Is Weight Loss Surgery My Answer?
Weight loss surgery is the answer for many who struggle with being over weight. However, everyone has to answer this question for themselves, and my journey with weight loss surgery might help you to decide.
Thirteen years ago, Thanksgiving weekend, I had the “lightbulb or awhaaa moment,” as I have always called it. I began my search into weight loss surgery. I remember spending almost day and night on the computer researching the options for bariatric surgery. At that time, the Lapband had just been approved about 6 months before and was the newest option. There was much information about RYN or gastric bypass, but I had to look long and hard for information about gastric banding. I set out on the mission to be well-educated on all options available. Gastric bypass had been being performed since the 1960’s as a weight loss procedure and had a long track record for success. I was not yet morbidly obese, as I “only” had a BMI of 35 or 36. I didn’t yet have any major health issues that were qualifiers for surgery. No diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or any of the co-morbidities that they would require me to have. So what were my options? Ultimately I found out from my insurance company that I would not have coverage regardless, as I had an exclusion on my policy that alone regardless of my BMI or co-morbidities would prevent me from having surgery through insurance. Next I set out to look at options.
I had been a RN for 7 years and took to my medical background to find a way. That old saying, “Where there’s a will-there’s a way. ” I spent countless hours researching and found that my only option would be to self-pay and “just go for it.” I decided this due to my age, weight, and my wants to have the Lapband. And, 3 weeks later, I was 9 hrs away with a top-rated bariatric surgeon at a hospital in Mexico and thus began my journey. I had little support or education, but a burning desire to turn my life and health around. I was afraid, but the fear and pain that I felt as a result of my obesity far outweighed my fear of the surgery. I knew the chances of me having life-threatening diseases were far greater than the minute risk of surgery. I had a strong family history of cardiac problems, and both of my grandfathers had died in their late 30’s and early 40’s of massive heart attacks. I was more scared of not living to see my then 2 and 5 year old boys grow up.
This was also my beginning of finding my true career passion. I have spent the last 10 years providing education and support for those that are seeking answers for their options to winning their battle with obesity. I have seen many changes in the options of Bariatric surgery as well. From Bands to Bypasses, to know the most popular Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. I have seen patients extremely successful with all of them and have helped those struggling with gastric bypass, sleeve, and band failure. I know regardless of where you have surgery, many times the education and support you have may not be there. For the thousands that find they lack the education and support they need, my main goal is to get it to them. Maybe they found their only option to have weigh loss surgery to be through medical tourism and find the courage to step on a plane and fly to their surgeon in Costa Rica, Mexico, or many of the other places world-wide that have amazing surgeons and hospitals. They come home and their doctor is often 1000’s of miles away, or anyone that has had surgery even in the United States but does not have a very strong education and support program in place, or maybe they moved and don’t have access to a program any longer. These are the people I want to help. Furthermore, I want to help anyone that needs information, coaching, mentoring and support. It is the most gratifying thing to see people get their lives back, lose the fear and pain associated with the weight, and live happier and healthier lives.
Stefanie Bailey, RN, BSN
Vicky Cates Jones
My Story by Stefanie Bailey
Hello, my name is Stefanie Bailey.
I am a Registered Nurse and weight loss surgery patient with over 13 years of successful post-op living.
I first would like to congratulate you on your decision to have or begin researching weight loss surgery. It will be a truly life altering decision in winning your ongoing battle with obesity.
I had the surgery on December 19, 2002. It was by far the best decision I ever made. I had two little boys, ages 2 & 5 at the time I had my surgery. My weight was affecting every aspect of my life. I was tired all the time, and unable to physically do and play with the boys the way I wanted to. I was afraid of what I was doing to my health, and if I would live long enough to see my boys grow up. I had a very strong family history of heart disease, as my maternal grandfather had died of a heart attack at 39, and my paternal grandfather of one at 41. At 33, I was developing hypertension, and was truly afraid that I was headed in the same direction. I was depressed and wanted to have little to do with the outside world. This was very much the opposite of what I was normally like.
On Thanksgiving weekend of 2002, we were together with all of my family for the holidays. Holidays were a double-edged sword for me. They brought me a great deal of happiness in spending time with my very close family, but they also brought out a very sad and depressed side of me. First I really did not feel or act like myself, as the weight had piled on my body I felt my self-esteem and such going farther and farther down. Also the holidays meant a lot of great food, and with that food came more unwanted pounds. My brother had gotten married in September, and I was a bridesmaid. I will say that that was the last thing I had wanted to do. Anyway they had their pictures from the wedding that weekend. I saw a picture of myself holding my youngest son, and literally asked someone who that was. I DID NOT EVEN RECOGNIZE MYSELF.
