I have been overweight my entire life, for as
long as I can remember. I
was 11 when my mom put me on my first diet. I was in the 6th
grade and this created quite a disruption at the school as I was
not eating lunch. I guess it was a school policy for every child to eat a
lunch. I lost about 30 pounds and felt better about myself but the
weight came back.
Through high school, I was a large girl.
I weighed about 200 pounds and was 5’7.” I was able to
crash diet for senior pictures and when they were taken I weighed
about 150 pounds. But the
weight came back. During
college, I maintained a weight of 190 to 210 pounds, with occasional
drops to 160 – 170 pounds due to dieting, but the weight always
While in college I tried all sorts of diets,
Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, grapefruit diets, the hot dog
diet…whichever was the diet of the week on my dorm floor.
I thought something was metabolically wrong with me and I put
it to the test. My
college roommate was a very thin girl, 5’8” and 117 pounds.
For one week I ate what she ate, I drank what she drank, I
got the same exercise that she did.
After one week she had lost 3 pounds and I had gained 10.
I asked my doctor to test my thyroid, which he did, and could
find nothing wrong.
After college and during my first pregnancy, my
weight shot up to 265 pounds. It
never left. Depressed
and eating about it, my weight skyrocketed to 322 pounds.
That was my highest weight ever.
This was on New Year’s Day, 1996.
I decided it was time to make a change.
Once again, I embarked on the diet of the week.
Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, and Cabbage Soup…what ever diet
was in a magazine, I tried it.
Over the course of about 6 months, I was able to get down to
around 260 pounds. Then came
my second child and once again my weight was up to 285 pounds after
the birth. I tried to
lose the weight but nothing seemed to work.
The severe depression cycle was on. I was
depressed about my weight so to comfort myself I ate, which made me
more depressed about my weight…and so on.
Life was very bleak, and the suicidal thoughts were intense
but I knew my children needed me.
Six months after the birth of my second child,
I found out I was pregnant again.
I weighed 285 pounds for my entire pregnancy, which upset my
doctors because I did not gain any weight.
After the birth of my third child I found myself at 265 but a
month after he was born we made a cross country move. Depressed and
lonely, I ate to comfort myself in my new home, and the weight came
On January 1st, 1999 I found myself
at 299 pounds (funny how those new years weights stick with us). Once again I dieted using Weight Watchers. Why I kept coming
back to Weight Watchers, I do not know.
Three months later I was at 245, a month after that I was
back to 265. I pretty
much stayed in the 250 to 275 range for the next two years.
In 1996, I began investigating gastric by-pass surgery after I saw a commercial on TV.
I was ready to do it. I
made the call to the doctor, gathered information about it, then
called my insurance. They
would in no way pay for this surgery.
This procedure at the time was not open to appeal.
It was a big fat NO! Of course this depressed me so much that
I ate. I ate the surgery right out of my mind.
In February of 2001, being home sick and
surfing on the Internet, I rediscovered gastric bypass surgery. This time I made my mind up that I was going to have this
surgery, provided it was right for me, even if I had to pay for it
out of my own pocket.
My health was in bad shape.
I was 30 years old, had a fasting glucose of 212, a blood
pressure of 150/119, gastric reflux disease, female problems, and
walked with a cane because the arthritis in my back was aggravated
by my weight. I could
not walk up the flight of stairs in my house without being out of
breath. My doctor
attributed all of it to my weight.
In March of 2001, I saw my primary care doctor.
I approached him well researched and gave him a lot of
information. I was scared. I wasn’t sure if he would approve it,
if he would tell me to try another diet, or just what he would say.
But the words he said still ring in my ears today –
“Connie, go for it. This
surgery will not only add years to your life but life to your
So I was off and running (so to speak).
He did a complete battery of tests on me.
Next, I tackled the insurance. Having been
denied once, I was scared. This
time I was so much more informed and well researched, but I was at
the bare minimum for my insurance to pay with a BMI of 41.
Needless to say, they gave me a run around. So after a 3-way call with the insurance company, the weight
loss surgeon’s office, and myself, I was approved!!! This was June
My surgeon wanted to schedule the surgery for
July, but I was not able to raise the $3500 deposit in a month, so I
scheduled my surgery for September 11, 2001.
I held garage sales, bake sales, sold stuff on eBay, and
took out the small amount of retirement money I had to raise the
money. On September 1,
2001, I was still $500 short. I called the surgeon’s office and rescheduled for October
16, 2001. Good thing I
guess, I would have been in Salt Lake City and would not have
of the worst days in US history.
I raised the last $500 and set off for Salt
Lake City on October 12, 2001.
