Jeanne had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in August 2016.
What is the best part about this journey?
Getting healthy is the best part. I find that I can do so much more in my life. I’m more social. I get out and I meet more people. I’m doing more projects at home. I don’t have heartburn anymore. I have bursitis in my hip and occasionally it flares up but not like before. I exercise, which felt very difficult to do before because I got winded. We just got back from Disney World. For 7 days, I walked the park and didn’t struggle with it at all. It was so hot and muggy and I was pushing my son in the wheelchair up the hills. If I would have gone 3 years ago, there’s no way I would have survived. I wouldn’t have done anything.
Shopping is amazing now. Before, I couldn’t find anything. I wouldn’t shop because I would get depressed that the clothes wouldn’t fit. Now I can shop on clearance and find clothes that fit.
My main reason for having surgery was not just to lose the weight but to prevent diabetes. My grandmother had 9 children and all but 1 had diabetes. My brother and sister have diabetes. My mother passed away from diabetes. I didn’t want that. I was told surgery could prevent diabetes. So far, I don’t have it.
It helps you enjoy your life and puts into perspective what’s important and what’s not. Before, food was important and now it’s not. I have a whole different relationship with food.
What has been the hardest part?
In the beginning, the protein shakes were really hard for me. I didn’t like the taste and I really struggled with drinking them. Over time, I’ve learned to love them. Now every morning I have a protein shake and take my vitamins.
The other hard part was that I was never hungry so I had to remind myself to eat. When I went back to work, I had to prepare things like meats or cheeses to have on hand because I would forget to eat. It was hard for me to remember. I would keep snacks in my purse so I could munch on something when I needed to eat.
Outside of that, I really didn’t struggle with anything. It was the simplest surgery I ever had. Everything just kind of came natural for me after surgery. Mentally, physically, it came easy.
What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?
My goal was to lose weight and I lost 20 pounds more than my goal.
I wanted to be able to get out more and start exercising. I’ve been out a lot more – walking and doing things. For my exercise routine, I use the treadmill for 30 minutes and lift weights at the gym.
I wanted to just be healthier. I do believe that I eat healthier now. Before, I would eat because the food was there. I used to overeat and feel so miserable. Now, food is like fuel for my body. I eat because I need to feed my body. I don’t overeat. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I try to plan my meals out. When I’m hungry, I eat meat or cheese and vegetables.
What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?
I would highly recommend it to anyone with weight issues. I’ve been there. You become like a hermit because you’re embarrassed and you don’t feel good. Think long-term about your health and how much happier you will be to be able to go out and do things. You’re going to feel so much better. People tell me, “But I love to eat and I won’t be able to eat.” You can eat. You just eat small amounts. You’re not going to feel as hungry so it allows you to make better choices.
I wish I would have done it years ago when I was raising my kids because I could have done so much more with them. If I were speaking to a younger person, I would say, “Do it now to be able to enjoy time with your children.” Now I can enjoy time with my grandkids. I kick the soccer ball and run with them.
I don’t try to push anybody into it. It’s an individual decision. Look into it. Talk to people. You have to be ready. That was something Dr. Michaelson told me the very first time I met him. He said, “This is a tool. If you think you’re going to come in and have this surgery and it will do it for you, don’t bother doing it. You have to be ready to do the work.” I was ready to do the work and I continue to do the work.