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Personal Stories

Brittney - Imperial

Brittney Santos Before Lap Band SurgeryMy name is Brittney Santos and I am 19 years old. I live in Imperial, California and I have lived here all my life. Since I can remember I have always struggled with my weight. I was in and out of endocrinologist offices since I was five. In my 19 years of life I’ve been in more weight loss programs, on more weight loss medications and diets than I can count. No matter what I tried or how active I was they never worked and I was never able to keep any weight off.

 As a child I spent a lot of time in doctors offices, having them tell me I wasn’t active enough and that I was eating the wrong foods. I remember being on the swim team for most of my childhood and I was probably the only child in my class, during elementary school, whom only had a plain ham sandwich and a juice box in their lunch. All the other children brought lunchables with a soda and some kind of sweet dessert, but not me. My parents always made sure I ate healthy and stayed active. Even then by the time I was in the fifth grade I was 135 pounds and the biggest child in my class. For me, even as a child being so young, I was aware of my size it was emotionally stressful. I never wanted to eat the things I wanted or in the amounts that I wanted because I was afraid of the stares and the comments the other children and even the adults would say. I hated shopping because it was always a struggle to find my sizes. At one point I was so big the only place my mother could find me clothes was the plus size section of the JCPenny catalog. Even though I was teased by my classmates and continuously self-conscious on the outside I was a happy child, but on the inside I was very unhappy with myself.

Brittney Santos After Lap Band Surgery

When I was in middle school, my mother, who also suffered from a weight problem, researched the Gastric Bypass surgery. After careful research she chose a surgeon, Dr. Endres, at Alvarado Hospital, to perform her Gastric Bypass surgery. My mother had the surgery in August of 2001; she made a swift recovery and lost an enormous amount of weight and her life changed forever. Seeing my mom lose so much weight so quickly, and to me so easily, made me very resentful and jealous. I admit I was not a happy person because then I was getting ready to start high school at almost 200 pounds. The next five years were the worst in my life.

The summer before I started high school was a very difficult and devastating time for me. I had started my female cycle during my eighth grade year but after almost a year the cycles were still not regular. At times I would go for three months without a cycle. I consulted my endocrinologist and later my gynecologist about my problem. Both my endocrinologist and my gynecologist diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. After blood test and a vaginal ultrasound it was confirmed that I did in fact have cysts on my ovaries. I was told if I didn’t make some kind of change I would at some point probably become infertile. When I heard that, I knew I had to do something because for as long as can remember I have loved children and wanted to be able to have my own.

I started high school in September of 2001 at Imperial High School, still overweight and very unhappy. For most girls high school meant boyfriends and dances, mainly prom, for me it was four years of crushes, rejection, and depression. During high school I was very active, I was in the marching band all four years and on the varsity swim team for two and even though I was active I was never able to keep any of the weight off. I graduated high school at 200 pounds and never having a boyfriend. At the time it wasn’t the biggest thing on my mind but it still caused me unnecessary depression.

In the summer of 2005 I started attending IVC here in Imperial to start working towards my Associates Degree. By this time I was 220 and had been through an extremely traumatic personal event, my self-esteem was at its lowest. After consistent therapy I realized I needed to make a change that would help me regain the self-esteem I had lost over the years. After numerous hours of research, consideration, and attending a seminar at Alvarado Hospital I had made the decision to have Gastric Bypass surgery and by February 2006 I was filling out paper work for Dr. Ellner at the Alvarado Weight Loss Program. After meeting with Dr. Ellner and establishing a doctor-patient relationship and trust I had her office submit my paper work to my insurance company. For me this was a very big decision, not only had I never had any type of major surgery before, my fertility was on the line, and I was only 18. By May of 2006 I had insurance approval to have the surgery performed. Then the only thing left to do was set a date and wait.

Brittney Santos After Surgery

On July 5, 2006 I was wheeled into the operating room more nervous than I had ever been in my entire life. Before I knew it I was leaving the hospital, on the road to recovery and a new life. In my first moth after surgery I lost 30 pounds and already I was looking and feeling like a new person. In the months to come I exercised ate only the foods I was directed to eat and the weight melted off like butter. Seeing the weight come off and feeling the way I felt I knew I had made the best decision of my life. I am now nine months post operation and I’ve lost 75 pounds. I have gone from a size eighteen to a size six and I am as happy as I have ever been. I now feel good about myself and I don’t dread having to go clothes shopping in fear that they wont carry my size. For me I would do this all over again in a heartbeat. This surgery has been a positive change on my life in so many different ways and I owe it all to the support of my family and the care of Dr. Ellner and her staff at the Alvarado Weight Loss Program.

Brittney Santos
Imperial, CA