Hi, my name is Melissa. I live in KY but I use the TN forum because that's where I had my surgery and where I go to support group meetings. I was also raised in TN. I've been fat (I HATE the word obese) pretty much my whole life. Never had any boyfriends in school and never went out on a real date until my early 20s. ( I'll be 39 in March). In this world we live in today its very hard to get by if you're not skinny. I won't go through the whole sob story because it's also everyone elses. Let's just say that at the age of 28 I finally met a wonderful man who loved me no matter what size I was. At that time I was only about 180. I had recently lost about 70 lbs. Needless to say i started gaining weight. He didn't care, he still loved me and calls me beautiful (yeah, right). A week before my 30th b-day my BP shot through the roof(205/117). Had to go to ER and been on BP pills ever since. My hubby proposed to me on my 30th bday. We were married in Oct. '99. Over the years I've continued to gain weight even after trying all the diets out there. Believe me, Ive tried them all. I had to start taking arthritis meds because of my knees. Then I had to take a fluid pill because my feet and ankles swell to the size of basketballs. I got tired of being on all this medicine and not wanting to do anything outside of the house. We love to go dancing but when I hit 280 lbs the dancing stopped. Along with a few other things. In June '07 I went to my PCP to get a letter of approval for my insurance(Aetna). I met my surgeon, Dr. James McDowell at Baptist in Nashville on August 3,'07. Went through the 3 month requirements for my ins. Met with Dr.again on Nov.9, '07. All my info was submitted to Aetna on Nov. 27 and I got the approval on Dec. 3. I couldn't believe it. It only took 6 days to get approved. It took a girt I work with about 6 months to get her approval. Anyway, I had surgery Jan 14, '08. Can't wait to get back to the old me!!!