In her own words
My weight loss surgery has completely changed my life, in positive and profound ways that I could not have anticipated. While I had hoped and prayed that it would alleviate my health issues – and I had several – it has transformed me in even more ways. I was a heavy child. However, thanks to exercise, I had an almost normal weight in college, and then was assaulted and gained… and kept gaining. I had lost and regained my weight several times following that, each time regaining more. Despite numerous medically supervised attempts at weight loss and a great deal of knowledge – I was educated in the diabetic exchange diet and taught it as a master teacher – I could not keep the weight off. A series of setbacks – foot injuries, sleep apnea, breast surgery – also contributed to weight regains. I also was in therapy for 10 years, dealing with underlying issues. But while I had been healthy as a younger person, as I neared my middle forties, I found that my cholesterol, triglycerides, and key heart markers were alarming. I was off the charts on the heart health specialty tests. My father died of diabetes and heart related issues (despite being a normal weight) in 1999. I became concerned about my own health and gave weight loss my complete effort for two years – and still failed. I despaired of living a healthy life, and then finally considered weight loss surgery.
With the diligence and analytic skills that drove me to get my MBA from an ivy-league school in my late 30s (where my fat led fellow students to assume I was a secretary), I researched surgeries, physicians, and follow-up programs. I knew that for me, the skill of the surgeons, as well as the support and follow-up program, were key. I had some medical knowledge (I’d been an assistant clinic coordinator in a specialty Spina Bifida Clinic for some years). I also have a husband with a slow but terminal cancer, (as well as heart and pulmonary issues) and have dealt with researching and dealing with his illness for several years.
Once I had narrowed down the surgery I preferred, as well as those I would consider, and had made my comparison chart, I focused on the doctors that had the most experience and best outcomes in that surgery. I also looked at their support programs and follow-up and did informational interviews with other patients.
Based on all of the above, I selected the practice at LapSF, and made an appointment with Dr.Jossart. He was happy to answer my list of questions and was very helpful in explaining my options and patiently dealing with my concerns.
When my husband was a nervous wreck before my surgery, the doctors took the time to go out to the waiting room and reassure him in person so that he would not be in a state of high anxiety during my surgery.
My surgery itself had a slight complication – unrelated to the physician and unforeseeable. However, Dr. Jossart’s approach, doing a leak test while I was still on the table, caught it immediately and the team spent the extra time right then to fix my fragile intestines. I would not have wanted to be in less experienced or talented hands – the immediate action saved me from serious infection or worse.
When it turned out that my pain medication was not working well for me (I became nauseous), Dr. Jossart was available and willing at 2 am to order a change for me immediately. I was amazed – and I have spent a lot of time at my husband’s bedside in at least six different ICU’s – at the time and attention that I regularly received from not only Dr. Jossart but the other physicians on the LapSF team.
Even after I went home, the doctor was available and so patient about each question or issue I had. I was encouraged to follow up by email and phone with him. I also attended the support group meetings and participated in the email list and live chat when possible.
I’ve compared my experience with other friends from around the country who have had other doctors, and none of them have had the extensive access to their doctors that I’ve had. Would my weight loss be as successful if I hadn’t had these doctors? I feel their sympathetic and knowledgeable support has encouraged me to put in the extra effort that I needed to achieve my final goals.
The key point I’d like you to take away from my testimonial is that the weight loss surgery outcome was so different from what I expected. Yes, I’ve lost weight. But more importantly, I’ve gained a life. I work out 2-3 times a week (for about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours each time). I don’t love it, but I love how my body feels and the results. I’m not just thinner and on the couch, I’m healthy and have a life. I can do so much more than I ever envisioned, and I’ve jettisoned so many behaviors that I didn’t realize I had. Thanks to my fitness level, no activity is beyond me.
I no longer recognize myself at first glance in windows when I pass. I no longer have to shop for long hours to find flattering things. It doesn’t matter that much, because everything fits pretty well, and I’m really too busy to worry about shopping or eating as a hobby – I’m off having fun elsewhere. There is too much of life left to live, and I wasted a lot of it huffing and puffing and resting.
Lastly, although life hasn’t gotten easier for me – my husband is in chemo again, and I’m job hunting as I was laid off when I applied for family leave to care for him – I am still successful. I am more confident about my job hunt, and I am treated (sadly – no dissertation on people’s attitudes) with more credibility by others at this weight. I have some great job prospects, and de-stress by working out these days.
Weight loss surgery has had a profound effect on my life. I no longer live to eat, worry about my weight and my health, and struggle constantly with fighting the demon of hunger as those fat cells cried out to be fed. I have the tools in hand to make this work. Yes, there is work – serious work – involved in the exercise and protein intake and decisions made, to create a healthier body. But it is so worth it as I blossom into my new life, full of energy and health and enthusiasm. I wouldn’t go back and trade this journey for all the money and job stability I can think of…
I am so grateful for the opportunity and gift I’ve been given to have such a successful surgery with such a terrific doctor.
Note: More information about Nikki's story is available on her Obesityhelp.com web page.