I want to offer a special thanks to Norma Smullen for sharing her
I subscribe to your newsletter and had the privilege to hear you
speak in Princeton last November. I truly enjoy hearing the success
stories of others and am sending along my own success story should
you choose to use it.
Thank you for
sharing so much of yourself with all of us. You are truly an
When I was born I weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces. I was the youngest
of five children and the smallest. From there, the struggle to stay
the smallest was all down hill!
When I was 9 years old, my mother put me on my very first diet.
She marched me off to the doctor and the cycle of dieting and taking
pills to lose weight began. I spent my life on one diet or another,
Weight Watchers numerous times, hospital based diets, Redux, Atkins
and so on and so on. Each time, I’d manage to lose weight but then
I’d end up gaining it back plus more. It’s a familiar story for us
For many years I had heard about gastric bypass surgery, but
always thought it was too drastic a step. I had myself convinced, in
my younger days, that I was healthy and as long as I was healthy and
active and accepting of myself then it was all right being
overweight. I had friends who would always complain about their
weight and my advice to them was, “If you’re so unhappy, do
something to change it!” I justified not changing myself on the
basis that I wasn’t unhappy.
As I got older, I began to have health problems including glucose
intolerance, high cholesterol, joint problems and high blood
pressure. My weight began to impact my quality of life. I started
not going out. I felt that everyone was staring at me as though I
were a freak. I wasn’t just obese; I was what would be considered
The morning of my gastric bypass surgery I weighed 441 pounds. I
had never been so heavy in my life and had never disliked myself so
much. I had become something of a recluse and my health issues were
impacting my work making me consider retiring on disability. I was
so unhappy that I knew I had to take my own advice and change my
For a year before my surgery I had been trying to get up the
courage to ask my doctor about it. I was ashamed. For me, it was
admitting defeat that I was unable to lose and keep the weight off
on my own. But, I had so many days when I woke up and felt so bad
that I’d think, “This could be the day I die.” Finally, I went to
see my doctor and she gave me the name of my surgeon, Dr. Robert
Brolin in Princeton, N.J.
I was terrified the day I went for my consult. I was afraid of
the surgery, afraid not to do it and afraid that either the Doctor
or the insurance company would say I wasn’t a good candidate. What a
relief it was to me to meet Dr. Brolin and to hear him say, “You are
an excellent candidate for surgery!”
My surgery took place on June 5, 2003. I had an open distal
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Dr. Brolin had discussed with me doing the
distal bypass because I had more than 200 pounds to lose and I would
achieve a greater degree of success with that procedure. There was
the possibility of greater mal-absorption and, therefore, more risk
over time of malnutrition or anemia as well as possible problems
with diarrhea. I have been very fortunate because I have experienced
none of those things.
The first three months after the surgery I had constant nausea
and often wondered, “What did I do to myself?” I am sure we have all
had those moments. Now, I feel wonderful. I walk almost every day
for exercise. I take an hour long aqua aerobics class twice a week
and fill in as a substitute instructor when the regular instructor
can’t make the class. I have gone up in a glider plane, fly without
fear of fitting in the seat or needing a seat belt extension. I no
longer need to park in handicapped spots or worry about how far a
walk it will be from the parking lot to the store. I buy clothes
anywhere I want instead of ordering from catalogs or going to
specialty stores. I no longer worry about whether or not I’ll fit in
a seat or if the seat will break under my weight. I do not wake up
and wonder if this will be the day I’m going to die. Instead, I feel
full of life and have huge resources of energy. Best of all, now
when people look at me it’s with respect. They smile or say hello
instead of looking at me like I’m a freak!
I went from a size 6X (tight) or a 34 to a size 16 and
large/medium. I now weigh 185 pounds and have started the process of
finding a qualified plastic surgeon to have the excess skin removed.
I know that by having weight loss surgery I’ve not only added years
to my life but added quality. I am so busy now I never seem to have
enough time to do all the things I want to do and I wouldn’t trade
that for anything!
I am getting a little short of success
If you have considered writing yours,
please send it to me along with your before and after
pictures. If you have submitted your story in the past and it
hasn’t been printed, please resubmit it. It may very well
have gotten lost in the shuffle!!
I love good news. If you have good news, a
success story to share, or inspiration,
please send it to me at
Barbara@WLScenter.com so that I can
include it in future issues.