I want to offer a special thanks to Virginia
Key of Wichita Falls, TX. Here is her story:
My name is Virginia and I am a 63 year old mother of two
daughters. My husband is retired and we live in Wichita Falls, TX. I
remember my childhood years, as a home with a dad that worked and a
mother who was always there. She was a great cook and taught 4-H
cooking classes. She taught me how to bake blue ribbon cakes and
biscuits. Dad thought every meal must have meat, potatoes, bread,
gravy and finish with dessert. One never left the table unless their
plate was clean. “No wasting of food with starving kids in China.”
My memories of holidays are of our family and friends gathered
around a dining table and in the summer churning homemade ice cream
after a trip to the farm to get “real” cream.
When I went to kindergarten, I was the largest kid in my class. I
was teased on the playground. "Fatty, fatty two- by- four. Can’t get
through the bathroom door." I was a chubby kid and a fat preteen.
As I went through school, I remained the largest person in my
class. I was the overweight one of the group, the one that never had
a date. Where boys were concerned, I was always a friend but
nobody’s sweetheart. I could be counted on to pass along messages
between the popular girls and boys. But come party time I was the
one that never was invited. I always felt left out.
I could never fit into the popular fashions; in fact Mom had to
alter larger sizes to fit me. When the fashion industry started
selling “chubby” sizes I still felt out of place as they were never
pretty like the other girls'. I secretly cried before attending my
first junior high school dance. Mother was so pleased at the gown
she had bought at the resale shop and paid to have altered. I know I
must have broken her heart as I found it difficult to muster up any
enthusiasm at this gown that looked so different than the other
girls’ gowns and I came home early as it was no fun sitting alone in
In high school I still battled the weight. In spite of trying to
play softball and tennis to be active, the weight would not come
off. I’ll never forget overhearing my father say, "She has such a
pretty face, if only she could lose 20 or 30 pounds." I was crushed
and to this day feel the pain of hearing those words.
I never lost those 20 or 30 pounds, and with my low self esteem I
would do anything for friendship and even more for a relationship
with a boy. I saw my entire little girl dreams passing me by -
finding a nice man, having a big wedding, and a family of my own.
The one thing I wanted more than anything was to feel loved for who
I was. At seventeen my world came crashing down. I became pregnant,
was forced into a marriage and could not graduate with my class.
Times were different then.
After the birth of my child I struggled to lose the 50 pounds I'd
gained. Stress of a failing marriage did not help and I continued to
I remarried in 1963 and gained more weight with the birth of our
daughter. For 40 years I tried different diets and weight loss
programs, losing any where from 50 to 150 pounds, but always putting
back what I had lost, and then some. Once I resolved that I had to
get my weight under control and entered a weight loss program. I
successfully lost about 80 pounds, but then became discouraged when
the leader for some unknown reason stated that I would never achieve
During the Spring of 2002, I knew I had to do something. The pain
was too intense in my knees, hip and back. My orthopedic surgeon
said he would not do a hip replacement until I lost 100 pounds. At
that time I weighed 440 pounds on a 5’5" frame. I wondered about
surgery but my brother had stomach stapling in 1978 but defeated it.
I was scared to have the surgery as I had constantly been told I was
a surgery risk. Also seeing how he defeated the surgery I felt I
too might fail.
After being hospitalized with congestive heart failure, my
pulmonary doctor suggested I see Dr. Kenneth Warnock about RNY
surgery. I researched the procedure and finally made the appointment
in June 2002.
Dr. Warnock was very straight forward concerning the risks and
the commitment I must make. My husband and I attended several
support group meetings. The support group meetings were very
informative and I wiped tears from my eyes as I listened to the
testimonies. I could relate all too well. I saw others my size and
pictures of some that had been my size. I was becoming convinced
that this might be for me. After 15 years in a wheel chair, the
intense pain and only being able to walk 30 or 35 feet without being
breathless; I was ready. I had high blood pressure, diabetes and
severe arthritis. My health was failing fast and I knew I had to
make some life altering changes.
At my consultation, Dr. Warnock instructed me
to come back after I
had lost 65 pounds. He predicted I would be completely bedridden in
5 to 10 years.
