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    Gastric Surgery Helped a Family Overcome Diabetes

    April Leopin shares how weight loss has been a game-changer for her and her sons.

    WebMD Magazine - Feature

    Diabetes runs in my family -- everybody has it on my father's side -- so it didn't really come as a big surprise when I was diagnosed in 2000. I was 30 years old and pregnant with my first child. My baby was born at almost 11 pounds, which is typical of a mother with diabetes.

    With that first pregnancy I gained only 20 pounds, but during my second one I gained about 45 pounds. Throughout both pregnancies, I had to give myself insulin injections numerous times a day. After pregnancy, I took pills to control my diabetes.

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    All my life, I've struggled with my weight. I was heavy as a child, teenager, and adult, and took after my father's side of the family, where everyone is overweight. I'd lose weight and gain more back, thinking I could eat the same as I did before. It was a vicious cycle. No matter how much I tried to diet, I never seemed to get my weight or diabetes under control.

    In 2014, I learned about a surgery called the gastric sleeve. I thought, "How wonderful. They make your stomach smaller, and you can control your diabetes." Surgery isn't the answer for everyone. For me, it was a tool to help me eat smaller and healthier portions of food. I decided with my doctor it was worth a try. I had to go through a series of tests to see if I qualified, and I did because of the diabetes.

    I came home a couple of days after the surgery and had a sugar low because I was still taking medication. My doctor told me, "Don't take it anymore." Ever since then, I've never taken another pill. More than a year later, I've lost 75 pounds and I'm a lot healthier. I don't have diabetes anymore.

    The thing that scares me today is that my older son, Ozzy, is borderline diabetic, just as I assume I was when I was a kid. Since having the surgery, I don't bring any sweets in the house. I encourage him to eat real food instead of junk food. We all eat more fruit, vegetables, and lean meat.

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