Patient Stories on Weight Loss/Bariatric Surgery
(left)Jeff in the hospital for heart transplant evaluation (359 pounds). (right) Jeff 9-months post vertical gastrectomy (215 pounds).
In May of 2005 Jeff was hospitalized at California Pacific Medical Center for a heart transplant evaluation. His heart was failing due to extreme obesity, weighting nearly 360 pounds at the time of hospitalization. After spending five weeks in the hospital, Jeff was referred to one of California Pacific’s weight loss surgeons. Jeff was 35 years old and needed to lose over 100 pounds for a heart transplantation to prolong his life.
Able to lose some weight on his own, Jeff and his physicians decided weight loss surgery was his best chance for success. At the end of August 2005 Jeff underwent Vertical Gastrectomy (VG) for morbid obesity. At the time of surgery he weighted 325 pounds and just 12 months later he was down to 189 pounds, losing 34 pounds while in the hospital under the strict care of his physicians and 136 pounds after VG.
Since having the VG, Jeff’s co-morbidities of sleep apnea, hypertension and end stage heart failure have resolved. His daily ritual of taking 13 different heart medications has been reduced to two, and he has been removed from the heart transplant waiting list. He exercises on a regular basis and plays with his children without having to stop and catch his breath.
“For anyone considering weight loss surgery and not sure which procedure is best, ask about Vertical Gastrectomy. Weight loss surgery is not for everyone but it was best for my situation. I spent less then an hour in surgery and that really pleased my heart doctor and my family. There are times when I sit and think that if it were not for weight loss surgery, I may not be here today. It has truly saved my life,” states Jeff.
Linda at 275 pounds (right) before surgery and Linda at her goal weight of 120 pounds (left)
I had always been 15 - 20 pounds overweight. In fact I dieted my way up to 275 pounds! To this day I truly believe if I had never gone on that first diet I would still be 15 - 20 pounds over the “normal”, but back in the 60's my doctor thought I needed to get the “extra weight” off. That was the beginning of my 35 years of yo-yo dieting.
First the shots then the “diet pills”, then Weight Watchers, Healthfast, Jenny Craig, Nutra Systems, Grapefruit, Richard Simmons, etc., etc., etc. I think the turning point for me was sitting in a sleep clinic office waiting for the doctor to show me how to use my C-PAP machine because I had sleep apnea. I was reading my chart that said, “52 year-old morbidly obese female”.... It’s the first time I saw the words in print and it really hit hard. At this point there were several health issues including, borderline high blood pressure and diabetes. I had to make a decision as to whether or not I wanted to be around to enjoy my children and grandchildren. I knew I had to do something.
I began researching different Web sites for the various weight-loss surgeries available. I talked to my primary care physician who was not very encouraging. Without her support I knew I was on my own.
I was determined and let me tell you that is what it takes to get this surgery, determination! My girlfriend’s cousin, who lives in New York, had had the Duodenal Switch. I talked to her and she referred me to her doctor in New York. I asked him if he knew anyone on the west coast who could perform the surgery and he referred me California Pacific Medical Center.
There were still insurance hoops to jump through, but again determination was the key. After several months of going through the insurance red tape, the doctor appointments and tests, my surgery was finally scheduled for July 16, 2003. I like to say that was the day my life truly began.
Surgeons at California Pacific performed the laparoscopic RNY on Wednesday and when my physician’s colleague came in on Saturday to release me, I asked him if he was sure they had done the surgery. The only way I knew I had had the surgery were the five tiny scars on my stomach. I felt great! Not one complication and no pain. I was back to work within two weeks and the weight started falling off.
After eighteen months I’ve lost 155 pounds and 147 inches. I’m so glad my friend suggested I measure myself the night before surgery. It’s been a great help knowing I was losing inches even when the scale didn’t show a weight loss.
I have donated my sleep apnea machine back to the sleep clinic for someone else to use, my heart condition is 95% better and I feel like I’m floating when I walk. My self-esteem is soaring and my life is wonderful I’m so thankful my prayers were answered.
It’s important for me to attend the monthly support meetings. They’re full of helpful ideas and problem solving hints. It’s nice to know you aren’t going through these changes alone.
This is not magic. There are still relationship and food issues. They never go away, but it’s easier to deal with them thin then fat. I always said food was the only area in my life I couldn’t control. For the first time in my life I finally control food, it’s not controlling me.
A psychologist once told me it takes a year for your mind to catch up with your body. I still can’t believe the person in the mirror is me and it’s been almost two years since I reached my goal.
My mantra since my surgery has been: “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” and I feel wonderful.