It was midnight when I read an email from a friend with an opportunity for pro-bono plastic surgery from a local “celebrity” plastic surgeon. He was looking for deserving candidates for a TV show. I have been 100% transparent in my health journey and had no issues with exposing myself on TV. If I could help just 1 other person I was all in.
I had already looked into seeing this doctor when I was researching surgeons and I knew it was $500 just for a consult with this man. I couldn’t see spending that kind of money for a consult but didn’t see that I had anything to lose by submitting my HUGE weight loss story and seeing what happens.
I sent an email to the supplied address and by the next morning I had a reply from the office manager who gushed over my progress and said what an inspiration I was and she had already forwarded my email to the doctor. By 5pm that night I had a reply directly from the doctor and he was very interested in submitting my case to the show. He asked for pictures (the horror!) and a more detailed story. He wanted me to basically explain why I felt like I deserved this surgery more than someone else (the horror!!). How on earth does one do that when you don’t believe you are more deserving than anyone else? Everyone deserves to be happy and free of what’s holding them back, whether it’s excess skin, emotional baggage or a bad tattoo.
I tried to dig deep. My shovel was dull. I thought about who would be able to help me get my story written in a way that no one could refuse my plea. My long time friend Liz has seen me grow and shrink over the last 10 years and after seeing each other every 2 weeks she knows me pretty darn well. Not to mention she is a brilliant writer. I begged for her help in writing this letter to the doctor:
One chilly February morning I walked the 6 houses back home from dropping my son off at the bus stop. I was exhausted and out of breath. My 4 year old daughter Violet could walk faster than me. I was 321 pounds and terrified. My type 2 diabetic mother and brother were both diagnosed around my age, my father had passed in 2004 from Melanoma and my current situation was grave. I was scared for my kids. I could hardly move to play with them. I avoided activities all the time because of my weight.
I’ve been overweight my entire adult life. I was an overweight child, then an obese teenager with food issues. As an adult it didn’t get any better. For years I struggled with depression and anxiety over the way I looked. On the outside I seemed happy. No one knew the inner struggles I had with myself on a daily basis. I would have done anything to lose the weight. At that point it made me sick to look at myself in the mirror. Pretty ironic for a woman who works in the beauty industry.
I made the decision that day to join Weight Watchers. I immediately went inside the house, signed up and found myself in a seat at a meeting an hour later. It took me over 3 years to lose 100 pounds. It felt amazing to hit that huge milestone but I still had a long ways to go. I prayed that the skin on my belly and arms would tighten but it just hung there. My breasts deflated and I actually started to feel worse about myself.
I started to exercise thinking that healthy movement was the missing link and about 2 weeks into my membership something happened that nearly killed me. During a class (at Jazzercise mind you) I had the first symptoms of what nearly became a stroke. I wound up in the hospital for 19 days with a Carotid Artery Dissection. 2 aneurysms, blood thinners, debilitating headaches and movement restrictions knocked me right down. I was the healthiest I’d been in my entire life and this is what I was rewarded with. Feeling sorry for myself, I gained 10lbs back and had pretty much given up.
A year later I was introduced to a health coach who set me up with a nutrition plan and I quickly got my momentum back and released an additional 72lbs for a total of 162lbs! I also began helping others to get healthy, including my husband. I’ve helped over 100 people lose over 1700 pounds since May 2017. Walking along side my clients has been such an honor and has really helped me to stay on track and move forward in my own health journey. They inspire me every day.
I was feeling so amazing and this past September I received the all clear to exercise after 2 years of recovering from my CAD. I quickly joined a gym and after a week of working out it happened again. My symptoms returned and I wound up in the hospital with a second Carotid Artery Dissection on the opposite side. We weren’t sure if the first one was exercise induced but it was confirmed with this second one that I was officially unable to exercise beyond walking, biking or swimming. Ever. My hopes for toning my flabby body were crushed. I was thrilled and lucky to be alive but nonetheless I was devastated.
I was never looking for a quick fix, which is why gastric bypass wasn’t even an option. I knew that I’d have to change my eating habits regardless so I didn’t see a reason for invasive surgery. The after effects of weight loss coupled with health scares beyond my control are completely demoralizing. I have hanging skin between my legs, saggy boobs, flabby tummy and (what my kids call them) waggling arms. Pants never fit right. Bras have empty space. Shirts are too tight on the arms. I have skin issues no matter how often I shower. It makes it extremely difficult to be intimate with my husband with all the excess skin. My ultimate goal was to get healthier and happier but it seems to be the opposite of what is really happening.
Life is short and I want to be my best self. For 25 years I have dedicated my days to making other women feel beautiful when I myself felt lost within my own body. This has evolved into health and wellness for my family, my own weight loss, and giving myself to others. Even writing this is difficult because I am usually the one to give to others without asking for anything in return. In addition to my gratitude I’d love to be a resource for your patients and anyone else who wants to get healthier and feel better. We are all in this journey together. Whether we are big or small, have extra skin or winkled skin, no matter who we are we just want to feel good in our skin. Shedding my excess skin would be a dream come true and would finally help me to look how I feel on the inside!
I reluctantly had my husband take some photos with no clothes on so the doctor could see everything and pass it along to the show with my letter. I put off sending it for a week. I was ashamed and nervous. When I finally hit the send button I became even more nervous. I knew there was a big possibility they wouldn’t even consider me because of the blood thinners that I’m still taking. When I heard back from him he simply said, “Although you have a lot of skin and can benefit from a tummy tuck, my experience is that it is probably not extreme enough. I will be happy to send along though and let you know if you are chosen!” I’ve lost 162lbs. Not extreme enough?! I was once again devastated. I never heard from him again.
So my story continues and as long as my artery heals enough in the next few months I will be cleared for surgery! My plan is to have a mommy makeover in January of 2019 during my slow time at the salon. For now, onward and upward!