Brandi Diaz Is Thrilled to Get Her Life Back.
There is always someone more apt to judge the cover of the book without opening the front cover to see what is inside. Fat shaming is no different. Obesity is not always caused by overeating. Things are not always black and white; there is often much beneath the surface if people care enough to look. Brandi Diaz, like countless others, suffers from PCOS, among other health issues. People with PCOS often don't know why they are gaining weight and unable to lose it until a Doctor runs labs.
"Finding out that I have a Pituitary Tumor and PCOS, I needed help. I was going down the same weight loss road, and my endocrinologist and PCP were giving me weight loss advice that I had been implementing for years. Then there was the fat-shaming. It never failed that the doctors thought I was fat because I was eating the wrong things and not exercising and so they would order labs. To their surprise, not mine, my A1C and cholesterol levels were good. My "bad fats" low and "good fats" high. Meaning I was not eating high carb or high sugar foods. I was eating low fats, healthy fats, and exercising. I needed a tool that would help me lose weight. I had several Facebook friends that were looking healthier and losing weight. They were more active and appeared overall, more satisfied with life. So I started to inquire about what they were doing. This is when I found out about the great things that can come from bariatric surgery."
Brandi struggled with weight for as long as she can remember. Struggling with weight as a child can have a severe impact on someone's self-esteem. It is something no child should have to worry about, but something that Brandi did have to deal with.
"By the time I was 13 years old, I was purchasing over the counter weight loss pills, dieting, and working out trying to lose weight."
Brandi struggled with not only trying to lose weight but also trying to enjoy life even with her low confidence. She felt like she couldn't take risks, and couldn't fully commit to excitement because she was always worried about her weight.
"There are a handful of events that stand out, which devastated me and are constant reminders that I am overweight and needed to do something. I'm adventurous and love the outdoors, hiking, dancing (Zumba is my favorite) and I love thrills. I love life. Four years ago was the last time I enjoyed going to the amusement parks with family and friends and was the point in which my fear of "not fitting and or the belt not fitting" started. I was so ashamed that I couldn't participate in the fun with my children and their Dad. Despite my best efforts to eat healthily and exercise regularly, I was getting fatter. I joined Weight Watchers for the 100th time and even then lost only 12 pounds over a year, and my health was getting worse. I could no longer tolerate Zumba dancing as it physically hurt, and hiking biking was non-existent now because of my weight. I started having anxiety, my stomach and bowels were overly active, I couldn't concentrate, my entire body hurt all the time, and my weight gain was threatening my quality of life. I was tested for Cushing's Disease, and it was found that I have a Pituitary Tumor, but because of my Tumors size and because the current tests could not prove it was overly active, my Doctors insisted that it must be monitored. It was suggested that I might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which there is no treatment for besides diet and exercise. I didn't know what to do."
Many stop taking pictures, looking in mirrors, public speaking, anything that reminds them of the image they can't bear to face. This was how it was for Brandi. She was continually avoiding the reminders.
"I had stopped posing for pictures with my family. In fact, I can't recall the last time we had a family photo session because I am too ashamed of how I looked. I used to be able to get up and speak in front of large groups of people and even sang in front of them, but I had stopped doing it because of my weight."
Not knowing she had PCOS, Brandi was desperately doing anything she could think of to lose weight and feel better about herself. She was doing it all right; she didn't know that there was another reason she could not get her weight under control.
"I had tried every weight loss fad out there. Over the counter diet pills, and perscribed diet pills. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Ideal Protein, and HCG injections. Paleo, Keto, Starvation, the list goes on and on. I would lose weight on these diets, anywhere from 10-30 pounds, and then regain the weight I had lost plus several pounds. I was mad at myself for allowing my weight to get so high but also confused that no matter what I did and how hard I worked, I couldn't keep the weight off."
Brandi had been slowly researching Bariatric Surgery and was getting more and more convinced that this could be the tool that would enable her to reclaim her life. Her Primary Care Physician gave her the final push to research and considered Bariatric Surgery seriously.
"I did lots of research regarding bariatric surgery and the different types. I wanted to know everything I could about it. I needed to know the risks and benefits. I also needed to know that I could go to a surgeon that I could trust was competent. I asked anyone I knew who had the procedure done about their story, their struggle, and their successes. I found that even with side effects and or complications, they all said the same thing. They would do it all over again and have the surgery as it gave them their life back."
Brandi's concerns were less about risks of surgery, and more about what would happen if she didn't have the surgery.
"My concern was that without the surgery, I would continue to gain weight, and my risk for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease was increasing. It would not be long before my body would succumb and be unable to fight off these diseases. These comorbidities would only make surgery more difficult and riskier if I waited."
Brandi had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy which means she got a large portion of her stomach removed.
"It was explained that I would have 70% of my stomach removed and this would be done using specific surgical instruments to cut and staple my stomach and then sutures would be placed by the surgeon around the staple site to retract the incision and staples inward, thus reducing risk of leak and allow for the stomach to heal."
Brandi had a complication-free surgery and a functional recovery with a pleasant outlook.
"The day of surgery went exceptionally well. I was at the Surgical Center by noon, and in the O.R by 1:30. I walked back to my room at 3:30. I anticipated some nausea and committing as this is how I react to narcotics, which is what is used in anesthesia. I had a couple of bouts of dry heaving and then vomited twice. When it really came over me that I had done it, I was filled with happiness. I did this for me and my children and family. I was excited about this next step and thrilled to be doing something to get my life back."
Brandi's health has improved after surgery, as has her outlook on life. She is enjoying activities with her family and having a much easier time implementing excitement into her life.
"I have not had severe pain in my feet, ankles, hips, and back. The muscle cramps in my legs and back have also disappeared, and I am feeling great. I have to remind myself with all of this energy that I had major surgery and need to heal still, so I intentionally remind myself to slow it down. I have lost 27 pounds with the liver prep and the vsg. (5/27.2019 HW:267 lbs to 6/24/2019 CW: 240 lbs.) I have one word to describe my experience and Pompeii Surgical, impeccable."