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JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in October 2017.

What is the best part about this journey?

How great I feel about myself! My blood pressure is down. I feel ten years younger. My sleep apnea is better. I am off acid reflux medicine. I can walk up and down stairs without huffing and puffing. My ankles and knees don’t hurt anymore. I can fold my arms across my chest and cross my legs easily. Sex is better!! So much better. I can drive my car more comfortably since my belly doesn’t hit the steering wheel. I can paint my toes again. I can use any bath towel in the house; before I had to use those giant bath towels and we only had a couple. I can scratch any part of my back by myself. Since I am not stressing about my weight and appearance anymore, I can use my brain energy to think of other more creative things. I literally have more time to think and focus.

I feel amazing. I have so much energy. I feel like “JoAnn” again.

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part of my journey was making the decision to do it. I had taken every pill and done every fad diet. When I tried so many times to lose weight and was unsuccessful, I blamed myself. I thought I just hadn’t tried hard enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I had no will power, and I was destined to spend the rest of my life with obesity. I thought if that if I couldn’t do it myself, then surgery would be like a cop-out, like cheating. I thought people would judge me. I thought, “Wow, this is SO drastic. They will be cutting one of my organs and it’s permanent.” I was worried about how painful it would be… would it really work… can I take time off work… how much will this cost me… there are so many appointments… My excuses went on and on.

Getting the support from my family and friends was scary. I thought they would all make fun of me or tell me I was copping out or taking the easy way out. But they backed me and that was comforting. They said, “If you decide to do this, we support you 100%.” I wish I would have done it 10 years earlier. I wasted 10 years because I was so unhappy with myself.

What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?

JoAnn gets a wedding day lift from her boys

A few years ago, I wrote my “dream list” in the back of a notebook. I tried to use positive affirmations in hopes that my dreams would come true someday. Well, recently I found that notebook. I had forgotten about this list although I had dreamed of those things often. My “dream list” was:

  • A crimson Ford Explorer
  • The house of my dreams
  • For my twin boys to go to college
  • To be fit and thin again
  • To marry the man of my dreams

As I read the list, a tear came to my eye and I got goosebumps.

  • In my driveway sits a crimson Ford Explorer.
  • We bought the house of our dreams last November. I got the keys on my birthday.
  • My twins are in their 3rd year of college at UW & Western.
  • I lost over 100 pounds and feel better than I have in 20 years.
  • After spending 12 years together, I got married to the love of my life on August 24th

I got everything I dreamed of and didn’t even realize it until I read the list. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. My two older children have great jobs and homes and I am so proud of them as well. Life is GOOD!!! Everything is better. I could go on and on. I need to make a new list!

What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?

JUST DO IT! Making the decision is the hardest part. I listened to a lot of testimonials before doing this. When they got too negative, I would turn them off. I was terrified. But why be ashamed to help yourself? Why not get surgery to help your heart, your breathing, your health? Once you decide to do it, just think positively and do everything your doctor tells you to do. You will be brand new again!

I was sitting in the waiting room one day and had almost reached my goal weight. A lady in the waiting room asked me, “Why are you here?” I told her that I had had surgery. She said, “You don’t look like you were ever fat. I’m too afraid to do the surgery so I’m getting a diet plan.” I told her, “Just do it. It’s the best thing I did. You’ve tried everything. It’s not a cop-out.”

I see people and I know how they feel. I wish they could feel as good as me right now. There’s a lovely person inside there that’s suffering. I just want to help them. It’s so worth it.

Jeanne’s Bariatric Success

Jeanne’s Bariatric Success

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.

Make Your Sure Health is Secure

Make Your Sure Health is Secure

By Laura Andromalos, MS, RD, CDE, CSOWM

If you have been on an airplane lately, you’ve heard the safety speech. Did you notice the part about oxygen masks? Make sure your mask is secure before helping others around you. What happens if you don’t secure your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency? You may pass out before you are able to help those around you.

When I hear that safety speech, it reminds me of a common theme in my appointments with patients: the need to put your health first.

