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Home | -- Inspiration | Amber Hs Story

Amber H's Story

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"So, how long have you been obese?

This was the first question my bariatric surgeon asked me on the day of my consultation in February 2009.  I remember a puzzled look coming across my face and saying, "since birth?" While we shared a laugh, it wasn't far from the truth.

Amber Before Lapband
Amber Before Lapband
I came into this world with my identical twin sister at 6 pounds, 8 ounces.  By kindergarten, I weighed 101 pounds.  I come from a family, both my immediate and extended, where every single individual is obese, morbidly obese, or super obese.  In short, I lost the genetic dice roll in terms of body composition.

Although, there is one dominate family trait that I feel blessed to have inherited:  a sense of humor.  My parents, two of the hardest working people a person could ever have the pleasure of meeting, definitely instilled the value of being able to laugh at the small (and big) moments that can and do go wrong.  I grew up very self-aware and was able to see that the put downs, discriminatory treatment, and occasional teasing were the deficiencies in the character of others.  I was not a failure because I was obese.  They said keep a sense of humor and get an education and no one can stop you.  Turns out, they were right.

In a bizarre way and despite my obesity, I always felt like I was on a diet.  Most of the time I would be successful in the short term, losing 20 pounds, but gaining back 35.  I often worked out for extended periods, but would gradually visit the gym less as I hit a plateau.  The one big weight loss success I had prior to my LapBand journey occurred the summer before going to high school.  I left junior high at 288 pounds and through a low-carbohydrate and high protein diet; lost about 75 pounds.

But, like all the diets and attempts at weight-loss in the past, I gained all 75 pounds back.  Eventually, at age 23, I reached my highest weight at 361 pounds.

My banding research began in January 25th, 2007 in the early hours of the morning when I signed up for my informational session on the LapBand.  I had no health insurance after the age of 18 and age 21 with no insurance, working part-time and a full-time student; paying for my surgery wasn't an option. 

Two years later, with many pounds gained; I was at the end year one as an intern with a state agency and ending my first year of graduate school.  In the second year of graduate school, I landed a full-time internship (at double the pay) and the LapBand process came to the front and center of my life.  I made the decision to take on the payment as a self-pay patient.  Over 18 months, I would pay $14, 900. 

Amber Enjoying Her Success
Amber Enjoying Her Success
I faced some criticism from co-workers and others for making the decision to be banded at such a young age.  In all of the research, the most common "complaint" of the banding experience was:  'I wish I had done this 20 years sooner." I didn't want to be 43 years old and say, 'I wish I would have believed in what I knew was right for me at age 23.' So, I proceeded. 

I definitely believe food addiction played a role in my obesity, but why I believed I hadn't been successful until banding was that no matter what I ate or how much, I never felt satisfied.  It's not a figurative emotional lack of satisfaction, but literally a physical one.  I needed the tool of a LapBand to control hunger and ultimately, control my life.

On July 10th 2009, I entered the hospital at 337 pounds (after a two-week pre-op diet).  I went in to the decision knowing my life would change and that I had to use this in conjunction with the "band rules" and plenty of exercise.  Today, I weigh 196 pounds.  I have gone from a woman's plus size 28 to a size 12 top and size 14 pants.  I am 165 pounds lighter and feeling better than I have in my entire life.  The weight loss has been slower in the past 6 months, but steadily declining.  I'm so proud to have finally reached "onederland!"

My story isn't that different from many other banded folks, but it's important that I tell it.  The more those living the banded life talk about their stories, the more we can encourage those to seek professional medical advice about what obesity intervention might be right for them.  Allow yourself to be successful by arming yourself with the right tools.  For me, the LapBand was the tool that I needed to achieve permanent weight-loss.

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