First, I would like to say that this surgery has changed my life in so many ways for the better. I was an overweight, complacent person who accepted that I could not do things and would probably not live for a long time. On trips I would sit back and read a book while everyone else enjoyed a hike or other activities. At Disney World, I accepted that I would have to get a scooter to get from one place to another. Now I am healthy, confident, and have a zest for life, and look forward to all the adventures while vacationing and participating with everyone. Recently I went to Disney World and did not have to get a scooter and could fit in all the rides that I wanted to go on. It felt great walking from place to place with everyone else. Another trip we went on was to St. John Virgin Island. I went snorkeling in St. John and I was able to keep up with everyone including the 17-year-olds, snorkeling around the rocks at Trunk Bay which is a long distance. Walking on the beach was much easier and getting in out of the water without having to worry about being out of breath or tired.
What made you decide to pursue surgical weight loss?
I had tried so many diets to lose weight and stuck with them, but could not seem to lose the weight. I needed two total knee replacements and was finding it hard to enjoy vacations and struggling with everyday activities, i.e. walking from your car to work, housework, gardening without being out of breath and tired.
What was your experience like with Dr. Benedetto and the weight loss center team?
It truly was a pleasant experience. I am a type 1 diabetic and Dr. Benedetto and the team worked with my endocrinologist and other doctors on a best plan for me. When I met with Dr. Benedetto, I thought I was going to pursue a gastric bypass, but after discussions with my other providers, Dr. Benedetto and the team thought gastric sleeve would be safest for me. The weight loss center team also set you up for success with continued appointments and communications to prepare you for the surgery and what to expect after. They helped with suggestions on incorporating lifestyle changes that are necessary to have the surgery and for your continued journey.
What did you like about the weight loss program the most and how has your weight loss journey been?
One of the best things about the weight loss program was the continued material that was sent to you through the health portal so you could review and save the documentation to review again. It was also suggested in the documentation to ask questions of the team if you needed help. One of the documents suggested how to eliminate caffeine and either the documentation or the team gave you steps on how to gradually eliminate caffeine to prepare you. The documentation as well as the team also made you aware of what your lifestyle would be like after surgery and portions of foods. I also enjoyed attending the pre-op surgical support groups online because the people who had the surgery gave great suggestions for success afterwards as they had already been through the program and had the surgery. With all of this support my journey has been easier and I knew what to expect after surgery and what I needed to do if there were things that would trigger me to eat and how to deal with them.
What lifestyle changes have you made and how have you felt since the surgery?
I now walk on average 2 miles a day and I have started golfing and hiking again which I have not done in over 5 years. I have so much more energy and confidence in doing things and no longer need to worry if I will have the energy to complete something. I now enjoy vacations that include walking long distances which I used to worry about. I no longer eat pizza, chips, etc that are high in carbs and I no longer crave them or want to eat them. I eat smaller portions and healthier meals. I take care of myself before helping others. Following the plan outlined by Dr. Benedetto and the weight loss care team has been so important to my success.
I weighed 359 pounds at my highest weight and I currently weigh 232 pounds. Prior to surgery I had insulin resistance and was on 250 units of insulin a day and now I only take 35-50 units a day. I used to have insulin resistance and with the surgery I no longer have it and can take a lot less insulin. I no longer take a water pill and now only take a smaller dose of blood pressure medicine, which hopefully I will be able to eliminate that as I lose more weight. I no longer take inhalers for asthma and my primary care doctor was amazed with how much I used to have to use it. I have so much more energy to do things that I would normally have put off because I was tired. After having the surgery, I am now able to hike, golf, and enjoy vacations that involve a lot of walking because I do not have the extra weight and I have the energy.
For individuals who may be on the fence about pursuing weight loss surgery or learning more about the program, what advice would you give them?
If you are contemplating having this surgery, just think of how you feel and why you are considering this weight loss journey. I hesitated many times on having the surgery thinking I could lose the weight and would fail. If I did not have the surgery I might be heavier and would still not have energy to do things and enjoy life. After having the surgery, it was the little things and I am sure you can relate like getting out of a chair or out of bed, walking from the care to work or into a store, feeling so tired all the time, getting out of breath with small amount of exertion, which I no longer think or worry about.
Anything else you would want to share?
Always remember that this journey is about yourself. Taking care of yourself is so important so you can be around to enjoy life and experiences.
If someone were to ask me if I would do this all over, my answer would be YES and I would have done it sooner if I knew how it would change my life for the best.