Weight Loss Surgery Series: Before, During, and After

Beginning the journey to bariatric surgery

kalimah bioBy Kalimah Johnson

I have had a weight problem all of my life. Actually, my horrible eating habits — which contributed to my overall weight gain — started around the age of six or seven. The head of my household raised her children on her own and had to grapple with mental health issues at the same time. Whenever my mother would have a psychotic episode she would have to be hospitalized and we had to be under the supervision of others who tried their best to care for us, but did not do the best job. This caused extreme stress and pressure in my childhood life. My earliest memory was when my aunt cooked an entire batch of fried chicken and when no one was paying attention I ate mostly all of it and denied that I had done so. I remembered feeling better about my situation while eating the fried chicken, but quite awful afterwards, in terms of feeling the guilt from eating all that food and lying about it.

Throughout my formative and teenage years, I continued to use food as comfort. I learned more about crash and fad diets than the law should allow and I yo-yo dieted throughout my adult life. I weighed as much as 320 pounds in the 80's. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in my late twenties, I joined Weight Watchers and began working out on a more regular basis. I was able to get down to about 240 pounds. However, as life would have it with age and stressful life changes (marriage, career changes, family, etc.), I found myself regaining even more weight. I was adding on more medication to manage the sugar, high blood pressure, and the water retention. Plus, I was having more aches, pains, and issues directly related to my weight than I could physically or emotionally handle.

Taking the Step to Speak to a Doctor

I first asked my doctor about bariatric surgery in 2004. She stated that she would not support the procedure because she felt that I had the will to lose the weight on my own. I agreed with her because, for a time, I really thought that my weight issue was something I had enough "will" to manage. That is when I joined Weight Watchers and lost 40 pounds. Ultimately, I began to slowly gain the weight back. My medications were not working and I felt extremely hopeless. I was beginning to think that my efforts were not good enough — I had a true problem with managing my food intake and I needed additional help. I was depressed, fed up, sad, confused, and desperate. I continued to try to eat a well balanced diet and I walked daily, but, apparently, that was not working as well as I needed it to.

A Lot Can Change in a Few Years

I started researching bariatric surgery again in 2010 and learned that more and more doctors were performing the surgery and more and more people were benefitting from the surgery. I found articles that said some weight loss procedures responded better to type 2 diabetes than others, and that people were living longer. I also learned that the surgery is only a tool and that you still must have enough willpower to follow the rules for successful weight loss.

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Last Modified Date: June 13, 2013

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