Most of my adult life was spent in a large body. It wasn’t always that way, though. I was very active in college, and afterwards when I moved from New Jersey to Maine, I gained a lot of weight, most likely due to lack of activity, motivation, and the long winters.
I am a middle school teacher. When I was heavy, I worried about going on field trips with my students because I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them to make sure they were safe. If I wanted to get across a crowded room, I would have to figure out the best way to navigate to the other side so that I could fit through small spaces between people and chairs.
I wasn’t invited on certain outings with my friends because I couldn’t physically do the activity. If my friends sat at a booth at a restaurant, I was too embarrassed to tell them I couldn’t fit in the seat, so I would pull up a chair from another table. My weight limited almost my whole life. I wasn’t living; I was just existing.
Over the years, my excess weight grew to more than 130 pounds. After years of being unsuccessful in losing weight, and many health complications, I started thinking about having weight loss surgery. Several of my friends and relatives had seen success with the surgery, but I was still unsure if I was willing to make that commitment.
In August 2015, my mother suddenly passed away after suffering from many of the same health conditions I had. I quickly realized that if I didn’t make a drastic change in my life, I was headed for an early death. I was referred to EMMC Surgical Weight Loss in January 2016, and I have never looked back.
I started exercising when I joined the program, and before surgery, I had lost 67 pounds. I always hated to exercise in the past, but this time was different. I actually started to enjoy it, and I missed exercising when my schedule was disrupted.
I read everything I could on the surgery itself and what I could do to be successful. I joined support groups to read about others’ experiences and to ask questions. I found a few vloggers on YouTube that I watched to find out what made them successful. After all of the research and reflection I did, my goal ultimately became not to lose weight, but to get healthy.
My sleeve gastrectomy surgery was July 25, 2016. I progressed through the year losing weight as expected. I followed the instructions of my surgeon, Michelle Toder, MD, and the nutritionists. I cannot express how wonderful it was to both be successful and feel successful.
I have been very physically active for the last two years, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, canoeing, and camping. I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I was able to participate in these activities.
In August 2017, I went on a camping trip sponsored by my school. I went white water rafting for the first time and my students had a difficult time keeping up with me! I continue to work hard to stay on track with the help and motivation from friends, family, and my students.
Because of the outstanding weight loss surgery program Eastern Maine Medical Center offers and my motivation to succeed, I have reached my goal. I am five feet two inches tall. My highest weight was 309 pounds. I now weigh 152 pounds.
Having weight loss surgery was the best decision I ever made for myself. I am living my life again.