Guest Blog: Upside Down Roller Coaster, Here I Come!
More than one third of the U.S. population is overweight or obese – 35% of women and 33% of men. Of course physicians stress that exercise and eating right are the best ways to lose weight, but how many people have tried those methods and still cannot lose the excess weight – weight that can cause serious health problems? For people in this frustrating situation, weight loss surgery may be an option.
What better way to learn than to hear from actual patients who have had successful weight loss surgery! My name is Dawn Duggan, Director of Strategic Clinical Solutions for A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc. As a former participant of Bariatric surgery, a weight loss surgery performed to reduce the size of the stomach and food intake, I now offer my personal insight to others to determine if this surgery is a good decision for them. In recent, long-term studies, it has been shown that this treatment option causes significant weight loss, recovery from diabetes, improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, and a reduction in mortality.
Being obese can hurt your life in many ways from worrying about fitting in the harness for the newest upside down roller coaster at the amusement park to being embarrassed to have to buy an extra seat on a plane, but perhaps more importantly, it endangers your health.
I had been over weight my entire life and although my confidence level was high, I nevertheless considered myself the “fat girl”. A lot of people would dole out judgment, but thankfully, I reveled in the fact that I was confident and would not let my size define me. I always carried my outside the way that I felt inside. Although I was blessed with a confidence that went further than my size, it was necessary to choose my health and not simply my confidence.
I had dieted before and had been successful to most people’s standards, losing 75 pounds at one point. Despite this weight loss; which only brought me to a size 16, I was still obese and in poor health. Please also consider that losing 75 pounds took about two years, exercising six days a week for 60 minutes each day at 5:30 am, eating healthy every day of the week, and stressing out when I ate too many blueberries. This was not a happy time in my life and my husband most certainly was aggravated. So, armed with that diet in mind amongst the myriad of others that I had tried (and yes, I tried all of them), I agreed to take the idea of surgery into consideration.
When I raised the idea of surgery to others, I weighed 253 pounds and barely fit behind the steering wheel of my car. I was so big that I had to open my car door in order to be able to reach the lever to open the gas tank because my stomach did not let me bend that way. With no big surprise, I received much hesitation from family and friends suggesting that this surgery was not needed; however, after my surgery, when my progress became evident, remarks quickly turned from, “You’re not fat enough for this surgery. You are beautiful the way you are” to “Wow; I can’t believe it’s you. I’m so glad you did this!” Now don’t get me wrong, I have been blessed with a loving husband, family and group of friends who supported me all my life just as I was. My mom will still argue that I never looked like my before picture. When push comes to shove, my family knows that the girl before was obese, even morbidly obese, where her body could have killed her and they are relieved that I chose my health.
I have lost a total of 112 pounds with 20 pounds left to go. You might think that after losing more than 100 pounds, motivation comes easily to me. It doesn’t! It is a constant battle; however, this whole process of struggle, while difficult, has showed me what I am capable of. Now my image of myself and the image of those who love me matches on the inside and on the outside. I have learned that it is not about perfection. Life is happening now, and I choose my health, my life and my happiness!