Patient of the Month – Ashley
Ashley is our May “Patient of the Month”. Ashley had gastric bypass surgery in November 2012. She shares her story below.
Beginning in middle school and throughout high school, I thought I was overweight. Of course, when I look back on pictures from high school, I realize that I was not nearly as overweight as I thought at the time. But I did struggle and for 34 years had horrible eating and drinking habits. In my youth, I loved to play sports, volleyball and basketball because I was tall. And that always gave me enough exercise at a young age to keep my weight somewhat in check. But I remember family members, attempting to be helpful, warning me to watch my weight and consider my health.
And so, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, after high school and no longer having the sports that came along with it, I began gaining weight a little at a time. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes runs in my family on both my mother and my father’s side and my increase in weight did nothing to help. But like most, I continued my bad eating habits even after my diagnosis and continued to indulge and not exercise. Then, when I was 27 years old, my husband and I decided to have a baby. Like a lot of women, I saw this as my excuse to eat anything I wanted, after all, I was pregnant and that is what pregnant women do. But I was not like all pregnant women, I was diabetic. So I began taking insulin shots thinking after I had my baby, things might go back to normal. They did not.
I gained 60 pounds when I was pregnant. Because of my poor choices and high blood sugar, my son was born a week early and weighed 11 pounds. That’s right, 11 pounds (and 1 oz. to be exact). Babies born to diabetic mothers usually weigh more because of the extra sugar they receive from their mothers. I never lost any of the 60 pounds that I gained and I never came off of the insulin I started. I also developed high blood pressure and tachycardia, a rapid heart rate. Over the next 6 years, all while continuing to slowly put on more weight, I had multiple trips to the emergency room thinking I was having a stroke or that my heart was going to explode because of these conditions. I was taking more and more insulin and gaining more and more weight. I wanted to have another baby but missed that window of opportunity because of my poor health, all from being obese. It was time to do something and I had realized a long time ago that I was powerless over my addiction to food and other poor choices, like not exercising and drinking Diet Coke most of the time.
I went to the seminar for the Center for Surgical Weight Loss. It was Dr. Wegner who spoke that night and because my husband was out of town, my mother went with me to take notes and be an extra set of ears. Dr. Wegner began to speak about the specifics of the three types of surgeries and then he began to talk about the co-morbidities associated with being overweight, of which I had many. The most concerning of these being Diabetes. I was so tired of being Diabetic. I was tired of pricking my finger 4 or 5 times a day and I was tired of taking shots 4 or 5 times a day. And most of all, I was tired of worrying about my health.
And then Dr. Wegner began to speak about gastric bypass as a cure for diabetes. And he said, as if he was speaking directly to me, “If you take Novolog, Metformin, or Levemir for you diabetes, you will be off of that within a very short time after the surgery.” I turned to my mother almost stunned. I had tears in my eyes; actual tears. He just named every diabetic medication that I was taking. Every medication that cost me and arm and a leg every month. Every medication that had become like second nature to inject but that I hated taking so much. I decided right then and there, this was a go. This surgery could save my life.
I met with Dr. Weaver in September and Betty Coble, my patient advocate. Dr. Weaver said that gastric bypass, as opposed to the sleeve or band, was the way to go considering that I was diabetic. I told Betty I wanted the surgery as soon as possible as I was started to feel effects of neuropathy and did not want to waste any more time.
On November 1, 2012, Dr. Weaver performed gastric bypass surgery on me and saved my life. I have no doubt in my mind that my poor health associated with being obese was what would have one day killed me. In fact, before the surgery, I used to worry constantly about my health. Even if I had lost some weight on my own, I would have still been Diabetic and the likelihood of me losing the weight I need to was slim.
I have lost 70 pounds since the surgery. I went from taking almost 200 units of two different types of insulin a day along with several oral medications for my heart, to taking none. I no longer even consider myself diabetic. In fact, I just received some recent lab work in the mail from my primary care physician and next to my blood sugar readings he had written, “Looks great! Keep up your same routine.”
I cannot begin to describe the relief I feel now. It is not just happiness. Of course, I am happy; I look and feel great! But I feel like the weight of the world has literally been lifted off of my shoulders. I now eat right, exercise regularly and know that I will be here for my family for a long time. Dr. Weaver and the Center for Surgical Weight Loss not only changed my life for the better, they literally saved it.