Jana's Weight Loss Surgery Success
Lost 267 Pounds
My name is Jana; it rhymes with banana. I've been called much worse in my life and sometimes I deserved it. I'm 44, been married for almost 13 years to a great guy and we have a beautiful daughter, Emily.
My journey started in 2007 when I came to know in my heart that I was dying. It wasn't possible to sugar-coat the situation I. WAS. DYING. The final straw was in August 2007, I took my daughter, who was looking forward to starting kindergarten, to the store to buy clothes. We parked in the handicapped space and we walked to the double doors. I had to rest on the bench inside those double doors to catch my breath and slow down my heart. My next mission was to obtain a shopping cart, not because I planned on buying more than a pair of jeans and maybe some socks, but because I needed to lean on a cart to even consider walking any distance. After finding the Girls' Department and grabbing anything I thought would fit my daughter, I was determined to snag the handicap assessable fitting room because I knew there was a large bench to rest on. While Emily tried on clothes, I wiped away the sweat and saw in the mirror that my face was bright red and some of my hair was stuck to my head with sweat. I was a heart attack waiting to happen. After returning to the
Girls' Department and quickly gathering a few things to buy, we made our way to the checkout area. I became so out of breath, my heart pounding and my knees screaming at me to stop moving that I asked myself, "WHAT are you thinking?"
Ultimately, it was a very good question. What was I doing to my family, to my little girl? Did I subconsciously want to die one bite at a time? I had tried all the diets: Weight Watchers, Diet Center, hypnotism, and in college switched to the "let"s not eat" diet that lead to eating alone in my dorm room. I graduated from college 100 pounds heavier than when I entered.
For the next 20 years, my life was predictable. Finding the perfect diet, spending untold amounts of money on a program to do well for about three or four weeks until a "just a" would get me. Just a bite, just a taste, just one, just this once‚ and I would wake up among the candy bar wrappers, empty soda bottles, potato chip bags and who knows what else. Well, since I failed once again, I might as well make the most of it and I'd be off again eating anything and everything. I can't honestly say I ever binged - my entire adult life was an eating binge! My ultimate attempt at denial was the time when I told myself that I could stop my crazy eating routine at any time.
When I decided to research weight loss surgery, I knew I had to create a medical team that would not only work with me and each other, but accompany me on this journey. I needed doctors and professionals who had been on this road before and knew how to navigate the rough patches. I didn't need a doctor who was more interested in the marketing campaign than the patients. I didn't need a doctor who placed a surgery coordinator in between the patient and the initial consultation so my insurance could be verified. I needed a doctor who saw me as a person, who understood where I was at and where I was coming from. I found my perfect doctor in Frank Chae, MD.
I had by-pass surgery on December 17, 2007. My surgery and recovery have been picture perfect. No major complications, no trips to the ER, not even a call to Dr. Chae in the middle of the night. Oh sure,
I've had some consequences of poor choices such as vomiting because I've eaten too fast and digestive upset because I've eaten too much sugar. All in all, I take the approach of keeping my food plan sensible, healthy and sane. I make time to hit the gym. I have learned so much about myself through yoga, dance classes, swimming endless laps and pushing myself to do just a bit more lifting weights.
Honestly, the most difficult process for me has been dealing with my own negative thinking and mindset.
After abusing food (much like alcohol or drugs are abused) for most of my life, food was my drug of choice. Imagine the train wreck when I realized I could no longer use food to be my best friend, my protector, my excuse not to participate in my own life. I had the good sense to seek out the help of a
Certified Addiction Counselor even before surgery and saw her sometimes two or three times a week for months. I listened to her, whined, spilled more tears than I want to admit and threw myself the most wonderful pity parties. The day came when I knew that the game was over and food was just food. Food just lets me have enough energy to enjoy the real good stuff such as dancing like a fool with my daughter, rolling around the backyard, riding a bike for the first time in more than 25 years and enjoying and loving my family, my friends and others in my life. I no longer live life like I'm dying, I'm experiencing (hands on!) living each and every single day. Though my life is not perfect, I have found a true undercurrent of joy in my life. No matter how dark the circumstances, I choose to experience joy in every moment of time, with every breath I take.
I am so grateful for the chance to finally live a life that I had only dreamed about. This was only possible, for me, through the medical miracle of bariatric surgery and the grace of compassion, respect and love of my family, friends, my medical team of Dr. Frank Chae and staff, Ms. Dona Sanders, LMFT, CAC III, Dr. C. David Bird, Dr. Nick Slenkovich and staff, Dr. Timothy Murphy and countless others who touch my life in so many positive ways. Though I will never be able to pay them back, I can pay it forward. How can I help you in your journey?