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Jennifer Mendez

Surgery Date: May 2015
Starting Weight: 215 lbs.
Current Weight: 140 lbs.

When she realized she could not hold her daughter on her lap at a movie theater, Jennifer decided it was time to change her life. She says: “This surgery has not only improved my self confidence and selfworth but it has made me realize how lucky I am to have been able to have this procedure and to get control of my health. ”

Before your surgery, what medical conditions were you suffering from? Before surgery I was suffering from terrible sleep apnea and I was prediabetic. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I had gestational diabetes and my primary care physician told me that if I did not get my excess weight off within 5 years he predicted I’d be a full-blown diabetic.

Since your vertical sleeve gastrectomy, in which conditions or diseases have you seen a change? My A1C levels (test for diabetics) are now in the normal range. I’m sleeping much better too!

What made you decide to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy? Honestly the turning point for me to begin my weight-loss journey was the day I took my daughter (4 at the time) to see a movie at the local theater. She begged me to let her sit on my lap but my stomach was so big there was no room on my legs for her. That was my “Ah ha” moment. The guilt and shame I felt at that exact moment was so bad I knew I had to do something.

Besides the external changes you have experienced, how has the surgery altered your outlook on life and your relationships? I value my life a lot more than I did before. I didn’t want to wake up in 5 years with diabetes or heart disease. I take my health very seriously and I try to promote a healthy life-style with everyone around me. I work out 6 days a week and I am very strict about what I eat. I realized I don’t need food for pleasure but as fuel for my body to perform at its very best. I am a happier person with a more positive outlook on everything. This not only affects me but everyone around me.

What kinds of things are you able to do now that before the surgery were difficult or impossible? I am not so easily tired. I can play with my daughter and when I take her to an amusement park I can fit comfortably in the rides and not feel ashamed. I can go for walks without being winded. I love seeing the changes in my body.

What do you wish you’d known before the surgery? A lot of things people do socially revolve around eating and drinking, both of which I couldn’t enjoy in the same ways as I did before. This made me very depressed about a month after surgery. Over time I got control of those feelings though and started to see that I didn’t have to isolate myself and that I could go out to eat if I was invited. Secondly, I wish I would have really looked into the issue of the amount of excess skin I would have after the weight loss. The insurance doesn’t pay for cosmetic surgery and after losing so much weight so quickly my skin did not have time to bounce back. I was left with sagging breasts and a sagging stomach flap. I literally had to wear pants that were too big so I could tuck in the excess skin.

The IWLS staff warned me about the chance of depression and the excess skin before the surgery, but honestly, I was just so excited to lose the weight I didn’t pay attention. If I would have taken the information more seriously I could have prepared myself better for the life-style change shock I would go through as well as the cost of cosmetic surgery (I have since had cosmetic surgery to remove the excess skin).

What would you say about Dr. Eibes and the Iowa Weight Loss Specialists team? When it comes to Dr. Eibes and his team I can’t say enough good things. They have literally changed my life. There was never a time when I went to their clinic feeling ashamed of myself for letting my weight get out of hand. Never once did they act hopeless or as if they couldn’t help. I needed positive people in my corner which is exactly what this staff was, and continues to be.

What would you tell someone who was considering the surgery?
I would tell anyone considering the surgery to go for it. It is so worth it. Yes, I struggled with life style change issues after the surgery, but they were minor struggles compared to the happiness and health that I have now. I would encourage anyone to research and listen to the doctors and the staff about all of the outcomes and listen to their advice.

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