Author Archives: Vicky Coerper

Vicky’s Story Part 3: The Catalyst

Post by Vicky Coerper, a Rex bariatric surgery patient and Rex co-worker. Vicky had bariatric surgery 5 and half years ago, and is writing about her journey through this blog series in order to share her struggles and triumphs on her path to good health.

Vicky in December 2004

One day I was sitting at home watching daytime television when the Rex on Call TV show came on and the topic that day just happened to be Weight Loss options at Rex Healthcare! It was an interview with one of our surgeons who explained Bariatric and Lap band surgeries and how they could help someone looking to lose a lot of weight. That was me. I sat there enthralled and totally thinking they were talking directly to me. I didn’t act on it right away, even though I wanted to because I was unemployed at that juncture of my life, but I tucked the thought away in the back of my mind.

Several months after beginning my career here at Rex, I thought again about the interview with the surgeon when I saw an advertisement regarding an information session being held in the hospital, and invited my husband to come and join me.

Vicky and her husband Steve

The meeting was incredibly informative and they answered the questions we had-  thus began my weight loss surgery journey. My husband was so excited about the possibilities as well, excited that I could actually be healthy. Just thinking of all the diseases and complications I could face from carrying around so much excess weight was scary.

I was already being treated for high blood pressure and was on medication for that. I suffered from acid reflux and would often wake up with my throat burning and not able to breathe. In addition I had sleep apnea and had to wear that “Darth Vader” like contraption to keep my throat open so I could breathe. I had terrible pains in my knees and in my lower back, and my feet often hurt from carrying too much weight. That is just the short list of some of the issues I faced daily from being over 300 lbs.

I loved the meeting because everything you had to do was laid out and explained from day 1. I understood the need to see a variety of doctors during the pre-surgery phase, the need to gather information from my family doctor justifying why I needed the surgery, documenting what I had done in the past to try to lose the weight.

4 of Vicky and Steve’s 5 granddaughters

I actually could envision increasing my odds of getting to spend more time with my family, and in particular, with my granddaughters. This picture of 4 of our 5 granddaughters is the major catalyst for clinching my decision to have the surgery. I wanted to be around to watch them mature as they blossomed into beautiful young women!

That thought, the TV show and the initial orientation meeting were the catalysts I needed to get me moving toward my goal.

I actually think I let out a sigh when I left the meetings because I finally felt like I was making the right decision toward a healthier lifestyle.

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Vicky’s Story Part 2: Fears and Phobias

Post by Vicky Coerper, a Rex bariatric surgery patient and Rex co-worker. Vicky had bariatric surgery 5 and half years ago, and is writing about her journey through this blog series in order to share her struggles and triumphs on her path to good health.

Living life as a very large person can be quite daunting. I was afraid of many things, including how I was being perceived by my friends, family, and even people I didn’t know.

So many questions ran through my head: could I get a job in a healthcare setting, and would I even make it through the interview process when I was so big? Were my granddaughters and other family members embarrassed to be with me? Was my husband, Steve, embarrassed to go out to dinner with me? Would I be able to get that seat belt fastened around me on a plane? Could I use the handicapped stall, without getting in the way of a handicapped person?

When I took the first step and interviewed with one of the surgeons associated with Rex Healthcare’s Bariatric Center, I had new worries and phobias: should I tell my family what I am considering? Are they going to try to talk me out of it? Will I even be a candidate for the surgery? I had tried so many programs and plans before that would supposedly help me to lose the weight, but none had worked.

Vicky, pre-weight loss surgery

My biggest concern was if everything would work out- after all, it is a major surgery. What would happen if something went wrong? I knew I was going to become primary caregiver for my mom because of her Parkinson’s and Dementia. The absolute scariest thought was hearing my mom’s voice over and over again telling me about a friend she knew who had this surgery and that it did not go well. I did not tell her my intentions until about 3 months after I had the Bariatric Bypass procedure!

If I did take a chance and go through with it, what if this was just another solution that did not work for me? How long would it take me to lose the weight? How would I still dress appropriately for work while losing a lot of weight- another expense to consider. Wow, I’m making myself tired just remembering all of the concerns, phobias, and thoughts I had to work out in my mind!

Despite all of  my many worries, I decided to get the surgery. I had to push those fears aside and look at the root of the matter- my health and my future- and knew this was what I had to do. Having made the decision, the next daunting task was accomplishing all of the pre-surgery steps! But that’s for another discussion. Thank goodness I had the support of my wonderful husband reassuring me along the way.

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Vicky’s Story Part 1: Ruses and Excuses for My Bad Habits

Post by Vicky Coerper, a Rex bariatric surgery patient and Rex co-worker. Vicky had bariatric surgery 5 and half years ago, and is writing about her journey through this blog series in order to share her struggles and triumphs on her path to good health.

Life before my bariatric surgery was so difficult, challenging and fake. First of all, have you ever pretended to be happy? It’s a mental game I played when hitting the scales at over 300 lbs. At that size, it’s hard to feel like you fit in to society’s norms, so you say things like “fat people are jovial people”, or “I’m overweight because I’m big-boned”, or “I’m like this because of my mom and great grandma… it’s in my genes; I can’t help it!” But underneath it was all a ruse meant to divert attention away from people seeing the real me, and a ruse to prevent me from accepting responsibility for my poor eating habits.

Vicky before her weight loss, June 2009

I grew up in Wisconsin where our family lifestyle was always centered around what’s cooking in the kitchen. We loved to visit my mom because we knew we’d have the best food, and there was always something good in her kitchen. We knew we’d find “Sock-it-to-me” cakes, Danish pastries, Sweet Potato pies, and an assortment of ice creams in the freezer. Many people from church would follow us home on Sunday because they knew my mom was always going to have some terrific and tasty food cooking, and who didn’t want to be a part of that? It was the culture.

For me, that’s when the weight gain started. From there it seemed like life was always centered around food and eating, because there were great memories associated with eating and entertaining. When life got hectic with the family and then with teenagers, we felt like we needed quick and easy meals because everyone was always on the run.

The weight gain was slow and manageable at first, but things really took a downturn while I was working on my online Masters Degree. I’d work 8-10 hours a day, come home and sit at my computer for another 4-6 hours while my daughters kept the house running, made meals and brought me a plate convincing me that I had to take time to eat! I’d have lots of unhealthy snacks while studying, nicknaming the snacks “brain food.”

I felt like I had this shelf on by backside from all the weight in my hips. I was self conscious getting on a plane; would I still be able to fasten the seat belt?  I always made sure I went to the bathroom before boarding the plane. Trying to get 300+ lbs in those tiny toilet areas was difficult and uncomfortable. I was even embarrassed walking down the aisles because I often bumped into people who were seated in the aisle seats.

Once I hit the point where I didn’t even want to know exactly how much I actually weighed (knowing I was well over 300 lbs), I made a decision that something needed to be done to get a handle on this weight issue because I was so embarrassed.

I’m sure my husband was embarrassed as well, although he’s such a sweetheart that he never voiced what he may have been thinking, but was extremely supportive when I suggested that we attend an information session at Rex for Bariatric Surgery. I’m sure he was thinking maybe I’ll finally get my wife back- I’d gained 170 lbs since we met. I needed to make a plan and work on my plan. I had to find me again and real happiness and stop pretending that life was all good!

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