One Patient's Success Story

Spring 2005

Volume One / Number One

by Ann Conway

I find it surreal that I spent 10 years trying to avoid bringing attention to my body and now here I am talking about it! When I decided to undergo Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band surgery, I had reached the point where my weight was negatively influencing almost every aspect of my life.

I was put on my first diet at age nine and from that day on I though daily about my weight. I was skinny for my senior year thanks to a lovely combination of playing soccer, diet pills and bulimia. It worked pretty well, or so I thought, until I was about 21 and then each year the weight began to creep on. By the time I was 30 I weighed 200 lbs and over the next eight years my weight climbed until I topped the scales at 297 lbs.

After amassing an array of weight-related disorders like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, asthma and shortness of breath, my physician suggested I visit Dr. Ren. I knew very little about weight loss surgery but I was desperate to change so I met with Dr. Ren to discuss my options. In June 2002, I underwent Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band surgery. Almost three years after the operation, the results speak for themselves:

Beginning weight: 297 lbs
Present weight: 152 lbs

Beginning clothing size: 24
Present clothing size: 6/8

Beginning bra size: 55F
Present bra size: 38B

I can’t say it was a smooth ride; the food withdrawal over the first six months was brutal at best. I remember, not proudly, calling my sister to tell her I had licked the french-fry pan in desperation! It took a year for me to realize that when you’re full, you’re full. And eventually the weight loss, while not fast, became constant.

When my sister had the surgery and her weight just poured off, it was frustrating. I was happy for her but I was still fat. Even after a 100-pound weight loss, I was still fat. I learned a lot about myself during that time and realized that I had to change my insides both emotionally and spiritually for this to be successful: If I didn’t like myself, weight wouldn’t have made any difference. Once I started to respect and like myself and to build up my relationship with God, everything else started to come together.

In reality, the slow weight loss was better for my body. My skin, although loose, was not as excessive as it can be with gastric bypass surgery. I did have to have breast reduction surgery in April 2004. It was my 40th birthday present to myself and it made a huge difference to my appearance. What a joy to be able to buy a bra in any store! In March 2005, I had a tummy tuck and excess skin removal. It’s still too soon to see the difference but I’m looking forward to seeing the new me.

Besides the physical changes, there were mental and emotional ones to deal with also. As much as I “prepared” myself, I could not help but be amazed at other people’s reactions. While it was nice to get compliments on my appearance, or my hard work, some of the comments I got were shocking. I had a (former) friend say, “ I am glad you are thin, I don’t like fat people”.
But overall, I feel blessed to have had this opportunity. Without it, my life would be so limited. Now I can do things I always wanted to do. Last year I coached my daughter in softball; I can shop anywhere, wear any style. I can sit in a movie theatre and airplane seat comfortably. I don’t worry about breaking people’s furniture when I sit down. It’s a great place to be. I like my body, my life and most of all, I like myself.

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