Jolene Huffman Became Wonder Woman.
Our society now is so focused on social media, and what do you see on social media nowadays? And an influx of food pictures. “Influencers” post pictures of them eating at all the hot spots. When you are particularly proud because the dinner you slaved over for your family looks phenomenal, post it. When you get a really delicious looking dessert and want to brag to all of your friends, post it. These pictures end up plastered all over Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. It’s not just people posting pictures of food either, if you even look up a recipe on the internet, all of the sudden Facebook starts showing you ads for food, ads for recipes, ads for dinner tutorials. It’s a mass of oversharing, and for those “Foodies” out there, the temptation is great.
Jolene Huffman, a self-proclaimed foodie, has always struggled with her weight since childhood.
“I was the cute chubby kid. It only continued to get worse as I got older.”
Jolene can remember a particularly devastating event that happened in High School, in which the school was having what they called “health day” where the kids would all get lined up to do your exam and to take your weight.
“I was so embarrassed that they had to tip the scale to 200 in front of all of my classmates. Then I had to take my shirt off and bend over in front of them for the scoliosis check was and it was horrifying.”
Another event that stands out in her mind was years later after she had become a Mother and her own children were in grade school. She was chaperoning her stepdaughter's fifth-grade class, and one of the students was sneering and calling her fat.
“My stepdaughter went ballistic, and I felt so bad because my kids should not have had to fight my battles.”
Jolene had tried a number of times to lose the weight. She tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Trim Healthy Mama, balancing her diet, exercise routines, medications, she would always end up with the same results. She was the typical yo-yo dieter. She would lose 20 and gain 26lbs. She was so careful while she was on a strict diet. She would faithfully watch what she ate and measured out her carbs and proteins...
“Then BOOM, one slip of sugar, the addiction comes back, and poof I’ve gained all the weight back.”
After a lifetime of events that Jolene battled through in regards to her weight, she had finally had enough. For numerous reasons, too many for her to count; she decided that surgery was the right option for her. She had been led down this road by a series of unfortunate memories and emotions, and had contemplated surgery in the past but was too afraid of the effects and risks. She was desperately afraid to die and leave her children without her.
“I work in the medical field, and one day we had a lady my age, my height, my weight come in with a heart attack. I heard someone say “Are you surprised? Did you see how big she was?” YES, I was surprised. If I have a heart attack today, I want someone to be surprised!! At that point, I realized I was killing myself, and I was going to leave my kids without a mother. At least in having the surgery, I would go down fighting.”
Jolene was afraid of the surgery, but when she looks back at all of the things she couldn’t or wouldn’t do due to her weight, it was motivation to move forward.
“I always wanted to coach my kid's sports teams, go hiking, go skydiving, ride roller coasters, wear a bathing suit without feeling bad for the people who have to look at me. Eat out, or grocery shop without feeling like people are judging me. 5ks and obstacle course races.”
For a time before her surgery, Jolene mourned the loss of the things she knew she would have to give up or change. Notable lifestyle changes are painful, especially in our society where instant gratification is so easy to come by. Food is just one of those things that is shoved in your face everywhere you turn. Our society is so enamored with food, it is a culture. So changing those habits can be incredibly difficult. It’s not like you can just stay away from that thing you want so badly, food is everywhere.
“I mourned the stuff I thought I would never be able to do or have, but I wanted to stack the deck in my favor, so I researched, researched, and researched. I planned my meals, my aftercare. I changed my diet to help get prepared. I ended up losing 40 lbs before surgery. Many people asked why go through with surgery since I could obviously do it on my own. What they don’t understand was every day was a battle. One slip on the slippery slope and I was back to gaining weight.”
Jolene had the vertical gastric sleeve. This is when they cut and remove a portion of your stomach to make it shaped like a banana. It restricts the amount of food you can eat, and Jolene’s operation and recovery went great.
“My sister and I made a medical tourism vacation out of it. We stayed at the hospital for two days, then the recovery beach house for two more days. We then stayed in San Diego an extra two days because if there were problems I wanted to be close to the Dr. There were no problems, so it just ended up being sightseeing vacation.”
Jolene is feeling healthy and better than ever after her surgery. Her bloodwork has been phenomenal, as have her blood pressure and blood sugar results. She is energized and excited about what the future holds.
“Putting on a uniform to go back to work was shocking. I looked so good. By far the proudest I have been since surgery was walking a wonder woman 5k and now completing an obstacle course race. I truly feel like Wonder Woman.”
Her experience with Pompeii Surgical was top notch. “From the moment they come to the car to carry your bags in, until the moment they give you a hug as you’re leaving, you are treated like family.” The medical staff was professional, attentive, and caring. At no point did Jolene have any fears once she entered the center. The procedure was explained to her in depth, and she loved her interactions with everyone she encountered.
“Karina and Miguel were amazing hosts at the beach house. They made sure we understood our diet restrictions and made protein shakes and protein jello for us. They also drove us around shopping and took us to a restaurant for my sister to eat at. I have no regrets whatsoever. I want people to know that it is never too late, and it is not the wimps way out or the easy way out. I have gained a new life. I am more active, I love to exercise, and I have gained so much more confidence. I am a better wife and mother. I still love to eat, I will always be a foodie. I have to struggle every day not to eat sugar, but when I slip I have 3 mini candy bars, not two king sized candy bars. I have a half a piece of cake instead of two pieces of cake. Most of the time I don’t sip at all. I have found a new love for fresh foods and homemade foods. I am no longer a fan of fast food at all. I do fall, I’m glad the tool is there to remind me when I do though. It helps me not to go overboard, forgive myself, and reminds me why I needed the surgery in the first place. I am finally who I always felt that I could be.”