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Written by Live Healthy MD Patient
on May 04, 2020

Growing up, I was always overweight. I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn’t always the “fat one.” It was so hard to watch my two siblings and cousins play sports and enjoy “normal” childhood activities. I wanted to do those things so very badly, but because of my weight, I was an introvert and always opted out of everything. I am a huge sports fan, but never played anything. I love to be outside, but never took part in activities. I love being with friends and family, but never did anything.

Total Weight Loss: 144 pounds
Surgery Type: Gastric Bypass
Surgery Date: 06/08/2017
Surgeon: Dr. Michael Blaney

Why I Decided to Have Weight Loss Surgery

I decided to have weight loss surgery because, looking back, the reason I closed myself to the world was all due to my weight. I was too scared of being embarrassed.

Crystal Hilton_bariatric patient testimonialI didn’t want to be embarrassed to fail. I didn’t want to be embarrassed about not physically being able to do whatever the activity was. I was quiet and shy because I didn’t want attention focused on me.

I didn’t want anyone to see me or say anything to me. I always felt bad. Even in elementary school, my stomach regularly hurt. We knew it was only anxiety and not an illness, but it was because I was overweight and scared of everything.

As an adult, not much changed. I was always sick and felt awful most of the time. I didn’t have any significant health issues, but I knew they were coming. My mom was obese and had high blood pressure, diabetes, and several other issues. Her weight caused most of her illnesses.

She had a gastric bypass about five years before mine. She talked to me some about having a gastric bypass, but I would always brush it off and tell myself I was going to lose weight on my own. I didn’t want to go through surgery and alter my lifestyle permanently. There was NO WAY I was doing it.

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I tried dieting, going to the gym, even tried going to Crossfit. I would lose a little weight but would hit a stall and give up and usually gain it all back, plus some. In October 2016, I had a foot injury that required me to not put any weight on my foot for about six weeks.

Being a Pre-K teacher, I had to stay out of work for the entire time that I was non-weightbearing on my foot and shortly after. That was one of the hardest things ever! Being non-weight bearing and weighing about 300 pounds is difficult. I struggled physically and emotionally during this time. However, this is when I decided I was DONE and was ready to get something done.

Starting my Journey at Live Healthy MD

My mom had an appointment with Dr. Blaney, our bariatric surgeon, during my time out of work. I went to an appointment with her. He told us that he was considering branching out to begin doing surgeries in our hometown. We live over two hours from his home office. At that time, in November 2016, that I would be his first patient once he got things situated and started in our town.

Now, fast forward to April 2017. We got word that things would soon be started in our hometown. I was ready to begin this journey and wanted to have a gastric bypass while I was out of work for summer break.

I decided to have a gastric bypass over the sleeve because I wanted to lose as much weight as possible. I was familiar with a gastric bypass and what it required due to my mom going through it.

The program director in my hometown and the people at Dr. Blaney’s office, Live Healthy MD, worked extremely hard to get everything done and ready for my surgery on June 8, 2017.

I was Dr. Blaney’s first patient in Dublin, Georgia and couldn't have been more proud.

 

My Surgery Experience

I weighed 298 pounds going into surgery. My quiet, reserved, nervous self was just as relaxed as could be on the morning of my surgery. I knew that I was in great hands in my hometown and confident that Dr. Blaney was going to take great care of me. I was just ready for my life to begin changing. Those feelings pretty much happened overnight.

A couple of weeks before surgery, I kept telling friends that I was going to back out at the very last minute because I was so scared that I would be sick from the surgery—like all of the horror stories that you hear. I couldn’t stand the thought of being even more miserable that I already felt. On the morning of my surgery, I was so glad that I didn't back out.

I had two surgeries before my gastric bypass and did not have good experiences with either. I had some kind of complication with both surgeries, so I was mentally prepared to have a hard time as soon as I got into recovery. To my surprise, it was the easiest surgery I have ever had.

Life After Surgery

IMG_9855-minI walked over a mile the afternoon of my surgery. I was able to sit up and visit with friends and family while in the hospital. Once I got home from the hospital, I did not need pain meds (and I’m a big baby when it comes to pain). I did struggle some with sipping on protein shakes, but nothing major.

I would definitely do it all over again without giving it a second thought.

And boy, has my life changed! I have currently lost 144 pounds. I am not nearly as reserved as I once was. I have gone out of, what was once, my comfort zone so many times since surgery and have loved every minute of it!

I have done interviews about my surgery, photoshoots, and several other things as a patient of Fairview Park Hospital (which is where I had surgery) and Live Healthy MD. I would NEVER have done things like that before surgery.

I am now able to do things with my nieces and nephews, where before I would just sit and watch them play. I recently took them to a water park. Instead of watching them play, I was able to ride everything with them and not be embarrassed to get on the slides or be embarrassed to be in a swimsuit. I can play sports and enjoy being outside. I love to kayak and don’t have to worry about being too heavy for the kayak.

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My Non-Scale Victories

  • I think my most favorite thing about post-op life is that I can shop for the cute clothes that I’ve always wanted. I don’t have to shop for “old lady” plus size clothes anymore. I am currently wearing medium shirts and size 8 pants. It is an amazing feeling!
  • I can easily get on rides without being too big.
  • I can walk without getting overly tired at UGA football games.
  • I can play with my nieces, nephews, and students.
  • I now am able to go to the gym and enjoy it.

I could go on for days about the Non-Scale Victories that I’ve had. I seem to find new ones all the time.

My Final Thoughts

As for my diet and lifestyle that I was so scared of the changes, but it isn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I eat like a "normal" person. I eat smaller portions and make smarter choices. I can still go out to eat with family and friends at any restaurant and find a way to eat healthy. I am not held back from anything as I thought I would be. 

Having a gastric bypass is by far the best thing I have done for myself. I can finally live the life that I have always wanted to live.

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