Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass
Katharine had the Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass procedure performed in April of 2003.
After being overweight for most of my life and painfully suffering physically the older I got, I decided to begin researching gastric by-pass surgery in 2002. The research began with many hours on the Internet finding out about the procedures, the risks involved, and testimonials of others that had suffered as I was. Most importantly in making my decision was what doctor would perform the surgery. I wanted to feel completely confident in all aspects of my decision as I knew this decision would change my life forever. Not only would it change my life as far as how I would consume food forever, but it would change my appearance physically, mentally I would change, and it would affect my life with my family. In other words, this was just not a “quick-fix” and everything would be o.k.
I knew this decision meant spending several months of self-awareness and that I needed to realize that I was using food as my best friend, my savior, and my support system for everything in my life, be it good or bad. I knew that I would have to mentally survive without my best friend….food. That was the biggest hurdle to get over! Could I make it through life’s little obstacles without my friend? What would I do for support? Who would I turn to when no one else would care? Of course I would not know these answers in advance because I did not have a crystal ball that would reveal what was to come after surgery. Therefore, I told myself that in reality what I thought was my best friend, was actually my enemy. Sure, we all need food to survive, but for me it had control over me! I would overeat, then get depressed, then diet, fail, and then get depressed all over again. It became a revolving cycle that never ended. I knew deep in my heart that food was not my friend, that no true friend would take control over me and in the end slowly kill me. That is exactly what made the final decision for me, it was either get control over the food with the help of this surgery or face death. Life had become something I HAD to go through, not something I really WANTED to go through because I was in such pain physically and mentally. In January of 2003, at age 38 and 361 lbs. I made the call to Nola at Dr. Hoehn’s office. She told me about Dr. Hoehn’s seminar and I asked my husband to attend with me. It was wonderful and my husband had an entirely different attitude towards all the years of suffering I had incurred. Dr. Hoehn had been my surgeon in the past so I knew I was in good hands from the start. Fortunately, his gastric by-pass program was exactly what I was looking for. He wasn’t doing the procedure because it was the next “fad” in the medical industry, he was performing the procedure because he truly wanted to help people that were overweight and wanted to live a quality life. There were numerous tests that I would have to pass before he would even consider performing the surgery. Although this was challenging, I knew that he had my best interest at heart and he would not perform the surgery unless I was physically and mentally prepared.
So began my journey – first, I had made the decision, next was meeting with a cardiologist, physical therapist, pulmonary specialist, nutritionist and psychologist. Although I thought I was physically and mentally prepared, it was very reassuring to know that I would have professionals confirming this for me. I knew if I passed all the tests that it was true that I was ready! In February I found out that I passed everything and surgery would be scheduled for April 14, 2003! I had laparoscopic RNY and it was a complete success! I followed every doctor’s instructions to a tee and lost 88 lbs in the first 3 months! The physical transformation was unbelievable and I began to notice things that I never thought were possible. I could sit in normal size chairs, I could buy clothes in a “normal” store that didn’t have anything to do with large sizes only, I could use a normal stall in a bathroom instead of the handicapped stall, and I could even go up my stairs without being out of breath! Physically I was changing my style of clothes I bought, even purses were different! It was a new me!
Mentally I was changing as well. First and foremost, what I thought would be the most difficult hurdle ended up being not as bad as I thought….FOOD! With the nutritionist’s help, I was able to learn to eat properly and I found that I was so satisfied with very little that it just wasn’t important to me anymore that I had my “fair share”. Protein, Protein, Protein! I was eating, but it wasn’t junk anymore and I felt so much better! As my husband took “progress” pictures of me (which I highly recommend) I would notice that I had a smile from ear to ear. I began to see the real me that was trapped in my own prison for so many years. I came to realize that I was strong enough to not allow the food to control me, and that I was able to control it! My biggest fear of losing my best friend was over, I had let that friend go and I was a better person.I am now two years and three months post-op and I have lost 160 lbs. to date. I can’t begin to express the thanks and gratitude I have to all those that helped me get through the toughest thing in my life….obesity. For all those years that I was trapped inside my own prison and not a very happy person, this surgery, this gift, this TOOL that I have been given is a blessing from above and I will never regret making this decision in my life. Most importantly I have the satisfaction of being able to say that I did this for ME! This entire journey has allowed me to realize that no matter what, I am somebody that matters. We ALL have a place in this world and we ALL deserve to be our happiest. For me, this surgery saved my life, not only physically but mentally. I would like to thank Dr. Hoehn’s Bariatric Team, Shawnee Mission Medical Center and last but not least, my friends and family for their utmost support during my journey to my new fulfilling life!