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Personal Stories

Beth Gutierrez - San Diego

Beth Gutierrez Before Bariatric SurgeryMy name is Beth Gutierrez and I changed my life forever when I had gastric bypass on January 23, 2006.  I had done quite a bit of research, read many books including Carnie Wilson’s book on her experience at Alvarado Hospital, and decided in the summer of 2005 that I would pursue it.  The first seminar that I went to at Alvarado was held by Dr. Ellner.  She impressed me immediately with her warmth and the way that she explained the procedure.  She was very down to earth and made me feel so comfortable in my decision -- SHE was the surgeon I wanted!

Growing up in San Diego I was not an overweight child, in fact quite the opposite.  From the age of 3 years through high school I was a very serious ballet dancer.  I pursued dance with a passion and, at that time, had decided that was my career choice.  I danced 4-5 days a week, for many hours at a time, and never had a problem with my weight.  I ate whatever I wanted without giving it a second thought.  However, the time eventually came when I started noticing boys and other aspects of life that I had not experienced because of all my time in the dance studio.  My interests started to change.  I eventually decided that I wanted to go on dates with friends, go the movies, football games at school, etc. so dancing became secondary.  However with this change in interest, and my reduction in activity, my eating habits did not change with it.  This was the beginning of my life with obesity.  It came on very slowly, so obviously it wasn’t something that I noticed immediately.  I finished high school still slim and went onto college with just a few more pounds on.  It wasn’t until adulthood and happy hours after work, the stress of making the mortgage payments, and two beautiful sons, that I noticed my weight was going up, up, up!  In a span of about 10 years I had packed on 100 pounds (about 10 lbs a year).  My husband made comments to me trying to get my attention, I had been on every diet you could think of, but I just don’t think I really saw myself as obese.  When I looked in the mirror, I knew I was heavier, but I guess I saw what I hoped others saw – just someone with a few extra pounds.  The turning point for me was when my husband was videotaping a friend’s wedding and he caught me on that tape.  While watching the tape with him, I asked “who is that?  I don’t remember seeing her there?”  IT WAS ME!  I didn’t even recognize myself.  I cried for hours over that – completely worn out, depressed, sad, angry, frustrated, confused. . . every emotion you could think of came through me at that moment.  I no longer had any clue as to who I was – externally or internally.  It was that moment that forced me to seek help.  I knew I wasn’t able to do it on my own anymore and starting another diet would only compound the problem.  You know. . . start a diet, lose 20 lbs, stop the diet, gain 30 back!  UGH – the vicious cycle would continue!  This was no longer an option for me.

Beth Gutierrez After Bariatric Surgery

My gastric bypass experience was really very simple – although before hand, I was absolutely petrified!  I had met Jody Lopez in the pre-op phase and we became fast friends.  Her surgery was scheduled right after mine on the same day – so we shared our fears and kept each other motivated.  My surgery was at 7am – I was at the hospital by 5am so they could start hooking me up and prepping me for the surgery.  The entire staff was SO nice and comforting – they had nothing but wonderful things to say about

Dr. Ellner and how she would take good care of me.  She really did!  My surgery was nothing like I expected!  I came out of recovery and brought to my room by Noon that day and all I really noticed was that I was groggy from the anesthesia.  No pain whatsoever.  That evening, like Dr. Ellner said, the nurses had me up walking.  Rose, a feisty and determined Nurses’ Assistant, got me up and walking even though I just wanted to sleep.  She was relentless yet I just adored her.  When you’re up walking, you make laps around the nurses’ station.  Every time I passed I got cheers and “keep going” and “great job”.  They really take care of you and want you to succeed at Alvarado!  I was released 2 days later with lots of information and all the resources at my disposal to make a fresh start on my new life. 

Walking out of the hospital, I had already lost 19 lbs in two days! Isn't that amazing? I am 5'8" and my highest weight was 272 lbs - I now weigh 159 lbs. Dr. Ellner and Alvarado Hospital changed my life forever. I feel wonderful and love the things that I once dreaded - getting on an airplane, shopping for clothes, going to amusement parks, bathing suits and beaches! Life is completely different for me now and I wouldn't change one thing - in fact, I would do it over and over again. I no longer have sleep apnea, my cholesterol is around 160, my joints no longer hurt - life is a joy! I do have some loose skin to deal with now - especially my tummy and under my arms. But, that seems so trivial compared to how I feel about myself now. At some point I will probably have plastic surgery to remove it, but for now I'm looking at it as a reminder of what I did to myself and how gastric bypass saved my life.

If you're considering gastric bypass surgery - you've come to the right place. I have recommended my friends and family to Dr. Ellner. She knows her stuff, makes you feel wonderful about the process, and will take care of you all the way. I consider her a friend, mentor, and angel in my life. Thanks, Doc!!!!!