Three Years Post Surgery and Living the Dream
Ashley Hopper, Northwestern Mutual Financial Representative
Over three years ago, just like many before and after me, and as some of you are hoping for yourselves as you read this, my life changed. To say that it changed completely would not be true. I am still married to my wonderful husband, who loved me just as much then as he does now. We still have our one child who is about to be ten. We all look a little older. There are a few more gray hairs, a few more inches in height for my son and one hundred pounds less of me.
That’s right! One hundred pounds of regret, guilt and fat gone! Forever. At least that is what I tell myself daily to make sure I keep myself in check and continue to make good choices so that I am not ever what I once was.
I was only 34-years-old and I was a mess, a slob, a diabetic nightmare, a stroke and a heart attack waiting to happen. Then, it all changed. Forever.
I went to the seminar at the Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weightloss with my mother because I knew I needed support and someone to help me absorb all the information I was about to be given. I was sold when Dr. Robert Wegner said there was likelihood that my co-morbities (diabetes, hypertension, tachycardia, high cholesterol and high triglycerides) would be resolved.
Two weeks before Halloween I went through the pre-op requirements of nutrition classes, meeting with a psychologist, and the liver-shrink diet to prepare for my surgery. Even though that experience was difficult, it was not as tough as I thought it would be and it helped me to lose 14 pounds before surgery. My surgery was set for the day after Halloween. During our party with my 6 year old and a group of people I was only able to drink clear liquids and eat Jell-O. I had gastric bypass surgery on November 1, 2012. I was on my way.
I don’t want to give anyone false notions of what their surgery experience will be like, but I was surprised at how easy this surgery and recovery was for me. I had very little pain. In fact, when I woke up from the surgery, my throat hurt worse than anything else. When I sat up, I had a little bit of discomfort in my shoulders, but it would go away immediately when I laid back down. I was not nauseous and I was never sick.
Before going back to work I had two weeks to recuperate. I got to relax at home, catch up on television and spend time with my family. My clothes got looser and began falling off of me. There were times when I wanted to eat more or eat something I should not have, but I spent this time adjusting to a life where food and eating just simply could not be in the forefront of my mind all of the time like it had been before. I cried once over a plate of fries and ranch dressing that I couldn’t eat and only once.
After recovery from the surgery, I began an exercise regimen and stuck to it for quite a while. I was told to lose as much as I could in the first year and that is what I was going to try to do. I did cardio and lifted weights at a gym near my house. It felt so good to watch myself become healthier and my physical appearance changed in a positive way. I looked and felt amazing!
Around Easter, my husband and I went to surprise a friend out of town who was appearing in a play. I walked right up to him, a man I had known for years, and he did not recognize me. At that point in my journey, I had dropped 50 to 60 pounds. I realized that I was the “New Ashley” and it was a remarkable feeling.
I had to get a new wardrobe. When I went shopping there was new pride instead of shame. Even at 100 pounds overweight, I was always a confident person, but this was different. This was a whole new type of empowerment. I realized I could set goals and accomplish them.
I decided I wanted to leave the job I had for 6 years. Why? Because, I knew now I could do better. I knew now that I didn’t want to have just a job. I could have a career without the worry of discrimination from my appearance. I was now able to work without sweating profusely during meetings and being out of breathe from just walking into the room. Those days were behind me.
I started a new career a couple of years ago and it has been amazing. I am now confident and out in front of people, wearing nice dresses and suits and looking and feeling wonderful. Now, as a Financial Representative at Northwestern Mutual, I am drawn to help people prepare for their family’s futures. What’s ironic is that before my weight loss surgery journey I did not think I had a future and I didn’t prepare for my future. I did not think I would live past 40. I would not have, had it not been for Dr. Virginia Weaver and the Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weightloss. Now I have the confidence to walk into important business meetings with important people like I own the place. I get to wear high heels, which are much easier to walk in when you aren’t also carrying an extra 100 pounds. This is something I could have never done before. I truly love living my life as the new me!
This surgery gave me many blessings. Most importantly, it gave me and my family a future. I get to spend my time living a great life and planning for my future. I look forward to chasing my grandchildren around on the beach when my husband and I retire to Florida. If I’m not dreaming about my own future, I am helping people plan so they can dream about their own bright future. I get to give people financial peace of mind just like The Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weightloss has given me peace of mind that I will be around for a long time. Get healthy and chase your dreams!