Before and After

Patient Spotlight - Courtney Lewis

What had I done to myself? I kept asking myself this question, over and over, but I had to move forward and stop dwelling on the past because I could not go back and change anything. I was stuck in the past - a very dark past, which I had let myself sink into and die. I used to be beautiful. I used to dance. I used to be happy. I was killing myself one bite of grease at a time.

My journey started in December, 2009, when I did not recognize myself in the mirror. At 415 pounds, I had lost myself. It was two days before the New Year, and that is when I saved my own life. I bought low calorie recipe books, watching every calorie that went in and out of my body, and started walking for exercise. Many people do not understand how walking can be an effective method of exercise, but I had a secret. My secret was that I couldn't even walk long enough to grocery shop, couldn't stand in the shower to wash myself for more than a couple of minutes. I would make up excuses to not go out with family or friends, due to fear of walking distances and fitting in to chairs. No one but my husband really knew how bad of  shape I had really gotten myself in.

The weight started melting off week after week. Before I knew it, I had lost 100 pounds  in seven months and was walking miles at a time - I even walked in a marathon. Then, for almost a year, I maintained this weight; eventually, however, I slowly started gaining back, and before I knew it, I had re-gained almost 40 pounds. That is when I made the call to Georgetown Bariatrics.

I had the gastric sleeve surgery on October 3, 2011, with a surgery day weight of 338 pounds. After one amazingly successful year, I currently weigh 228 pounds. Now, I can walk anywhere - actually, I can run! I fit in! Recently, I went to Atlanta with my friends and they all wanted to sit at a tall bar table. I panicked, like I always did before, and told them I could not sit in that type of chair because of my weight. They grabbed me and reminded me that I had lost weight, for me to try the chair and, if I was uncomfortable, that we would move to a different table. I pulled myself up in to the chair, was shocked as I had more than enough room, and I started crying.

These days, it doesn't take much for me to get excited about this journey. One night, I rolled over in bed and had my arm draped over my stomach. I had something poking out of my skin! I jumped up and woke my husband up in panic. Turns out - it was my ribs! I could feel my ribs for the first time since I was a kid. Another funny little moment was the first time I had to wear a belt. I didn't even know how to really wear a belt because I had never needed one before in my life! Now, I am starting to feel and see my collar bones for the first time ever, and that thrills me! I am also fitting in to clothes that do not come from specialty, plus-size clothing stores.

With all the silly bone protruding stories and new clothes aside, I feel amazing! My cholesterol is  great, and I do not have high blood-sugar or blood pressure problems anymore. I have so much energy that I actually annoy people, because I am no longer happy just sitting on the couch or eating myself to death. I am beautiful. I dance. I am happy. 

Many say surgery is the easy way out, and you aren't strong enough to do it on your  own. Well, I did do it on my own successfully, for a while, but I needed this tool, this surgery, to keep the motivated and strong part of myself on track. Surgery did not make losing weight easy or automatic - I did this! And so can you!

I am beautiful.  I dance.  I am happy.