Bariatric Surgery Patient Stories

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UAB Employee Loses 150 Pounds and Gets Her Life Back

TRACEY - BEFORE
TRACEY - AFTER
 

In 2008, I topped 300 pounds for the first time. I had been working at UAB for 11 years. In August of 2008, I was promoted to Operations Manager of the Department of Environmental Services with responsibility for the Jefferson Tower block and the Spain Wallace block. I thought that it was my dream job! The more responsibilities I took on the more I started to ignore my health issues. The more I ignored my health, the more I started to gain weight. By 2010, when I went to my 25th high school class reunion, I weighed 348 pounds and was walking with a cane!

Our class took a cruise, and one of the things we did on the cruise was watch the movie The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The movie dealt with making a list of all the things you wanted to accomplish before you died. The only thing on my list was getting my health back in order.

The first order of business when I got back to Birmingham was to start losing weight on my own I joined Weight Watchers and started working out at the gym. My doctor always told me that the exercise would help with the pain that I was feeling from my numerous ailments. I was taking 19 pills a day.  I never used  the gym membership because I was always in pain. I had to mentally prepare myself to get out of my chair and walk to the restroom. It was then that I first began thinking about having surgery. I talked with my pastor and told him what I was considering. The first thing he did was pray with me. I will never forget that. That Monday, I called and made an appointment at The Kirklin Clinic.

When I went to my appointment, I was so scared. There was another patient with me and we went through the film and the weights and measurements together. Then I got a chance to talk with Dr. Grams. After that appointment, I started to see hope. I was given a list of several items that I had to complete before insurance would even consider the surgery. My bucket list had just become longer.

The hardest thing to come to terms with when I started my journey was that my dream job was hindering my goal of getting my health in order. I went to Mr. Crump and asked to be let out of my job. My priorities had become life threatening, and in March of 2011 he agreed. I continued to work on my list of items that had to be completed prior to surgery. The best part of the list was going to support group meetings, because you find that you are not alone. Although familial support helps, there is no better help than talking with someone who actually understands the walk you are embarking upon.

The first call I got from Karen told me that I had been denied. I was so hurt and disappointed. She told me the reason was because there was one item on the list I had not completed. Because of my journal, not only did I have the date, I had the time and name of the doctor I had visited. When the information was re-submitted, my surgery was approved. Karen called me on Friday, September 16, 2011. She told me Dr. Grams did surgeries on Tuesday. I asked if the 20th of September open, and she said yes. I was so excited!

Surprisingly, I was not afraid. I had prayed and been prayed for, and I was at peace with my decision. The journey was hard, and there were times when I was extremely tired and wondered if my patience would pay off, but I persevered. Surgery went great, but I had to return to the UED 4 days post-surgery.  I was bound and determined that I would not be going back through the UED again. I have small veins and my IV had to be started in my groin, which was extremely traumatic.

The first month after surgery I was no longer using a cane. I was only taking 1 pill twice a day and had myself on a regimen of vitamins. I was even breathing better! I was taking walks around my apartment complex and walking stairs without getting exerted.

Now, two years post-op and my highest weight loss total was 150 pounds! The last time I weighed less than 200 pounds I was a senior in high school!

I have picked up some old work habits and have at times ignored my body and pushed myself more than I should have, but when I do I remember back to walking through the corridors of UAB on a cane trying to get my work done, and I say to myself, “You do not want to go back there!”