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Lap Band Patient Story 3

Debbie's Story

I'm 53 years old and live with my 16-year-old daughter in Rancho Cucamonga. I grew up in California, lived in East Los Angeles until I was ten, and then moved with my mother, brother & sister to Eagle Rock. I was always a skinny kid, right through my high school years. At 5'3", I weighed 98 pounds at that time. I was never a very active person, but I was just naturally slender.

My background

As the middle child, I took care of my siblings and did a lot of cooking, which I always enjoyed. In fact, I still have a tendency to cook in large quantities. I end up giving food to my sister. But as a young person, I was either with my family, working, or hanging out with my friends. I started working when I was 15 – first at Bob's Big Boy, then Baskin Robbins, and – when I was 18 – at a jewelry store.

The skinny kid started eating...and eating

I was only 18 when I got married and my daughter came along when I was 20. One year later, I was divorced. My ex-husband was abusive, but I never said anything to anyone about it. People didn't talk much about that kind of thing back then. After the divorce, I moved back in with my mom and started going out a lot and eating in restaurants late at night – lots of fast food. I started to gain weight a couple not long afterward, because I was just eating all the time. I gained slowly and over the next 1-1/2 years my clothing sizes just got larger and larger. Looking back, I know it was stress eating, and I was drawn to comfort foods – especially Mexican foods like chips and salsa...foods I was raised on. I'd always been a big eater, but I had such a high metabolism that it never affected my weight when I was younger. I walked to work, did a lot of housecleaning at home, and was always just busy, busy, busy.

I started gaining weight

Once my weight started increasing, I was aware that I was gaining, but couldn't seem to stop it. I remember being out with friends and one of them said, "How many months pregnant are you?" That was a shock to me, but it didn't change anything. I worked at a bank for a couple of years and then got a job with Pacific Telephone in Hollywood. That place had donuts in the morning, and I went out for big lunches with my co-workers. On the way home from work, I'd stop for fast food and then ate dinner at home. Socializing in the evenings involved drinking, too and alcohol has a lot of calories.

Diet pills, shots, and the gym

In 1981, I got a job at GTE and in 1982 I met my second husband. At that time, I got braces on my teeth, too and I was motivated to lose weight. I went to diet doctors and was given shots and pills, and they make me all hyper. I started going to the gym in the early mornings and managed to get back down to a size 5 by 1985. I was working out a lot, and the pills and shots took my appetite away. But my second marriage didn't work out and in 1989 I went through another divorce. I started gaining weight again and, by time I met my third husband, I was back up to a size 9. He had five kids and I had one, so now I was raising six kids. I weighed about 127 pounds and didn't really gain much weight when I was pregnant with my daughter, so I lost it pretty quickly.

That relationship didn't work out either and I was separated by 1996. My work place sent me to Mission Hills for work, so I had to commute for 6 years, and I started gaining weight again. I had a great relationship with my ex, but the neighborhood I lived in wasn't the greatest and I couldn't go out a lot. It was an apartment complex, and we stayed in a lot and when winter came, I was back to fast food, and eating – out of boredom and stress. I was working, taking care of my daughter, and the habit took over. I had big thighs, even as a kid – it's a hereditary thing – and once again I gained a lot of weight again. I also tried diet pills again, but found I couldn't handle them; they made me feel like a nervous wreck. It was a negative cycle: the more I knew I needed to lose weight, the more I ate.

Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and an expensive medical weight loss program

I tried Jenny Craig, I tried Weight Watchers, and I even paid $1500.00 to go to a medical weight loss program. I managed to lose 15 pounds, but when I stopped doing the program, I gained the weight back double.

Enough was enough

I worked for Verizon for many years and retired in 2009. My daughter has always been chubby and four years ago she had gastric bypass surgery. Around that time, I started hearing about lap band surgery for weight loss. I went to a doctor to see if that might be my answer, but I was "only" 50 pounds overweight so my insurance wouldn't cover it even though I had developed sleep apnea and was living with gastric reflux. I was told that my BMI (body mass index) wasn't high enough.

