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Not Without Complications... - San Antonio, TX

I was thin for most of my childhood and teen years...

I was thin for most of my childhood and teen years. I got pregnant at 17, had my baby at 18 and gave him up for adoption. After that point I went into a depression that lasted many years and my one constant was food. I quickly gained weight and just kept gaining. My food obsession got worse when I tried to have another child and month after month was met with disappointment. Then I found out I had hypothyroidism and PCOS. I kept saying every year on my birthday that THIS was the year. I was going to lose all the extra weight so that I could have a better chance at having a baby and a healthier life. I would last a couple of weeks and lose motivation when the scale wouldn't move.

My father had gastric bypass 6 to 7 years ago and I remember at the time thinking he was crazy. When I saw his results I started researching bariatric surgery for myself. When the opportunity for me to have the surgery presented itself 8 months ago I knew deep down it was my last chance to do something about my weight. I had done my research, had talked in depth with my dad about what to expect afterwards. I was ready.

I was 36 and felt like my chance to have another child was quickly slipping through my fingers. This was one of my big motivations for the surgery but was not the biggest. I tipped the scales at 324 and was feeling the affects on my joints as well as stamina. My blood pressure was becoming a problem. I could no longer mow the front lawn without taking a break every lap or so. This frustrated me so badly and made me feel so horrible about myself. I had pretty much become a hermit. I would only leave the house when it was absolutely necessary. I didn't want people to see me, I didn't even want to see myself. I was becoming someone I couldn't recognize.

My surgery was Oct 31st of 2011. I was going to have the sleeve gastrectomy. I was scared but excited and ready to take this huge step and get on with the next chapter of my life. Let me start with saying that what happened to me is NOT typical. It is one of those 1 in a million type of complications that can happen and your surgeon should make sure you are aware of it, which mine did, but you never think it will be you.

We knew shortly after I came out of recovery that something was wrong. I was having a hard time, and up to this point I hadn't had anything to drink but I was throwing up pretty regularly. They initially thought it was from the anesthesia but it kept happening. I was taken in to do a swallow study where everyone kept saying the barium was nasty. (It wasn't that bad, to me) I remember watching the barium go down to my pouch on the screen and then watching it come back up. My sleeve had twisted over on itself and they had to go back in immediately to fix it. So Nov 1st I was taken back into surgery where the surgeon tried to fix the sleeve but my stomach was NOT having any of it and they had to convert it to a gastric bypass.

Recovery after that 2nd surgery was totally different from the 1st. I was more alert coming out of recovery, there was no more throwing up, which was a blessing considering how painful it is to do after having surgery on your stomach. The only complaint I have is the gas pain. I walked, I laid in different positions, I walked some more. Nothing was working. The pain got so bad that that night the nurse came and gave me a pain med shot. I guess that relaxed me enough that I was able to release enough of the gas to make the pain subside.

I had a couple of moments right after the 1st surgery where I wanted to change my mind and have me put back to "normal". However, now I feel that it was worth it. In 8 months I have lost over 130 lbs. I am 21 lbs from my goal weight. I have gone from a size 30 womans to a 14/16. I am happier, way more active, less embarrassed of going out in public. I feel like I am 10 years younger and I am healthy! My PCOS symptoms have lessened, my blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar, which was listed as pre-diabetic just before surgery, is running in the normal range. My ONLY regret is that I didn't get the surgery sooner. If I had known how bad I really felt on a daily basis and how good I could feel, I would have moved heaven and earth to get this surgery years ago.

I jokingly say I wish someone had told me how much I was going to love shopping for clothes after the surgery. I have become addicted to clothes shopping. I used to walk by these cool clothing stores and wish I could go in and buy the cute shirt in the window or that adorable skirt. But knew I couldn't because they didn't carry my size. Now I can go into those stores and buy what I want.

The last time I dropped out of College I told everyone it was because I was feeling sick a lot and needed to take a break since I was missing so many classes. The truth was that I could not fit into the desks anymore. I was told they could put a special desk in my classes with a sign saying it was reserved for me. That was just too embarrassing so I dropped out. I am now enrolled back at the college for the spring 2013 semester.

I am reclaiming my life and the person that was hidden deep inside me. The surgery, even with the complication, has changed my life for the better and I don't regret my decision one little bit.

Dr. Richard Peterson

Dr Peterson has been a friend of my dad's for a few years. He was the one that performed my dad's wife's gastric bypass. So as you can see he was highly recommended. When I met Dr Peterson he immediately put me at ease. I do not like or trust doctors, I have had many bad experiences, but Dr Peterson has a very caring spirit and his staff share that same spirit. They spend a lot of time talking with you and making sure you are extremely well informed on all aspects of the surgery and how life will change after. Plus they are very accessible by phone if you have questions, concerns, or just need to talk. Their care doesn't stop after you have the surgery. They do several follow-ups during the 1st year post-op. Plus they run a monthly support group and stay after the meeting to talk with anyone who wants/needs to talk.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait tmes
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Comments (7)

Thank you so much for your story! Even though you had complications it sounds like you definitely made the right move. I am a 59 yr old woman that is currently contemplating having this surgery done FINALLY!!! I have been overweight (obese) for most of my adult life with it getting worse all the time! I am now tired of being tired, depressed & having my knees hurt so bad I can barelly walk. On the outside, I am a happy-go-lucky person but on the inside I think about my obesity from the time I get up in the morning untill I finally (if sometimes never) go to sleep at night!

Thanks again for your testimonial; It really meant a lot to me!
  • Reply
Thanks for reading it. I know exactly where you are coming from. That was me 8 months ago. Nobody really knew how badly I felt about myself. I tried to be this happy well adjusted person on the outside. But inside it was a whole different story. I also didn't realize how bad healthwise I really truly felt until after I had the surgery and had lost about 50 lbs. It was amazing how much better and how much more energy I had. I never realized how bad it was before until that point. :) Def worth it.
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I think any kind of surgery can be scary, but as long as you research your doctor, make sure they're board certified and have many consultations until you find the doctor you feel most comfrotable with.

As you say, once all the weight has been lost you deserve to feel comfortable in your own body and having a lot of excess skin can be difficult to live with, especially after all of the hard work you've put in. It can also become a medical issue, causing skin rashes, etc

I'm with you, I think of it as a necessary evil to get to the end game!

  • Reply

Hey nhRevan,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. Wow, you went through a lot, in life and with the surgery. I'm so glad you ahve been able to come out of the other side and reclaim your life! Way to go on going back to college and congratulations on your weight loss. WLS is not the easy route by any stretch of the imagination, but you've obviously made it work and worked hard at it!

Will you be having any post-WLS surgery for excess skin, or did your skin return to a normal state?

Kirsty

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I am anticipating a little further down the road having some post WLS surgery. Especially on the upper arms, thighs and tummy section. Even the chin/neck area. Until then I have learned how to strategically dress to hide the problem areas.
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I've heard a lot of people singing the praises of Spanx post-WLS... apparently it hides all of the lumps and bumps we don't want to show! I am in the very early stages of bariatric surgery, but I know down the line I will also need excess skin removal!

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Yes I am going to look into spanx I think. I am scared of the plastic surgeries but when you lose all the weight you want to be able to feel comfortable in your own skin and it is hard to do that with a lot of excess skin. So I see it as sort of a necessary evil of sorts.
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