Hello friends and family… I say this because once you start on this journey everyone you encounter in an online group, support meeting, or even out in public will in some capacity become a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a mind to answer questions you are not sure of the answers to, and even a quick kick in the behind when you fall back towards the creatures of old habits or need a pep talk! My name is Amy and I am a newly married woman of 40 years young. I have been overweight since I can remember but never really started having issues with it until high school. The feelings of being left out of certain social groups or activities, the inability to wear “normal” teen clothing or go shopping with my friends or boyfriend to this day still hurts. As I continued through my adulthood, I became aware of how prejudicial the world can be when going on interviews for a new job, how certain stereotypes follow a person because of their size, and just how insensitive the world can be, but until I realized that I needed to begin my weight loss journey on my terms I was always going to fail at whatever diet, camp, counselor, or gym I joined to lose the weight. Fast forward to October 2010 when again what I thought would be my last chance at finally getting the weight off and gaining acceptance from my family (mostly my mother), was the month I had my lap band procedure. I lost an initial 50 pounds and then my journey ended. My band had slipped and I became very ill. I was unable to keep any food of any substance down, I was constantly vomiting, and my self-esteem was at my lowest. It was not until I was given a new outlook on life in July 2015 that I felt I may have been given a better opportunity. Once and for all I was going to overcome my weight battle and the feelings of hopelessness that went along with it. This was the day I met my surgeon, Dr. James Kane at the Suburban Surgical Associates for my initial consultation and he told me I would be an excellent candidate for the Duodenal Switch. For either the lap band or DS surgery I never encountered any issues during the approval process, I however do know quite a few people that have. I consider myself very blessed and once I was given the approval and a surgery date was set, I knew my life was going to change forever. The day of surgery, March 15, 2016, was the most exciting yet scariest day of my life. For the first time in my entire life I was making the choice for me, myself and I only, no one else. This would also be the first time I would focus not only on the number but on the non-scale victories as well. These victories keep us in check and on track when we hit our many plateaus throughout this journey. Believe me; sometimes it can be very hard to remember everything and not to get frustrated when the scale does not move. I have made this mistake over and over again, and this is when my friends and family come into play and remind me about how far I have come. The feeling that consumes me is incredible when I get into my car every morning to drive to work and I can buckle my seat belt without having to cut off my circulation or I do not have to adjust the seat further back so my stomach is not hitting the steering wheel. A few times I was even moved to tears because I was so overwhelmed with happiness….this was the day I was able to buckle the seat belt in the airplane without having to use an extender, and completing my first 5K in Chicago, called the Hot Chocolate Race, last October.
I have had a few setbacks with absorption of my vitamins and being deficient in several of my labs. This surgery takes 100% compliance and there is no room for halfway. I also developed an anal fissure a few months after my surgery from the constant bathroom issues I was having but even with the few setbacks I have encountered I would not change it for the world. It is not an easy journey. It is a constant emotional roller coaster every day and all you can do is enjoy the ride to the new you! One piece of advice I can give is be an active participant. Ask as many questions as possible while going through the approval process, reach out to members of the support group that have gone through the many ups and downs and can answer all the questions you have no matter how big or small. Realize that everyone’s journey although it may be very different, we can in some aspect relate to one another and are here to offer support and guidance in whatever way possible. Thank you for listening.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” ~Old Chinese Proverb
Story written by: Amy