04 Nov Patient Spotlight: Sarah Dabney
This is my story.
I’ve struggled with obesity my entire life. I was always the “fat” friend, the “fat” sister, the “you’re so pretty…for a plus-size girl”. Over the years, I tried so many diets- Weight Watchers, Atkins, Keto, South Beach, you name it and would also incorporate some exercise. I’ve lost 25lbs and gained back 50, Lost 60lbs and gained back 75, but was never successful in keeping the weight off. In 2008, when I started my first job as an RN, I met 3 nurses on my unit that had all had some form of weight loss surgery and were several years out and successful. That’s when I started doing research on WLS and risks and benefits.
For the next 11 years, I kept convincing myself that I didn’t need surgery, that I could lose the weight on my own, all the while watching my weight climb higher and higher. My friends and family kept telling me, WLS is cheating, that’s the easy way out and I felt like I needed to prove to everyone else that I could do it on my own because I felt shamed. In the summer of 2019, I went to my PCP and discussed my struggles with dieting and exercise. She told me that the only studied and proven effective means of permanent weight loss in someone of my size was bariatric surgery. From there, she highly recommended I look at Dr. Smith’s program at Georgetown Bariatrics and she thought I would be a great candidate for WLS.
I went home that evening and compared Dr. Smith’s program to others in the area. I found support groups on Facebook and joined and searched for personal stories. Everything kept leading me back to Dr. Smith and Georgetown. The follow up program is vital and that’s what I was looking for- the program that stood apart as the best, because I knew this was going to be a lifelong change. The one key component that set Dr. Smith apart specifically was the use of the DaVinci robot. I had found so many articles and stories about how the robotic surgery was superior to traditional laparoscopic surgery and Dr. Smith and the Georgetown Bariatrics Center was a center of excellence, so it was a no brainer.
I started my intake in August of 2019 and because the pandemic started, I didn’t end up having my surgery until July 6, 2020. My highest recorded weight was when I started my pre-op diet on June 21st, 2020. I weighed in at 375lbs and that day, I knew my life would never be the same.
I day I had the sleeve (VSG) surgery, was the first time I had ever had surgery in my life. I was terrified. I told myself that if I wake up from this, I’m going to run with it. And that’s exactly what I did.
My long term ultimate goal was to lose 200lbs. My first goal was to lose 100lbs from my pre-op weight by Christmas. On December 23rd 2020 I stepped on the scale and it read 275lbs. I could not believe that I had done it!!! Those first 6 months were very difficult. Anyone saying that WLS is the easy way out has obviously never had it or lived with someone that has had it done. This weight loss journey is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but has been so rewarding.
I knew that the first 12 months is that honeymoon phase where I knew I needed to lose as much as possible, so I just stayed the course. I followed up with the team every 3 months and still do today at 27 months out. The accountability and support that comes with this program is what makes it so successful.
In May of this year (2022) I met my long term goal of losing 200lbs. I have literally lost more weight than I currently weigh- 175lbs. I have dipped into the 165-170 lb range, but I’m working on building muscle, so I’m not too worried about the scale as much as I am about how my clothes fit.
I started at a size 26/28 pants and 3X top and a 5XL scrubs to now a size 8/10 pants and Medium tops. I can snugly fit into a set of small scrubs, but I prefer the medium. I’ll get there one day. 🙂
I cannot thank Dr. Smith enough for providing me with this tool. Like he says- I give you all the tool- it’s up to you how you use it.
At 2 years out, I know how easy it is to gain the weight back. Foods that I could not handle and that would make me sick in the honeymoon phase no longer effect me. My best advice to give someone that is having the surgery is to heal your relationship with food during the honeymoon phase. Focus on nutrition more than anything else, because you cannot out exercise a bad diet!