Finding Inland Cosmetic Surgery

I got some money when I retired, and I decided that something had to be done. I didn't want to go on looking and feeling the way I did. I made an appointment for a consultation at the Inland Cosmetic Surgery center to see about weight loss surgery. My weight had been bothering me for so many years, and I couldn't stop thinking about it for all that time. Every single day I thought about it. I met with the staff there, and they were great. They gave me a lot of information, and I had lab work done. It turned out that I was diabetic, so I decided to have the surgery. It was done on October 8, 2009.

"I Want to Work with You People!"

The staff at Inland...they're the best! My consultation was so comfortable, and they couldn't have been more helpful and kind. You can ask them anything. Everyone gets to know you there, and they make you feel like part of a family – just so much support and kindness. At one point, I even brought my resume in to them and said, "I want to work with you people!" That's how much I like it there.

The Surgery – I was well prepared and knew just what to do

I wasn't afraid...I was excited to finally get the lap band surgery done. The procedure was done early in the morning and I went home the same day feeling fine. As a matter of fact, I called my daughter when I got home and sounded so good that she assumed I didn't have the surgery done. I slept and rested, but I wasn't groggy when I was awake and I had no pain.

I'm sure part of it that I was well prepared ahead of time. I had seen a nutritionist at Inland and had been told exactly what was going to happen and what I needed to do afterward. They walk you through every single thing you need to know and everything you have to do to take care of yourself. They called me at home. They followed up with me. They stay with you through the whole process and afterward. It's so much fun going to Inland and seeing them. As a matter of fact I went to an open house with my friend, because she decided she wanted to have the surgery, too.

The weight came off...and I got rid of all my clothes

I lost 50 pounds, going from 190 to 140. And I can still lose more with protein shakes and going to the gym to exercise. I wore size 16 pants and now I wear a size 7-8. I got rid of all my clothes! I looked at them and said, "I'm not wearing these anymore!" 20 pounds came off the first month after the surgery and then the weight loss was more gradual over time. I've learned how to eat – half of a kid's meal at a Mexican restaurant, a small cup of soup, not too much, and not too fast – and I eat slowly and take small bites. If I eat too quickly or take a big bite of something, my throat aches and it feels like I can't swallow right, so I follow my plan. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything. I can eat what I want to eat; I just eat smaller portions.

I was in a I'm so much more outgoing...the diabetes and sleep apnea went away

I also got a dog, and I get out to go for walks with him. I stay busy and the weight loss is motivating, so I know I will keep it off. I won't ever let myself get heavy again, and my life is so much better now. I have friends, and I am dating now. I was in such a rut before...just so depressed. I didn't want to see anyone, so I avoided gatherings to avoid feeling self-conscious. I get a lot of attention now and am much more outgoing. I have more confidence and energy and my diabetes went away as soon as I lost the weight. My back used to hurt, too, and now it doesn't. My sleep apnea disappeared, too...and I used to wake up gasping for air.

I wanted a red dress...and I got one!

I used to wear dresses years ago, but had to give that up when I got heavy. But recently I went out and bought a new dress – I really wanted a red dress – and I got one. I felt so great that day. My son said, "You look so pretty, Mom!" When I went back to work, everyone was amazed by how good I looked. I came home feeling motivated...and pretty. Every day my weight used to be on my mind. Now my mind is on other things.

To those who might be considering lap band surgery

I see people now everywhere I go who are so heavy and my heart goes out to them. I know they'd be so much happier and healthier if they could get the weight off. I encourage them to look into lap band surgery. Most insurance will cover it, the surgery is no big deal, and once you see the results your whole life changes. It just takes you and you just keep going, doing the right things to stay at a healthy weight. It's such a positive thing.


Kym H.'s Weight Loss Surgery Story

kymRead about Kym’s transformation from Size 22 to Size 4 through lap band surgery. click here

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