The decision to have the
Duodenal Switch (DS)

Meet Susan Parker

My DS Story by Susan Parker

I donít remember a time in my life when my weight wasnít an issue. I often joked about being born weighing in at 8 pounds and by the time my mother took me home from the hospital, I weighed 130 pounds. All of my childhood school pictures depict a rosy-cheeked chubby girl. Too bad my parents didnít have a clue.

My father was born in 1911 and my mother in 1928. Both were poor growing up and knew hunger. Naturally, they wanted more for their children. My father served me on my plate until I left home at age 18. I was not permitted to waste. My parents knew nothing about nutrition and weight control. They just wanted to save us from want. Slowly, year after year, my weight kept escalating up, up up.

Once, for about 20 minutes, I was thinÖ.back in 1973Ö.thanks to diet pills. I very often would loose weight only to gain it back. I was a frequent visitor to various gyms, exercise classes, diet doctors, TOPS, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig. The list is endless. As I aged, physical ailments began to crop up like high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, sleep apnea, arthritis, skin conditions, stress incontinence, heel spurs and high cholesterol. No doctors ever told me that any of my ailments were a result of my being overweight. Although I stayed fairly active, as I approached 50 I could feel myself slowing down and finding excuses to not do things that I was accustomed to.

I always knew that weight loss surgery (WLS) existed and I always knew that I was fat. I never made the connection between the two until September 7, 2006 when I had the good fortune, while getting my hair cut, to meet one of Dr. Greenbaumís (Dr. G) patients. Until that moment, I had always assumed that WLS was for the rich and famous. So when I met her and she told me all about her experience and how it changed her life, suddenly the connection was made, just like a light switch. I knew within minutes of meeting her that I was going to have WLS.

By September 13 I had an appointment with my family doctor and told her my thoughts. She was very encouraging. I already was taking medication for several of the ailments I mentioned above.

I had my appointments for endocrine studies, pulmonary and my first visit with Dr. G scheduled by the end of September; my psychological evaluation on October 2; a colonoscopy on October 13; an echo stress test on October 10 and my first visit with a dietitian on October 17. I attended my first support group meeting in November and even attended the December 2006 Christmas party. All systems were go!

I had only to decide which procedure I wanted and after a second visit for some clarification with Dr. G., decided on the duodenal switch. My surgery was scheduled for January 22, 2007. That date was a special date for me for another reason as it was my daughterís 27th birthday. I had my gall bladder ultra sound and pre-admission testing on January 17, 2007. About 10 days prior to my scheduled surgery, I started meal-replacement and my surgery took place on January 22 as planned. I was fortunate that my insurance company paid for everything with the exception of the required visits with the dietitian.

The surgery and recovery were uneventful for me. Yes, I was miserable for a bit and I hurt, but I was alive and healthy and my husband was there for me all the way. By this time, I had done so much research, I really was very comfortable with what to expect. I also knew that Dr. G and his fabulous Tina would be there together with the support group. As a bookkeeper, I was out of work for about three weeks.

By April I had lost 61 pounds; another 20 by May; and I was down 94 pounds by June; 101 by July; 111 by August; 120 by October; 127 by November; and on January 8, 2008, I was down 135 pounds!

In January 2007, I weighed 300 pounds. It is January 2008, I now weigh 165 pounds. My sleep apnea has resolved, no more stress incontinence, my blood sugar is within normal range. My blood pressure is fabulous and also my cholesterol. I never resumed medication for arthritis. I started out wearing a size 26 and am now wearing a comfortable size 8. I am healthy and can move with such ease. Iím still 52 years old and am painfully aware of my age, but I feel like a new person. I do have some excess skin and may one day have some belly skin removed, but in the meantime, thank God for Spandex! 
I can cross my legs at the knee and the feel of my shoulders is still strange to me since there are bones there, I didnít know I had. My first flight after weight loss was a pleasure and I had so much room in my seat, I could fit my purse into the seat with me, I didnít need to ask for a belt extension. Zipping through the airport was a breeze. I can do my own fabulous pedicures now and can get in and out of our boat with ease. I can wear high heels again. And, Yes! I tuck and wear belts now! I will always remember my last shopping trip to the ďfatĒ store when I suddenly realized that I no longer could fit into those clothes because they were all too big.

I did lose a good deal of hair in the first six months, but that has turned around now. I eat much less and more often and I supplement daily with protein and multiple vitamins, iron, biotin, dry vitamins A & D and calcium. My health is great and my outlook on life is much more positive. I can eat just about anything I want in fairly normal portions. Typically, my weekday mornings begin with a yogurt/protein/fruit smoothie, a mid-morning snack of cheese or nuts; perhaps a whole tuna sandwich for lunch with an apple and peanut butter snack in the afternoon. I might have a chicken leg with a small potato and side veggie for dinner.

I can consume one egg, a piece of bacon, one piece of toast, coffee and juice for a weekend breakfast. My husband and I have developed the habit of ordering one meal for us to share when we dine out and it is always plenty for both of us. I occasionally indulge in dessert. My favorite foods, the ones that feel best in my stomach, are seafood, followed by chicken, pork and beef in that order.

My morning routine has changed somewhat since my WLS in that I tend to have more frequent BMís now. Sometimes one or two in the morning and there are days when two or three might be the norm. It seems to fluctuate every other day or so. I do suffer from a bit of excess gas as a result of the DS. Iím learning what foods I have to avoid to keep this problem at bay. I must say that with a little care, it isnít a big deal. I am still able to travel and go on road trips with the girls without embarrassment.

"I chose the DS because, it provides the best weight loss and it would allow me to eat more normally with only minimal inconvenience at the other end, and I am glad I did!"

My husband, daughter and boss were very supportive throughout and I am so thankful for that. Dr. G. and Tina were there for me the entire way and continue to be an important aspect of my ďlifetimeĒ of recovery. I am enjoying my new family of friends from the monthly support group meetings.          

Most people, friends, co-workers and family were very supportive and curious. Many people helped me out with clothing while I was losing and boy was I ever thankful for that! I did, however, run into a little difficulty with a handful of friends who were apparently jealous of the ďnew meĒ and have chosen to never mention it nor my weight loss. I suspect that they think I took the easy way out. Iíve chosen to not discuss it with them and Iím over it now!

I asked my husband if he could share an unexpected result of my weight loss. He said he never expected to see me with such energy and also has difficulty recognizing me in a crowded room! I have reached my one year anniversary and hope to drop another 15 pounds. If I donít lose another pound, Iíll still be very happy!

But for now, I have to have all my rings resized!

Susan M. Parker





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