Gastric Bypass Surgery – The Beginning
My name is Courtney, and this is a personal account of gastric bypass surgery. I am a 25 year-old homemaker and have been an Air Force wife since June of 2000. I am the survivor of morbid obesity.
My health problems began shortly after I returned from my honeymoon. I began to feel sick most of the time, and I started gaining weight in leaps and bounds. I assumed that it was the new birth control pills that I had been prescribed shortly before my marriage. When my husband and I had talked about it and on Christmas Eve, we chose to go off birth control rather than try a new dose. We were eager to start a family. I conceived almost immediately, and shortly thereafter suffered my first miscarriage. Although it was heartbreaking we didn’t yet know that there was something seriously wrong.
Within one month of my first miscarriage I had an ophthalmologist appointment. They did all of the normal tests and things they do, and then they dilated my eyes. Do you know how frightening it is for a doctor to look into your eye, the window of your soul, and declare, “Oh, that is not good”? I do. They rushed to take pictures of my retinas and to do some kind of documentation. They sat me down and told me that I had a disease called Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC). It is basically a buildup of spinal fluid in your brain that presses against your optic nerve and acts as a tumor. They believe that because of the way this ”tumor” was pressing on my brain, it caused my miscarriage.
They believed that I would be on medication and probably spinal taps for the rest of my life. My neurologist put me on a medication to reduce the production of spinal fluid that made my hands, feet, face, and sometimes legs go numb and tingly. It also made me dizzy and caused me to forget things. It wasn’t until they took me off of this medication a year later that they found out the damage was permanent. They told me later that one of the rare side effects of this medication is that it can literally burn holes in your memory similar to the effects of long term ecstasy use. There are childhood memories that I have no recollection of. My sisters will start a story, “Remember that time...?” and as hard as I try I have no idea what they are talking about. Those memories will never come back.
Gastric Bypass Surgery – The Weight Gain
Shortly after I was diagnosed with this disease, I began gaining weight. I was scared, as I had been told that the Pseudotumor can become complicated with quick weight gain. I gained over 100 pounds in just under three years and there was no way to stop it. I did all the doctor recommended diets, pills, exercises, you name it. Nothing worked.
Then in February of 2002, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was then diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I was sent to a new doctor, one that specialized in PCOS treatment. He was aggressive. He started me on a medication that was created for diabetic patients but that had been effective in the treatment of overweight women who had PCOS. It made me constantly sick and did nothing else. He believed that the medication couldn’t work because of all the other problems that were surfacing.
In September of 2003, I conceived again. I was assured that people of my size could carry a healthy baby to term with supervision. Not with my complications however. I miscarried for the second time the day after my 23rd birthday. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling.
Then in May of 2004 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. My doctor then discovered that my PCOS was insulin resistant. When you eat, your body breaks down the nutrients in the food, and your insulin rushes those nutrients to your cells. Insulin resistant means that my cells rejected my own insulin. So my body kept telling me that I was hungry when in reality all the food I ate was going to my fat stores. I was gaining weight by leaps and bounds but my body wasn’t getting any nutrients. I was literally starving to death. My doctors finally gave up. That is when I was told I would be diabetic within a few years and would probably be dead by the time I was thirty. I had so many things wrong that all the medications couldn’t work. I was literally dying while taking 9 prescription medications. Every disease and syndrome was now compacted by the fact that I was now morbidly obese with five comorbidities. My doctors opted to go drastic. Given that I was 24, could not conceive, and had just been told I wouldn’t last more than another six years or so in my current condition, I was okay with drastic.
Gastric Bypass Surgery – The Surgery
My doctors recommended me for a RuenY Gastric Bypass surgery. I began going through the process and praying intensely about it with my family. The surgery took place on December 27th of 2004. It was four years and three days since the day we had thrown out the birth control.
Throughout all of this, I have received many questions about why I continued to have faith in the face of these odds. My answer would be that through it all God has always been faithful. As I look back over the last five years of my life I can see the path that I was choosing for myself and the path God had for me. I can see that His way was not my way, but His way was best. In the face of adversity, He held me up. When He knew I could not walk alone on the path that was before me, He sent me my husband to walk with me.
There were certainly dark moments -- moments when I found myself angry at God for all the things that I believed He was letting me go through; moments when I felt so alone, but never actually was. He held me in His arms when I wept over my lost children, and when I looked in the mirror and saw only an obese woman.
Just as in the book of Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshack, and, Abednego, I was thrown into a fire and tested. Just as in that story, the fire could not burn me because God was beside me. The fires of this world only have the power to burn away the bindings of this world. God has walked with me every step of the way.
Gastric Bypass Surgery – The Results
It has now been just over a year, and my gastric bypass surgery was a complete success. I had no complications and never became ill. I’ve been taken off of all the medications I took previous to the surgery, and have lost 135 pounds and nine dress sizes. I feel like I have become brand new.
These Bible verses have been a light in the darkest times in my life. I have clung to them throughout the last five years, and I cling to them still.
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).
“For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Courtney experienced God’s peace as she went through these life-threatening illnesses. Do you desire this same peace in your life?