Gastric Sleeve, NM - Patient Story.

Heather Sipe. from Aztec

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Reasons to choose Dr. Ortiz at OCC.

A friend of mine had the gastric sleeve surgery at the OCC and highly recommended it, so after looking into all my other options I decided OCC was the best option for me.

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Best Birthday Present I Gave Myself

I have had a weight problem pretty much all my life, but never really had the self-esteem issues that usually come with it, most of the time. I knew I was big but I had the attitude that I was just large and in charge! I thought of myself as active. I had played softball for many years, ran my son around to all his activities, hunted, fished, and stayed busy around the house with cleaning, gardening, and yard work. I would diet here and there, exercise here and there, would lose weight here and there. I tried diet pills and fad diets. Nothing really stuck with me and I just chalked it up to being hereditary from my mom's side and I was destined to be heavy, something I couldn't change so no sense in feeling bad about it. That attitude changed when I was 39 years old and was diagnosed with sleep apnea, my doctor was confident that it was weight related. I had already been given the talk by my doctor that I was dangerously obese, I was pre-diabetic, struggled with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and it was inevitable that I would be on all the medications to regulate all those ailments if I didn't do something about my weight, but obviously I did not head the warning. The day I brought home the CPAP machine and slept with it on the first night I knew that this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. It did make me feel better physically, but it was not how I envisioned going to bed at night with my long time boyfriend. I looked like an Air Force pilot, I was restricted to snuggling because of a long hose, I couldn't sleep how I wanted because of the mask, the noise from the machine sounded like I was on a life support machine. In a way I guess I was, but that is when my self esteem took a hit. My boyfriend was very supportive, he tried to make me feel better about it and of course he was sleeping better because since I was on the machine I wasn't snoring him out of bed, but he also didn't like hearing the sound of me on life support. We started talking about how I could get off the machine and basically I knew I had to make some significant life changes for my health. I had a friend that also had weight issues since we had met and she was looking into doing weight loss surgery and she told me about gastric sleeve surgery. I had heard about gastric bypass and lap band and I knew I was not comfortable with neither one of those options, but after researching the sleeve surgery my interest was peaked. My friend decided that she was doing the surgery at OCC and I decide I would see how she did and what the facilities were like before I made a decision to go out of the United States to have the surgery. I also had checked with my insurance and there were so many hoops that I had to jump through to get approved and even after jumping through all those hoops it was still not a guarantee that I would be approved to get the surgery. My friend had the sleeve surgery and did great and was impressed with the whole process and facilities at the OCC. I decided that was the option for me and I contacted the OCC. The day I contacted them I was 265 pounds. My surgery day was May 21, 2014 shortly after my 40th birthday. I was scared and I really didn't know what results to expect after the surgery, I thought if I could just get down to 200 pounds I would be happy. The OCC team was great and eased my fears once I got there. I followed the OCC diet plan and started exercising when it was recommended. For the first time in my life I actually knew what it was like to feel full after eating. I never really knew that feeling. The first couple of months I knew I was dropping weight by the scale and the fit of my clothes but when you look at yourself everyday you just don't see it. Other people started seeing it before I did and making comments about how much weight I lost. After a few more months I started seeing what other people were seeing, but more importantly I started feeling energized and just felt good. Before I knew it I was at 190, I couldn't believe that I was under 200 pounds. I couldn't remember the last time I was under that weight. The surgery has given me a whole new lease on life. I realized it was a tool to help me reach the health goals that I needed to reach. Almost a year to the day I was put on the CPAP I was taken off the CPAP. As time has gone on I increased my exercise and have started really watching what I put into my body. I now exercise 5 days a week for an hour a day. I never thought that would ever happen. This transition has also helped my boyfriend and son with their eating habits and they have lost some weight. They have started making some better food choices. I have now lost 111 pounds. I look and feel like a new person, people that I have not seen for a while do not recognize me I have to re-introduce myself. I had to get a new drivers license and I actually put my true weight on it. People that I have known all my life that see old pictures of me tell me that they didn't realize I was that heavy and I carried my weight well. It has taken time to get used to all the compliments and the reactions to my weight loss. I did not realize how bad I felt physically until I felt this good. I can do things I couldn't before. I can cross my legs under a table, I can bend over comfortably and tie my shoes, I can get up off the ground without it being a work out, I can keep up with my 16 year old and even my 3 and 1 year old nephews and 9 and 7 year old nieces. I plan on never going back. This journey for me was not about getting skinny, it was about getting healthy, being skinny is just a perk. I'm glad I chose the OCC to help with my journey and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

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