Weighing @ almost 300 #'s

Laura w/her family on her way to goal!


The decision to have the Lap-Band

Meet Laura Jenkins...Our Lap-Band Meeting Facilitator

One Bander’s Viewpoint

I never ask myself why I decided to get on the band wagon (LapBand that is), but there are times I wonder what took me so long to do it. Making the decision to have the gastric LapBand surgery was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I was not happy with my weight and physical appearance before the surgery. My BMI was over 48 and the scale was just a few pounds short of 300. I dreaded going to the doctor because I didn’t want to hear that I finally weighed more than 300, but doctor visits were regular occurrences in my life of dealing with my many aches, pains, and ailments. I was starting to feel the affect of my weight limiting my activities. Climbing stairs or standing for long periods was becoming hard to do. I couldn’t run. I was afraid of going to a restaurant because I might not being able to fit in the booth. I dreaded having to fly because this might be the time I would need to ask for a seatbelt extender. I was afraid of things that should be a part of everyday living. I limited my activities because of my fears and that made me feel worse. Now that I have had weight loss surgery (WLS), I have to wonder again – “Why did it take me so long to do this?”

For several years I had thought about having the gastric bypass procedure. I know someone who had the bypass done by Dr. Greenbaum and she swore to me it was the best thing I could do for myself. But still, fear was there. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat the things I really liked and although I’m no Julia Child, I like to think I’m a pretty good cook. My friends can’t wait for me to throw the next dinner party because of the delicious things they know I will whip up. It was one of the few things I used to receive personal compliments about and just I didn’t want to have to give that up. Somehow I thought the bypass might change my tastes for the foods I loved and then I wouldn’t enjoy cooking for my friends anymore. I was also afraid of the “dumping” syndrome associated with the bypass if I chose to have it done. Somehow puking on my own food, at my own party, just didn’t sound like a happening good time! Since I was becoming afraid to go out in public to mingle with people, I was terrified of being completely cut off by not being able to have them come to me when I cooked for them. Talk about confused - I was scared to have it done and I was scared to not have it done! I was doing a major number on myself as many people with weight loss issues know we can do to ourselves without even realizing it.

But, I had finally gotten to the end of my rope! I was going to have surgery and I didn’t care if I never ate again! I hated food now. I was 36 years old and miserable with myself.

I started to research the bypass and my personal doctor was not encouraging. All she did was tell me horror stories about people dying. She never talked about the positives I would have to look forward to, but instead dwelled on the possible negatives. This didn’t help since I was already so fearful, but at this point I just didn’t care anymore. I would deal with whatever happened when it came along. As I sat in the waiting room undergoing yet another 3-hour glucose tolerance test for my diabetes, I happened to read an article about the gastric banding procedure. The article described how patients of the band procedure for weight loss did not experience the “dumping” syndrome. They did not have any alterations to their “innards” which meant no stapling or rerouting of the intestines. They did not have significant nutrition issues from protein or vitamin deficiencies. Since there was not rerouting of the intestines all of their food was absorbed the same way it always had been. The procedure was generally done laparoscopically so the hospital stay was usually only one night versus up to a week with the bypass. The total recovery time was days instead of weeks. In the end, band patients simply had a much more restricted stomach size so they physically would not be able to eat as much food. And, if the tightness of the pouch wasn’t right after the initial insertion and fluid fill, it could be adjusted to the needs of the individual patient. The band patients eventually could lose an amount of weight comparable to bypass patients but it would take them a year or two longer to do it. I kept reading and thinking “Hey, this sounds perfect for me!” I was only 36 years old so I could wait 4 years instead of two to lose my weight. No dumping syndrome and I could still eat the foods I liked (in much smaller quantities of course). It sounded great. Also, without the very rapid weight loss period right after surgery my body would probably not experience the hair loss or other problems commonly associated with the bypass procedure. Plus, and this was very important to me, if the band needed to be adjusted at a later date for whatever reason, we could simply fill the band some more or take some fluid out.

I sent an email to the company that makes the actual silicon implant used in the surgery and asked for a list of surgeons who perform the procedure in my area. I found out that there was a doctor who could do it for me at the very same practice my friend went to for her bypass, and where I was already considering becoming a patient. I had researched the South Jersey Bariatrics office so I already knew I would be in good hands. It was fate. I had my band surgery performed by Dr. Ing on April 13, 2005.

It is now one year later and so far I have lost about 65 pounds. I could jump for joy! Literally, I can jump, run, and bend now. I play tennis with my family. I take an aerobics class with my daughters. I can climb stairs without any difficulty. I am a much healthier me. Of course, I still want to lose more weight but I knew when I chose this procedure that my new lifestyle would take a few years of living before I got to the point where I want to just maintain my weight. I’m still a work in progress.

The decision to have weight loss surgery is often difficult for people to make because of fear. I know this because fear is what kept me from making up my mind for years. The choice about which procedure to have performed is also very personal so I would never say my band is the best or only way to go. It was best choice for me and exactly what I was looking for. I would do it again in a minute. It might be right for you too, and I am more than happy to talk to anyone who has questions about the procedure. You can contact me directly by e-mail at laurajenkins@southjerseybariatrics.com  or join me in the support group meetings. I have found that most everyone I’ve met at the support group is wonderful. I have so many nice, new friends here and I look forward to seeing and talking with them. I didn’t lose or limit my interaction with my friends by having this surgery. Instead, I gained a whole new group of them! The only thing I still wonder sometime is - “Why did it take me so long to do this?”



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