Gail Reeves, is a Sr Member on the Board of Directors. Currently Gail holds 40% share of the Board’s decision making capacity.
Sleeved June 23,2015
November 2014 I was told by the doctor that I was infertile. All my life all I ever wanted to be was a mother. Due to my tubes being damaged, pregnancy wasn’t a possibility unless I had IVF. So off to the specialist we went. After a review of my file and a once over by the fertility doctor I was told that they wouldn’t do any IVF treatments unless I was at 197 lbs. I was currently topping the scale at 315 lbs. I felt hopeless and lost. I turned to my old friend food to mend my heavy heart. As depression set in the pounds packed on and within a few months I had gained another 36 lbs. Now sitting at 351 lbs I was hopeless, helpless, lost my identity, lost my happiness.
My Family doctor became extremely worried. I was 35 years old and at the rate I was going it was going to be a miracle if I lived to 50. I was on 3 different types of bp meds. I was getting cortisone injections in my knees and feet just so I could walk. I would get winded walking up and down my stairs. Hell, at one point I could barely wipe my own ass. So I started to research and I came across WLS. Turns out my insurance wouldn’t cover it, but I would die without it. My husband and I discussed it and took a loan from the bank for $25,000.
On April 15, 2015 I met with my surgeon, Dr. JP at WellStar Kennestone. Due to my size he wanted me to get RNY. However, because we were paying out of pocket, I opted for the sleeve as it was the cheaper of the two surgeries. I also wasn’t comfortable with the invasiveness of the other surgery. The next two months were spent seeing a slew of doctors and going through the “tune up” phase. Checking lungs, head, heart, blood, organs etc. I was at one doctor or another twice a week for 2 months.
On June 23, 2015 I was sleeved. Since that day my life has taken on a new identity. I have ran several 5k’s, 3 half marathons, one full marathon and I’m currently training for another full marathon. I train hard 5-6 times a week 2-3 hours each day. I eat healthier and I adore my new body! I have a new self confidence and for the first time in my life I’m proud of myself.
On January 9, 2016 I started Family. I wanted a safe place where I could be myself and help others like me. We are currently taking Family into uncharted territory as we expand into one of the first bariatric non-profit charities out there. We’re paving the way for people like us to get the supplies we need to be successful in this journey. In Family you are never alone. We are there to help you as you learn to fly and show your colors. Be vibrant as a peacock my loves.
Cassandra Crawford is CEO, and a Sr Member on the Board of Directors and currently holds 40% share of the Board’s decision making capacity.
I cash paid (4.7k) for my sleeve surgery in Tijuana, Mexico. YES – it was scary as HELL going to another country to have surgery done. But it was only 30 minutes across the border and I found a company that made me feel very safe, and was highly rated in the international community. (PM me for referrals). It took a lot of courage… I even had a panic attack as I was being wheeled to the OR room. I remember the doctor telling me that I had to calm down to be put under or he couldn’t do the surgery!! Crazy
I came with a host of medical problems pre surgery. Fibromyalgia and IBS were lessened greatly after surgery. However; anxiety, depression and bi-polar disorder went off the charts uncontrollably after surgery. I came from an abusive (sexually, physically, emotionally and mentally) background and those issues came back in full force. For months after the surgery I struggled with depression. This journey wasn’t unicorns and rainbows for me, it was a fight and a struggle every damn inch I lost was like fighting mortal combat. I resented those that made it seem so easy. I had to be hospitalized twice in the last year for suicidal thoughts and tendencies. My medications had to be adjusted 4 times and finally completely changed before I balanced out emotionally. I used marijuana and alcohol to self medicate and help the pain of depression lessen. I know…I know… this seems like a super sad story. BUT IT’S NOT! These are the potholes I had to go through on my journey to get to where I am now. I’m 90 lbs down (10 from goal)!
Sherri Scarborough is on the Board of Directors, and currently holds 10% share of the Board’s decision making capacity. She runs the Social Media portion of the foundation.
