Well here goes … Not sure if I am doing this right but here is me in a nut shell… long probably boring read ahead…LOL
I was born in Florida to Herb & Carol Nichols and yeah my name was Penny Nichols. My mom has always told the story of how I am a 1 in a million baby due to she had to have surgery to get pregnant in 1959 and was told she had 1 in 1 million chances to get pregnant. She did not get pregnant and have me until 11 years later and I was born on 11/01/70 only to have me 9 months later on the exact day I walked for the first time I got very sick with Spinal Meningitis to which when I was taken to the hospital. I had a 108 degree fever and they had to do a spinal tap on me. As they were doing the spinal on me she heard the nurse say oh my god I forgot to numb her. After the tests and all the doctors came out and told my mom I had 1 in 1 million chances to live. I was in the hospital for 10 days … I am still here and I am a miracle 2 in 2 million chance baby … I am a survivor.
From then on until I was about 7, I had a pretty normal childhood, but during that time I remember my mom being in a back and forth relationship with my daddy and another man I referred to as Daddy Jim. Then my daddy and mommy moved us to Georgia and we lived until 1977. Years later the family truth came out and it was revealed I was molested by a family member when I was 6 years old.
In about 1978-79 my mom and dad had their final split and my mom went on the road with another man as a truck driver and I stayed with my dad until late 1979 when she came and got me and we moved to Arkansas. It was in that time that I was with my dad that I gained a lot of weight as I ate whatever I wanted and dad loves pizza so we ate that almost every night. I remember eating Godfathers Pizza and Charlie Chips out of the can all the time or going out to eat at pasta places like Provino’s.
When I got to Arkansas in late 1979 I remember being 9 years old and 180 LBS. Since my mom was on the road I stayed with a babysitter and one day she decided she wanted to go on the road and without telling my mom she gave me to another baby sitter and that babysitters husband molested me. My mom came off the road, but by the time she got home he had disappeared. She found me a new baby sitter and I moved in with her family. I was not there long as it was a very volatile household and the lady decided after her and her husband had it out on Thanksgiving Day, she literally set me and all my belongings on the curb and called my mom out on the road to tell her to come get me. I was not allowed back into the house. So my mom called a friend and she came and got me. By this time in 1981-82 time frame my weight was up to about 200 LBS. This new babysitter put me on weight watchers at 12 years old and got me down to 113 LBS and I was too skinny. I had started sneaking sugar cubes to satisfy my sweet tooth and adding weight back on.
By this time it is 1983 and my mom decided to leave the guy she was with and move back home to her family here in Florida and so we moved here. She got married to a wonderful man who I was very close to until he passed away in 1986. In late 84 thru late 85 I moved back to my dad’s for a while to live with him and my stepmom and step brothers. It was again during this time I put weight back on and topped out at upward to 150-160 again.
I moved back to Florida in late 85 and started high school only to be sent home for almost the entire 9th grade year due to mono that I got from a freaking water fountain at school. It was during this time out that I met my boyfriend Jack at 16 and started a very secretive abusive relationship that I hid from my family very well. I left him for a short time and started dating a guy Tom who always pushed food on me and told me how he love big women and that I was beautiful being big. So to make him happy, I gained weight for him, which fit right into my already love of food addiction. I found out he was married and that was the end of that, but by this time I was up to close to 200 LBS, so I went back to Jack and his abuse.
In late 1986 I started 10th grade and met Carl and left Jack for a short time again but Jacks control over me was strong so I turned to food and went back to him breaking Carl’s heart but did remain friends thru the remainder of my high school years. By the time I graduated in June 1989, the abuse from Jack was real bad and my parents found out about it. So in an effort to get away from him I went to Georgia to live with my dad again. I was about 220-230 by this time. I got a job at Little Caesars Pizza as an Assistant Manager and it was here I started losing some of my weight again as I was eating all day long so I never really got hungry and I was real busy and drinking and partying at night and just plain sowing my wild oats. I came back home to Florida in October 1989 as my horse had died. While I was here, a friend asked me to go into a contest with her at a bikini dance club. So I did and had some fun with it but was really not my thing as I was still a large woman and felt uncomfortable inside. It was here that a man saw me that later in my life would play a big part in it.
I went back to Georgia until May of 1990 and came back to Florida as Jack was no longer an issue in my life and brought Jimmy back with me. He did not stay long and went back to Michigan where he was from and I was introduced to Gary by my mom who turned out to be the bouncer at the bar I had danced at with my friend and was the man who had seen me that night. We started dating and were wed in June 1991. At this time I was holding steady around 200-210 in my weight.
