Growing up, I was a pretty active kid. My friends and I were always running around and playing outside. I even ran track in my early years, and jogged regularly into my 30’s. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my son, and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, that I began to struggle with weight issues.
I’d always had a sweet tooth, and coupled with the lifestyle change that comes with being a mom, it suddenly became very difficult to get back to where I wanted to be. And when I did lose some of the weight, it was difficult to keep it off.
I tried all the most popular diets, including Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and Atkins. I tried pilates, yoga, gyrotonics, cardio, and weight routines too, but none of these gave me the results I was looking for. I even got a personal trainer, but all that did was leave me fit, fat, and broke. I started taking insulin for my diabetes, and experimented with various different drugs and weight loss supplements, all of which made me sick to my stomach. I became frustrated, scared, and embarrassed, overwhelmed, and a little depressed, none of which helped with my refusal to give up the cakes, pies and cookies.
By the time I had my second knee surgery in 2002, I was waging a continual battle with diabetes, acid reflux, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and sleep apnea. I started itching all over my body, becoming winded from taking the stairs, and was shopping in the big girls section of the department stores and taking far too many trips to the bathroom. My sense of self-worth was faltering, and I was no longer confident that I had the willpower to get my weight under control with diet and exercise because I had already failed so many times. When I began to hurt all over, especially in my right calf, it became the straw that broke the camel’s back. I visited 22 doctors, none of whom could give a diagnosis, and all of whom felt the obesity was the cause of everything.
One day, I looked in the mirror and stared straight into my soul and asked, “Are you going to do this?” The honest answer was no. I knew I was not willing to give up the junk food. So I made an appointment with the surgeon. I knew the road ahead would still be tough, but for the first time in a while, a sense of relief—a sense of hope.
The decision to have surgery changed my life.
Although my doctor had recommended lap-band surgery to help manage my diabetes better, I decided on gastric bypass because the outcome was much more promising.
The surgery wasn’t some quick fix or miracle cure, and in the years since my surgery I’ve had many challenges and questions. It wasn’t always easy, but with hard work, dedication, and the support of my friends, family, the bariatric community and a number of experts, I’ve managed to cure my diabetes, take back control of my life, and become a healthier, happier version of myself.
After experiencing how life-changing bariatric surgery can be, and learning so much about the challenges we face, I felt compelled to share my story and create a resource for those considering the surgery, or already on their journey.