I want to offer a special thanks to Monna Walters. Here is her
I am finally ready to tell my story. Like many of your subscribers,
I was always big. My mother told me the nurses in the hospital where
I was born nicknamed me “two-ton Tony.” I weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces
when I was born. One of my earliest memories was being weighed in
front of all the kids at school and I outweighed everyone. The kids
called me “fatty” and the ugly old rhyme “fatty, fatty, two by four,
couldn’t get through the bathroom door” followed me throughout
My mother took me to a weight doctor
when I was 7 years old. I was put on a 1,000 calorie diet and a
rainbow of diet pills. My younger sister was very thin at that time
and would not eat. My mother would make cookies for her, but I was
not allowed to eat them. I learned to sneak food at an early age.
In the seventh grade I was enrolled at
a girls’ school and went there until I finished school. I had great
friends who did not care that I was obese. In fact, the first time I
remember being referred to as “morbidly obese” was when I had a
physical exam just prior to entering the school. I weighed 199
pounds when I graduated in 1963.
I went away to college and went on many bizarre diets, none of
them for very long or successfully. When I was a senior, a doctor
prescribed amphetamines for me. What energy I had!!!! But I didn’t
lose weight. I just became dependent on the drug.
I continued to gain weight. I did lose 50 pounds one time
following a high protein diet, but I gained it back when I got
pregnant. At my first pre-natal visit, the doctor told me I could
gain only 20 pounds during my pregnancy. When I went back a month
later, I had gained 5 pounds He yelled at me and made me feel so bad
that I received no more pre-natal care until the 8th month of my
pregnancy. I gained a total of 110 pounds with the pregnancy.
It was up and down after that, losing 50 to 75 pounds and then
gaining it back. At one time I joined Overeaters Anonymous and lost
100 pounds and kept it off for a year. It gradually came back. This
In 2002 I was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension,
probably secondary to my use of phen-fen in the 90’s. It aggravated
my mitral valve insufficiency. I was put on disability. I was unable
to lift over 5 pounds. I could not walk more than 50 feet, and I was
on oxygen therapy 24 hours a day with a C-Pap at night for my sleep
apnea. As I was unable to do things, I gained more weight. My
pulmonologist and cardiologist were preparing me for death.
As a nurse, I had taken care of only the weight loss surgery
patients who had complications. I was terrified of the surgery. But
I came to the realization that I was dying and the surgery couldn’t
make things worse. I started investigating gastric bypass surgery. I
read Barbara’s book,
Weight Loss Surgery; Finding the Thin Person Hiding
Inside You. I got involved in a
forum on ObesityHelp.com.
The first surgeons I spoke with would not consider me for surgery
because I was too great a risk. Finally, Dr. Gary Cooper in Chico,
CA agreed to do my surgery if my cardiologist and pulmonologist
approved. The pulmonary doctor fought me, although he knew my life
was hardly worth living. His nurse finally convinced him that I had
done my homework and understood the risks. My insurance authorized
the surgery, but what they reimbursed was so low the surgeon would
not accept it. Because it is government insurance, I could not pay
the difference so I paid both surgeons fees and my insurance paid
for the hospitalization and other consults.
The day of surgery, July 6, 2004, I weighed 389 pounds. The
surgery went well, although my spleen ruptured and it had to be
removed. I went home in 5 days. Ten days later I developed a GI
bleed, which was unrelated to the surgery. My blood thinners had
been resumed too soon. I had 18 units of red blood cells, and 14
units of fresh frozen plasma, but they did not have to do any
surgery because it all corrected itself.
I have had many plateaus and it has been hard not to get
discouraged at those times. But I have never felt that overpowering
hunger that used to plague me constantly. I am fortunate that I can
eat anything except sugar, which makes me dump. I have never had a
problem with vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Here are three interesting facts. Prior to surgery I hated
chicken and now I like it. Prior to
surgery I loved milk and now I cannot stand it. Prior to surgery I
was hot all the time and now I can’t seem to get warm.
Before weight loss surgery I was on 15 prescription medications
and now I am on 4. I was diabetic and no longer am. I had high
cholesterol and now I don’t. I now use only oxygen at night and only
occasionally. I became healthy enough with the weight loss that on
December 16, 2006, I was able to have open heart surgery to replace
my mitral valve. All the lab tests that indicated how sick I was
before my weight loss surgery are now just barely above
normal levels. I have been taken off disability and will rejoin the
work force as a registered nurse.
At 62 years of age, I now have pink lips, can play with my
grandchildren, bicycle, hike, lift weights, and work all day. Weight
loss surgery saved my life. My cardiologist said she has never seen
anyone change their health in such a positive way in such a short
time. She says I took the lemons fate gave me and made lemonade.
Both my specialists refer to me as a
miracle and use me as an example of what can be done when a person
takes responsibility for his or her own health status. I feel
empathy and sympathy for those obese people that refuse to even
consider weight loss surgery.
Today I weigh 197 pounds. I have lost over 40 pounds in the last
year and I continue to lose slowly. I am confident that I will reach
my goal of 159 pounds by next year at this time.