My Patients


Personal Stories


Liz Before Gastric Bypass SurgeryWhen I was asked to write my story in a few paragraphs I thought to myself, "How can I summarize this in a few paragraphs when I could write an entire book?" But I’ll do my best to get to the point.

My life of dieting started at 5 years old. I was a chubby kid and a chubby teenager, and took all the harassment that came along with it. But it was in my early 20’s my weight really got out of control. I am an emotional eater and with the stress of having just graduated from college and starting my new career, combined with being in a very unhealthy relationship, my weight shot up drastically in a period of only months. It was at this time I became 100 pounds overweight. I finally was able to lose this weight and get to my goal of 145 over a period of 3 years using a combination of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutri-system. I was able to keep off much of that weight for a few years. But going back to many of my old habits and using food to try to cope with stressful times in my life, I had gained back all 100 pounds by the time I was 40.

I put my life on hold due to my weight for many years. Although I love swimming and the ocean I had stayed away most of my adult life because of my weight. I have also been painfully shy most of my life, lacking the confidence to socialize, and my extreme self-conscientiousness about my weight has made this worse. I got back into horseback riding in my 40s after over a 20 year break and this brought a lot of joy into my life, but I found I could not mount my horse from the ground like I used to and I got off balance very easily. Then as my mare was getting older there came a point when it was evident that I was too big for her to keep carrying around, which was embarrassing. I had lost some weight then I got stuck and I just kept losing and gaining the same 10 pounds or so over and over. I couldn’t seem to stick to it like when I was younger. And since I wasn’t successful losing enough weight and wanted to keep riding, I ended up having to buy a bigger horse.

Liz After Gastric Bypass SurgeryShortly before my 49th birthday and during an active vacation with my sister’s young kids, the weight was really getting to me. When I got out of bed one morning everything hurt, my feet, ankles, hips, and I just felt like I was completely falling apart. Having dreams of early retirement and possibly a more active second life career, I could only see a future of dealing with health issues. It was then I decided I really needed to do something drastically different than what I had been doing.

I had known for years about the reputation of Alvarado Hospital for bariatric surgery and so I went online and signed up on their website for a seminar. While listening to Dr. Ellner I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by how personable she was in addition to how knowledgeable. With the things she shared I felt like she would “get me” and it was at that time I decided I wanted her to do my surgery. I was worried that I would not qualify due to being too healthy but I went ahead and made my appointment to meet with Dr. Ellner. Through all the pre-qualification testing I found out I had a problem I didn’t realize I had, sleep apnea. A few months later in November of 2011 I ended up having Lap Band surgery.

Within the first 6 months after my surgery as my weight dropped my life started to change. I was able to mount my horse from the ground for the first time since I was in my 20s and I felt so much more balanced while riding. Then I started getting the courage to try things I had always wanted to try but stayed away from. I started with sea kayaking and then snorkeling, and it was totally awesome to be out in the ocean. Then I jogged my first 5K, which was a huge accomplishment for me considering that I had never been able to jog more than a mile, ever, earlier in life.

This first summer after my surgery my young nephews were visiting again and they wanted to take a surfing lesson. I was not planning on joining in at first, but then I thought with the type of exercise Dr. Ellner already has me doing, why not give it a try? While I was not able to completely stand up on the board during my first lesson, I had so much fun trying that I was determined this was something I had to do again. After two more lessons I bought a beginners board and surfing became my new active hobby at age 50! Trying to get better at it has become at times almost an obsession. I’ve met new people in my same situation of learning to surf later in life and so now I’ve got new active friends to surf and socialize with. I’ve gained lots of confidence in the process and I have been coming out of my shell quite a bit. Life is good.

An "aha moment" I’ve had during my journey with Dr. Ellner is that I was setting the bar too low when it comes to what I can do physically. I’ve always just accepted that I was not naturally athletic and so I can only do so much, so why even try. Now I challenge that thought and want to keep raising my own bar, and know I can have fun doing it. I never would have even thought of trying surfing before this.

Dr. Ellner is the best. She is compassionate and caring, and her practice of personal follow-up has been invaluable for keeping me on the path. I still have a little ways to go to get to my goal. I went through some extremely tough emotional times around a year after surgery and have gone off track a few times, but have always gotten back on. With my history of weight gain through stressful times this is a testament to how effective her program is.