Busy and on-the-go were two terms I regularly used to describe my life while attending law school. The workload was challenging, and constant cramming and stress were all too familiar feelings. In the three years it took to complete my law degree, I gained nearly 100 pounds. School took so much out of me that even with the sunny Southern California backdrop, it was tough to find the time to put down my books and hit the gym.
After I graduated, I thought I’d have no trouble losing the weight through diet and exercise. Unfortunately, I’d often lose a few pounds just to gain it back again.
In 2010, I was so frustrated with my weight that I avoided seeing my family for the holidays. It was then I knew that I needed to make a drastic change. I’d heard about gastric bypass surgery, however, with such a busy lifestyle, the prospect of being out of commission for weeks wasn’t something I was sure I could handle. I was also worried about what the operation and the post-surgical recovery process would be like.
After giving it some thought, I met with Dr. Julie Ellner, a bariatric surgeon affiliated with Alvarado Hospital and Scripps Health in San Diego, to learn more about my options. Dr. Ellner took the time to discuss my surgery and what would happen after the procedure was finished. She also outlined a post-operative pain management regimen using a non-narcotic, portable pain pump designed to help me quickly after the operation.
The ON-Q pain relief system helps reduce pain by providing a slow flow of local anesthetic through a catheter inserted near the surgical site. It helps reduce pain after surgery while decreasing narcotic consumption. Knowing that this post-operative pain management program would help speed the recovery process gave me the confidence to commit to the surgery.
My surgery took place in July 2011. The recovery process wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I was able to stay mobile, which was an important part of my recovery. I took short walks just hours after surgery and could move around the room unassisted at times.
After the procedure I began the difficult process of changing my relationship with food. During the first few months, I realized just how big of a role food had played in my life. Suddenly I was unable to go to my favorite restaurants and order the unhealthy foods I used to crave. I had to find new things to do and new ways to comfort myself, and I started with small changes to my day-to-day habits. Instead of a cookie, I’d sip a cup of herbal tea. I went for walks with friends instead of out to dinner.
One year later, I was 100 pounds lighter and got married to the man of my dreams. The experience itself also inspired me to make a career switch. I gave up law to pursue an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing.