A Gastric Bypass Journey
For one Putnam County family, obesity was nearly universal – three sisters, all battling severe weight problems. They all met the official definition of “morbid obesity,” all being more than 100 pounds overweight. But the sisters – all in their 40s– are trimmer now after all undergoing the life-changing procedure of gastric bypass surgery within the last decade.
The surgery is an extreme procedure where a surgeon links the upper and lower regions of the small intestine in order to bypass the middle section, where most of the absorption of food takes place. The end result of this process has patients feeling less hungry and fuller faster whenever they eat.
But this process is no easy feat. Dozens of doctor’s visits and meetings must first be done as the journey to gastric bypass surgery goes underway. Proof that one is seriously and actively trying to lose weight and they have done all they could to try and get healthy must first be exhausted before they are considered eligible for the surgery.
It may take years before one is qualified enough to prove they are ready to receive the surgery and permanently alter their lives. Even after the surgery, the journey to a healthier lifestyle is ongoing.
“I tried everything. It was a neverending cycle and I knew I had to do something more permanent.”
Brigitte Smith, 46, a nurse, the oldest of the three and the first one to receive the surgery was elected to go forward with the surgery in 2002. She defines gastric bypass as something that “is not an instant fix” as many believe. Struggling with weight issues her entire life, Brigitte decided it was time to have the surgery and get her health in check.
Brigitte has lost over 150 pounds after the surgery, and has maintained a healthy lifestyle and better eating habits that has given her a new lease on life. However, her old eating habits and emotional attachment to food is something she feels she will always have to deal with.
“I’m an emotional eater… It’s hard for me to break that cycle. I try to break that with exercise, some days I’m more able to do that but it’s a hard cycle to break but I’m working on it…but the emotional component is definitely hard to break.”
Here is Brigitte’s video on what she’s learned from the surgery and how the surgery was not a be-all end-all, but used as “a tool to make me even.”
Sister 1 – Bridgette Smith
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Vu-YAVhcSGk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Struggling with not only weight, but fertility issues, middle sister Marie Daily, 44, a social worker, never thought she would see the day she would finally become a mother. While prepping for the surgery, Marie lost a significant amount of weight and wound up pregnant with her first and only child, Shane.
Morbid obesity may lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory problems, and in Marie’s case, infertility. Having excess fat may lead to a change in the levels of estrogen and progesterone which may cause infertility. For Marie, these effects on estrogen and progesterone levels were reversed once she lost weight.
However, Marie’s struggle with weight continued after she had her son, gaining back the weight she had initially lost. She then opted to go through with the surgery in 2007, but now with an added reason– to become more active and better her health for the sake of her son.
Here Marie shares her story about how the gastric bypass led to her unplanned and miraculous pregnancy that she owes, in part, to the journey that gastric bypass lead her on:
Sister 2- Marie Daly
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/RR_YOl3nADo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Lisa Murry, 42, an administrative assistant and the youngest of the sisters, is the most recent one to get the surgery in January of 2011. Like her sisters, Lisa has struggled with her weight since childhood.
But as for the idea of gastric bypass, Lisa felt very nervous to undergo surgery because she “hates doctors.” However, one event changed Lisa’s mind when she knew she had to do something before it was too late.
“I had been thinking about it for a couple of years but I was afraid because I was a chicken. But when we went on a cruise vacation to Bermuda and it was hard to get from one side of the ship to the other. I honestly thought I was going to die. So I said that’s it, when I get home I’m going to call my doctor.”
Lisa lost 77 pounds altogether so far, and is continuing to lose weight every day. She looks to her sisters for advice on what to do and encourages anyone that wishes to get gastric bypass to do it, “because honestly it’s not even bad. The process is just a minor incision that changes your life.”
All her doubts were put to rest once she came out of surgery feeling like a new person, and is happy she did it for the sake of her family. But Lisa knows her journey is just beginning, and old routines are hard to break.
Here Lisa shares her story about her fears freshly out of surgery, and how much she admires her sisters and their bravery for going through with the surgery as she follows in their footsteps:
Sister 3 – Lisa Murray
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/cdP4pRcdFdE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Fortunately, all three sisters have each other as a shoulder to lean on. Living close to one another and remaining a very tight-knit family, the sisters have all found strength in the common bond of receiving this life-changing surgery.
But the journey one goes on when receiving gastric bypass is always a very personal battle. Struggling with one’s weight is not an uncommon aspect of American society as a whole today. Feelings of alienation and ostracism from society, and the emotional toll obesity has is something that plagues all those struggling with their weight.
The process of gastric bypass not only dramatically alters a person’s physical form but also takes on an extreme emotional and mental change for all those who go through with the process.
Thousands of self-help books and memoirs have been published to document the physical and emotional tolls this extreme surgery takes.
While complications may arise from this serious surgery, all three sisters can attest that gastric bypass has proven to be a fruitful, life-altering experience for the better, and would recommend anyone looking to get the surgery to get it done.