I want to offer a special thanks to Pam
Caswell. Here is her story:
I am a very big fan of your newsletter and books. I have read both.
Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding inside You,
and Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies. I would have been
lost without them. I want to thank you personally for the great
At 12 or so I started
gaining weight. In high school it got even worse. Diets worked
temporarily and my self-esteem suffered with each failure. At the
end of 1998, I reached my highest every recorded weight of 297
pounds. We all have that magic number, the one that scares us into
accepting our situation. It got me started on diets and exercise
I managed to lose
down to 270 pounds, working out 3 times a week and using diet
shakes. In 1999 I herniated 2 lower discs and had to
have surgery. While recovering most of the weight came back. I cried
when my doctor suggested gastric bypass. I hadn't realized my weight
and my situation had reached that point.
I agreed to meet Dr.
Arreola at Hamot Bariatric Surgery Center in Erie PA. I was very
skeptical. My insurance required 6 months of visits with my primary
doctor. Thank heaven for this time to research and discover how much
I needed this surgery. I had a strong family history of diabetes and
heart disease. My cholesterol was 275 at the time and the
doctor suggested medication. With diet I could only get my
cholesterol down to 215. I knew I had pre-diabetes, poly cystic
ovarian disease, and pain in my joints and feet. My back surgery was
a success, but my back was starting to hurt again with the return of
the weight. I found through testing that I had sleep apnea and acid
reflux. In the end it came down to this: would it be safer to stay
the way I was with all my health conditions or to have the surgery
and possibly change my life forever? As a friend who had the surgery
told me, "I'd rather die trying to be healthy, instead of accepting
that I will die from being so over-weight." I had my surgery on
March 21, 2006. I was sure I was making the right choice for me. At
that point I wore sizes 3x and 28.
This month it will be
1 year and 6 months since my surgery. I have lost 121 pounds so far
and feel great. I am wearing some large and medium sizes. I also
wear a size 14 or in women's jeans size 16-18. I am so much
healthier. I still have slight pain in my joints and feet, but
everything else is wonderful. My last cholesterol level check was
184! My good cholesterol is 59 which is wonderful. I am surprised to
find that my dentist said my gingivitis is gone. Years of up and
down blood sugars were affecting my gums. They are in great shape
now. My feet have shrunk 1 whole size so far. And you won't believe
this; I also grew 1/2 an inch. I was told my posture has improved
without the extra weight pulling me down. After years of infertility
the doctors tell me I can safely try to have children. I am told the
chances are much better now with my improved health.
I would definitely
urge anyone considering this surgery to do their homework. Research
as much as you can and read both of Barbara's books. They answered a
lot of questions for me in plain English. I have found the support
group meetings help keep me on track. There is something wonderful
about being in a room with 50 or 60 people who understand the
challenges we face. The room is full of people who are going through
the same things you are or have been there. I finally felt accepted.
I finally fit in with the crowd! I learn so much each time.
My advice is to make
sure it is the right decision for you. Do it for yourself and be
proud of your decision. It will change your life forever. I had some
problems at the beginning but would do it all over again if I had
to. It was the best decision of my life. When asked, my husband
jokingly says, "She's half the woman I married." We have been
friends for 21 years and married 10 years now. I am looking forward
to many more healthy years with my best friend.
Good luck to everyone
who is considering this wonderful miracle of gastric bypass surgery.
May you find success with improved health.