established through Middlesex hospital. I felt a certain level of ease with the staff.
After my first appointment, I was so grateful for the insurance change because that was the first moment (in my first appointment with Dr. Aranow) on this journey that I really felt like I was in the right place doing the right thing to save my life and my family. I drove an hour for all my appointments, support groups, and tests on top of an already busy schedule of 10-hour workdays and a family to care for, but it was like the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
During the 6-month insurance requirements to get approved for surgery, I was required to basically learn how to eat all over again and deal with why I was eating, was I bored, frustrated, angry, etc.? I had to learn to choose different foods that were not always quick and understand the nutritional value of them and how important it was to chew slowly and thoroughly.
I also had to reset my mind to learn to exercise every day. At first, that was a 5-minute walk and eventually up to 20 minutes. I had to stop consuming caffeine and soda, and juice.
All these new habits helped me to be prepared for what was to come and set the stage for my success. I was able to make new friends at work that walked with me at lunch, and before surgery, I was able to lose 25 pounds by surgery day. I was down to 196 pounds. Thanks to Dr. Aranow and his staff and the support of the programs put in place by Middlesex Health at the hospital, I am so grateful for everyone there. They helped to save my life.
Before & After VSG with Karen Mack
My Surgery and Post-Op Life
Since my VSG surgery on 12/17/2019, I feel like I was given a whole new life. I eat so healthy and love these healthy foods, but even more, I have gained so much more than losing weight.
I can cook for my family and sleep without pain. I can run and play with my 3-year-old granddaughter with more energy than her young (23-year-old dad, my son). I can go shopping and walk and swim. I have been able to start kayaking (something I always wanted to do), and I can walk 3 miles for 45 minutes every day without knee pain and still have the energy to go to the gym to do strength training to keep me strong.
My goal was to get my diabetes and blood pressure under control and lose enough weight to be active again and feel pretty. I would have been happy with a final weight of 150, which was projected, so when I went to my 3-month post-op and weighed in at 150 and my A1c (diabetes) was back to normal, I was in awe. How was this even possible?
And by 6 months, I was at 124, and by 9 months post-op, I had gotten to my lowest weight in life since 3rd grade at 111 pounds. I could not ask for a better outcome. It was like I was living a dream, and before I knew it, people were referring to me as a tiny person. It is so surreal. I have gone from a size 20/22 pants and 1x/2x shirt to a size 0 pants and extra small/small shirts.
Special Milestones / Non-Scale Victories
One of the best moments for me was when my husband realized how much more active and healthier, I was. We used to go shopping at a mall and the store he loves was so far at the other end I would hate to walk to it or up stairs I dreaded it and he would always have to wait for me.
About 6 weeks after surgery and walking every day, we went to the mall, and I was walking at his pace and not only keeping up with him, I passed him. He was behind me (He is a foot taller than me as I am 5’1 and he is 6’), but when we got to the escalator, I didn’t get on and wait for the escalator to bring me up. I jogged up the escalator with ease, and he said, "Woah, since when can you do that?" He was so happy for me and proud of how I took hold of this journey and changed my health.
It’s also flattering to have my teenage daughters ask if I am going to wear a bikini with them in the summer now. I am not, but I love hearing that they think I should. And seeing me succeed and lose weight has motivated one of my daughters, who struggled with emotional weight gain, to lose some weight.
I have met and made some of the best people ever on this journey; It really is all about the small things in life. I am so blessed and thankful for my doctors and dieticians for the second chance they have given me in life! I hope I continue to inspire people and encourage and motivate them to be the best version of themselves.
Celebrate your own Before & After WLS Success, milestones, non-scale victories, and inspire others! The OH team wants to hear from you to share your weight loss surgery journey. Visit our Before & After Submission page for details.