My Patients


Personal Stories

Barbara - Fairbanks, AK 

Barbara Before Weight Loss Surgery

After I reached puberty I was the heaviest of the seven children in my family. The earliest memory I have about my "weight problem" was when a well-meaning family friend gave me a box of Ayds "Diet" candy. She said "Barbara, you have such a pretty face and great skin; it's a shame you are overweight." I was so embarrassed I just wanted to die. I was twelve. I have been obsessed about being overweight ever since that time. I tried the Ayds "Diet" candy. It was the first of the many "diets" I tried throughout my life. I had successes; several times I lost weight in a very short time. Did you know that if you stop eating altogether you really can lose weight? I know because I did that, too. But whenever the "latest" diet ended, the weight always came back, and many times it was double the amount of the weight I had lost. My best years were high school and college. I was still heavy, but I was fairly active and felt good. When I graduated from college I moved to Alaska. I got married and I started gaining weight again. I wasn't active anymore.

I had one child in 1980 by C-Section. I hit a new high in my weight. I never had more children. Years later I was told I had not had more children due to lack of ovulation from Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. In 1986 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I was actually relieved to find out the reason I felt so bad. So, a new diet! Eat more high fiber foods. Through the next five years I managed to lose 70 pounds. I felt good again. My weight stabilized around 235 pounds. Still high but I felt good again. My diabetes was for the most part doing okay with the diet changes. But 1995 brought the stress of a divorce; then a surprising new relationship and a new marriage, all within seven months! I lost some weight but the stress was wreaking havoc with my diabetes. This time diet didn't help so drugs were started. Over the next 10 years I had tried them all. Some caused other problems. They all caused weight gain. In 2004 oral diabetes medications were no longer working. So I started insulin injections. I became depressed - more meds. And my weight started to increase again, only faster. In 2005 I was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease and had four stents put in my heart. Two months later when I was tested for Sleep Apnea they said I was one of the worst cases they had ever seen. My C-PAP machine became my best friend that night. By 2008 my insulin injections were from 700 to 800 units a day and two kinds of insulin. And my weight kept going up. My back hurt all the time. It affected all of my activities. I knew I needed to do something.

Barbara After Weight Loss Surgery
Barbara After Surgery

May 2008 I saw a notice about a support group meeting. I decided to attend and was surprised to see several people I knew, but at first I didn't recognize some of them! They had the surgery and were telling about how their lives had been dramatically changed after the surgery. I knew it could work as my daughter had also had the surgery. But she had also had a really tough time with complications during her surgery.  With my other health problems I had worried about the surgery risks and my daughter was also worried. She didn't want me to go through the problems like she went through! (Fortunately she has had good success with her weight loss and has done very well.) She didn't go to Dr. Ellner for her surgery - it was my doctor who recommended Dr. Ellner to me. I knew that I needed to have this surgery done to regain my health. My new primary care doctor was in full agreement. During the preliminary testing I was diagnosed with Spinal Arthritis and degenerative discs in both my lumbar and cervical spine. My long-time carpal tunnel acted up. I had to have a breast biopsy and my weight hit a high of 336 in February 2009. Things were not getting better!

Finally in May 2009 I was approved and scheduled for surgery with Dr. Ellner. I was excited to go to San Diego and get this done! And it was worth it! This was by far the best surgical experience I have ever had! The nursing staff at Alvarado is excellent. Dr. Ellner made me feel very comfortable and in no time I was back on my way to a healthy life! To date I have lost 140 plus pounds. I am at my high school weight again, 40 years later! Last summer I was physically able to volunteer at our local bird banding station which involves a lot of hiking through woods. It was wonderful to be able to get out and do the things I haven't been able to do for a very long time. My husband has been wonderful through the whole experience and now he is always encouraging me to go shopping for clothes! I buy a lot of clothes online and my biggest problem these days is that I keep buying clothes that are too big!

With this new lease on life I ~

~ no longer need to use a C-PAP Machine

~ no longer need a dozen medications every day

~ am now considered a "controlled" diabetic after 24 years

~ can walk without pain in my back, even with a backpack

~ can walk up stairs without any pain

~ can go shopping without using the cart as a "walker"

~ can hike for hours without having to rest every few minutes

~ can tie my shoes and touch my toes with ease

~ can exercise easily and walk for miles on the treadmill

~ can buy clothes at the store instead of having to order clothes online

~ can buy cute clothes styles not available for heavy people

~ can fit okay in a coach airplane seat and not need a seat belt extender

This was the best thing I have done for my health and my life. I have my life back!

Barbara After Gastric Bypass Surgery
Babara Post Surgery

I now help run the Support group with LindaMae Scolman for people in Fairbanks who choose this surgery.
I know how important it is to find the right surgeon with the best aftercare program and I feel Dr. Ellner is
that surgeon. She works with you and has a program that is very important for long term success. I know
others who have not had good success and little support from their surgeons. They come to the support
group for the guidance their surgeon didn't give them.  It is important to stay in touch with others going
through this and supporting each other on our journey to good health. It is important to understand the
changes surgery makes and being with others  who are experiencing the same things you are. I  made a
Facebook page for the group to keep in touch.You can join us there!

Barbara Logan, Co-Leader of the Ellner Bariatric Support Group, Fairbanks, AK