N Hines: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
Surgery procedure: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG)
Surgery date: 11/25/19
Surgeon: Dr Nathanial Lytle
Pre-surgery weight: 329 (BMI- 54)
Current weight: 182 (BMI- 29)
Tell us about your weight struggle prior to surgery:
I’ve been on the heavier side for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried all different kinds of diets and nothing seemed to work. Socially I struggled with being heavy because I couldn’t do the same things that my friends could do, I was limited. I couldn’t ride zip lines, roller coasters, and I also needed two seats on an airplane plus a seat belt extender. I was too embarrassed to request an extender so I would pretend to read a magazine with the magazine covering my seatbelt so it wasn’t noticeable that I wasn’t wearing one. Not safe but I was ashamed.
Share with us what led you to surgery and what brought you to ultimately make the decision?
A little over two years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and at that point my joints were already rubbing together; I was limping, depressed, and miserable. After three visits to my primary care physician I finally got a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon. I had an MRI and x-rays done on each knee because the pain was unbearable. That’s when I found out that I had a meniscus tear on one knee and my bones were rubbing together. I assumed that having both the micro fracture surgery (right knee) and the meniscus surgery (left knee) would alleviate my joint issues. Things improved but I still couldn’t walk a block without struggling or go up any stairs without being in excruciating pain. I remember going to Florida the first weekend of June 2019 with my friends. We went to the beach and I was miserable, just the walk from the car to the beach had my feet swollen from inflammation. What was supposed to be a relaxing vacation ended up with me being depressed and miserable as a result of the chronic pain. If things couldn’t get any worse, all of the pictures taken seemed to magnify just how big I had gotten. I wanted to go for a walk or just exercise during that time but I just couldn’t without being in pain. The same week I returned from the beach I started researching gastric surgery; I picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment with Bariatric Innovations of Atlanta.
Did you feel well supported in your decision to have surgery?
Thankfully I’ve had a lot of support throughout my journey; support from my friends, my doctors, Instagram and Facebook.
Tell us about your life now…how is it different? What do you miss and what do you love more than ever?
Life is so much better for me after VSG surgery. I am happier and healthier and I’m no longer in chronic pain. I can exercise consistently. I can fit in almost any chair comfortably. I can shop in the ladies section versus the plus section. I can fit in an airplane seat comfortably. I can run, jump and even do jumping jacks (I couldn’t prior to surgery). I do miss my cute fat cheeks; I had the cutest cheeks that flared up every time I smiled. I just love the fact that I feel so healthy.
Tell us about any non-scale victories you’ve experienced:
I’ve experienced several non-scale victories, my favorite is that I can do the splits again, I can get lifted up, and I can wear thongs and short shorts without it feeling uncomfortable. ☺
How do you stay focused on a healthy bariatric diet in the midst of a busy life?
Of course it’s not easy to stay focused on a bariatric diet when you’re busy all of the time but I’ve become disciplined. It took me months to get this way. I had to give up hanging out with my friends for a while and spent most of my time at home focused on eating a healthier diet. I spent time meal prepping and learning new recipes because I knew that I wasn’t ready to go out to restaurants or events. I stayed home and I trained myself to eat my daily protein, make healthier choices with food, to weigh and measure my food, take my vitamins, and to be consistent with exercise.
What has been the biggest challenge in your journey?
The biggest challenge in my journey would definitely be the fact that I can’t eat and drink at the same time. I have to wait 30 minutes after eating before I can drink. It’s tough at times because I get so thirsty after some meals. The other challenge is remembering to take my vitamins. It’s so hard to keep up with the dosage and timing but it’s really important that I do.
What current goals do you have for yourself?
My number one goal is to be healthy! My second goal is to be a flight attendant for the next couple of years just so I can travel the world. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to experience before surgery because of my weight.
What role has exercise played in your journey since surgery?
Exercise has been good for me not only physically, but mentally as well. I suffer from anxiety and since exercising I see a huge difference in my mood. The gym is my sanctuary, I could stay there for hours. I love the way it makes me feel and look when I see myself in pictures. It also gives me so much energy and just keeps my body happy. It’s also a great way to keep the scale going down and breaking stalls.
What words of advice and encouragement would you like to share with other postop patients or patients starting the process to surgery?
Take lots and lots of pictures throughout your entire journey from the start. It may take a while for your mind to catch up with the way your new body looks in the mirror but pictures help a lot! It will keep you motivated. Drink your water. Exercise on a consistent basis. Make healthy food choices. Weigh your food portions. Take your vitamins daily. Do not compare your journey to others; we are all different and our bodies work differently. Last but not least be patient and trust the process. This is not a race.