VP of Patient Advocacy Programs
In 2004 I was at my highest weight of 424 pounds. Crossing a parking lot was a huge challenge for me; the arthritic pain in my knee was searing; asthma forced me to stop and catch my breath. My husband shopped in the market while I waited in the truck. I had no lap for my grandkids to sit in. People looked fearfully at me when I was getting on a plane, hoping I wasn’t going to be sitting next to them. I felt afraid and hopeless.
My arthritis, asthma, reflux and sleep apnea were not enough to make me take action. In March 2004 I had a hypertension crisis; I felt my mortality and knew my obesity was killing me. I had to do something about it once and for all.
I have succeeded at most everything I have tried in life – I have a wonderful marriage of more than 43 years, a great daughter, awesome grandchildren, and a successful business I built from scratch. But I could NEVER get a handle on my weight! In May 2004, at 55 years old, I had Lap-Band® surgery. Within 28 months I had lost 250 pounds. Now, after more than seven years I am maintaining that weight loss, I’m off of all medications; no more C-Pap machine, and I move freely and vigorously through my new life. At almost 63 years old I am in the gym working out every morning by 6:30 – swimming laps for an hour, working on the elliptical, or weight training. I am fitter and healthier today than I was at 30 years old. I am proud to say that I am a role model for my sixteen year old granddaughter who lost 75+ pounds by making lifestyle changes parallel to mine.
With the help of this tool, my extended support system, and my commitment to improving my health, I have discovered the joys of bicycle riding, scuba diving, chasing my grandkids on the beach, taking long romantic walks with my husband. I have learned the joys of dining, of tasting each morsel of food; this is new to someone who ate enough to weigh 424 pounds. I wake up each day grateful:
– for the support of all of the people I have met on my journey, medical staff as well as patients
– my family who have been my best cheerleaders
– grateful for those who I mentor who teach me something every day.
– grateful to be able to live life to its fullest, free from the burdens of obesity for the first time in my adult life.
My path to surgery was not easy. Although insured by a major corporation, the insurance did not cover any weight loss surgery. I chose to LIVE and paid privately for Lap-Band® surgery, and was fortunate enough to be able to. Now that I am full of life I choose to advocate for surgery as a means to fight the disease of obesity and its co-morbidities. I want people to understand that there is a solution for someone like me, someone who was more than 250 lbs overweight. I hope to set an example for others.
I believe that part of this advocacy is working in any way possible to assure that weight loss surgery is available to those who could otherwise not afford it.