I was sleeved 11/18/2015. I had been denied or bariatrics was excluded for several years prior to surgery. My obesity started at a young age. Vivid memory: I remember visiting my grandmother and my aunt who lived next door, chasing me with a measuring tape. I was devastated and cried for days. I went on weight watchers at a young age but it didn’t work and I hated it. It made me resentful and rebellious. That day, it was like a light switch flipped when she chased me. The conclusion that I came to was that food made me feel good and people sucked. My family being from the south used food as a welcome, a comfort, a gift, fellowship, family time and food was the center of all outings or gatherings. My parents were divorced and both sides had a laundry list of health issues. Growing up, I learned to love good ole southern cooking and always overate. We all did!!
I was always the big friend, but with my winning personality I had a lot of friends. I made bad decisions in regards to men. Trying to get acceptance of me and my obesity. I sought attention from undeserving friends. I was never one to get down on myself and always had a high self esteem and self acceptance but my self worth was in the pits.
I’ve always been fat and happy. I looked in the mirror and saw beauty but in pictures wow, very sobering. At 38, I was diagnosed with diabetes and went untreated 4 yrs. I’m a bad patient. Then the bomb was dropped. Congestive heart failure and insulin dependent diabetes, again, I was sobered up!! Damn it!! Why did I let it go so far? My baby, husband, mother, family, patients, doctors, and employees needed me.
I’m not in a race. I love the new me. I’ve been off all 9 medications since the day before surgery and I’m not looking back. Am I perfect? Hell no! But I’m me and I love me!! I have my life back. I would have wls all over again in a heartbeat. It’s given me a self worth that is unexplainable. Words to live by, Don’t ever let anyone or anything steal your joy!!
Chris Reeves is on the Board of Directors, and currently holds 5% share of the Board’s decision making capacity. He is the Sr. Principal for the Foundation
I may be a little different from the rest of the group here in that I have not had surgery, but I have certainly seen the benefits. Just by living with Gail after her gastric sleeve, I have completely relearned everything I knew about food, nutrition, and what it actually means to fuel my body.
Many people come to the BWLF support group on Facebook to discuss helping their spouses understand their interest in surgery, or how to coach their families to better support them, or any number of changes to their relationships. I am far from an expert in the field and I do not claim to speak for anybody but myself, but I find it fulfilling to share the “husband’s perspective”.
We all have our own stories and reasons why we started down this path. Along with the rest of the board, I am grateful to be there for you on your journey.
Kathy Henry is on the Board of Directors, and currently holds 5% share of the Board’s decision making capacity. She is the Sr Project Manager for the organization
I’ve been overweight my entire life. Diets? I’ve tried them all. On July 2013, I broke my back. I under went a L5-S1 fusion, while in surgery the paddle blade broke and Dr couldn’t retrieve it without potentially paralyzing me. I still carry around the blade just inches from my spinal cord. After surgery and PT I was still in horrible pain. My primary and orthopedic surgeon suggested Gastric Bypass to get the weight off my spine. My referral was put in and within 3 weeks I was having my Bypass. In the short amount of time I had to gather information, I had made the decision that RNY was right for me. I was ready to be healthy and out of pain. On July 15th 2014 my life changed. I had RNY, everything went as planned. I went into surgery with some unrealistic expectations- and got a few surprises in the days & months following. Sure, I’ve been to the pre op classes to hear about complications. I took nutrition classes how to learn how I was supposed to eat forward.
But nobody really explained (though to be fair they did try) how much this surgery would mess with my mind. They didn’t tell me that instead of no longer thinking about food, I’d spend my entire day counting fluid intake & protein grams & keeping track of which vitamins I’d taken. What’s more the weight didn’t just magically melt away with no effort. This perhaps the single biggest myth out there- that having gastric bypass is the easy way out. It’s the exact opposite. You still have to exercise, you still have to be very careful about what you eat. I now weigh 112lbs and feel healthy but my back is still an ongoing problem. I continue having procedure and this will be life long.
I’ve been blessed with the BEST support team… I would like to Thank my husband, sons and BWLF I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing me your invaluable support when I needed it the most. Your helping hand proves a boon most. Your suggestions & advice has helped me a lot overcoming my problems. Today I’m secure because of you. I truly appreciate that you are always there for anybody who needs help. Family and Friends like you are a jewel in the crown. It would be of utmost pleasure to me if you need any sort of assistance from me in future I shall always be there for you. It’s my pleasure to be a Sr Mod/PA to family