Weight Loss Stories - Salt Lake Regional

Kim's Story

Weight Loss - Kim

I have been overweight for my entire life. My first memory of school was the other children calling me names. I tried my first diet when I was in High School and successfully lost 35 lbs. I felt slim for the first time in my life. However, this was short lived (approx 2 years). I then gained that weight back, plus more. I continued dieting during my 20’s. I would lose 20-30 lbs only to gain back 40-50lbs. It was a vicious cycle and I was only gaining weight. I felt like I was losing the battle. I had mild symptoms of reflux that I treated with over the counter medications, at least 4-5 times per week. I experienced problems with my period (no menstruation for months at a time). I experienced joint pain continually (which I treated with over the counter medications). When I tried to walk, I was out of breath and had pain in my lower back and legs within minutes. I was on and off of anti-depressants for 10 years. I was also told that I snored and breathed funny when I slept.

I had heard about and thought about gastric bypass surgery for over 8 years. I wanted the surgery primarily to help with my depression and low self-esteem issues. My son was very active and I wanted to be able to keep up with him. I wanted to be able to go on bike rides, rollerblade, and snowboard. I wanted a life where television wasn’t my primary activity. I didn’t want to feel embarrassed about my weight when I was in public. I didn’t want other people staring at me because I was fat.

I actively started looking into surgeons and getting insurance coverage in December 2003, 9 months prior to the surgery actually being performed. I looked into many different surgical weight loss centers in Salt Lake City. However, I chose Dr. Richards because of insurance coverage and her surgical experience in laparoscopic procedures. I also chose this surgical weight loss center because the entire team (dietitian, exercise physiologist, support coordinator, and psychologist) was very friendly and genuinely wanted to help me succeed in every step of the surgical weight loss process.

I had my surgery on August 19, 2004. I successfully reached my goal weight in May 2005. I have lost a total of 125 lbs. I am going on daily 2-4 mile bike rides. I started skiing and snowboarding in February and March of 2005. I love finding new rollerblading trails. My son loves having a mom that does “stuff” with him. I no longer have joint pain, menstrual problems, depression, low self-esteem, etc. Nor do I make sounds when I sleep. I am a new person. I look and feel different than I did a year ago. I am very pleased with the surgery and would recommend it to anyone who is ready to be rid of the medical and mental problems that individuals with morbid obesity face.

Carrie's Story

Carrie's storyI was a skinny, spindly-legged child. However, when I hit puberty I experienced a massive weight gain for no known reason. My pre-teen years and adolescence were very difficult because I was obese. I did not fit in at school and was ostracized by the other children. High School was a nightmare! I went to school and spent the whole day alone. No one would even sit with me at lunch. I felt very much alone.

I continued to gain weight in spite of whatever I did. It was as if the gene that signals growth to stop was stuck in overdrive. I became quite shy and developed into a wallflower observing others participating in life while life seemed to pass me by.

I eventually ballooned up to 403 pounds, which was very unhealthy for me. My family health history is positive for diabetes, hypertension, back problems, knee problems and menstrual irregularities.

My doctor had already prescribed anti-hypertension medication for me. I was on the borderline for developing diabetes and I was experiencing a lot of back pain.

My quality of life was “zip”!

Because my brother had had such a great experience with Roux-en Y gastric Bypass surgery, I decided to look into it for myself . . .and the rest is history. I have lost 147 pounds. I have a life at last. I can run, skip, walk stairs, attend water aerobics and wear beautiful clothing instead of shirts and pants made by Ahab the tent maker.

I am healthy. I have gone out on my first real date, which was fantastic. Sadly to say, I did not really date until I was 28 years old because I was never asked out. Some people just cannot look past the weight to see the beautiful person inside. Now my outside matches my beautiful insides. I am looking forward to dating and finding someone who is worthy of me. I would like to start a family.

Life holds so many possibilities for me now. I am a comet on a voyage of discovery. Catch my tail, if you can!

Stacy's Story

Stacy's story

I have always been the chubby girl, the sweet spirit. I remember my brothers exercising with me and having me lift weights so that I could lose weight and not endure the pain of being overweight. I played basketball and volleyball all through high school and still was the biggest girl on the team. Later, I married and had my first child. I gained 50 lbs after I had her and just kept packing on the pounds. Then I became pregnant again, with twins. This time I carefully watched my weight, only gaining 27 lbs during my pregnancy with my twins, but then again gained weight after they were born.

