I had wanted to have bariatric surgery for a while, but even with insurance, I didn’t have the money for my part. I always thought I would use my tax return but then there was always something else that seemed more important.
In August of 2015 my former husband died. It became front in my mind that my kinds now only had me. In January of 2016 my siblings and I met in Arizona to surprise my mom for her 80th birthday. We stopped in Las Vegas on the way home. I couldn’t walk through the casino to the elevator or even down the long hall to our room without stopping to catch my breath. The worst moment was looking at the pictures of us all together. I hated those pictures, but more than ever it brought home the fact that I didn’t want to die. My kids needed me and I needed to get healthy for them. I weighed 350 pounds. I decided there were no more excuses. It was time to take the step.
It took a bit longer than I thought to get the process completed, but on August 1st of 2016 Dr. Rodrick McKinlay performed the Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y at my then weight of 300 pounds. The night before was the last time diet coke passed my lips (I could drink 2L of it per day at one point).
The next couple of months I wondered if I had made a mistake. I cried four days after surgery when my kids made their dinner and all I could have was broth. I went through a mourning period as my relationship with food changed. I never ate to deal with pain or stress. I just loved food, especially sugar and all those endorphins that came with it. I had no energy and I threw up easily. Oh, and that feeling like there is an alien wanting to burst out of your chest from one bite/swallow too much, that was fun. But the weight was coming off. I could feel it and see it. The scale would stall but my clothes continued to get looser. My 5X shirts were tents, and my size 32 pants were falling off. I no longer had to wear the “special scrubs” my boss had to get just for me because I was a bigger size than what was provided. Gradually my strength came back but my hair looked like I had been through chemo. My PMD told me, “Your body thinks its dying and it doesn’t think it needs to feed your hair right now. It will grow back.” With the help of Nioxin shampoo/conditioner, my hair is now amazing.
I had never really talked to Dr. McKinlay about a goal weight, but by BMI charts, 150 was in my thoughts. My body said no, that won’t work for me. At 180 my face was so thin, I looked sick. My co-workers couldn’t believe I wanted to lose more, but my body didn’t look like my face. I still had plenty of fat to get rid of, but no matter what I did, I could not go below 178 pounds. As soon as I went under 180 my body would freak out. I could eat 400 calories in a day and I would gain weight, and not just a pound or two, six to eight pounds before it would stop gaining and settle. This happened three times. After talking with Dr. McKinlay and spending time thinking about where I was at, I came to peace with the fact that I may never get under 180 and it was okay.
I had gone to Hawaii and ziplined. I had starting skiing again after about 20 years. I was active and I felt great. I was fortunate enough to be able to have had two skin removals (arms, abdomen) and Kybella on my waddle but I still live with my saggy legs (especially my lower legs, yuck).
In the spring of 2019, sugar and I had a reunion. It was a bad affair. I gained back some weight and got back to 225-ish. I stopped getting on the scale at that point. I was also starting my second year of grad school and the stress didn’t help. But towards fall, something changed and sugar and I had a great break up. Something inside me changed. Chocolate didn’t taste the same. I wasn’t craving that dang Magnum crack ice cream that often called my name (there is a pint still in my fridge partially eaten that is about 6 months old and buried). I also began to get sick from eating things I could get away with since surgery and my brain began doing so much better at “don’t, it will just make you feel like crap.”
The last semester of my master’s program has been the most stressful months of my entire life with good old [Coronavirus] joining the world and trying to be a nurse in this mess, pollical unrest, and trying to finish school with delays as the University figured out how to do our field experience, I worried about finishing on time. I have found anxiety doesn’t make me want to eat, thank goodness. I actually struggle some days having an appetite.
Currently I am back down to 182 pounds. Today I purchased a pair of size 12 pants. Last time at 180 I was in size 14. My face doesn’t look as gaunt either. The last four years has been a roller coaster but I can tell you one thing for certain, I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat. There would be no thinking on it. It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, but has been worth every moment of struggle. I just completed school and now have an MSN in education. I ski and can ride a bike. I can bend over and touch my palms to the floor, something neither of my kids can do (and I am 58 years old!). Having surgery was a tough decision and the rest is really hard work that lasts a lifetime, but it is worth it. We can do hard things!!
— Tammy C.
Surgeon: Dr. Rodrick McKinlay
Surgery Date: August 1st, 2016
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