Success Story: Penny Brooks

I started out at 5’ 11,” a whopping 447 pounds with a BMI of 60. I had difficulty standing, and in doing any kind of exercise, even walking more than a short distance.  I had difficulty performing any daily activities. I was severely depressed. Just going to B. J’s or Wal-Mart, I had to ride around in a motorized cart.

I suffered from severe sleep apnea, high cholesterol, fatty liver, chronic lower back pain, chronic knee pain from arthritis and was facing yet another knee surgery. Then what made me hit my lowest of lows was after 20 years of trying to conceive a child, I was told I was infertile due to being super morbidly obese. I ended up having a hysterectomy, and sadly I will never able to have a child to call my own.

I had laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery on April 30, 2003 at Holly Cross Hospital. Thanks to the considerable skills of Dr. Barry Greene, it was an easy, uneventful surgery. I left the hospital the second day and was back to work within 12 days, full of energy and ready to get on with my life.

I took my vitamins and medications faithfully. Within the first month post-op I began to feel the positive benefits of the surgery. I no longer suffer with my co-morbidities, with the exception of some minor knee problems, which I was told, “Too much water under the bridge.” My arthritis is here to stay.

The best advice I can give to anyone considering weight loss surgery is to follow the doctors orders exactly, take all of the prescribed medications, be faithful with taking your vitamins, do a lot of research about this surgery, attend support group meetings faithfully, and get in your protein!

Within 12 months after my surgery, I've lost 200 pounds. I have gone from a snug size 30-32 to a size 20-22. I am happier and healthier and more active than I have been in 30 years and everyone says it shows in everything I do. I still hope to lose another 50 pounds, but if I never lose another pound, this journey would still be incredible, and worth all the effort it took to get here.

A continuous praise to the almighty God for the strength and knowledge to pursue this journey.  Also, a big hug to my friends and family who have watched me melt away.  And of course a special thank you to Dr. Greene who gave me back my life.

I felt like I needed to do something worthwhile to give back and help show others how successful this venture can be. I remember being bombarded by everyone for information about my sudden weight loss. I found myself sounding like a recording. I remember going into my local Wal-Mart and having a circle of friends around me soaking up the information.  I had people’s telephone numbers written everywhere to call.  I thought, ‘I have to do something,’ so I decided eight months after my surgery to start my own support group in the southern Maryland area, since driving to Silver Spring/Rockville, Virginia was too far. We are called the “Lexington Park Losers” and I am thrilled to say the group has begun to shrink beautifully.

My wonderful boyfriend of 4 years has loved me at any weight and has put up with my mood swings, my happy and sad days, and everything in between.  Our life has truly improved; mentally, physically and sexually…ooops, I won’t go there! We can enjoy walking the beach holding hands, and window-shopping in the mall. I am now for the first time ever a lower weight than the man I'm with! I am finding it so satisfying to be able to toss on one of his t-shirts if I so choose even if I wouldn't wear them as a fashion statement. It feels so good to be smaller than my partner. He is able to put his arms around me and lift me! Not that I am a tiny little thing yet! But he can lift me off the ground!

Oh, did I mention I can now fit into any booth?  The list just goes on and on of what I’m capable of doing.  I hope all you are feeling fabulous! I'm certainly not saying all my problems have disappeared but my future looks pretty darned good!

I’d like to say however the operation was on my stomach and not my brain and I have to constantly deal with the fact that the weight loss surgery was only a tool. Dr. Greene did the physical part and the emotional part is up to me.  Little did I know how much was up to me?

I found out early that I am an emotional eater. I am still addicted to food and my ability to control the addiction sometimes waivers. I think what scares me is how easy it is to fall back into the addictive patterns of behavior. Things like eating the wrong foods, sneaking food, obsessing about food, eating to repress feelings and the willingness to suffer the dreaded “dumping syndrome” are still with me. These things do scare me. But it’s one day at a time and I hope to never eat like I did before. I refuse to “live to eat”, but to “eat to live.”

This surgery has freed me to do things I never felt comfortable enough to do. When you have the surgery, you will change also.  Just remember that it will make you more of what you already are. 

Penny B. Brooks

Before After


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