I was angry and frustrated for 5 months. Lose weight to have
weight loss surgery??? How dare he ask that!! But finally I
started working at losing the 65 pounds so I could have the surgery.
I finally met Dr. Warnock's mandate and he set the date. I
was scared but it was something I really wanted to do. Something I
had to do!
I had the surgery on 3 February 2003 and life has not been the
same. I no longer am in a wheel chair or walker. Where once I could
only walk 30 to 35 feet without becoming breathless, I now land walk
20 to 30 minutes a day and water walk 30 to 45 minutes 4 times a
week. I no longer take 11 medications daily, nor use a Bi-Pap
On December 8, 2003 after losing 200 pounds I had a hip
replacement. It is so great to be pain free. I go out to shop; no
longer do I have to shop in specialty catalogs since I have gone
from a Plus Size 6X to XL.
It's wonderful to go shopping and to be able to buy clothes that
are in style and in the "regular size" section instead of having to
go to the plus sizes and out-of-style clothes. And just to have the
energy to go shopping is great!!
Life is good and getting better because each day I have new
experiences long forgotten from the past. Sometimes it is very
overwhelming!! This past November we took a trip for the first time
in over 15 years. We drove to Chicago, IL and then on to Green Bay,
WI and then stopped at my brother’s in Kansas on the way back to
Texas. He was so proud of me and asked if he could take me to town
and show me off!! He took me to a dress shop and told everyone about
my weight loss surgery and even bought me several new outfits! He
had to tell everyone he saw on the street!
I no longer fear those embarrassing moments:
Once I went in for an annual checkup and the doctor said to the
nurse, "She is just too obese, I can’t tell a thing!" and walked out
of the room. Recently at my annual checkup, I could be weighed on
the office scales, did not require the nurse to track down the large
BP cuff, could wear the provided gown and was not documented as
morbidly or super obese.
No longer am I a prisoner in my body. I can fly without
humiliation. Once on a flight the gentleman next to me asked the
stewardess if he could move. Now I can fit into any seat belt, any
chair, any car, any booth, or any bathroom stall. I can fit into
I have noticed that when I meet a stranger in passing they speak
and smile at me. They don’t stare!
I am able to do my household chores without a wheelchair or
walker. I am learning to drive once again and look forward to going
shopping without help.
I am not where I wish to be just yet, but I am free! I am free
from shame, guilt, ridicule, embarrassment and worry. I am free to
move without pain and struggle. I am free to dream without
To those that might be considering weight loss surgery I would
say to you that it is a life changing experience. The surgery is
just a “tool” and for you to be successful you must make a life long
commitment to strict disciplines. That includes the recommended
protein supplements, bariatric vitamins, exercise, water intake and
support group meetings. You should seek out an outstanding surgeon
that cares about your future and offers a follow up program with
knowledgeable support team members.
I am so grateful that I had the surgery and have been successful
at losing 230 pounds. My only regret is that 35 years ago I did not
have this program available to me. I missed out on so many years of
my children's and grandchildren’s lives.
I missed countless fun times with
family and friends.
Those years are gone, but now I can live. I have been given a
second chance. Before surgery my life revolved around food - I lived
to eat. Today my life is about living and laughing - enjoying life
to the fullest. Life is good to me! My quality of life has greatly
improved! I am at the weight I was 41 years ago.
I have been married to a wonderful man since 1963. We have been
transferring our photo albums to DVD and recently he commented, "I
never thought of you as being that big." I know he has always loved
me even when I was size 30/32 . He is older than me and recently I
realized his mortality when he was diagnosed with bilateral kidney
cancer. I am so glad that I had the surgery and now if necessary,
I’ll be able to care for him.
I know I am an emotional eater. I am still addicted to food and I
don’t always have the ability to control the addiction. It scares me
when I see how easy it is to get off-track. Things like eating the
wrong foods, sneaking food, obsessing about food, eating to repress
feelings. It’s scary. But it’s one day at a time and I hope to never
eat like I did before. To stay aware of my weakness, I find it helps
me to help others on their journey.
I thank Dr. Warnock, my local support group, the on-line support
groups and my husband for being there for me through this journey.
Wichita Falls, Texas
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.