In 2014, it was time for Katie McClain. She had spent years hiding behind others in photos, putting off trips and coming up with reasons to avoid certain restaurant tables. There was one thing in between Katie and her life that was holding her back. “After losing almost 150 pounds, I am able to finally be myself,” she says of making the decision to have bariatric weight loss surgery. “I no longer feel confined or defined by my weight. I no longer worry about fitting in restaurant booths or rollercoaster seats. I no longer try and hide in the background or avoid pictures because of shame. I am now able to live life how I always wanted to - confident, happy, enthusiastic and to its fullest potential.” However, getting to this point has been a journey for Katie.
“I have been overweight the majority of my life,” she recalls. Continually going on and off diets beginning as a teenager, Katie burned out from yo-yo weight loss by the age of 18. “I knew that I needed to look to a more permanent solution. I searched on the Internet and happened to come upon Lovelace’s website and was introduced to the idea of bariatric surgery.” Katie continued to research over the years, but mostly kept the idea to herself.
Meanwhile, Katie’s son was born when she was 24. What she had been waiting for was there in her arms, looking into her eyes. “I feared that I would not be able to live long enough to watch my sweet son grow up,” she says. “I wanted to be an active mom and feel confident in myself. People say that when you have children your priorities and view on life drastically change. This is so true. After having my son I realized that I needed to make my health a priority so that I could be the best that I could be not only for myself, but for him.”
Katie went back to her research and the Lovelace Bariatric program. “I was very nervous and almost ashamed when I went to my first appointment at Lovelace Bariatrics,” she admits. Those feelings melted away, she says, upon meeting Lovelace Bariatrics Director Dr. Duc Vuong. “Dr. Vuong and his amazing staff welcomed me with warm hugs and support. I met each member of the bariatric team as they educated me on the process I would be going through. Each person was informative, kind and made me feel like I truly mattered. I was blown away with how comfortable they made me feel and what individualized and personal care they provided.”
August 4, 2014 Katie had sleeve gastrectomy surgery at Lovelace Westside Hospital. It was a day, not just a surgery that changed the course of her life. Katie became active in the support group meetings with other post-op and pre-op patients. She attended Saturday classes led by Dr. Vuong on a variety of topics including gardening, cooking and meditation. Her disposition changed. “I had always considered myself a happy person,” she adds. “I have always been known for my positivity and cheerfulness. However, after surgery I now know what true happiness is.”
The change, Katie says, manifested from the opportunity to regain her life through the unwavering support of her surgeon and the program. “Dr. Vuong is especially inspirational. Somehow, though he cares for numerous people daily, he remembered me from the initial seminar. His passion for helping others shines brightly through him.”
That passion, Katie says, helped her see through the post-op challenges. “He was very straightforward,” she says. “If you aren’t willing to commit your life to yourself and change, then you will not be successful. This is exactly the mindset I needed. I have never met a doctor so devoted to their patient’s health (mind, body and soul).”
From a life once held down by chronic pain, worry and misery, to a life set free to explore, see and do, Katie is ready to be the mother and the person she always wanted to be. “I now look forward to traveling and experiencing the world - things that prior to weight-loss scared me and seemed undoable.”
To attend a free seminar and learn more about Lovelace Bariatrics, please click here.