I went home after that weekend and was determined to find a way to get that 100 pounds off my body. I began researching, and spent most day and night for 3 weeks on the computer doing all kinds of research. I had heard about the lap-band and after extensive research realized that this was my “light at the end of my very long, dark tunnel.” I had my LAPBAND surgery 3 weeks later. I have not ever, not even one day regretted my decision to have surgery.
In November 2005, I went to work for a hospital as the Bariatric Program Coordinator. I enjoyed so much the opportunity to assist others with this life-altering surgery, and to get to work with, support, and watch people change their lives was truly a highlight in my career. In November 2006, I went to work assisting the surgeon in the operating room and probably helped perform almost a thousand weight loss procedures. This too brought me so much joy and satisfaction.
As I looked at further ways to be able to assist patients with their journey through weight loss surgery, I knew that from my education, journey and experiences with weight loss surgery and weight loss surgery patients, that I could help people in their battle to overcome obesity. This led me to start Bariatric and Surgical Assistance.
I want each and everyone to know that this is a passion for me, and that I am always willing and able to assist with any questions you might have about any aspect of this journey. I am available to answer questions, give suggestions, or just be there as a support person, coach and mentor for you as you make your way through the journey. Please never hesitate to contact me for anything.
PS: GOOD LUCK ON YOUR JOURNEY AND KNOW YOU CAN AND WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. Education and support is the difference between struggles and success.
My Story by Vicky Cates Jones
I never had a weight problem until I was 35 years old and all of “life’s injustices had taken its toll on me.” I felt like a failure in all areas of my life, both personal and business. I had experienced slight depression since childhood, but now a very deep depression took over. I ate to try to fill the void this depression was etching over me. Deeper and deeper into my soul and life. Food was a quick, but short-lived fix and comfort. Like any other drug, I soon had to have more and more. Before long, my 5’2” body had
BALLOONED to 200 pounds. I tried every diet, weight loss program and even turned to doctors for help. I really just became a yo-yo on a string. I would lose some, then gain it back plus more. I tried to ignore it, but the mirror and the scale told the truth. Then I saw pictures, and they told the ugly truth. I saw a vacation picture and didn’t recognize myself. I asked my husband why he had taken a picture of another woman from behind. Not only did we not know her, but she had these HUGE calves. She had on a hat and clothes like me, but she was ENOURMOUS, with these huge legs and her cropped pants only accentuated her massive thighs!! He explained it as me. Then years later I saw some line-backer walking down the aisle at my daughter’s wedding in my dress. How did he fit in my beautiful dress?
Over the next few years, I played over and over in my head comments that had been made to me:
“ You sure have gotten fat!” – from my skinny as a rail grandfather who ate fat his whole life.
“You have regained ALL your weight back”- from a lady I knew when I was manager for Nutri-System
“What are you looking at you FAT BITCH?” this from a complete stranger I looked at in a parking lot when he almost backed into me. This was my Ah Ha moment or moment of awakening. The fact that a stranger would verbally call me fat, or a bitch was hurtful enough. But a FAT BITCH?
Right then I made up my mind to change. I would do whatever I had to do to get my life, my body –ME Back. I never wanted to be called a FAT BITCH AGAIN!
My daughter had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) several months back, and
was having great success with it. She had even gone to Mexico to do it, as she had made up her mind to do anything as well to get back to being her. In July of 2003, I too started the journey with WLS. I had Lapband surgery. Unfortunately the doctor that did mine, moved to a big city shortly thereafter, leaving me without proper fills, maintenance and support. I struggled for 2 years, and didn’t have much success. My daughter had gone to work as a Bariatric Coordinator at a hospital about an hour from me. She set me up with a Bariatric surgeon that she worked with, and with proper fills I was on my way. She also was able to help me as she was helping others with mentoring, nutrition, and exercise. These are ALL the things I was missing, and ALL the things a WLS patient needs and MUST have to lose and maintain the weight loss.
I have truly been blessed with a loving and supportive family who have been with me and continue to help with all the hills and valleys we each endure through life, but even more so for those who have battled being morbidly obese and have the desire and determination to never be there again.
It’s a lifelong journey. We’ll be glad to help you with your journey.