Author: Suzi Shaw, Chief Facebook Support Group Admin
Sometimes I forget that you all don’t KNOW me…so I want to help people understand me a bit better and see where I am truly coming from when I give advice on Facebook.
This whole “success” thing hasn’t been an easy road for me at all.
Back in 2006 I got a Lap-Band. In Houston, in 2006 it was near impossible to NOT be overweight and know about the band, lol. So that’s what I did.
I did it and spent 6 months dropping weight like a mad woman and being a poster child of what you should do after surgery. I followed everything to a T and lost 90 pounds in the first 6 months! By fall 2006 I was 240 pounds and felt unstoppable.
Then the rug got pulled out from under me. My husband got a massive promotion and we moved…which meant I had to leave my job. My job was the reason I had insurance coverage for the Band. My husband’s company had an exclusion for Weight Loss Surgery. So I was suddenly a cash paying customer. Which was ok. Except something changed in my marriage around that time and my husband got very controlling. It was very stressful. And I started eating “off plan”. Often times I’d let my Band do more work than I should have. I’d find myself with a big pan of Cheese Crisps and salsa on nights in front of the TV. Hey, it was Low-Carb right? Cheese has protein doesn’t it? Eventually my weight loss stopped. I started working on things “in moderation”. Things like ice cream started working back into my grocery cart but the protein drinks seemed to stay at the store.
Eventually I stopped going for fills. Right around the same time my marriage truly deteriorated. By the time I got the courage, or rather he showed his true colors and the real abuse started instead of just verbal and emotional abuse I had gained back up to 300 pounds. I knew in my heart something wasn’t right with my band. I knew that it wasn’t just a fill as I would throw up a lot after meals I knew I should be able to eat. So after I finally got the courage up to leave and start over I found a Dr who would take me on as a patient to get my band, and me back in shape.
Easier said that done as we were in a constant battle of Fills and Un-Fills trying to get back to the “Sweet Spot” all Lap-Banders look for. It was expensive, $150 a pop so I had to be careful and still couldn’t go as often as I needed to. I’d leave the office filled so tight I couldn’t swallow my own spit but determined to “make it work” so that I could lose weight. Only to find myself back in two weeks, weak and sick for an un-fill.
Over the next year or so I yo-yo’d weight wise and with the amount of fluid in my band. Finally I found a local clinic that was cheap enough that I could go as much as needed. Only I learned there that the issue wasn’t ME and being inconsistent…my band had slipped.
Here’s where I just threw in the towel. I gave up 100% and went back to all my old habits…which honestly weren’t every really gone anyways as I’d been working that Moderation Card pretty hardcore with “healthy” portions of crappy “food”. Miracle Noodles in Alfredo Sauce? SURE! Pizza made on Low Carb Tortillas? HECK YES!! Unflavored protein powder mixed with full sugar Egg Nog? YES! Protein baked into Peanut Butter Cookies? SOUNDS YUMMY! Bacon wrapped cream cheese stuffed Shrimp and Chicken on a Skewer? BRING THAT HERE PLEASE! You name it, I ate teeny portions of it. But eventually….the portions weren’t so teeny. And neither was I.
By the time I remarried, I was back to being 300 pounds.
After the birth of my daughter I realized that I needed to SHOW someone how to live a life. I was suddenly in charge of how someone else would learn to be an adult! I decided in 2012 that I’d had ENOUGH and needed to not only be a good example, but be there PERIOD for my daughter. And there was a greater chance that I’d drop dead from a heart attack at 300+ pounds than any thing else. So I finally started looking for help to get things “done” once and for all.
By this time I’d developed a massive case of GERD, so bad in fact that it caused pneumonia when I was pregnant that I was hospitalized for a week. Even not pregnant I couldn’t sleep on my back or I’d wake up choking. I couldn’t sleep at all in fact as the burning pain made it hurt so much, and my weight made breathing next to impossible. The only food I seemed to be able to keep down was Vanilla Ice Cream and Magic Shell…so after trying so hard to make good choices all day. I’d give up at dinner. I’d eat a meal that probably wasn’t too bad calorie wise, but I’d throw up most of it up. Then eat ice cream as it would stay down. Every. Single. Night. I figured that was ok because 1000 calories is a 1000 calories right? WRONG….that’s how you go from 280 to 355 in a year. Things were about as low as they could get.
I learned through testing that my GERD was a result of the erosion of my band. The same testing also proved that my port had flipped. Even IF I could have had a fill in my band, it was impossible as it couldn’t be accessed. I felt defeated. Like the final nail was put into my weight loss coffin.
Thankfully, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. My job provided excellent insurance but it was another policy that had an exclusion for weight loss surgery. In a round about way, my husband’s case of “under-employment” turned out to be a blessing. You see he’d lost his job shortly after our daughter was born and us being a bit short each month money wise made him decide to re-join the Military. We realized that we were eligible for insurance through the Military and they would cover revision! I had hope at last for a solution!
It took a while to get things together, but in May of 2014, I had my Lap-Band Removed and was revised to RNY in one surgery, it took nearly 4 hours to complete….but my Dr did it!
The next months were a challenge. Things in life are never calm and smooth. My husband deployed in early 2015, which left me as a single parent who still needed a great deal of emotional support every day. And that’s where BE came in. I had joined the old support group before my revision surgery and would pop in from time to time but after he left I really needed help with my head.
And help I got. By the time I hit one year post Revision I had lost 150 pounds!
It might look easy and effortless but life after surgery can be hard. I found that the support from Facebook was a huge key to my success. Anyone who is a member knows that there’s NO sugar coating there. There’s not a lot of grey area and there’s a LOT Of successful people in all the groups to share their story and help you along. And that’s exactly what I needed. I needed a kick in the pants on a daily basis, a dose of reality to keep my honest and accountable or I’d be repeating some part of my history.
So that brings me to now I’ve lost 200 pounds. That’s a person! That’s a BIG person actually. It’s the lowest I’ve weighed since I was in Elementary School I bet.
My husband and I lead a fairly active life now. We spend a lot of free time at the gym and making sure that our daughter doesn’t exactly follow in my footsteps but learns from where I’ve been. I got Certified in Nutrition so I could better understand my own body and better support people. Life is good in so very many ways! I love that I have the opportunity to pay it forward on Facebook now and help people every day.
Nothing about my journey has been easy. My mind has been a HUGE issue the whole decade I’ve been working on this and I *think* I might be finally getting it. I hope I can help and inspire someone to do what I did. But just don’t take 10 years and have 2 surgeries to get it right ok?
Do the HARD work and change how you think about food. So that if something happens…medically or in your life you have the tools to deal with it that don’t result in a total regain!
Get it right the first time. Revision, regain, everything I’ve dealt with is amazingly harder than it needs to be. Believe it or not, regain doesn’t have to happen. This journey is not easy…but you can totally do it!! I’m now here to help you so that you can make changes without making the same mistakes I did. That’s my new mission in life.