I want to offer a special thanks to Tammy
Van Kooten. Here is her story:
I am 39 years old and I live in Allentown, PA. I
met you when you spoke at Sacred Heart Hospital in February 2007.
Remember the big snow storm!
I had my gastric bypass surgery on October 2nd,
2006. I weighed 334 lbs. and now I am down to 166 lbs. I am just 7
pounds from my goal of 159 lbs. and I hope to be there soon.
I have been either overweight or obese most of
my adult life. I was married young at the age of 18 and soon after
gave birth to my 3 children.
I was a young, bored housewife who enjoyed
eating WAY too much. After the birth of each child I gained more and
more weight until I was way out of control. Food was my constant
companion, a friend that was always there for me, always made me
Soon I developed health problems: high blood
pressure, severe foot pain and I became border line diabetic. I
would have constant bad headaches caused by my blood pressure and
combined with the terrible pain in my feet. I was taking 10-12
Advils a day to try to ease the pain.
I was always interested in gastric bypass
surgery but I did not have health insurance so I knew it was not a
possibility for me. Finally, a year and a half ago circumstances
changed and my husband switched jobs and we had health insurance,
which was pretty awesome! I researched more about the procedure and
talked to a friend that worked at a hospital on the floor where
gastric bypass patients went for recovery. She told me some amazing
stories about the patients and I was inspired to learn more. She
gave me the phone number for Karen, the bariatric surgery
coordinator. I called Karen and she was wonderful! Having had the
surgery herself she was very compassionate and knew how I felt. She
understood my feelings of despair, of worthlessness and desperation.
Karen referred me to a surgeon and the support
group that was held monthly at the hospital. I made an appointment
with my surgeon, Dr. Holland and set the wheels in motion. I had to
wait 6 months but I did get a surgery date on my first visit, which
was very exciting! I started attending the support group and met so
many wonderful people that were so understanding and supportive. I
was very excited about my upcoming surgery.
My surgery date finally arrived. I was scared
but also very happy to be starting a new life. After my surgery I
developed several complications and required 2 more surgeries back
to back. I was very upset and told my doctor this was a big mistake
and I regretted it. He told me to hang in there and things would get
better. I did not believe him. I had a very long and rough recovery
and had to have 2 more surgeries over the next few months but I did
start to get better.
Now, 11 months out, I am in perfect health. I
am full of energy and wake up every morning with a huge smile on my
face, excited about my future. My friends and family are very
supportive and proud of me. I love my new found health and my new
body. I love shopping for new clothes and I love how I look in them.
God has blessed me in so many ways and I am very grateful.
My surgeon asked me recently if I still
regretted the surgery and I responded with a very firm, NO!!! He was
right; things did get a whole lot better. I do struggle with old bad
habits every day but I will overcome my "head demons" and continue
If anyone that reads this is considering having
the surgery, believe me, it is the smartest thing you will ever
Tammy E. Van Kooten