By the time I was 47, I weighed 256 lbs. This amount of weight on my small frame was taking its toll on me. I was tired all the time, my feet and knees were killing me. I was concerned about my health and wondered if I would be around for my family. Also, my weight was negatively affecting my professional life. Since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out differently, I knew I had to try a different approach to my weight problem.
For years I had known that weight loss surgery existed, but I felt shamed by all these diet and exercise purists and their morally superior, "if you'd only eat less and exercise more" attitude. You know the type, while they may know what works for themselves, they have no idea of the struggle the rest of us have with weight issues and view weight loss surgery "as a quick fix for those too lazy to lose weight with a sensible diet and exercise plan." While some of these people may truly believe what they are saying and have good intentions, I believe that many of these people have issues of their own unrelated to weight and enjoy being perceived as experts and relish the opportunity to put other people down.
I finally decided, to hell with you people. This is MY life and I need to do what is RIGHT for ME!!! I went to a support group meeting for weight loss patients and prospective patients at Weill-Cornell's weight loss center. The meeting was moderated by the center’s nutritionists and I met with patients who had surgery. The people were really positive with one another and I felt comfortable with them. I also attended an information session presented by Dr. Dakin. I was surprised to meet other people like me - successful and happy in other aspects of their lives, but confounded by their obesity. I no longer felt alone and ashamed.
They didn't candy-coat things: while this surgery is intended to be a tool to make it easier for someone to eat sensibly and patients lose weight, everyone stressed that the patient is still responsible for making choices with respect to his/her life. I also liked the fact that they didn't push people into any particular type of surgery (or any surgery, for that matter.) I had done a lot of searching online and many facilities seemed to be REALLY pushing lap-band type surgeries – this made me uncomfortable.
I booked a consultation with Dr. Dakin and one of the nutritionists, Liz Goldenberg. First, I met with Liz and I immediately liked her. She’s a straight talker and understood my struggles. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition, but Liz gave me better, more useful information and helped me figure out how to realistically incorporate all these concepts into MY life. The nutritional support they give you at Weill-Cornell has really made all the difference.
My husband and I then met with Dr. Dakin and really liked him. He is very serious and professional. He took the time to answer our questions and I felt confident that I was in capable hands. Dr. Dakin’s assistant, Jill Lim, is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I met with her before I left and since I knew I wanted the R&Y gastric bypass surgery, she gave me a folder and a “road map” outlining all the things I would need to have completed in order to qualify for the surgery. She is so organized and helpful!! I immediately scheduled the various exams (it took a while) and after she had the results and various letters from my doctors, she was able to get my insurance company’s approval within 2 weeks.
The surgery took place at New York Presbyterian Hospital – an absolutely immaculate facility. From the moment I walked through the door until I was discharged, I was treated with courtesy and respect. Check in was a breeze: I filled out the paperwork, changed into a gown, met with the nurse for a quick check up and IV, then with the anesthesiologist. I walked into the operating room and everyone was in good spirits – I wasn’t a bit nervous. When I woke up, I was in the recovery area with my husband. My mouth and throat felt a bit dry, but I felt no pain. After I was transferred to a room, I laid in bed for a while and later that evening started walking around. The nurses at NYPH are wonderful – they are competent, kind, and caring – everything you hope for in a nurse. When I was finally able to eat, I had a “special delivery” tray from a woman who worked in that department at NYPH who had had weight loss surgery. What a nice surprise and seeing her successful and happy put a smile on my face! Dr. Dakin visited me daily with the group of surgeons that he was training to check that I was recovering well. I felt well taken care of and I didn’t feel any pain until I came home 3 days later.
I have had good support from Weill-Cornell, especially from Liz, the nutritionist, and that this continues to keep me on track. A year later, I had lost over 115 lbs. I’ve been at the same weight for 6 months and I’m really happy. I have more energy and I can do more things with my family. And of course, I love shopping for clothes!
Now that I look back on it, this surgery was like hitting the reset button so I could re-train my eating habits and my attitude about myself. I am now used to smaller portions, as I get full quickly and MUST stop eating no matter how good something tastes. Since I can’t eat as much food, I am VERY picky about my food – it has to fit into my plan for the day in terms of nutritional value and it has to taste good. As women, we sometimes feel guilty about spending any time on ourselves. I was so busy taking care of everyone and everything else, that I didn’t take care of myself. I have to remind myself every day how important I am to my family and that it isn’t being vain to take care of myself – it is absolutely necessary.