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Nicholle Niehoff

Date of Surgery: August 2017
Starting Weight: 329 lbs.
Current Weight: 207 lbs.

What made you decide to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy?
I was killing myself with my weight. I wasn’t able to do things with my kids like walk to the park, go down water slides (exceeded the weight limit) or ride any rides at amusement parks (so we just didn’t go). My brother had the surgery and lost all his weight and found a happiness he’d never had as an adult. I wanted that too.

Since your vertical sleeve gastrectomy, besides the external changes, how has surgery altered your outlook on life? I’m way more positive about everything. I use to complain about everything and never smiled. I was the glass is half empty kind of person, and now I look at things more as the glass is half full. I still have days that I struggle, but way less of those than ever before in my adult life.

Has it changed your relationships with family, friends, or co-workers? Some - my family has been mostly supportive, although my husband while saying he supports me hasn’t shown much support since the weight started coming off and we’re struggling to reconnect. Friends have been supportive and encouraging when I’ve been down or hit a stall. Before surgery I hadn’t worked outside the home in 12 years, lots of anxiety over being out in public at my previous weight, plus I was home with kids. Now I have a job, but many don’t know about the surgery; some do as I’m working in the schools my kids have been going to. Many of the teachers have seen me at my heaviest weight and have asked questions which I’ve answered.

What do you wish you’d known before the surgery? How crazy emotional the first couple of months would be! I’m overly emotional anyway, but the weight started to come off so quickly my hormones were all out of whack, and I was a on a crazy roller coaster of emotions! It took a while for it to calm down and for me to figure out that I needed the support of seeing someone to help me with all of it. Making an appointment to see Paige after surgery was a hard thing for me to do; it was needed, and I’m still working through things, but it wasn’t easy.

What would you tell someone who is considering vertical sleeve gastrectomy? Go to the informational class, ask questions, gather as much information as you can. I spent years thinking about it before I even came to the class, and I wish I’d taken that first step sooner. I have no regrets moving forward from that night of class though. Be prepared for hard work and to have down days; the pounds didn’t go on overnight and they aren’t going to come off overnight either.

Where is your journey taking you? Way out of my old comfort zone!! I was never a person to speak in groups, in front of crowds, never on TV! I’ve gained a whole new level of self confidence I never knew I had in me. I can hold conversations with adults; I’m use to talking to kids, that’s all I’ve been around for years. This has allowed me to leave my house, get a job, join the PTA, and just be part of society again. I feel human again - I feel like the person I should have been 25 years ago, but was afraid to be behind all my weight.

Any additional information you would like to share? I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 and told that it could be controlled with diet and exercise once my weight came down. They put me on oral medications at that time. Never once was I told it could go away if I lost enough weight. In 2016, I was put on two types of insulin and my average blood sugar was 300. I was devastated and weighed close to 400 lbs. My surgery was August of 2017, my PCP took me off of all diabetes medications in October 2017, and in July of 2018 dropped the diagnosis of diabetes completely from my medical record. I was taken off of the medication for high blood pressure in February of 2018 also. I feel amazing and couldn’t be happier with the decision to do this.

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