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"Gastric Bypass Surgery Gave Me My Life Back"

"I failed a class because I was too self-conscious to go." continued...

Next, I was checked out by a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, and a psychiatrist; I also went to nutrition seminars. This gave me time to decide if surgery was what I really wanted. I still wasn't sure. I started a journal of things I hated about being fat — like those looks at the gym that said, "Why are you here?" Finally, I decided surgery was the only way to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. I chose gastric bypass because with other procedures (like stomach stapling or lap band) I'd still be able to eat sugary, high-fat foods with no consequences. I needed to make a bigger change. But I was scared. I scheduled the appointment, then felt like I was going to throw up. I'd always wanted to be skinny, but to dream it is one thing. To live it is different.

I had my surgery on April 11, 2006. I took some pictures at home, said good-bye to the old me, and walked out the door. Once I got to the hospital, everything happened so fast. The surgery took about two hours. My surgeon stapled across the top of my stomach, creating a small pouch the size of a golf ball. Then he sewed part of my small intestine directly into the pouch. This would redirect food to bypass most of my stomach and enter my small intestine instead. I was in the hospital for two days. When I woke up, I felt like I had done 200 sit-ups, but that was the worst of the pain. Over the next three months, I went from a liquid-only diet to soft food to regular food. I was frustrated at first, but excited and anxious to see results. I thought, I can do this.

A week after my surgery, I'd lost 11 pounds. A month after, I'd lost 30 pounds. Less than two months later, I bought a size 16 — down from a 22! Was that really me in the mirror? For the first time, when people told me I was beautiful, I believed it.

Today, I'm in charge. I used to be a slave to my appetite, but my life no longer revolves around my next meal. I never feel physically hungry anymore — which is so freeing! It offends me when people say surgery is the easy way out. This certainly isn't easy. I still fight emotional eating; I get that "head hunger" when I'm bored or stressed. When that happens, I try to focus on my family and friends, scrapbooking, or going to the gym. And I know what the consequences would be if I were to eat a meal as big as the ones I was used to: an entire frozen pizza, or a burger, fries, and a soda. The surgery rerouted food away from the part of the intestine that helps me digest sugar and carbs, so if I eat too much of them, I go through "dumping" — my body tries to get rid of what I just ate. I get sweaty and light-headed. And if I overeat anything, it comes back up.

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