Recently I met up with a real hero--This lady battled to lose weight--And won! I asked for an interview and proudly, she said, yes.
Meet Eileen Hickey from White Plains New York. This is her story:
Eileen, please tell me a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What is your age?
I am 23 yrs old. I am currently working as a teachers assistant.
I understand you had surgery recently. Please tell me the name of your operation, and why you decided to have this operation?
I had gastric bypass surgery. I decided to have the surgery after 3 years of deciding. My health had gotten so out of control that I had to make a decision if I wanted to save my life. My doctor kept telling me that if I didn't lose weight immediately, I could have a heart attack, or a stroke at any time, therefore, I could have died. After them telling me this, I knew having the surgery was my last chance at correcting my health.
How did you select your surgeon?
Back in June 2003, I had to have my gall bladder removed, so my family doctor recommended my surgeon. He did such a wonderful job and was an excellent doctor, that my physician recommended him again for the gastric bypass. I was so scared to have the surgery in the first place, but knowing that I could trust this surgeon left me confidant that everything would work out just fine.
Was there a screening process involved?
Absolutely. This is not a surgery for everyone. There are so many risks to this surgery--you have to go through a screening with a psychologist, a nutritionist, a pulmonologist, and a cardiologist. Each doctor runs various tests to see if your body can physically handle the intense surgery, and to make you aware of all the risks to make sure this is truly what you want, and will be able to maintain and adapt to your new life style.
This is Eileen Hickey -- Before her surgery
Eileen, were you frightened? Was your family supportive? What was the recovery like? Was there pain?
Since there are many risks to take into consideration, it was a very hard decision to make. Of course I was scared of the surgery--it was a life decision that I was making, and not knowing if it was the right one.
It took some convincing for my family. I was never completely honest with them on how unhealthy I was and how greatly my health was at risk. When I opened up to them then, they were 100% supportive. I feel it is very imperative to have a good support system while deciding to have the surgery and when recovering , along for the rest of your life.
The recovery went really well for me. I was very fortunate to have experienced no complications during and after surgery. The only small bump that I ran into was a little dehydration for about a week. At the time of healing, it felt a lot worse than what it sounds like. My family and doctors monitored me well and constantly helped me to get fluids into my body. Just like any surgery, there was pain.
I must say though I have had two other major surgeries, and compared to the healing process, this last surgery seemed not as bad. The hardest part of the healing was the emotional factor.
Losing weight at such rapid pace can send your hormones in many different directions, as well as not eating what I was used to. You try your hardest to mentally prepare yourself and the doctors always say you're never 100% prepared--Well they were right! It took me several weeks to adjust physically and emotionally.
This is Eileen October 2005.
How much did you weigh before the surgery, Eileen? How much weight did you lose? What is your weight now? Do you need to lose more?
I am 5'9" and weighed in at 313 lbs. As of my last doctor's visit on August 17th, 2007, I weighed 196 lbs. That is an amazing total of 117 lbs. lost in a little over 8 months. My surgeon's weight loss goal was to get me down to about 180 lbs. to have a normal BMI (Body Mass Index). Since I had lost the majority of my excess fat already, he has predicted that I may loose another 50 -60 lbs. in the next 6-8 months, but by then my body will regulate and gain back some of the weight to were I will be at a healthy, comfortable weight. In my mind, I am healthy now, and that is all that matters. My goal was to never be "skinny," mine was to just be healthy.
I have reached that goal and so, if I never loose another pound, then I will just continue to work out, eat well balanced meals, and be proud of how far I have come along.
What is your daily diet like since the operation compared to before?
Much smaller meals. Even when I tried to eat healthy before the surgery I never realized how large my portions were. Now my portions are very small and mainly protein, with mixes of fruits and vegetable . I don't always make good choices now, I will still have a few chips here and there, or maybe a sugar-free cookie every now and then, but I feel that I have control of my intake and I just try never to overeat because your stomach is a muscle and can be stretched back out. That is how many gain their weight back after they have had this kind of surgery.
This was Eileen Hickey.
Knowing all you know now, Eileen, if you had it to do over, would you have the surgery?
In a heartbeat!!!!
This was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. It was worth every ache or pain from the surgery and every tear I may have cried.
I am blessed to have had such a great support system and for them (family members) to always remind me that this is what I wanted and that I could do it. My sister always reminded me that "the healing process goes quickly and by tomorrow you'll be feeling better". That helped me get though each day knowing that by "tomorrow" I will be a better, happier person.
Would you recommend it to another man or woman contemplating this surgery?
However, just like a doctor will explain to you that the surgery is like a "tool" and what you do with that "tool" is up to you. Anyone looking for this surgery must know that it is NOT a quick fix and will change your life forever. If you are committed and dedicated then you will have great success and your life will change for the better.
Are you satisfied with the results?
I am very satisfied of my results. I don't like to take full credit, because I feel if I didn't have my family and boyfriend always helping me to do good, then I'm not sure where my results would be right now. I will never regret any decision that I have made because it has saved my life!
And finally, Eileen, how has this operation changed your life?
It has changed my life in multiple ways. For the most part, my health. I no longer have high blood pressure, my asthma is under control, and I am not at a risk for diabetes anymore. Along with losing the weight your confidence goes up, as well. I don't feel as insecure about myself. Walking into places doesn't have me feeling like others are staring at me like a "freak show." Also, buying clothing is much more affordable now, so that's pretty exciting. Overall, this experience has been wonderful, and I hope that I will bring the same to someone else that has this procedure.
This is Eileen Hickey today!
Thank you, Eileen Hickey, for your special words.