DS Veteran: Diana C.
Location: CA, USA
Surgery Date: Aug 5, 2003
Surgeon: Robert Rabkin, MD
Highest Weight: 293 lbs
Pre-op BMI: 49
Pre-op Weight: 285 lbs
Goal Weight: 160 (after plastics)
Current BMI: 29
Current Weight: 175 lbs
Was a solid child, and then became obese at age 16 when my mother took me to a “health food doctor” who ordered me to stop taking my thyroid meds cold turkey. I gained 30 lbs in one month. Yo-yoed up and down, mostly staying around 210-220, for the next 34 years. Occasionally got down to the 170s-180s via starvation diets and diet pills, but couldn’t stay there. Had two babies, with fortunately uncomplicated pregnancies.
Married my second husband at age 45, and over the next 5 years went from 235 to 290+. I enrolled in a Phase III clinical trial for an obesity drug, which didn’t work, and then gave up. I started looking into WLS in late 2002.
I found ObesityHelp.com, and the more I read, the more appalled and depressed I got. I knew there was no way in hell I could live the way the RNY and LapBand required. I was about to give up entirely, when someone read a post I wrote bemoaning my dilemma, and led me by the virtual hand to information about the duodenal switch.
Well holy crap–this made sense! I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from UCLA Medical School, so I know enough about science and medicine to understand how the DS differs from the other surgeries. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen anything about it before, despite 4+ months of research! As soon as I understood how the DS works, I was sold–and thus began my six month quest to get insurance approval.
Long story short, I had a ferocious battle with Aetna, and ultimately won, after threatening to sue them. I had to pay several thousand dollars of my surgeon’s fee, but my hospitalization was fully covered.
I had an uncomplicated surgery with Dr. Rabkin 12 days before my 50th birthday. While I did not have severe co-morbidities prior to my DS, there certainly were several in my future, as evidenced by my SMO mother’s health–I had pre-diabetic hypoglycemia; my cholesterol was about to cross over into the too-high range, as was my triglyceride level; my C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of cardiovascular risk, especially in women, was sky-high, and my white blood count was chronically elevated, both indicators of inflammation of the blood vessels–that earned me a statin prescription and my very own cardiologist; I had urinary stress incontinence; shortness of breath on exertion; my feet KILLED me after walking more than 10 minutes; sex was–well, you can guess.
8 months after my DS, my company closed its offices in CA, and I had to look for another job. I can’t express what a difference it made to be able to go on job interviews and look decent in a suit. One year after my DS, I went hiking and camping with my family and friends–something I would NOT have been able to do pre-op. A month later, my daughter and I traveled in Europe for nearly 3 weeks at a fast pace, climbing towers in every town we went to, including to the top of the Vatican dome in late August.
I would be remiss if I didn’t confess that I did NOT limit carbs enough during my “honeymoon” period. I lost to 205 lbs in one year, and then stopped dead. I had NO trouble maintaining that weight, but I was stuck there for well over 2 years. I wasn’t unhappy with this–I was in size 14-16 at that weight, in the NORMAL stores. Then, seemingly for no reason at all, in Nov 2006, I started slowly losing weight again. I have lost 30 lbs in the last two years, and started exercising, which has put me in size 8-10 (even at 175 lbs!), and hope to win my current battle against insurance stupidity in order to get my reconstructive surgery, which should put me at my goal weight of 160 lbs. 5 years out, and I am not only NOT fighting regain (and not dieting in the least), but I am still slowly losing. This does not suck.
I feel VERY strongly that the DS is by far and away the BEST bariatric surgery available today, both in how well it works, and in the quality of life it provides. Having said that, it is not for everyone. If you cannot commit to eating 80-100 g of protein a day, every day, for the rest of your life, go find yourself a diet with a scar, or a diet with a choke chain–the DS is not for you. If you cannot commit to a strict regimen of vitamin, mineral and probiotic supplementation, don’t bother. If you cannot commit to having blood drawn at least yearly, more often if necessary, and making appropriate changes in your diet and/or supplements, go get something “less drastic”–a surgery that won’t work as well, but won’t be as likely to kill you if you can’t be compliant. If you can’t commit to being proactive about your health, for the rest of your life, including standing up to doctors who want to blame everything that is wrong with you on the DS (just like they used to blame everything that was wrong with you pre-op on your obesity), this fantastic surgery is not for you. Frankly, if you are too stupid or passive to be a proactive and informed patient, move along and have a less successful but less “dangerous” surgery–it probably won’t work very well for you, but at least you won’t become a statistic that makes the DS look bad. We don’t want you to do that, trust me.