Danielle Harman Still Struggles, but Wouldn't Change a Thing.
One can struggle with weight but not have confidence issues. This was the case for Danielle Harman for much of her childhood.
“I struggled with my weight basically since the age of 6. A long time, I know. However, it wasn't until I was 19 that I began to feel severely overweight. It impacted my life in a number of ways, but the biggest impact was the blow to my self-esteem. I could not look in the mirror; I was disgusted with myself. It was horrible."
Her feelings on her weight gain did not prevent her from living her life to the fullest, however, as it does for many who struggle with obesity. She led a pretty normal lifestyle, aside from the disgust she had the she hid from the world.
"I am the type of person who never let the weight get in the way of what I wanted to do. I danced for 12 years; I was a cheerleader. I had a great social life and romantic life. I did all of this while overweight because I had to. I had been overweight since I was a kid; I had learned to deal with it. But the more weight I gained, the less social I was. I do regret that, but I don't believe I have a specific moment I missed out on because of it."
Danielle Harman was no stranger to weight issues. She had a family who had weight issues and knew the methods to lose weight.
"As a product of an overweight family, I have been dieting with them my whole life. Weight Watchers multiple times, low carb, etc. 8-year-olds shouldn't worry about their body, but I did. I tried multiple routes of working out. I tried counting calories; there were times I didn't even eat at all, horrible decision clearly. Nothing worked for me, mainly because I have a genetic predisposition for obesity, and I have multiple disorders that make it hard to lose weight. There were months where I would work out every day and eat salads and lean protein but wouldn't lose any weight. There were months where I would not care at all. I would eat fried and hot Cheetos as meals didn't work out, and still, I stayed the same weight. I stopped trying because it didn't make a difference."
Danielle led a somewhat social childhood and learned to live with the fact that she was overweight, but this didn't mean Danielle was happy.
"I hated my body. I cried multiple times a week about my body. I was not good to myself. While I never harmed myself, I sometimes wished that someone else would. I realize now that body image doesn't derive from the weight, though. You don't instantly feel better about yourself when you have lost 100 lbs."
Though Danielle feels like she didn't miss out on much, she does have moments that make her cringe when she looks back on them.
"I started my Junior year of College, Fall of 2018, and I couldn't fit comfortably in the desks during class. I had always struggled with the way desks were set up, but I couldn't even fit into some of them. There was also a time where I sat and watched movies with my fiancé all day, we were having fun, relaxing, and then I went to stand up, and I was in an unbearable amount of pain. My body had become stiff from sitting down due to how much I weighed, and I began bawling because I hated my body so much."
Everyone has a turning point when they say enough is enough. Danielle, having struggled for so long with her weight, had years and years of hurt in terms of how she saw herself and how she felt about her declining health and lack of energy. She suffers from a bad immune system, so she had always been a person more prone to sickness, but her weight only made it worse.
"I was totally exhausted all of the time mentally and physically from carrying around all of the extra weight. My Mom had surgery in the Fall of 2016 here in the United States, and she had encouraged me to get it too. However, I was unable to before we lost her really good insurance, so I put it off. It stayed in the back of my mind, though, and there was no specific moment that I decided. It was a casual build-up of things like not fitting in desks that drove me to start researching my options. That's when I found Pompeii Surgical."
Danielle had googled Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico because she knew that would be the affordable option for her. She found Pompeii Surgical website but wasn't convinced due to the lack of bad reviews.
"It ONLY had good reviews. Then I youtube searched videos from "The Chic and Savvy Belle." and her in-depth videos and review of Pompeii Surgical are what led me to my decision to have my surgery with Pompeii Surgical."
She, of course, had the usual fears one has once they have decided to have their surgeries in Mexico.
"I think we all have our similar concerns. It's Mexico, what if something bad happens? Because we have no idea what healthcare is like outside of our own country. Also, what if the surgery doesn't work. It does trust me. I am not the strictest on my diet or exercise, I failed in a lot of ways comparable to what you are told you should be doing, and I'm still losing weight. The truth of the matter is, your concerns and my concerns are valid. But the benefits far outweigh the risk. My quality of life was very poor, and regardless of the outcome, it wouldn't get much worse. So I took the leap, I am a lot happier now."
