My Patients

 

Personal Stories

Marianne - Fairbanks, AK

Patient Marianne GuffeyThis photo was taken at the local fair in August 2005. I was around 240 pounds, my heaviest weight. At 5'2", 240 is pretty big. Of course I didn't feel this big and didn't realize I was this big. My mirrors don't tend to tell size. I always seem to think I look great!

But when I saw this photo I knew I had to do something. I was in my early 40's. My mother had died of a sudden massive heart attack at the age of 47. She suffered from type 1 diabetes and she had high blood pressure, was overweight and a smoker. But she was active and always felt good so it was a shock. She woke up the morning after a big family Christmas, started her day and a few hours later I found her gasping for breath. I was 17 and not prepared for her death at all. In this photo I was in my early 40's and was on two medications for diabetes as well as medication for high blood pressure.

I was lucky enough to adopt my handsome son, Rodney, as a newborn. I made promises to myself and to God that I would protect him and raise him right. This photo made me see that I was falling prey to the same things that had killed my mother (other than smoking--never had that problem). How could I raise my son if I wasn't around. It would not be fair to him or my husband if I died from something that I could have done something about.


Of course there are people that would say...sure you could do something..pull away from the table. You've heard all of this "advice" if you've been overweight. I have dieted nearly my entire life. In the early 80's I tried B-12 shots given by a Dr. specializing in weight followed be Nutra-Medic, Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers, Cabbage Soup diet, diet pills (prescription and over the counter), Nutri-System, hypnosis, etc. You name it and I've probably tried it. I lost and gained and lost and gained more. It was never-ending.

I decided on surgery after researching options on the internet and talking to a co-worker who was very successful with it. I took my husband to one of Dr. Ellner's lectures as he was totally against the idea. She won him over. Next came the insurance...we didn't have the money to do the surgery without insurance helping. My insurance didn't cover it but my husband's did. Dr. Ellner's staff helped us with these arrangements.

My surgery was in June 2006. We spent about 3 weeks in San Diego. My husband, Steve, and son, Rodney, went with me so it was like a family vacation. The night before surgery I had a massage therapist come to the hotel for the best massage ever! I had gotten her name off of Dr. Ellner's website--I highly recommend this. I was very relaxed so slept very well that night. Without her I don't think I would have slept at all. She also came back the morning after I was released from the hospital...

I don't remember the actual surgery. When the nurse woke me up I was a little irritated because I didn't think anything had been done. She told me the surgery went well and I would be in a room soon. Once I was settled in the room, everything was great until the next nurse came in and forced me to WALK up and down the halls over and over (or at least that's how I remembered it!). Getting out of bed for that first walk was hard! I was in the hospital about 2 days. On the afternoon I was released we went to the antique stores in one section of town and walked around for a while. The next day is when the real fun began. We spent the entire day at the San Diego Zoo. It was great. I walked a little slower than normal but had a good time. The following days were spent at Sea World, the beaches, Balboa Park, etc. We stayed really active so I was ready for that long flight back to Fairbanks when it was time.

Life after surgery....People don't understand why you're not eating. Going to a restaurant, the servers always want to know what's wrong with the food! Oh well.

Before surgery I was around 240. I got down to about 145. I was fine with that weight but would have liked to have lost more....


Unfortunately in June 2008 my father, who I was extremely close to, collapsed into a coma while enjoying his daily 2 mile walk. They kept him on life support until I made it to Georgia. Coming from Fairbanks, Alaska it was the next afternoon before I got there. I spent several hours with him and several hours talking to his Doctors and other family members. The decision to take him off life support was up to me. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. He was brain dead and the Drs. all agreed that there was no hope for his recovery. An aneurism had burst in his brain. He never felt a thing after it burst, he just collapsed... I was in a deep depression for about 6 months. What I discovered during this period of my life is that someone who has always fell back on food in times of stress, can still fall back on food. This surgery does a lot of great things but it doesn't change everything. I gained about 25-30 pounds during that 6 months. I've always been a stressful eater and now know it's still an issue that I have to work on. I went up to about 175. (I was also in the middle of a career change at this time so my new co-workers didn't know me and most of them didn't even know what all I was going thru....) I simply didn't take care of myself. I didn't take vitamins, drink water, watch what I ate, etc. I ate junk food and I started snacking non-stop.

Honestly the only point to telling anyone about my personal crisis is just to make the point that this surgery doesn't make your life change completely. You'll still have obstacles to overcome. I am working on mine and doing much better now. I'm now back down to 167 but it's slow going. I hope I manage to get back down to 145 but who knows. The biggest thing is that I've come to terms with the depression and am no longer gaining weight. I feel great and am happy with myself just as I am. I was never in this to become a fashion model. My goal was to get healthier and I am. I am back to exercising. I work a full time job and also have a part time job (temporary basis to help out a friend). I volunteer weekly at my son's school as well as local non-profit organizations. Regardless of the weight gain I experienced, I would recommend this procedure to anyone who is morbidly obese.

What I think everyone should know about surgery is that it doesn't do all the work for you. It's a tool and it needs to be used correctly. We're all human and we aren't perfect, so we will all fall off track once in awhile. I'm putting my tool into good use again and it's working for me. My goal was to be healthy, so I can be the mother and wife that my son and husband deserve. I accomplished that goal! If I had it all to do over again - yes, in a heartbeat. If anyone wants to email me, please do! guffey@alaska.com

Cadeucus