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Auburn Resident Undergoes Life-Changing Surgery

I’ve battled with my weight ever since I was a child, so gastric bypass surgery had been in the back of my mind for a while. I have tried to eat right and workout, but I couldn’t lose the weight. I was on the cusp of being pre-diabetic, my blood pressure and cholesterol were borderline, I had sleep apnea. I wanted to have another child, but realized I was getting older and would need to be the healthiest I can be to have a baby.

When I was finally ready to take the next step, I did some research and found that Overlake’s program is an accredited, comprehensive bariatric surgery center, so I scheduled a consultation in September 2017. It was the best office visit. They explained everything very thoroughly, and I knew from that moment this was the place.

There are many requirements needed to fulfill prior to surgery, including losing a certain percentage of weight; getting blood work done; having multiple appointments with the care team; and undergoing a psych evaluation. Pre-surgery you are anxious and want to hurry up and have the surgery, but looking back, I’m so grateful for all that time. I can understand why you need to do all of this beforehand: you need this time to start changing your diet and habits, good or bad.

My surgery was May 21, 2018, and was textbook perfect. I only had to stay two nights in the hospital, and I was home the third day. Following the post-op diets, I got in the groove of eating smaller portions, and cooking healthy meals. It is hard work, but I’m committed, and so are my husband and son.

In addition to revamping my diet, I’m extremely physically active now and in the best shape of my life! I struggled keeping up with my son, Logan, and now he’s struggling to keep up with me! I started slowly; Logan plays lacrosse, so when he was at practice, I would run, mostly walk at first, on the track. I began running three miles, then built up to five, then seven, and now I’m training for a marathon! Logan is happy he can put his arms all the way around me now when he hugs me, and can even give me a piggyback ride!

My husband Aaron has been alongside me throughout my journey and got on board health- and fitness- wise himself. We exercise together and signed up to do a Spartan race, which is a type of extreme obstacle race. His diet has changed dramatically as well.

Another aspect of having had surgery is that I’m no longer pre-diabetic, my blood pressure and cholesterol are within normal range, and I no longer have sleep apnea. It’s a relief to not have to use the CPAP machine any more. My snoring used to be so loud, it would wake up my husband in the middle of the night, and he would have to go in the other room. I sleep perfectly fine now, and my husband says I don’t snore at all.

It’s difficult to explain surgery and the life after surgery to those who don’t know anything about it or haven’t had it; they just think it’s the easy way out. In fact, it’s hard work. That’s why the Overlake support group and Facebook group have been incredible resources. The individuals in the group know exactly what I’m going through because they’ve gone through it, too. It’s amazing to have those who completely understand you supporting you, lifting you up and applauding your victories. I can cross my legs now! This is a great thing to celebrate, and no one understands but this group. Someone who has been able to cross their legs their entire life has no idea what that feels like, but I can do it now, and I have people around me who understand exactly what that feels like.

My care team at Overlake has been incredible. They’ve been a tremendous support before, during and after surgery. I can ask questions through MyChart any time, and they are always there for me and willing to answer. That’s the thing about Overlake — you don’t just come here and have surgery then, “Goodbye!” The experience is very personal. It’s not just me and Dr. Nguyen; it’s me, Dr. Nguyen and Kim [van Groos, clinic nurse practitioner], Carrie [Tollefson, clinic dietitian] and the other patients in support group. We’re all in it together. It’s like a family, and it’s very personal to me. 

At my one-year, post-surgery appointment, Kim told me I don’t have to lose any more. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. I did it. I accomplished my biggest goal. Now, I make new goals. I enjoy life so much more and it is exciting to see what this new me is capable of doing!

Contributed by Crystal Lowy.

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