My Patients


Personal Stories

Janet - San Diego, CA

Janet Weight Loss Surgery PatientWell, for me you might want to call it one of those,”Aha Moments.” A Registered Nurse, working on auditing the bariatric patient charts as a regular part of my QI/RM duties. I was thinking of my mother who died 6 years ago of obesity related complications. The last several years of her life, she never left her home as she was in too much pain. All her weight bearing joints hurt so much, she couldn't even move about her house. Diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, diabetic neuropathy in her feet and legs. Sitting here, this morning, in extreme pain, myself. Not wanting to move, because it hurt. Even though I'd had my left knee replaced 5 years earlier, I'd also been in an elevator accident 9 months later, pulling apart my prosthesis, shattering my knee caps and just wreaking general havoc with me physically. For 2 years I was totally disabled, enduring tortuous physical therapy that wasn't helping. Today, I understood what my mother had gone through. The thing that scared me was I was heading down the same path as she…and that was a place I didn't want to go. Mom was only 62 when she died. Even though she and I had our differences, I sorely missed her and didn't want to leave my kids that way. Both of my daughters worked at the nursing home where mom was that fateful day. They met to “pester” grandma on multiple occasions, daily. As they met at her door that day, they were not allowed to enter. Both of them knew what that meant. Soon, an ambulance's siren could be heard coming. None of us ever saw her alive, again. She died that day, nearly destroying the girls who dearly loved grandma.

Anyway, as I sat there thinking about mom, auditing my charts, I just kept going by patient's stats that were better than mine. Every chart that passed, I kept thinking…I weigh more than him…I have more physical problems than her…my BMI is more than…WHAT in the heck am I waiting for??? This could be me! I applied that day to have the surgery. In less than a week, I was through the process and had a date to have the bypass. It all happened so fast, it made may head spin. Or should I say, it happened just in time!

Janet Before Weight Loss SurgeryJanet After Weight Loss SurgeryI remember waking up from the surgery, teasing (my angel) Dr. Ellner, poking my belly, asking her if she really did just operate on me? I didn't hurt at all! As a matter of fact, my body seemed to sense I had just done something to really get it the help it so desperately needed. Now, I realize not everyone will feel as good as I did, right away, but I felt so good, I begged Dr. Ellner to let me go back to work days after having surgery! She did finally sign me off (but I think it's only because I worked at Alvarado and she knew she could keep an eye on me)! I won't say I didn't have days or times when I felt tired, because I did. They seemed to come around the same times I normally began to drag each day, so I just paced myself. If I knew that time of day was rolling around, I just made sure I was working at my desk until it passed, instead of making rounds at the hospital.

It used to be that I couldn't even walk up the hill from the parking garage to the hospital to work without losing my breath and needing to stop and rest. Now, 10 months later, I run up to 5 miles a day!!! I started out walking after surgery, pushing myself to go at least 1 step further than the day before. Soon it was 1 block further, then 1 mile. I got the nickname at Alvarado, “the work out queen.” How ‘bout that!

My kids? They still don't know I have had the surgery. I just want to lead by example. One of the things I remember my mom for is that after she had raised 6 kids on her own after my dad died (when I was 12)… that she went to college and earned a degree. When my children were little, I remembered how much of an impact that made on me. “If she can do it, so can I!” I flew back to Missouri in March because my son was in a bad accident. I still remember my younger daughter's jaw just dropping when she saw me get out of the car for the first time! She fussed and made the comment, “My God, mom! Look how small you are! I can get one arm around you with plenty to room to spare!” Every friend of hers that came to visit, she continued with the same. It felt real good! The kids all struggle with their weight. I hope I can inspire them in the same way my mom inspired me. Will I ever tell them? Sure! If they ever ask. I'm still surprised they haven't, because they know I worked with Dr. Ellner! Maybe they already know…
In June, I got to do something I have always wanted to do…swim with the dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego. If you'd have told me a year ago that I'd be able to get into a wet suit and look good, I'd have thought you were pulling my leg! Now, I even work at SeaWorld on the Medical Services Team! We have to be able to physically get to any point in the park to a patient who is down within 4 minutes carrying all our equipment, even if there are 50,000 guests in the park that day!

So, if you are here, on Dr. Ellner's web page…you have come to the right place! Do I have any regrets? Like so many of the other patients, only that I waited this long to have it done! Dr. Ellner is “World Class!” You couldn't be in better, more capable hands! (I know…I used to audit all her charts as well as all the other surgeons'). So, come on! What are YOU waiting for?

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