Before & After VSG with Scott, down 113 pounds!October 13, 2020
Why I Decided to Have WLS: Before & After VSG with Scott
Before & After VSG with Scott: As a young child, I never had an issue with weight. When I hit puberty in middle school, I started gaining and gaining almost overnight.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I weighed 240lbs. As I look back, I think a lot of it may have been due to my tumultuous home life. I felt so alone as a teenager and food always brought me comfort.
My family is very southern and food is part of their love language, so there was never a lack of high-calorie comfort foods. I didn’t know at that point that I also have an extremely slow metabolism.
As an adult, I tried numerous weight loss tactics: shakes, pills, diet plans, injections, etc. and it never seemed to work. At one point, I was doing injections twice weekly, pills 2-3 times daily, and spin class three times weekly with other exercise mixed in and I still could not get down to a healthy weight.
The lowest I ever got was 190lbs., but it all returned once I stopped taking the pills. My weight exacerbated my anxiety and depression, my self-esteem was almost nonexistent, and I felt hopeless.
I was in my early 30’s with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and a recent diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. My lab work was atrocious. At one point, my triglycerides were in the 700’s. My partner, my friends, and my family all accepted me for my size, but I didn’t. I wasn’t happy with myself at all.
I had known a few people who had started their journey with bariatric surgery, but I had never seriously considered it as an option until a friend and a close family member started their journeys. I saw their successes and their struggles and decided to investigate it as a possibility. I was nervous because I didn’t want to fail and I knew that I would have little support from my partner or my family. They didn’t believe in surgery and thought it was too risky, and some saw it as the “easy way out.”
When I attended the orientation at my first surgeon’s office, I knew that bariatric surgery was my only option of ever reaching my goal weight. I started the lengthy process toward insurance approval, but in the back of my mind I didn’t feel like I was getting what I needed from my surgeon’s office.
I wasn’t getting a lot of support, and it always seemed that surgery was the goal. Surgery was not my ultimate goal. A healthy life was my ultimate goal.
Once all of the pre-op requirements were met, my insurance ultimately denied my preauthorization request and the surgeon’s office seemed to disappear. To my knowledge, they never sent an appeal or tried to contact me again. That turned out to be a huge blessing!
Three months later, feeling defeating, I contacted the bariatric surgery office that is a part of the medical system where I work, UNC Rex Bariatric Specialists. I was 248lbs. at that point. At that time, I didn’t know anyone who had been a patient of that office, but I wasn’t going to give up on what I saw as my only hope for a healthy life.
When I first met Dr. Peter Ng and his staff, I felt “at home.” They treated me like a patient, not a number. They truly cared that I had a successful outcome and that the actual surgery was only one step in the process and assured me that my goal weight of 166lbs. would be attainable.
Luckily, they were able to use the majority of the testing and dietician visits that I had already completed, but this office, required numerous dietician visits before I could be approved for surgery. This was another difference. In these visits, I learned so much about protein, vitamins, nutrients, healthy cooking, the best way to grocery shop, and how bariatric surgery isn’t a diet but a lifestyle.
They submitted my request to my insurance, received the denial, and quickly appealed and I was approved. There was so much communication along the way which helped me feel even more comfortable and supported.
Before & After VSG with Scott
My Surgery and Post-Op Life: Before & After VSG with Scott
In December 2018, after almost two years, I finally had a surgery date, January 11, 2019! I became more nervous as the date got closer. Only two people in my family knew about my upcoming surgery. I had a few very supportive friends, but my partner was not onboard with the plan. He did not like the risks involved in surgery and I was having serious doubts. On my drive to church one Sunday, I had decided that I would cancel my surgery because I was too nervous about the surgery and the lack of support. That day changed my life!
While at church, a fellow member was telling about how his wife had recently had bariatric surgery and how successful it had been, how she had more energy, was more active and happy. That’s how I met I ultimately met the person who knew just want to say to “talk me off of the ledge.”
Shortly after that, my partner and I got to meet her and we were able to share our thoughts and concerns and something inside flipped. I knew I had to go through with my surgery. That talk also had a major positive effect on my partner. He instantly became my biggest cheerleader.