My husband dropped me at the hotel and went back to Wyoming
until the day before surgery. I
had to be in Salt Lake City to meet the doctor, attend classes, and
have blood work done. My weight
was then 260 pounds.
My entire family was very much opposed to my
having surgery. My mom
pleaded with me to try one more diet and just “stick to it.” My
adult nephew who lived with us gave me countless articles from his
various men’s magazines that dealt with all of the negative
aspects of weight loss surgery. My husband neither supported nor
discouraged me. He said
that I was healthy (but I knew I wasn’t) and my weight didn’t
matter. He was afraid
that I might not survive the surgery.
It had only been 15 months earlier that he underwent surgery
to remove a brain tumor and he was concerned that he would have to
raise 3 children alone.
For 8 months prior to my surgery, I had been
prepping myself mentally for surgery and my eating and exercising
lifestyle afterward. I
envisioned a smooth lap RNY surgery and getting quickly back to
work. The day before
surgery, I found out it was going to be an open RNY because I had a
previous lap gall bladder surgery.
I was devastated. But I realized that had they done the
surgery laparoscopically, because of my previous scarring they would
have had to revert to an open procedure anyway.
The hospital stay was comfortable. I had a morphine pump that controlled my pain. Just 3 hours
out of surgery, I was in my room and had to use the bathroom.
While the nurse went to get a bedpan, I made my way ever so
slowly to the bathroom. The nurse was so happy and surprised that I
walked so quickly. I made an effort to walk every hour that I was
awake. Each hour, I
would get up and walk for 15 minutes doing laps around the floor,
then collapse back in my bed, push the morphine button, sleep for 45
minutes and repeat the cycle. The
nurses were so impressed with my getting up and walking.
For my first post-op meal, I was served Jello.
The first thing I asked, through my morphine-induced haze,
“was it sugar free?” The
nurse said no, and I said I wouldn’t eat it.
They brought me broth the rest of the time I was there.
The nursing staff was impressed with my tenacity and being
well informed. I left
the hospital on Thursday, 2 days early.
One of the things that made me the most
comfortable was sleeping on my side with a pillow wedged
between my stomach and the bed.
It gave support to my saggy but shrinking stomach.
The Monday after surgery (6 days out) I
returned to work half days. Although
well medicated, I was able to have some level of functioning. Three
weeks after surgery, I flew across country to attend courses at the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
I was gone for 3 weeks.
It didn’t dawn on me that I would shrink that fast but the
clothes I left with barely stayed on my body by the time I got home.
In fact when I flew home, going through security at the
airport, they asked me to remove my belt.
I complied but nearly dropped my size 30 jeans to the floor!
HA! When I got home my
husband hardly recognized me. The
following Monday I went back to Salt Lake City for my 6-week checkup.
I had lost 53 pounds!! WOW!
Over the next few months, things went well.
I hit plateaus, got a little upset, but worked through them.
I had 4 uncomfortable episodes with eating because I either
ate too fast or drank water while eating, yet I survived.
I noticed that my plateaus were at weights I had spent time
at before surgery. During
the summer of 2002 I hit a big plateau.
My weight was 134 pounds, a loss of 126 pounds.
I was there almost all summer.
By September, I guessed that I was finished
losing weight as I was approaching my one-year anniversary.
I resigned myself to being at that weight. But just a week later, I was down to 122 pounds, 200 pounds
less than my highest weight and 138 pounds less than my pre-surgery
The holidays brought a mild weight gain but I
currently feel wonderful. I
now range between 125 and 129 pounds. I exercise a lot and just had
my body fat percentage calculated. It was 15%.
I was thrilled. My
BMI is 20.
Over the last year, I have been able to set and
complete a lot of new goals for myself.
I can run and play with my children and have fun with my
husband. I was an
Olympic Torchbearer in February 2002.
I took a new job, one that makes me happy.
And currently, I am Mrs. Fremont County, Wyoming, America.
In July of 2003 I will compete in the Mrs. Wyoming pageant.
If I win there, I will go on to Hawaii and compete in the
Mrs. America pageant. It is same as the Miss America pageant but for
married women. I never
would have thought in a million years, I would be competing in a
beauty pageant. WOW!
As my doctor said, I have added years to my
life but more importantly added life to my years. Thank you for
letting me talk about this, I didn’t realize how many feelings I
had wrapped up in this. While
writing this I cried and laughed.
We don’t have a support group in our area; the nearest one
is a 2 1/2-hour drive away. I don’t know if this is a success
story or not. I view it
as a lifestyle change and a mindset change.
I am out there more, living and loving my life.
Thank you for your time and efforts.