In this video our patients discuss the many benefits of weight loss surgery. Scroll down to read Laurie's amazing story.
Trading Pounds for Possibilities
"I Have a Life."
Laurie L. - Gastric Bypass
I think I was on my first diet in the third grade. I was adopted and no one in my family was overweight. My whole life I felt like I was obese. Now when I look back, I would love to be the size I was in high school and I am getting closer all the time.
I met my biological mother in my early 20’s. She and my sister were both overweight too. At that point, I thought there was no use in trying, I will always be fat. The years went by. I had my other children and they were all getting older. I finally ended a 15 year abusive marriage. I went back to school. I got my AA degree. I had hoped to start my life over. As it turned out I was getting heavier and heavier and my health was getting worse and worse. I have lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis with both knees needing to be replaced, I have sleep apnea. Then there were the medications, I was on well over 20 different medications being taken multiple times a day.
By this time, I had tried every diet – some with success for a while, but I always gained the weight back plus some.
I had researched RNY Gastric Bypass and wanted to get it done. They said I needed to participate in a weight management program so I did.
The next hurdle was getting the insurance coverage. I fought and fought. I was turned down again and again. I even appealed their decisions. I went to hearings that were so humiliating. I had to sit in a room with mostly men and beg them to save my life and tell them how fat I was. Still, they turned me down.
Finally in 2005, my insurance approved me for surgery. I received an email from my surgeon indicating that he didn’t want to perform the surgery because I have lupus. I didn’t understand because he had known the whole 5 – 6 years that I had been seeing him during my challenges with the insurance company. I was frantic and depressed. I knew I would die. I felt my body giving out. This was my last chance.
In his denial email, he referred me to St. Agnes. At this point, I was almost completely bedridden. I was 430 lbs. at my heaviest. I got up very little. When I had doctors appointments, I would basically walk a couple of steps, sit down and crawl to the car that someone had to literally drive across my front lawn to my front door to pick me up inches from the front door. My life was spent in a small hospital bed because I couldn’t get upstairs to my bedroom except once in a great while. My 80 year-old mother drove 2 hours every week to grocery shop for my children. I had lost my independence and felt my body slowly dying. The doctors had said I would be lucky to live 5 more years and I knew it was true.
At some point, I don’t remember exactly when or why something inside me changed. I became aware of how wonderful life was. I realized I had taken so much for granted.
I called St. Agnes to set my appointment with Dr. Averbach and he had me seeing every specialist I had. He had me having complete work-ups in everything. I had cardiac catheterization, I had a Greedfield filter put in for blood clots. I had a GI work-up, a rheumatology work-up. Dr. Averbach agreed to operate. I was and will be forever grateful to him. He not only saved my life. He gave me a life.
Thanks to this surgery I am learning my body signals. I am learning when I am hungry, when I am full. I am learning about myself. It is all new and exciting. I am very aware that surgery is a tool and I need to do the work. I love exercising and eating right. I can feel the difference in my body if I don’t get enough protein or if I’ve had some sugar.
I have dropped 215 lbs and I am still losing. My life is amazing, a gift I treasure every day. My “WOW” moments have been things like the first time I could wear a car seat belt, fitting into a chair, going up the steps, driving again, going from 20 medications to 2, or getting on the floor to cut off some of the low branches at the bottom of my Christmas tree.
I can never thank or repay Dr. Averbach for taking a chance on me, doing my surgery and giving me a life. The only thing I can do now is not let his wonderful, hard work go to waste. I must do what I am supposed to do and continue to get as healthy as I can. I will always treasure this tool, this gift he gave me.
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