Gwen: Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gwendolyn had a stroke sitting at her desk at work. While on the phone with a customer, she felt her face go numb. It’s a matter of, hey I can go on a diet and lose 10 pounds, but it’s not enough to prevent you from getting very ill. That’s when it’s time to consider surgery. Gwendolyn’s diabetes was uncontrollable; she had high blood pressure as well. Using a variety of surgical procedures, mainly the bypass surgery, it will cure diabetes in 80-90% of patients. The day of surgery doctors gave Gwendolyn insulin, which was the last insulin she’s had. The proximal pouch that you create surgically is very small and when it gets full you get the same feeling as you would have when you’ve got a 2-liter full stomach. That tells your brain to shut off, stop eating and makes you feel good in the tummy. Gwendolyn was at 272 pounds and weighs 170 now. It has given her a better quality of life. She has an incredible family and they are very active. She can keep up with the world.
Gwen says she did more than lose weight following her gastric bypass surgery. "I feel like I turned back the clock 30 years and renewed my life. It's such a great feeling! I want to shout it from the rooftops."
She began having problems with her weight after the birth of her first child. Before her pregnancy she weighed 125 pounds but by the time she delivered, she had jumped to 299, a weight she maintained during her second pregnancy and delivery.
"And then 23 years passed" she says. "I stayed really heavy, around 250 pounds. During all those years I gained and lost weight. I was on all kinds of crazy diets. I tried everything that came out, and they worked while I was focused on them, but when I stopped focusing, I'd gain back all the weight I'd lost, plus more."
In 2000, she lost 60 pounds on a popular high-protein diet. Then, at the age of 43, she discovered she was pregnant again. After she delivered, her weight problems remained constant.
She developed type 2 diabetes, urinary incontinence and intermittent dizziness, and at one point began suffering episodes of vision loss.
Seven years later, Gwen suffered a mild stroke while sitting at her desk at work. When her neurologist told her she was a candidate for a major life-altering stroke, Gwen made an immediate decision to have weight loss surgery.
"I decided my health was too important to jeopardize," she says.
"I wanted a 'do-over,' an opportunity to take good care of my body and put myself first. The stroke gave me a real sense of urgency. I didn't ever want to go back to the stroke unit."
Before her surgery, which was performed by weight loss surgeon Garth Davis, M.D., who is affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City, Gwen weighed 279.
Today, she weighs more than 100 pounds less and says she feels great.
"When I awakened after the surgery, I felt like a 30-year-old woman. Every day since then I've been getting better and better and better. The weight loss is just icing on the cake. I have no problems with incontinence or my vision, and no numbness in my arms. I'm not afraid to drive my car. I don't have to worry about every single bite of food I put in my mouth."
Gwen says she walked out of the hospital diabetes-free.
"I have not had insulin since the day of my surgery, and I've not taken one sick day from work either. I never had any serious complications. I'm very, very, very happy with the results and the experience. When you're obese, life is very difficult. If I could do something for everyone who reads this, I'd say, "Just ask your doctor a simple question: 'Would bariatric surgery help me?'"
"I decided my health was too important to jeopardize," she says. "I wanted a 'do-over,' an opportunity to take good care of my body and put myself first."—Gwen
"I decided my health was too important to jeopardize," she says. "I wanted a 'do-over,' an opportunity to take good care of my body and put myself first."
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