Daphne Mitchell, 35, doesn’t take an opportunity to go with friends on a short road trip outside of Albuquerque to pick wild raspberries for granted. “It blows my mind,” she says. It was a day she didn’t think was possible just a few years earlier. Walking any distance at all, let alone standing for more than five minutes, was a struggle for Daphne, who at her peak reached 530 pounds. “The doctor said I had almost bone-to-bone arthritis in both knees. He said if I didn’t lose weight that would be the least of my health concerns.”
Although she did not suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or other chronic health conditions linked to obesity, Daphne did have sleep apnea and chronic pain in her knees. She knew the writing was on the wall if she didn’t do something about her weight. “’You can’t continue to play Russian roulette with your health,’” Daphne recalls the orthopedic surgeon telling her in 2013. She had tried on her own to lose weight by getting as much exercise as her body could handle. However, the pain endured and after seven months, she had not lost any weight. “I remember the commercials for Lovelace Bariatrics and I called to make an appointment to attend a seminar, but I didn’t go.”
That’s where Daphne’s story might have ended if it weren’t for a phone call she received. “The scheduler called when I didn’t show up for the seminar,” Daphne recalls. “She said, ‘It’s OK. That happens all the time. I can schedule you for our next seminar.’”
It took courage, but she rescheduled to attend the next seminar. After all, Daphne understands courage. At the age of 16, she lost 100 percent of her vision. She decided then blindness would not hold her back. “It doesn’t define me,” she says. Daphne was not going to let her fear hold her back this time either.
She went to the seminar to learn more about Lovelace Bariatrics and weight loss surgery options led by Lovelace Bariatrics Director Dr. Duc Vuong. “It was very emotional to listen to Dr. Vuong share stories,” she says. When Daphne went into the clinic for her first consultation with Dr. Vuong, she worried she had waited too long to get the help she so desperately wanted. “I cried a lot. Dr. Vuong is real understanding, though. He’s a hugger!” Dr. Vuong assured Daphne that he could help her, but, at 489 pounds, she would need to lose between 100 and 110 pounds to prepare for surgery. Admittedly, Daphne was overwhelmed, yet open to the guidance from the nutritionist to follow a diet of fish, fruits and vegetables.
“I lost 103 pounds by the day of surgery,” Daphne says of one of the most pivotal days of her life one year later. She has since become active in support groups, connecting with other post-op patients and taking Dr. Vuong’s advice to lean on them, as well as be the support someone else might need. “We all have our struggles, but he encourages us to be there for each other. It’s a life-long journey.”
Daphne is one year into her journey after weight loss surgery. When she went back to the clinic September 3, 2015 for her one-year follow up appointment, she discovered something truly special. “It was amazing,” she says. “Dr. Vuong said that I had lost the most weight ever in this program!”
She is 152 pounds lighter – a weight loss that has allowed her to not only survive, but to really live. “It’s just a totally new life.”
To learn more about Lovelace Bariatrics, please click here.