In one of the episodes of Weight Loss Surgery Journeys, featured at WeightLossSurgeryChannel, 43 year old Debra Flores was interviewed by host Yvonne Mcarthy. Debra has been through a lot in her lifetime. At the age of 20, she gained eighty pounds during her first pregnancy. Unfortunately her love for baking and love for food prevented her from losing the weight she had gained from the pregnancy. During her second pregnancy she gained even more weight. Her maximum weight was 227 pounds.
This may not sound like a lot until you consider that she only stood five feet tall.
Where Debra’s Problem Began
Eight years after her second pregnancy, Debra decided that she needed to do something about her size. Her sister-in-law was a post-operative Vertical Banding Gastroplasty surgery patient at that time. After seeing the progress that her sister was already making since the surgery, Debra decided to have the surgery done as well. In the VBG process, part of your stomach is stapled. Also, a band is set around your stomach so that the amount of food that you can consume at one time will be limited.
When First Weight Loss Surgery (Vertical Banding Gastroplasty) Failed
She lost eighty pounds from this surgery. Unfortunately for Debra, the band slipped and the process ultimately did not work. As a result, she quickly regained about fifty of the eighty pounds she originally lost. Her max weight after the surgery was 205 pounds. After her VBG surgery, Debra regretted her life for the next six years as she spent every day vomiting whatever she ate. Her body was in such terrible shape that she had to get iron infusions every two weeks.
The Referral to the Revision Surgery
One day her gynecologist referred her to a surgery revision doctor telling her that she should go and see him because she was actually killing her body with the way she had been living the last six years. The revision gastric bypass surgery was a success and her insurance company covered the cost of the process as it was ruled medically necessary at that point. “The revision is a tool and not a solution”, Debra said as she was interviewed by Yvonne. “While the surgery will help with the weight problem, you still have to monitor what you eat or you will get sick.”
After suffering for so many years and as she was getting ready to get the revision surgery done, Debra created a support group in Texas with the intention to also find support for herself. At this point the revision surgery was still very new and not many people knew what it was all about. Debra was one of the first to get this surgery done. She created the support group about three months prior to her going in for her revision surgery.
After the bypass surgery, she continued to lead the support group to help prepare others for the process along with the emotional and physical challenges they are going to go through in the coming months and years. The first piece of advice that she gives to pre-operative patients is to “research, research, research.” Debra started researching the process as well as contacting expert doctors in April and had her surgery in August. She tells people that this is a long journey and that once this process is done, it cannot be undone.
Life Prior to Weight Loss Surgery
While she was talking with 54 year old host Yvonne Mcarthy in this interview, Debra talked about her life prior to the weight loss surgeries. She surprised Yvonne by telling her that her weight never really prevented her from doing the things she wanted to do in life. She would still go jet skiing and do some travelling. She refused to let her weight control her. She just knew that she wasn’t happy with how she looked and wanted to get something done about it. Of course, after she lost weight she was able to do more.”
With regard to the first year following surgery, Debra recommended that this is the time where patients should be asking their doctors a lot of questions to ensure that as the years progress they are able to maintain their target weight and continue a healthy lifestyle. “It’s all about accountability” says Debra.
Building a Support Group
The purpose of support groups like the one Debra started is to “Pay it forward.” This means that people who have been through this process already need to be there to support and inform those that are new to this process so that they are better prepared to handle the whole process. In return, these patients should stick with the group to prepare those that follow behind them.
It is interesting that Debra’s parents did not know about her first weight loss surgery. The only people that knew about the surgery were her ex-husband and her boys. She finally told her parents after the revision surgery saving them from the whole ordeal. Debra was raised by adoptive parents after her birth mother gave her up at the age of five years old.
After going through the surgery, Debra decided to have plastic surgery to remove the excess skin from her body left by the other surgeries. Of the nine surgeries that she went through her life so far, plastic surgery is the one that she said hurt her the most of them all.
Learning to Cope without Food
In this interview, both ladies agreed that you have to have a plan to cope with life without the indulgence of food. People need to have support systems around them to help them get through life using things other than food to comfort them. Debra closes with “There is a way to lose weight; you have to know your body’s triggers in order to pick the right surgery. And you also need to research to find the right doctor for you.”
You can learn more about Debra’s story at Weight Loss Surgery Channel