After a week of a pre-op diet that tested my willpower and sanity, January 11th finally arrived. I don’t remember much about my pre-op wait, but I remember praying for safety but I was at peace because I would rather die during surgery than live another day in my current condition.
My next memory was looking over at a nurse talking to another patient and I asked, “can you tell me when they’re going to take me back to surgery? I’ve been waiting forever.” I was so frustrated. She just smiled and told me that I was in recovery and that I’d be going to my room soon. I had researched so much and I knew that I needed to walk a lot to rid the gas from my body and work the soreness out.
When I went into my room, I wanted to start walking, but I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed so soon after surgery. Once approved, I made lap after lap around the unit, keeping a tally on the board in my room. By the time I was discharged the next day, I had made 14 laps around the unit. I think I took my last blood pressure medicine while I was in the hospital. The staff at UNC Rex Healthcare are amazing people.
My recovery was amazing. I followed my plan to ensure that I was getting the protein, water, and other nutrients. The weight started falling off and that gave me much more incentive. Initially, I had told my family that I was having a hiatal hernia repaired, which wasn’t a lie. The surgeon repaired it at the same time that I had my gastric sleeve.
One family member came to see me while I was recovering at home and was far from supportive when she learned that I had also had bariatric surgery. I told my mom about a month later and she was very supportive.
Shortly after, I decided I needed to share my story and I announced it all on Facebook and have been very transparent since then in regards to my journey. I wanted to be an inspiration or a support person for anyone who was considering bariatric surgery.
In May 2019, I attended my first bariatric conference. By that point, I had lost over 70lbs. I made the trip to Orlando and only knew a couple of people from my Facebook groups and also ran into some I knew from high school who had started her journey years earlier.
I met so many people at that conference and my “tribe” began to form. I even felt good enough to participate in my first 5k event while I was there. I was also able to make contacts with vendors and learn about many new products. While at that conference, I learned about ObesityHelp and the upcoming conference in Garden Grove, California.
I continued to lose weight rather quickly and changed my goal weight to 160. Exactly 5 months after my gastric sleeve surgery, I met my goal weight, and by the time of the ObesityHelp conference in October, I had lost 110lbs. I was 22 lbs. under my goal weight, but I was healthy and my lab work was perfect.
I continued to push myself in many ways to better myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being an introvert, I don’t like being the center of attention. To push that boundary, I decided to be a part of the ObesityHelp Fashion Show and that was a really fun night!
When packing for the trip, 90% of the clothes that I packed were sizes that were too big for my new body, but I wanted to put them to good use so I donated them to the clothing exchange at the conference. When I delivered them, a guy was looking through the clothes and I directed him to the pile of pants that I had just delivered that were the size he was looking for. The conference was amazing, I received so many new “tools” to add to my bariatric “toolbox.”
However, the most rewarding part of the conference was being approached by the guy I had met the previous day for him to point out that my donated pants were a great fit.
Helping others is very important to me. I met more people who share my journey and my “tribe” grew even larger. Another life-changing event happened at that conference. I decided to schedule a plastic surgery consult to find out what my options were. I’d worked so hard to lose weight, become healthier, but I was left with a constant reminder of the aftereffects of obesity every time I looked in the mirror.
After losing 100lbs, I still didn’t feel good about myself because I had extra skin. After multiple consults, I realized that corrective surgery was within the realm of possibilities and I’ve since scheduled a circumferential abdominoplasty or belt lipectomy as some know it. I’m not seeking perfection because that’s not realistic, but it’s my reward for all of my hard work.
There is no cure for obesity, the journey is endless, but I work daily to be my healthiest self. We all fall but we have to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.
I’m currently 135lbs, with a total weight loss of 113lbs. and I’ve maintained this weight for almost 6 months now. I still track my intake daily and always focus on high-protein, healthy foods, and just as importantly, never forget my vitamins. If I can inspire one person by sharing my story, it is been worth it.
Share Your Before & After Success
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.