Throughout my life I have tried multiple kinds of weight loss programs. These have included Weight Watchers, Fit for Life, Phen Phen, my own diet and exercise program, and had even checked into weight loss surgery through another company, and so on. I remember one morning while I was getting ready for work, my oldest daughter approached me and asked, “Mommy can we go to Lagoon for my birthday?” I replied, “Sure.”

She then asked, “Mom will you ride the big rides with me, because I am now big enough to ride them?”

I said, “Oh honey, mommy can’t ride those rides.”

“How come?” She asked in her innocent way.

“Momma is too big to ride those rides.”

She thought for a short second and said, “Oh momma, I won’t let anyone make fun of you.”

How insightful she was to my feelings. I let the tears fall down my face and in that instant I knew I had to change. My children needed me. That very next day I made an appointment with Dr. Christina Richards. I told her that I knew exactly what I wanted done, the open gastric bypass. I was done being fat that day! I had my surgery on January 17, 2005. I quickly lost 96 lbs in five months. I suddenly discovered a new person that I decided I liked. She was thinner, she was confident, she was kind and accepting, and she was beautiful. And I was her!

That July I took my daughter to Lagoon and we rode the rides. I achieved my goal for her and for me. Weight is still a battle, but at least now I have a handle on it. I know I can conquer the battle and I will.

Sandy's Story

Sandy's story

I have always had to watch my weight. As a teenager it was easy for me to gain weight and I would try any new weight loss program that came along. I would lose 10-20 pounds then as soon as I stopped dieting I put the weight right back on. It was a vicious cycle.

When Phen-fen came out on the market my doctor and I thought that this might be the answer to my problem. Little did I know that this would only be the start of more serious health problems caused by taking Phen-fen. In 1997, I began to have chest pains and problems breathing. I later learned that this was because of heart valve damage caused by the Phen-fen. In 2001, my life became more complicated when I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and sleep apnea.

As the pulmonary hypertension slowly worsened I went from requiring oxygen at night and whenever I did housework, to needing oxygen at all times. My oxygen tank was my new companion, limiting were I could go and what I could do. It was then that I realized how much I was missing the simple things in life. My oxygen level continued to increase from 2 liters to 4 liters and was on the way to 5 liters when I contacted Dr. Richards. My main concern was living. I knew if I didn’t do something different soon, I wouldn’t live to see my grandchildren grow up.

After having Dr. Richards perform my gallbladder surgery, which was very successful, I knew that she should be the one to perform my gastric bypass surgery. So on August 15th, 2005, Dr. Richards performed my life changing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for Dr. Richards and her staff. They have helped me so much. Just before Christmas, in 2006, I found out that the symptoms from pulmonary hypertension had gone away and I no longer needed oxygen or c-pap. I am still on medication, but I no longer need the “tank”. I have been given my life back! I can go to the mountains and travel easier. My grandkids don’t have to worry about grandma running out of air. I can live again!

I have lost 85 pounds so far, and I am still working towards my goal. I am happy I chose to have this surgery because now I will be around to see my grandkids grow up.

LeeAnn's Story

LeeAnn's story

In third grade I started in a new school. I can still remember how cruel the other children were. I was called names like “Fatso, Slim, Hippo”. In eighth grade I wore a size 20. High School was very miserable. I was the outcast.

I was never chosen to be on any teams. I never was invited to parties or asked to a dance or even out for a coke after school. Kids just don’t accept “Fat People”. I will never forget the day I fell on a wet slippery floor. Everyone walked around me laughing rather than offering to help me up. Even as a morbidly obese adult, you are not accepted by society. People let doors hit you in the face, people stare and make comments as you walk away.

Besides the way I was treated by people my health was very poor. I was on oxygen several times. I had asthma and quite often ended up with pneumonia. I had problems with depression, back, leg and ankle pain. I could hardly get up and move.

I have dieted all my life. I tried Weight Watcher, diet pills, starvation diets, and fad diets. I even had shots to lose weight. I would loose a few pounds, but put back on double the weight I lost. You finally just give up hope.

For over twenty years I have wanted to have a gastric bypass to lose weight however, I never had the opportunity. A friend of mine suggested I see her physician, Dr Christina Richards. I made my appointment with Dr. Christina Richards, and my life totally changed – I found hope and the start of a wonderful new life.

My Gastric Bypass was September 13, 2005. I reached my goal weight before September 13, 2006. I have lost 135 pounds and am hoping to lose about 25 more. I feel great. People open doors for me, people I have worked with over the last 24 years treat me totally different. My kids and grandkids are proud and very supportive of me. I have been doing things with them that I have never done. I ride bikes, have been on rides at amusement parks, swim, dance and have even tried roller skating.

