Story of Success: Cynthia - From Life to Living

In 1999, I was reborn. In many ways I resembled a baby. I was eating only liquid. It was a special formula called Ensure. My first few nights home, I couldn’t understand why I woke up in the middle of the night with this strange ache that seemed to be in my back. I wasn’t able to recognize this new “hunger” signal. I needed to eat every 2 hours around the clock, as I was only getting fluids. And, like a baby, as my nutrition graduated to cereal, soft food, and eventually to a limited solid, so did the spread between feedings. Understanding that this was all part of the package. It helped for me to know all of this so as to be patient with myself and my new growth. Only this time I was shrinking instead.

Let me give you some statistics. I was 42 years old, a newlywed and married to a man who liked me “fluffy”. As a mother of 3, I was very healthy except that at 5’4 I weighed 296 lbs. I had always been heavy. At 7 years old I gained 40 lbs. as did 2 of my 3 children in their 6-7th year. It is a genetic marker. My pediatrician prescribed me amphetamines. From there it was a constant trial of the next new weight loss idea. Pat Walker, the Airforce Diet, Low Carb/High Protein, wiring my jaws shut, stomach stapling, and on…and on… Then, because I developed staple line breakdown from my stomach stapling, I reached out to a doctor that had operated on Rosanne Barr, the Wynans, and other famous people with much success. Dr. Fobi had created a revision on the weak link in the most common gastric surgery since the bypass. It was called the Fobi Pouch. I did a lot of homework. Dr. Fobi saw that the surgery that he had performed for many years, the Roux n y, lacked in several ways that he could correct. He improved the ability to retain the food in the new, smaller stomach for improved absorption, he created a way to cease the rush or “dumping” of food into the intestines that created several poor results, he improved on the ability to actually curve the appetite, and he also prepared for future emergencies by leaving the excised stomach in place with a marker. There were a couple of other things that were unique to his approach. He didn’t require you to lose weight or be under a certain weight to obtain the surgery. He made sense when he said “I want you to have tried many other things unsuccessfully to prove that this is a last resort so that you will take this very seriously and be totally committed. If you could lose weight with a liquid fast, you don’t need this surgery.” He had a world renown record, and was noted for his success rate with patients starting at 500-750 lbs. And then he also was very, very strict about attending bi-weekly meetings in preparation for this new lifestyle. Those were to continue for the first year at least. Many patients were asked to continue on for several years as mentors for the new patients. You were also required to have a support person to attend with you. This was invaluable as there were several times in that first year especially that I needed reminding and encouragement. That came from my husband who had attended every meeting and was fully informed. Even though there were a few depressing times as I mourned my old, familiar, fat self and my ability to gorge and use the food as my emotional crutch, I lost weight so quickly in the beginning that it was very inspiring and encouraging.

I did plateau around 8 months and I panicked. I only needed to start being just a little more active. By this time I had acquired a tummy tuck (performed with the original Fobi Pouch), upper arm reduction, and a thigh lift. I therefore had been very sedentary. I just needed to walk, dance, enjoy…not exercise.

I am now 20 years post-surgery and I have never regretted my rebirth. I have taken a fall breaking my pelvis and arm and I was up and walking, active and healing in record time. I cannot imagine what an added 170 lbs. would have done to how that looked and felt. I have fibromyalgia. A couple of my friends also have this and are much heavier. They suffer to be mobile as is needed in the treatment of this horrid disease. They travel in a power chair or with a walker and are very limited. I am very active, I hate exercise and so prefer finding things that I love to do that keep me moving instead. Playing with my grandkids, walking around the park and mall, camping and sightseeing.

I can now eat just about everything. My key advice to eating in those early months and years is to remember to eat like a baby. Always eat items that are moist or make them moist. Take very, very small (especially in the beginning) bites, chew until the substance is almost like liquid when you swallow (enough time to let the juices in your mouth do their job at the start of digestion). Eat very, very slow. At a table, you may feel uncomfortable as everyone else is eying you because they are nearly done and you have most of your food on your plate. The answer to this is to ask for a “to go” box at the start of the meal when your food is delivered to you at the table. Cut away the portion that you will not be eating and remove it to the box. Leave only the food that you think you can eat and if you find that you are full, stop and leave it. Your health is now your priority. And along that note…ALWAYS TAKE YOUR VITAMINS. Always remember…you are eating as a child. Your body requires more vitamins than you are able to provide in food. You must have a BARIATRIC vitamin. Don’t use a One a Day type vitamin. Your stomach is unique and even the best vitamins, if not designed for the limited stomach lining that you now have, will flush through you and you will not get any of their value. I found Vita4Life as an answer to the 8 individual pills and capsules that I was taking each day. This brand is a godsend. Get your blood work done every day. The lab report is golden to monitor your health.

As I wrap this up, I want to address the idea of perception. At a time when you are finding this whole new person, which is a very difficult task that may never be completely achieved (few are ever entirely comfortable with themselves so don’t be discouraged), you will have people telling you that you are “losing to much weight,” they are “worried about your health,” “you may have anorexia,” and on and on. I highly recommend some personal counseling. There can be a lot to address. Emotional eating, those emotions that are stuffed in the food, need to be dealt with. There can be body image issues, family dynamics, food addictions, sugar dependencies, and more and/or a few of these all at once. I still retrieve a size 16 from the rack at that store as I do not see me being thin enough for that size 6. I walk past a mirror and at first glance, I do not recognize the person that is me. I am always shocked and in denial when my grandkids and others comment on how “tiny” I am. At 62 I am now only 5’3 so I guess I really am kind of “tiny.” I will continue to adjust but none of this in any way makes me even for a moment second guess my choice. I have low blood pressure, great cholesterol, no diabetes, a strong heart and great pulmonary capacity. Outside of the normal aging process, I feel wonderful (except if my fibromyalgia acts up) and I am thoroughly enjoying the great compliments of how “fit” I look, how “young” I look, and most importantly how “active” I am. I am doing the things of someone young and fit.

I am truly LIVING THE LIFE!!!!!!!

Interested in sharing your story of success with the bariatric community? Please send your story to Selected stories will be added to our website and you will receive a free bottle of bariatric multivitamins! Include what your life was like before surgery, what surgery you had, what your life is like now, how Vita4Life has played a role in your life, and some before and after photos. We look forward to hearing from you!