“I remember standing at the bottom step in our home and almost crying that I had to go up the stairs to get to the bedroom,” Ramona recalls. “It was such an exertion! After I finally struggled up the stairs, I would have to lean on our bed to catch my breath before being able to do whatever it was that sent me up there in the first place. My weight was out of control.”
At 5’2” and 230 pounds, climbing the stairs was the least of Ramona’s problems. “Driving was getting difficult because I had to slide the seat back so far to fit my belly behind the wheel, I could barely reach the pedals. It was a tight fit, to say the least.” Debilitating migraines immobilized the then 55 year-old Huntington Beach resident on average four times a week, episodes which required her to lay on the cold tiles of her bathroom in the dark. “It wasn’t until my heart rate reached 210 and I had to be rushed to the ER that I knew something had to be done. I contacted my doctor and after much discussion, we determined that gastric bypass would be the best solution to possibly saving my life,” she says.
Gastric bypass surgery was the beginning of an entirely new life.
Fortunately, her doctor referred her to the Surgical Weight Loss program at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, a Center of Excellence certified by the American Society of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgeons. “From the first appointment with my doctor until the day of my surgery eight months later, the team wanted to ensure that the surgery was the correct fit for me. They impressed upon me that gastric bypass is just the beginning of a life-long commitment.” Ramona accepted that if the weight is to stay off, there are changes in eating and lifestyle alterations that must be made. Her surgery was the beginning of an entirely new life for Ramona.
“It has been nearly five years since my surgery, and I have not had a sip of soda, a piece of candy, a nibble of pie, cake, cookies or a spoon of ice cream in that time,” she says proudly. Following her surgery, she lost 109 pounds and adopted a more active lifestyle. “I ride my bicycle and scooter at the beach with my grandchildren,” she notes. “I no longer cry at the thought of going up and down the stairs, and I don’t have to take them one step at a time for fear my feet and ankles will give out. I sprint up them like nobody’s business!”
Now, she enjoys visiting Disneyland with her family without fear that she will exceed the weight limits on the rides. And best of all, her migraines have completely vanished and her blood pressure has normalized.
“For some patients, gastric bypass may be the only option for attaining a normal weight and gaining back their health,” says Peter C. LePort, M.D., Medical Director of the program. “But maintenance of the loss is up to patients, and Ramona is an excellent example of someone who embraced the lifestyle changes that are required to make gastric bypass a long-term success.” The FVRMC program is a comprehensive weight loss program that involves evaluation of co-morbidities that need to be managed, the surgery itself, and a regimen of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes as well as psychological counseling and support. Program staff monitors the progress of each unique patient.
“It has been nearly five years since my new life began and I am finally able to function as a human,” exclaims Ramona. “I have never felt better. I do more now at the age of 60 than I did at 50. Life is great!”