Kelly the Culinarian: Motivational Monday: Lea Anne's Weight Loss Story, Part 1

Monday, April 29, 2013

Motivational Monday: Lea Anne's Weight Loss Story, Part 1

Today I have a special treat from my former coworker, Lea Anne. We worked together while I watched her transform herself with the assistance of weight loss surgery (WLS). I asked her if she could share her story because I think there are lots of common misconceptions about WLS being "the easy way" or some other such nonsense. If food was simply about nourishing ourselves and stopping when we're full, we'd all be skinny minnies. But that's not the case. What happens, then, when one of the common ways we connect with each other, our past and our heritage is removed for the sake of improving one's health?  Lea Anne is such an inspiration and a beautiful person inside and out, so I am honored to share her story.

After years of struggling with obesity, I chose weight loss surgery (WLS) because I knew that I needed more help than common weight loss programs could offer. My health was diminishing at only 31 years old. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were at the forefront of doctors’ concerns for me but my infertility was what finally pushed me to seek the help I desperately needed.
3 months before WLS
Because of my weight, I was no longer menstruating naturally and not ovulating when I took hormones to menstruate. I watched my best friend and her husband struggle for years to get pregnant. I didn’t want that struggle for my future marriage; I was going to make sure I did everything in my power to get my body healthy so that when my husband and I eventually tried to conceive, we’d have better chances of a good outcome. I understand that nothing in life is guaranteed and since we haven’t started trying to have a child, our future is still unknown.  But I do know that I had to do this so that my obesity and poor health were not going to keep my husband from his dream of becoming a father.
In October 2011, I went to a WLS informational seminar. After 2 hours of mind-numbing information about the differences between the lap bad, vertical sleeve gastrectomy (“the sleeve”) and gastric bypass, I spoke with the nurse coordinator about my options. He looked at me and bluntly asked how much weight I wanted to loose. I said at least 100 pounds and he explained that the lap band would not be my best option because most band patients see weight loss numbers much less than 100 pounds. He recommended that I consider the sleeve or bypass, but reminded me that the surgeon would help me decide what was best for me and that the decision was ultimately my own.
I met with my surgeon in November 2011 and at that point I had already decided on the sleeve. I researched online, spoke with bypass patients and I knew I could not handle something called dumping syndrome, commonly associated with bypass. No one likes to vomit but I have a particular affliction with it and am the biggest baby when I throw up. I’m not saying that it’s a given and every bypass patient has it, but I knew I couldn’t live with that chance. During the meeting, the surgeon first suggested that I consider bypass because it has an even better weight loss result than the sleeve and at close to 350 pounds, I needed to lose a lot of weight. Then we talked about my future and the fact that I did not yet have children. He felt that the sleeve would be best for me because proper maternal nutrition can be harder to regulate with bypass. I asked a lot of questions and I left satisfied that I had made the right decision.

When I started the process, my insurance had a 6 month WLS schedule that I needed to follow before they’d approve the procedure. I’d need to see a cardiologist, pulmonologist, psychiatrist, and nutritionist and have a battery of tests performed before I was physically cleared for surgery. I felt like I was going to wait forever. Would I chicken out by the time the surgery happened? What if I went through all of these appointments and was denied? I was worried that one of these doctors would find something wrong with me and I wouldn’t be able to have the surgery. Then I realized that if they did find something wrong, this whole process was meant to be.
In February 2012, a miracle happened when the insurance company dropped the 6 month condition and I was free to schedule the surgery as soon as I was medically cleared. I scrambled to get the remaining appointments because I’d felt emotionally ready for the surgery since sometime in December.  The ball was rolling so fast but I was excited! I was ready. In early March 2012, I called the hospital to schedule the surgery and was scheduled for April 26, 2012: the first day of the rest of my new life or the day that I’d die on the operating table.
Come back next week to read the rest of Lea Anne's journey, along with her current photos. It's worth the wait.


The Brit With A Blog said...

Great story, I cant wait to read part 2. :)

Unknown said...

Can't wait to read part 2. Thanks for posting about this as awareness.