I Lost 190 Pounds After Gastric Bypass Surgery

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gastric bypass surgery KimberlyKimberly Dana, a 23-year-old Los Angeles hairstylist, admits that before she elected to have gastric bypass surgery her health was headed downhill. “There I was, 21 years old, 388 pounds, in beauty school on medication for high blood pressure and thyroid issues, back and knee problems, and low on energy every day,” she recalls. “No 21-year-old should be living that way. Looking in the mirror hating what she sees. I wasn’t even a full person, I was just a shell. My medical health was awful but my emotional and mental health was absolutely 100,000 times worse than the physical.”

Before she elected to have surgery Kimberly says she tried everything to lose weight- exercise, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, working out, the Zone Diet and even the Atkins Diet. “I ended up being subconsciously anorexic and bulimic,” she says. “My mother is the one who put the idea in my head, actually. We were at my OBGYN’s office. He saw her after he saw me and he said, ‘If she doesn’t do anything about it now, you’re going to bury your daughter.’”

“One of the nurses at the doctor’s office had the lapband and so I talked to her about it,” Kimberly recalls. “I went and saw the doctor she saw for her surgery, had a consultation and made my choice. I chose the bypass over the lapband. My BMI was 51 at that time. If your BMI is 50+ you qualify for the bypass and if it’s 49 or lower you qualify for lapband. They told me the pros and cons of each and I figured ‘go big or go home’ so I got the bypass.”

The process of being approved to have the surgery was akin to jumping through hoops for the insurance company, Kim notes. “I had to get blood work done, endoscopy, gastroenterologist check up, physical from the internist, psyche evaluation, had to go to an appointment with the nutritionist, and then we set the surgery date. I got all of these things done in about one week. I was determined.”

Kimberly was in the hospital for three days and two nights. She had her surgery on a Monday morning and was discharged by Wednesday afternoon. Two hours after she was in her recovery room she was told by the nurse to stand up and start walking.  “They want you to walk as much as you can because you need to get all that gas out of your system somehow. So basically you have to fart a lot.”

She reports severe cramping from passing gas and burses from the heparin shots, which are blood thinners so you don’t get any bad blood clots. “It just hurt all around,” Kim remembers. “Then again, it should.”

They did just take out a gigantic piece of your stomach and play Tetris with your internal organs.”

“You have to re-learn how to eat,” Kimberly warns.  “It took about 2 years to lose 190 pounds. I worked out a lot and I ate right, I still do. Everyone has their own journey with this surgery so the weight loss varies.”

gastric bypass surgery Kimberly 3“I feel very differently about myself after this surgery. I was an emotional eater,” Kimberly says. “The surgery took out the ‘eating’ part of that issue and just left me with the ‘emotions’ part. Having to face your emotions head on is a very scary thing. I took a lot of photos after my surgery. When I look in the mirror I would still see the heavy girl I used to be. I figured out that until the fat in my face started fading that I wouldn’t start seeing me for how I really looked. When your face is still the same your mind tricks you into thinking everything else stays the same.”

“I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my life,” Kimberly affirms. “I played volleyball since 6th grade and I’m healthier now than I was when I was 16. It’s very strange to be able to say that. I look better now than I did when I was a teenager. I look younger and I get carded at bars now. What girl doesn’t love that?”

Since her surgery, her social life has changed. Kimberly often receives compliments from strangers and accolades for being strong and brave.  She says she doesn’t understand why they congratulate her for making her decision. “In my mind I’m not brave, I’m smart,” Kimberly says. “I had two choices; I could let myself get fat and die from health related issues or I could go on ahead and try and save my life.”

Kimberly claims that although she has not had many problems adjusting to her new lifestyle, she is one of the youngest people to ever have the surgery, adding that she was a guinea pig for her surgical center.

“If you get this surgery done, you need to stay in the community and keep yourself engaged so you can have support,” she offers. “This is one of those things where you need to talk to people that have had it done because no matter how hard you try to explain the experience and lifestyle to someone who’s never had it done, they will never understand. You need support no matter how tough you think you are.”

gastric bypass surgery Kimberly 2

Although the subject of weight loss surgery is taboo among the obese, Kimberly claims she has no shame.  “I’m absolutely open about telling people about how I lost the weight,” she says. “I have absolutely nothing to hide and I don’t think people should be ashamed of having weight loss surgery. Everyone has their own life path and mine just happens to involve weight loss surgery. Some of the most wonderful things have happened to me after my surgery.”

To read more about Kimberly’s journey, please visit her blog at www.gastricbypassadventures.tumblr.com

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