We separated in 1994 for a short time and then reconciled and bought a home in 1995. In 1996 I got pregnant, quit smoking and gained about 50 LBS through the pregnancy. I was high risk due to my weight and was put on bed rest towards the end due to she kept trying to come early and then I had to be induced. My daughter was born 01/1997 and by that time I weighed 250 LBS after she was born. I got pregnant again in 1999 and had my 2nd child in 09/1999 and again, gained a lot of weight and was 275 after she was born. I did not lose the weight and kept gaining.
In 2004, I had a mental/nervous breakdown as I was overwhelmed and stressed out and picked back up smoking. By this time I was at 325 LBS and realized something had to give so I joined weight watchers off and on over the next few years. The lowest I remember going was 250 LBS. In 2007 I gained again due to stress eating when I found out that my boss and his wife had been molesting my 2 girls and we went thru that struggle and went up to 364 LBS.
In 2008 I stopped smoking again, cold turkey and started gaining weight and tried doing weight watchers again. By the time 2009 rolled around, I realized something more drastic was needed and started looking into the Lap Band procedure and by this time I was at 364 LBS again. I started the insurance processes and was finally approved in May 2010. It was at this time I met back up with Carl from high school and rekindled our friendship and he and my husband became friends. I had the lap band placed in 06/10/2010 at the time of surgery I weighed 300 and lowest I ever got to was 245 in 11/2010 but crept back up to 345.
It was also during this time when I realized my marriage was falling apart and so my husband and I split up and Carl and I pursued our relationship to the next level. My husband and I divorced in 11/2011. In 2013 Carl and I split up. My lap band journey was hard as far as correcting my eating habit of too much. I really had no problem changing what I ate. Also my surgeon left town and the Dr I transferred to basically said I had 3 choices. 1 – lose the weight but was not helpful or supportive about to do it, 2 – don’t lose and die and 3 – take the band out and die, so I quit going to any Dr and my weight went back up slowly…
I later found out from the time I had my lap band to the time I decided to get the bpd-ds the success rate of the lap band with my BMI had dropped from 75% down to about 40-50%. My ex and I tried to reconcile but did not succeed and in March of 2014, Carl and I reconciled and continued our relationship. He asked me to marry him at the homecoming game of the high school we went to and had met at 25 years earlier and was during our 25 year high school reunion weekend… I said yes on 10/10/14.
We planned our wedding over the next year and I tried to lose weight and did get down to 315. We were married on 09/26/15 and after our honeymoon came home and started our lives, we bought a new house and settled in and during this time of contentment I just enjoyed my food and ate as I has learned how to get around the lap band and so my weight crept back up to 326. The lap band and I had failed each other.
I then saw a seminar coming up and decided to attend in October 2016 for Dr John Deperi. I told him my story and he said he could help me and so I started the process for the Gastric Bypass with Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch. I was approved and on March 29, 2017 I underwent surgery.
My surgery and the surgery aftercare was perfect (did fight with doctors about meds I refused and they didn’t like that I know my body and had the audacity to tell them no) my follow up is awesome and the Dr is happy with my progress. I am impatient as I want to see the weight come off faster but have to remind myself I had a lifetime to put it on and it’s not going to come off overnight. The other hardest thing to learn is what it is like to be full… NEVER in my lifetime prior to this surgery did I understand FULL. I had been known to eat until I puke then go back for more. Now I get the sensation and I am having to learn to listen to it or suffer the consequences
During this journey I have come to realize quite a few things:
I AM A FOODAHOLIC. I love food for what it is, the taste and the need to have it solve my problems. I stress eat, content eat, anger eat, bored eat and just freaking love to eat.
I realize I am lazy by nature and I will have to learn to exercise better and find something I like to do that will mobilize me.
I have realized that no matter how hard I try I will always make mistakes on this food journey but I will not let it beat me as I have so much to live for… Me first, my husband, my children and my new grandbaby.
I remind myself I am a 2 in 2 million chance survivor and I will survive this. I hope all this rambling and my life story helps you understand me and thank you for letting me share and be a part of BWL Family.
HW ever 364 (2004)
Lap band 6/10/2010
SW 300 (40 lost w/ WW and 24 per insurance requirements)
LW 245 (11/2010)
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch