I want to offer a special thanks to
Kalli Gail for sharing her story with us. Here is her story:
Weight loss surgery, what a twisty
Like most of you, I struggled with my
weight for most of my life. It started when I hit puberty.
All of a sudden my mother and aunt started to react
differently to me. I was put on numerous diets, as I am
sure we all have. I was given shots of pregnant horse’s
urine (seriously?). I tried fasting and ended up fainting
at work. I exercised. I tried vomiting. Some things were
just awful, and other things only worked for awhile. I did
join the Navy and with diet and exercise, I was able to be
as trim and healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, as my life progressed I
went through several life-changing events that led to a
depression so deep that only food could help. It was only
when my belly was full that I felt like I was even here.
Sometimes I would not want to brush my teeth because I
wanted to keep the taste of something delicious in my
mouth. I was so ashamed, but I could not seem to stop. The
only time that I could stop was when I was so full that I
could hold no more.
Of course I heard all the comments that
people (men) made and that the general public feels is O.K.
to say. I was hurt and I was angry.
I finally ended up at 338 pounds on a
5’ 6” body. I was still able to function and earned my
nursing degree as well as becoming a licensed massage
therapist. I felt good about these accomplishments, but I
was still mired in all that weight.
I tried not to let it interfere with my
life. I would do crazy things that “big” girls were not
supposed to be able to do. There were always men that did
not seem to mind having sex, but just did not seem to want
anything more lasting. As you can tell, my level of
self-esteem was pretty low. After all, what good was it to
be smart and nice if no one wanted to spend their life with
In 2001, I was granted a chance for a
new life. My experience is different than a lot of the ones
that I have read, in that there was very little time between
the decision and the deed.
Being a veteran and the fact that
gastric bypass surgery was so new led to my being able to
attain it in about four months. Of course there were all
the tests and psych appointments, but the day arrived
practically before I was really ready.
I remember at the hospital a past
patient was sent to do peer counseling. I was surprised to
learn that alcohol could really reach a person’s system
quite quickly, and could lead to a lot of highs. This was
probably not what the department thought would be passed on,
but I remembered it, and unfortunately made the bad decision
to use that information at a later date.
Of course post surgery was a struggle.
I was unable to wipe or clean myself for the first week due
to the large vertical surgical site. I was so embarrassed
to have to ask for help from hospital staff, but I had no
choice. I began to hate chicken bouillon soup. I found
myself craving lemons. One day I saw a wrapped up wedge and
I bit into it. It was so wonderful, and I could not believe
how much better I felt.
When I got home, I pretty much stayed
in a rocking chair for several weeks. My sister brought me
some liquid yogurt drinks, and they were so nice. Water and
most anything else seemed to hurt me. My nutritionist
recommended putting lemon juice in the water, and that made
all the difference for me. I remember drinking the yogurt
and being so grateful for my sister. I felt like I was
drinking liquid love.
After six weeks, I returned to work and
went on an out-of-town trip with a friend. I ended up
getting really ill, and when I returned home, my potassium
was so low that I was almost hospitalized.
The first year was tumultuous. The
weight seemed to just drop off me. I followed all the
rules, and I felt wonderful and hopeful after so many years
of feeling that I did not belong in the world. People were
amazed at the losses, and I was always getting compliments.
The second year was wonderful too. My
weight stabilized, and I felt great for the most part. I
felt that, for a pear shape, I was almost too thin as it
made my face really thin.
I met my husband and had a wonderful
wedding. I was in bliss. However, there was always this
part of me that felt like a fraud. I mean, I had achieved
the weight loss, but only with the “crutch” of gastric
bypass. I felt guilty every time I saw an overweight
person, and felt that I always had to confess to anyone who
gave me a compliment that I had weight loss surgery. I was
also worried that I might gain the weight back, and my
husband would leave me. My self-esteem was still shaky even
with the new body.
There were times that I would have to
vomit because I had eaten too quickly, too much, or the
wrong thing. I remember flying overseas, and I felt
nauseated. I asked for a ginger ale and started sipping
it. Suddenly I felt that awful feeling in my stomach. I
looked down at the glass and realized that I was drinking my
first carbonated drink in two years. Big mistake.
During the third year of my marriage, I
fell and hurt my back. After this, I was unable to do
either of my professions. I was also under some
psychological stress, and my depression deepened. I began
to gain weight by out-eating my pouch.
At four years, I was doing better. I
started walking more and eating better. As the weight
started to come off, I was elated. For the first time I
actually felt more in control, and that my weight was
dependant on me and not just the “crutch.” This was
Now past the nine-year mark, my weight
has normalized. I feel good. I had a total knee
replacement and am walking better and of course more. I was
given a pedal device to work the knee and the results have
been stunning. Not only have I lost over 60 pounds, my
thighs have improved. (Yeah!)
I will not bore you with the last three
years, but suffice it to say that it was really bad and yes,
there was alcohol involved. I am glad to say that bad time
is behind me.
Now I feel in control, perhaps for the
first time in my adult life. No longer do I see the surgery
as a crutch. Now I truly see it as a tool to help me. I
have learned to listen to my stomach and to stop eating
before I hurt myself.
I will always be grateful for this tool
and the difference it has made in my life. I still struggle
with psychological issues but at least this feels good and I
thank God and the VA every day for this wonderful gift. I
feel at peace.