I would recommend a Gastric Bypass to any morbidly obese person, with the Surgical Weight Loss Center of Utah team. They are so supportive and really want you to succeed, they will be there from the beginning and forever.


Shelly's Story

Shelly's story

When I first saw the pictures of my daughter’s wedding, I took one look at myself and was reminded of my son’s Halloween costume. Yes, he had dressed as a “fat ballerina.” I looked like I should be able to unzip myself out as a healthier, slimmer me, from inside my “fat” costume. I didn’t even recognize myself. I was depressed and felt hopeless.

After having four children, I didn’t seem to be able to lose weight. I tried what I thought was everything—pills, powders, liquids, and fad after fad. I tried supervised diets, too. I would lose a little and then regain the weight. I didn’t just want to look better; I wanted to feel better too. I had acid reflux, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, aching joints and an overwhelming realization that my weight was me not only in the quality of my life, but in taking away years as well.

After having my gall bladder removed, I spoke with my surgeon, Dr. Christina Richards, who was beginning to work with Lap-Banding, about starting a life-changing path that could bring healthy living back into my life. When I left her office I felt exhilarated and hopeful. I knew this was not a magical pill, but for once, I felt like I had someone on my side to help me with this war against obesity. Dr. Richards was realistic and positive. The Lap-Band would not be a cure-all. It would take a lot of hard work, changing life habits. On May 13, 2003 I had my Lap-Band surgery. I was home the next day and flew to visit my daughter and son-in-law in California. I felt so hopeful.

Days after leaving the hospital, I didn’t need my acid reflux medication; I had already given up sodas and was ready for the soft diet that followed. Within a few months, I was a “slimmer” 25-pounds lighter, more hopeful and ready to change my eating and behavior to become healthier. My shoes fit differently, my rings needed to be resized, and my clothes hung on me. The great thing was that was only the beginning and only part of the benefit of having had the Lap-Band. I felt better and had more energy.
I have lost 10 sizes and feel great! It isn’t an overnight change that was without work. It was a tool to change my life. Losing weight was the beginning of a decision to live longer and better. My husband and kids are proud of me. I feel comfortable in my clothes and I feel that I have gained back those years of unhealthy risk that my weight would have promised.

Of course there are times that I was discouraged or even jealous of others around me who seemed to lose weight effortlessly. But, my weight loss has been regular and healthy. I am thankful that I made the choice to have Dr. Richards perform the Lap-Band for me. It has given back my life.

Jeni's Story

Jeni's story

Where do I begin? I wasn’t always a fat person. I remember, as a child how thin I was and people would tease me that if a strong wind should blow, I’d need to put rocks in my pockets so I wouldn’t blow away. I don’t even remember when I started putting on weight. It seems I just woke up one day and was fat.

I do remember turning to food when my brother suddenly died and I felt so lost without him. I continued to turn to food for comfort, whenever I felt down or depressed. Then a few years later my father died and food became my best friend.

At my heaviest, I weighed 368 lbs and couldn’t walk more than a couple of steps without having to stop and rest. I developed pulmonary hypertension and had to be on oxygen 24/7. I was an insulin dependent diabetic, giving myself shots of almost 100 units of insulin 4 times a day and still having my diabetes way out of control. I had sleep apnea so bad that my c-pap machine had to be set at the highest setting, just to keep me breathing at night when I slept. I was beginning to think my life was over.

The kicker though, was when I went to Disneyland 2 years ago and got stuck on the Indiana Jones Adventure ride and someone had to physically help me off the ride. I was so embarrassed because I just knew that people were staring at me and laughing. I swore I’d never go back to Disneyland again and that made me sad, as Disneyland was my most favorite place to go.

After developing pneumonia, my doctor started to discuss with me the option of gastric bypass surgery, saying she thought that it would be the only option for saving my life. I agreed and she recommended Dr. Christina Richards. I began the pre-surgery classes to learn about the surgery, meeting the dietitian, the exercise person, learning about what a complete lifestyle change I would need to make and to be sure I was willing to make those changes.

I had the surgery on April 25th, 2005, and have lost 185 lbs. My life is so different now! I can walk everywhere I go, I’m not on oxygen anymore, my diabetes is gone and I don’t suffer from sleep apnea any more.

I went to Disneyland in October 2005 and when I sat down on the Indiana Jones ride and there was room to spare, I cried, but they were tears of joy. I finally have my life back and I’m ready to live!!