Many of my patients are givers. They are spouses, parents, and children and they give of themselves to their families on a daily basis. Additionally, several of them have giving professions such as personal care attendants, health care providers, and teachers. Over the years, they have always put other people’s priorities before their own. They worry about taking care of the needs of others and they neglect their own health needs, such as sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and relaxation.

For example, I worked with a patient who took time to make lunches for her three children and her spouse every night but never made her own lunch. Instead, she relied on fast food during the day which was contributing to her weight gain. If you are a giver, I’m sure you can think of similar examples.

It’s wonderful to be a giver but you can’t neglect giving to yourself. To achieve your health goals and live your happiest life, you need to prioritize yourself. If you don’t keep yourself healthy, it is going to impact your ability to give to those around you. Maybe you will be less patient or have less energy due to lack of sleep… Maybe you won’t physically be able to help someone due to mobility or functional body problems…Maybe your life will be shortened due to health problems you have neglected… You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best you, whether it’s as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, coworker, or friend.

In the case of the patient I mentioned, we set a goal for her to take a few extra minutes each night to make her own lunch. She did this and started losing weight since she was eating less fast food. Losing the weight gave her more energy and made her feel better about her body and this made her a happier person and a happier wife and mother. Taking care of herself helped her to better take care of her family.

If you are a giver, tune into whether you might be giving to others at the expense of your own health needs. Remember to make sure your health is secure before helping others.

Chad’s Bariatric Success

Chad’s Bariatric Success

Chad had a sleeve gastrectomy in November 2016 at NWWC.

What is the best part about this journey?

It was getting back to the normal active lifestyle that I had when I was younger. I used to do a lot of outdoors stuff like camping, fishing, hiking, and softball. For the 5 years before surgery, I couldn’t physically do any of those things. Sports was one of my biggest joys and I couldn’t do that. I was trapped in my own body.

My health had deteriorated so badly. I had to take medication on a daily basis for blood pressure. I was getting fatty liver. I had pre-diabetes. My kidneys weren’t functioning properly. I was a walking pharmacy. I had to go to doctor every 3 months for my blood tests. Now I’m on the once a year plan. All of that stuff is gone.

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part for me was completely restructuring my life. My whole life revolved around food – family dinners, BBQs, going to the beach. I didn’t realize how much of my life was lived as a slave to food.

Like everyone says, it’s a tool, not a fix. You have to use the tool correctly. I can still gain weight so I really watch what I put in my body. My head still craves junk food and then, when I eat it, I feel horrible. It doesn’t satisfy me. I don’t eat out as often. When I do go out to eat with my wife, we split one plate or put half of our food in a box before we even start to eat. It was really difficult for me to re-learn portion sizes. I always bought the bulk stuff. I haven’t had a Costco card for 3 years now.

What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?

Chad running on the beach in Hawaii. “I could have never done that before surgery.”

The first goal I made was that I wanted to be 175 pounds. I made it but I wasn’t comfortable doing what it took to stay at 175 pounds. Since then, I gained about 15 pounds and I’m really comfortable at my current weight. I lost 12 inches off my waist and my pant size hasn’t increased from my lowest weight.

I wanted to be able to hike at least 3 miles without having to rest. I did that and I can still do that.

I wanted to play softball again. I’ve played the past 2 years. I’ve done men’s league, co-ed league, and coached.

My other goal was to get off all of the medications I was taking. I’m so glad to not have to take medications all the time. I’m not a slave to that stuff. I didn’t want to be walking pharmacy.

I still want to jump out of an airplane. It’s on the bucket list.

What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?

I think it’s the best thing I ever did. I wish I wouldn’t have waited 10 years to do it. There was always something holding me back, usually money and fear of the surgery itself. Whatever’s holding you back, let it go. There’s a life out there waiting for you that’s beyond your imagination. I was cash pay. I sold all of my prize possessions – my car, my tools. I sold everything I had to pay for it. If I could have imagined how good I was going to feel, the opportunities that came my way just by being physically active and capable, I would have done it 10 years sooner.

You don’t even know what’s waiting for you. I’m a new man. I’m strong and happy, joyous and free. Whatever’s holding you back, it’s just not worth the life you could have. There’s nothing that compares with the freedom I have from being trapped in the overweight body.