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October 12, 2016

Since my surgery, I’ve gone on hikes, I’ve gone to the beach, I’ve gone kayaking, and all that makes me really happy

By uclahealth

Virginia's Story

Total Lost: 100 pounds*

“There were things I had done when I was younger, like horseback riding, that I couldn’t do because I couldn’t lift myself up into the saddle. Since my surgery, I have done it. I’ve gone on hikes. I’ve gone to the beach. I’ve gone kayaking, and all that makes me really happy.”

Virginia just wanted to have a normal life. She wanted to be able to go to the mall, or walk from one place to another without getting winded. At the market, she had to clutch the shopping cart for support. Getting to her apartment at the end of the hallway was an ordeal. “It was all so hard,” she says. “I really felt like I was handicapped.” Add to that the physical pain. Her joints hurt all the time. Her back and neck ached. There were sharp, stabbing pains in her heels. And she suffered from sleep apnea.

The mother of three, her weight went up after the birth of each child. Dieting didn’t work for her. She would lose weight but then gain it back, and more. Recognizing she had to do something to reclaim her health, Virginia decided on gastric bypass surgery at UCLA. “I decided that I did not want to be 70 years old and still battling with my weight,” says. “If I could start fresh, wipe the slate clean and learn to eat all over again, then I could do it.”

She had the surgery on Feb. 9, 2004, and what Virginia imagined in her head “is exactly what happened,” she says. Likening the experience to undergoing physical rehabilitation, she “learned how to eat again, fresh, from the beginning.” Prior to making her decision to have surgery, “I didn’t value what I put in my mouth,” Virginia says. “I just ate whatever – a lot of fast food, very unhealthy food, and a great volume of food.”

She knew what would have to change, that she would have to change her entire attitude toward eating. Having made her peace with food prior to surgery, Virginia says she was prepared for the strict regimen she would have to follow afterward. “I followed the program exactly as it was laid out,” she says. She cautions others who are considering the surgery that they, too, must make that commitment if it is going to be successful for them.

Ultimately, though, the trade-off is well worth the effort, Virginia says. Since losing her weight, she has been able to enjoy things she thought might never again be possible. “There were things I had done when I was younger, like horseback riding, that I couldn’t do because I couldn’t lift myself up into the saddle.

Since my surgery, I have done it. I’ve gone on hikes. I’ve gone to the beach. I’ve gone kayaking, and all that makes me really happy,” she says.

On top of that, Virginia feels that her weight loss following surgery has contributed to her professional success. She is executive assistant to a senior vice president, a position she says she never would have been able to attain before. “I just wouldn’t have had the energy for it,” she says. But now she has an abundance of energy and looks and feels healthy. “Life,” Virginia says, “is really, really good.”

*Weight loss results can vary depending on the individual. There is no guarantee of specific results. Read full disclaimer »

Tags: bariatric, Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery, dieting, exercise, gastric bypass, gastric-bypass surgery, loss weight, patient story, physical rehabilitation, sleep apnea, weight loss