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My Weight Loss Surgery Story

From Struggle to Spokesperson

My name is Barbara Thompson.  After years of steadily putting on weight, in October of 1998, my primary care physician referred me to a nutritional physician, Dr. Jorge Vasquez.  After reviewing my past history and current condition, he outlined several courses of treatment for me.  First on the list was weight loss surgery.  That day was the first time that I was told that I was morbidly obese.  I was shocked.  I never thought that weight loss surgery would apply to me.  I didn't think I was that fat.  But the scale wasn't lying.   Somehow I had reached the point where I was morbidly obese.  My shock was so overwhelming that I wasn't yet ready to accept surgery as a solution.  But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became.  On my way home from the doctor's office, I stopped at the mall and walked past Victoria's Secret.  I looked in the windows and imagined myself wearing that beautiful lingerie.  I actually felt lighter.

When I arrived home, I talked it over with my husband who asked me to please just try one more diet, promising to help me and encourage me anyway he could.  He was terrified of a surgery that was so serious.  So I tried one more diet.  I went to a behavior modification class every Monday night.  I also used the medication Meridia, and managed to take off 40 pounds.  But after six months, the weight started to come back.  All through this time, I was suffering with lower back pain.  I would take 6 to 8 ibuprophen per day and went to a chiropractor.  I also went to a Pain Clinic and had epidural shots.  It was made clear to me that my back would not significantly improve unless I lost my excess weight. But throughout this time, I was studying weight loss surgery.

By the Fall of 1999, I had regained the 40 pounds I had lost, plus 10 more and I was living with chronic pain.  I had reached a point where I was having trouble working because of my pain.  One night, with tears in my eyes, I said to my husband that I had to go forward with the surgery.  I couldn't continue living that way. He looked into my eyes and could see the pain and understood that the surgery had to be done.  He has since become my biggest supporter through this whole process. My husband has shared his feelings about my surgery on this website at To All Significant Others.

I went to see my family physician, fearing that he would refuse me.  I was nervous, and feeling extremely embarrassed as I asked him for yet another weight loss solution.  To my surprise, he referred me.  From my research, I had already decided upon my surgeon, so I was able offer my choice to my doctor.   And I chose the best!  Dr, Philip Schauer in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, performed my surgery.  I was blessed to have such a skilled and compassionate surgeon.  He gave me my life back.  His office took care of filing for my insurance coverage and I had no difficulty.  My entire surgery and all of the testing were covered.  Although I had a few problems, I would do this again in a heartbeat. Just after my surgery, the radiologist thought that I might have had a leak.  Although he was mistaken and I did not have a leak, I was not permitted anything by mouth for an additional week while the tests could be repeated to ensure that I was fine.  Although I was on IV fluids, this weakened me, slowing my recovery by about two weeks. But this was a small price to pay for a lifetime of good health. 

I have had very few problems since my surgery.  My biggest problem is of my own doing.  I eat too fast!! I have such a hard time slowing myself down.  And of course, when I do eat too fast, I throw up.  When will I ever learn? I have never had problems with hunger.  And my obsession with eating has disappeared.  I now know what it is to actually feel satisfied.  Prior to my surgery, I would eat huge amounts of food and one hour later, be hungry again.  That is gone.  What a relief to be free of the need to eat constantly.

I know from my own experience what it is to go through this surgery with all of the physical and emotional trials and joys.  I know what it is like living my life with new rules and eating habits.  But most of all, I know the sense of pride knowing that I did the right thing and that my weight will NEVER come back.   It is the best thing that I have ever done for myself.  It is not for everyone, but it was my answer, and it may be yours as well

As I went through my journey, I was determined to find out all I could about weight loss surgery.  Being a College faculty member, a Librarian and a professional researcher, I needed to do this so that I could make the best decision for me and be as successful as possible.  It has been a tremendous learning experience.  The information is out there, but nowhere is it brought together in one place. So I decided to create this website, and eventually to write my book entitled "Weight Loss Surgery: Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You."  The National Institutes of Health lists as one of the criteria for weight loss surgery that the patient be knowledgeable of the risks and benefits of this surgery.  Information is vital to success.   I hope this website and my book help you as you go through your own journey to a healthier, thinner life.


Copyright 2000-2015 Barbara Thompson All Rights Reserved

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