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bariatric surgery
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UT Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, San Antonio, TX


UT Surgical Weight Loss — Sandy and Bob's weight loss journey together


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Sandy's Story Sandy's Story


Hi, Sandy here. My story is my own and a continuation of my husband's (Bob - see below). He had his surgery 4 years ago and it was a major change in our household. He was very good and continues to stay aware of what he eats and his weight. I am still very proud of him.


When he had the surgery, I was VERY aware of eating, mine especially. I felt guilty eating around him, even normal amounts not gluttony amounts. Our son and I got a pizza and 'hid' in another room to eat it away from Bob so we wouldn't tempt him. I got some fried chicken, the two piece box size, same thing – I felt guilty.


I also felt a little abandoned and left behind. He was adjusting wonderfully to his new eating parameters and I missed my eating partner. Eating together is a much bigger thing than you realize. When you date, you go out to eat. When you celebrate, you have a special meal. You eat and discuss the day's happenings at mealtimes. We eat all the time it seems like. That may not be all bad because we need to refuel regularly but, unfortunately, my tank registered 'fuel me' on any given excuse. Emotional eating is the pits and I had pounds of proof!!



Our son joined the Air Force and his first duty station was in Anchorage, Alaska. I was the only one in the family that hadn't been to Alaska so, with my son up there, I had the perfect excuse to have my turn. (Loved it by the way!) While we were up there I got a pretty good cough and after trying several things, Bob took me out to the base hospital. They x-rayed my chest to see how my lungs looked. What they said surprised us. My lungs were okay, but when I got home they strongly recommended I see my primary care person and let them see what they saw on my x-ray. I did exactly that. I was told that their x-ray had picked up part of a large hiatal hernia. I could live with it or have it fixed, my call.


At the time, the Wilford Hall bariatric department was just being established, and Bob was helping by giving the patient's side of the 'experience'. When the Wilford Hall doctors looked at the chest x-ray, they said my hernia was a 'Whopper'. Bob had mentioned to the bariatric doctors that I was interested in having gastric bypass surgery also, and they told me they would be able to take care of both the hernia and the gastric bypass surgery at the same time.


Next thing you know, I'm signed up for the gastric surgery wait list while I checked off the many things that needed to be done before I could actually have the surgery. I felt very lucky that I was surrounded by a great group of supporters, Bob my number one, of course! I had sleep studies done, caught up on annual procedures, visited the monthly support group meetings which I had also attended with Bob when he went. As I got each item checked, I got closer and closer to surgery. Finally the day came and I got my turn. It was decided that the full bypass was my surgery and away we went. The doctors and an assorted group of very talented medical personnel took superior care of me. I was making laps around the floor of the hospital in no time. The doctors visited and cheered me on and with that kind of encouragement, my experience was great.


It has been almost 5 months since my surgery and I'm not really trying to lose weight. It just happens. My main problem has been portioning. I am learning and, like my husband, I have every intention of maintaining once I get the rest of my weight off. At my heaviest I was 213. Nope, not at all proud of that. I am down to 160 now and have about 30 more pounds to go, or to grow about a foot taller. Guess I know which one it will be. Well, I'm used to being 5'3" anyway. If I had gotten into an exercise routine I might already be at my goal, but there is always hope. Also, as the weight has come off, my energy level has gone up tremendously. I can tie my shoes AND breathe at the same time. I walk faster and more energetically. My ego isn't hurting either. I have cleaned out my closet a couple of times and love shopping now. I was in 2X sized clothes, and at this point, it's a 16, and I'm not done yet!!!


“My story isn't finished, but I'm off to a fantastic start. I will get there and I will win because having the surgery really is life changing. I want this bad and with my health getting nothing but better, how could I not be successful. I know I have a built in advantage with Bob. Having a live in 'coach' isn't always fun, but it definitely has advantages!


That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!



Bob's Story Bob's Story


I had a friend who was about to undergo gastric bypass (Roux-en-y) surgery. I thought it was a pretty drastic solution to a willpower problem. So on my next visit to my endocrinologist (for my diabetes and other maladies) I asked the doctor for ammunition to talk my friend out of the surgery. He said, 'you should talk to my secretary, she's had the surgery and YOU should consider it yourself.'


We talked of the benefits, the good points and the bad points. Then I went home and searched the internet, read up on the process. My endocrinologist referred me to the bariatric clinic at Wilford Hall Medical Center. They had briefings and suggested I attend one of the support group meetings. There I could meet pre- and post-surgery patients. I did, and asked them lots of questions.


“But one question I asked EVERY single person who'd had the surgery ALWAYS produced the SAME answer. I asked if they could do it over would they? EVERY SINGLE PERSON said,


'In a heartbeat, it's the best thing I've ever done.'


From the day after surgery to today, my answer would be the same – it's the best thing I've ever done for myself.


I feel 20 years younger, I can shop off the shelf at clothing stores. I no longer have a 22 inch neck and a 50 inch waist. I wear shirts with a size 16 neck and 34 inch pants. I can walk from my car to the office without sweating like a pig. It's easier to get out of bed, get in a car, and fly on an airplane ... I can remember walking down the aisle of an airplane and seeing the look on passengers' faces, a look that said PLEASE don't let HIM have the seat beside me.



I can cross my legs, tie my shoes. I put my belt on while I'm wearing my pants now – before I couldn't reach behind me or beside me and had to put the belt on my pants before I put the pants on. The steering wheel doesn't rub my belly anymore. I'm a shower person, but when I do take a bath there is room for me and the water.


I've heard others talk about being able to keep up with their grandchildren, and now they have a lap for the grandkids to sit on. My endocrinologist has used the term "cured" as far as my diabetes is concerned. No more CPAP machine at night. The list could go on and on concerning the quality of life. But not only has my quality of life improved, my health is MUCH better and I've added at least 15 to 20 years – quality years – to my life.


Would I do it again? - IN A HEARTBEAT.


It is important to understand from the start: this is not a magical operation, it's NOT the 'easy way out'. It's still up to you. It's a tool to use. You get about 8 to 12 months to retrain yourself to eat healthy, to control your portion sizes and to get your mind right. For the first 8-12 months you will lose weight, want to or not. But after that ... hopefully you've retrained yourself NOT to eat in front of the TV, not to eat to celebrate, or to mourn, not to eat because you're bored (I've done all those).


You must retrain yourself that food is for your body to survive, not just because it "tastes good". You have to stop eating when you are full. Food, physically and mentally, must be "put in its place". It always has been and always will be about calories taken in and calories expended. "Heavy" people are cursed with inefficient metabolisms – BUT if you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight; if you reverse the formula you gain.


Attend support group meetings, pick up tips, recipes, listen to others' stories, listen to guest speakers. Groups will have topics about nutrition, how to read food labels, exercise, plastic surgery, marriage stresses when one half of the marriage loses weight. They will also talk about what to do before surgery, after surgery, Thanksgiving & Christmas meals, family get-togethers, and how to stay in control.


I've known Dr. Peterson for several years, watched him interact and treat dozens of bariatric patients. He is a talented doctor who puts his patient's well-being above all else. He has my highest recommendation – a great doctor and an even better person.




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