Michelle praises UMMC bariatric surgeon Mark Kligman, M.D., and calls laparoscopic Roux-en-Y surgery “my ray of light.”
I have always been big but never really seriously overweight. When I was eighteen, I felt I was very attractive but a little heavier than I wanted to be. I married and 10 years later had a child. During my pregnancy, I gained 90 pounds. I lost 40 pounds after I delivered my child, but I couldn’t lose any more; the rest of it stuck with me.
At that point my life became a downward spiral. I spent every waking moment thinking about how I could lose the weight. I tried every diet known to man and exercised all the time, but nothing worked for me. I was at the end of my rope. I didn’t think anything would work for me. I was frustrated, discouraged, and fed up with myself.
Because of the extra weight, my back hurt; I had headaches, asthma, and was very depressed. Just have someone to carry an extra 100 pounds around for an hour a day and see how exhausted they become! When I went to the health club, I felt uncomfortable because I worried that I was the most overweight person in the place. It was kind of a catch 22 since I needed to be there more than anyone else.
Food has always been my drug of choice. I have turned to food whenever I’ve felt happy, sad or angry. I was suffering physically, but so much more emotionally. When you’re angry with yourself where do you direct that? There’s nowhere to release that anger. Then comes the point when you know you have to take matters into your own hands. I began searching for another solution.
A friend encouraged me to attend an educational seminar on bariatric surgery given at a medical school in Ohio by Mark Kligman M.D., who is now the director of the Center for Weight Management & Wellness at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
That’s when I found out about the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure. I was extremely impressed with Dr. Kligman’s understanding and knowledge of the procedure and his level of confidence in the success of the surgery. What struck me was that he was also a top trauma surgeon, and that was comforting to me. I knew he would be capable of taking care of me under any situation that might arise.
Then I went for an appointment to make sure I was qualified. To qualify, you should be at least 100 pounds over your ideal body weight or have a body mass index of 40 or higher. (Calculate your BMI here.) I was more than qualified physically, but emotionally I knew I had to make a lot of changes in my life. I was willing to do whatever it took: making lifestyle changes, taking my supplements, eating right, and getting regular exercise.
I prepared myself for surgery by reviewing the surgical options, and I was very pleased with the results of the minimally invasive Roux-en-Y. Why would anyone want an open, invasive procedure when it can be done even more precisely laparoscopically? The healing is so much easier than with open surgery. I had six little tiny incisions that I can barely see anymore.
Since the healing went so well after the surgery, I was able to stay focused on all of the adjustments I knew I would have to make to accommodate my new stomach.
The Roux-en-Y surgery was my ray of light. Surgery was only one factor though. I had tried so many forms of weight loss unsuccessfully. I knew my ultimate success would not be up to me and my willpower alone because my willpower had failed me time and time again. The surgery is a tool. It’s given to keep your weight under control, but it’s not a magic bullet. You have to be willing to control what you eat. Now with this tool that I’ve been given, I can tell when I’m full. Before, I couldn’t put the fork down even when I was stuffed. I have finally figured out how to know when I’m full.
I give credit to Dr. Kligman for being so capable and so confident about the outcome.
Since the surgery I have lost 115 pounds. It has given me my life back. I feel so lucky every day that I have reached a healthy weight. Now I feel great about myself: beautiful and hopeful.
I am now replacing old negative habits with new positive ones. I make every attempt to honor the opportunity I’ve been given by making positive food choices and making exercise a priority before all else. Two and a half years out, I’m still excited about my weight loss.
I feel thankful and very indebted to Dr. Kligman. I couldn’t have done it without him. I tried to thank him so many times. Without him, I would be that same miserable person I was 2 ½ years ago. I don’t think he realizes how many peoples’ lives he’s changed. He’s very modest, but he’s also talented and brilliant at what he does. But he’s not looking for anyone to thank him or praise him. He just wants you to have a healthy and happy life.