Danielle got through her pre-op but describes it as a difficult journey.
"The only word that comes to mind about it is hard. The pre-op diet was a huge struggle for me, and I cheated many times, which you should NOT do. Not only that but facing criticism from people about going to Mexico was extremely difficult as well. At the risk of sounding conceited, I am an intelligent person; this is a well-known fact about me, so for others to question my decisions as if I didn't do a ton of research was really hard to deal with. However, I was also really excited about the opportunity. I anxiously awaited my surgery date, and I couldn't wait to be in a body I loved finally."
Danielle had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy with no complications. This procedure not only minimizes the amount of food one can eat, but it also reduces the amount of gremlin, the hunger hormone, in one's stomach, you get full faster and stay full longer.
"My recovery was incredibly smooth. I had the horrible gas pains, and I cried a lot about it, but my surgery went smoothly, the staff was incredibly kind. The only thing running through my mind was how grateful I was to be there and to have that pain."
Danielle is still struggling with non-obesity related health issues, as she stated before she has a weak immune system.
"By losing weight, I have eliminated a possible cause of illness, and now my Doctors are much more easily able to identify the issues. I am way more active than I used to be. I don't need as much sleep, I am quicker on my feet, and mentally I am doing a lot better. It's night and day, the difference this surgery has made for me in regards to my health."
Danielle has had many amazing memories since her surgery, and she is living the life she only imagined before.
"Getting under the 300 mark was probably the first, biggest happy memory I have. I cried a lot. 300 has always been the number I said I would never reach, and I did. So getting back under it was incredibly emotional for me. There were many happy memories and milestones after that."
Danielle is thankful for her experience with Pompeii Surgical and hopes her story will help others with their journey.
"My experience was absolutely incredible. Our driver took us to the Bay while we waited on a mother patient to arrive, so we got to have some touristy fun, which was awesome for my Mom and Fiance. Then once we arrived at Pompeii Surgical, we were greeted by smiling faces. The staff was incredible and unbelievably kind. You could tell that they really cared. WE got to know some of them by name; they hugged us when we left. Many staff members went out of their way to do things for my companions, especially my Mom, who stayed at the hotel the entire trip so my fiancé could stay in the room with me. They regularly checked on me. Dr. Q was kind and gentle. I will say it again, he cares, and you can tell. The anesthesiologist was also a very calming presence to have around right before the operation. He explained everything to me, asked me about my life, and was overall just incredible. After my surgery, when I woke in the post-op recovery area, I was crying like I always do after waking up from anesthesia, and the nurses were very sweet, helping me calm down. I seriously don't have enough words to describe how absolutely impeccable this staff is. We had no issues at all."
Danielle is transparent about her journey and the issues she had and still has, and wants others to know that this is not an easy journey, but that you can do it if you take one day at a time.
"I think my personal story is a realistic one. The message is this: surgery is not a fix-all. I still struggle with food; I still struggle with my health; I still struggle with my body image. It is something patients don't talk a lot about unless they are lecturing others, and I think that is a mistake. A lot of the change in this journey has to come internally. Yes, I lost weight. I am 110 pounds down, 40 pounds to go. I still look in the mirror and feel fat. In reality, I look 100x better than I did. I feel 100x better than I did. But it is hard to see that when I still feel bad. So my advice is this, take photos before so that you can compare them after. This will help you to see the difference. Write down how you feel before, so you can read it after then compare. Making sure you have ample time and opportunity to reflect on how things were will make you so appreciative of how they are now. It will still be hard; some days, you will still feel helpless. But this surgery can save your life in so many ways. It said mine. The good days far outweigh the bad. I promise. For those of you who have already had surgery, I leave you with this: Be kind. Be kind to yourself and other patients. Everyone's journey is different, so do not compare yours to others. Do not talk down to those who are struggling more than you; do not idolize those who are losing faster than you. Remember this is YOUR journey; enjoy it."