Before & After VSG with Shawnkeedra, down 155 pounds!July 13, 2021
Why I decided to have WLS
Before & After VSG with Shawnkeedra: Being overweight was my plight for as long as I could remember. “You’re pretty for a big girl” and “you’ve got a pretty face” were the compliments I was so used to since at least high school…funky clothes, jewelry, and shoes were my way out!
From there, the compliments always were about how "put together" I was. Although I truly did love the compliments, deep inside, I was so very unhappy. I wished desperately to lose weight so I could actually feel pretty and gorgeous to MYSELF; my number one critic, and not others. But that all changed in March of 2020.
Years and years of crash and non-crash diets, 90 pounds lost on Weight Watchers in 2005, transformations, diet pills, five pounds lost…ten pounds gained, the ups and downs, coupled with unimaginable grief eventually led me upwards of 337 pounds (my highest recorded weight). I was completely out of control!
Getting in and out of the car was a hassle that constantly kept me out of breath. Reaching my back in the shower was a chore and seatbelt extenders on flights were my life and I accepted this as my eternal fate.
In 2008, my grandfather died. A year later, my dad passed away, which completely rocked my whole world. Fast forward to the end of 2010, and I met my husband. We were married in 2011. My whole childhood through early adulthood, I always said I never wanted children, and that was ok for my new husband, who already had a beautiful little 3-year-old girl named Madison. He, too, said he was fine not having any other children. So we were set!
Then one day in 2012, our minds changed and we decided we would have a baby. We quickly found ourselves pregnant at the end of April. We were both shocked, elated, and scared to death! We hadn’t expected to get pregnant so soon.
We strapped in and made an appointment, only to find that we would likely miscarry. We didn’t miscarry but instead had to have a DNC, which was in July 2013. Between July 2013 and May 2016, we tried every way possible, including fertility specialists, shots, and five failed insemination attempts, to become pregnant. It was daunting and discouraging for so long, to say the least. In May 2016, we were ecstatic to have gotten pregnant naturally.
This was the happiest time in my life. I was so happy to finally be pregnant. After all those years of telling myself I did not want kids, it had now, for the past three years become my then-lifelong dream…and it was coming true.
When I found out it was a girl, I couldn’t have been happier to have a little ‘mini-me.’ Then, in January 2017, the unthinkable happened. On January 25, 2017, at 41 weeks, and the day I was induced to have my sweet Harper Simone, we found out she no longer had a heartbeat. All the longing and waiting was over in a flash. She was gone, and we were absolutely devastated. From that time on, we actively tried to get pregnant again, to no avail. My depression was growing from not only the loss of Harper but also from my inability to get pregnant.
Every day, I was eating comfort food to cope and felt I couldn’t help it, so I just kept not caring. I had given up the weight-loss journey at this point and just said forget it.
Madison’s mom lived out of state so she would go and visit her each summer since she lived with us full-time. In May of 2018, Madison went off to her mother’s home for the summer. While she was gone, my husband and I decided we wanted to foster-to-adopt a child and set out to do just that.
In August, we became the foster parents of a beautiful little baby who came to us at three months old. Life was seemingly going pretty well under the circumstances.
On Labor Day of 2018, only two weeks after Madison had been home from her trip, we were involved in a horrible car accident that claimed Madison’s life, just a few weeks before her eleventh birthday, and left my husband and me severely injured.
We now had to deal with the loss of our two daughters in less than two years. The grief was unbearable and again, we were left utterly devastated.
In June 2019, the baby we anticipated adopting went back to her mom after being with us for nearly a year. So my story of triumph involves not only walking through the loss of four daughters but also the absolute loss of myself because the grief was, most times, too much to bear.
Before & After VSG with Shawnkeedra
My Surgery and Post-Op Life
With my snoring getting louder and my lower back pain increasing, I decided to try one more time to get bariatric assistance. My insurance was never going to cover surgery, even with sleep apnea and being pre-diabetic since I had inquired a few times over the last 10-12 years or so, and the answer was always NO.
I even tried another bariatric doctor years ago, but at the time, I could not afford to pay out of pocket for the surgery. Knowing I had to do something, I literally Googled bariatric doctors in my area, and Dr. Chad Carlton was the first to pop up. I thought, what could be the worst thing that could happen, besides another no, which I was used to by now. So, I made an appointment at the end of October 2019.
Walking into the office, I was nervous but also excited about the possibilities. I met with Dr. Chad Carlton and, of course, explained ‘how we got here,’ telling him my story, to which he showed so much empathy and a real desire to help. And, of course, my insurance still didn’t cover the surgery. Undeterred, Dr. Carlton prescribed me Lomaira to assist with my weight loss goals and encouraged some exercise. I’m a stickler for ‘the rules’, so I went off and did exactly what he instructed, even throwing in a few days a week of walking in my neighborhood for about a mile to a mile and a half.
I lost about 25 pounds and then the holidays came so I, of course, fell off. In March 2020, I was informed that my insurance now covered the surgery starting February 2020, and I was excited! I got my date and was Sleeved on June 11, 2020. Pre-op and post-op were not bad for me because, as I say for me, I went into this entire experience with a different mindset. So many ‘no's, and I finally got a ‘YES,’ I felt like this was my last chance at accomplishing lasting weight loss.
I always said my goal was to wear a size 10 across the board, in any designer, and I would be happy. Well, I accomplished that and so much more in such a small amount of time!
From the day I had surgery, I followed my doctor’s orders and I started seeing the weight fall off. I went from sometimes doing a couple of days a week of walking maybe two miles to walking five miles a day seven days a week now without fail, no matter what! I always say NO DAYS OFF.
I also do full-body workouts and three additional miles on the elliptical five days a week. I know people may say that this is the "easy" way out, but they have no idea, and I say get the nay-sayers out of your heads. This lifestyle change requires lots of discipline and hard work. It’s nothing easy about it, but it’s so worth it!
That hard work led me to lose 145 pounds a few days shy of being seven months post-op. My back pain was gone in a couple of months. I was off the CPAP in five months and was no longer pre-diabetic within six months. Currently, I am 15 pounds away from my goal weight and couldn’t be happier! I have so much more energy and feel so much better.
The moral of the story is to let nothing or no one stop you from reaching your goals! We all got this! Enjoy the journey, trust the process, and remember we are seeking progress, not perfection. Good luck!
Special Milestones / Non-Scale Victories
- Crossed legs in a car, which I’d never been able to do: August 2020
- Arms and legs began to get noticeably muscular: September 2020
- Didn’t have to use a seatbelt extender on an airplane: October 2020
- Crossed legs on a plane, also I’d never done: December 2020
- Started wearing a size 10 and Medium: December 2020
- Brisk Walk gradually upped and currently 5 miles daily: January 2021
- Started wearing size 8 and Small: February 2021
- Encouraging others: Currently and Constantly, with Joy
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