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Recovering from Grief

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Laura Tenbus

December 19, 2018
Grief was the main driver in both Leigh's and Lorraine’s weight gain. The mother and daughter experienced losses together and both turned to food for relief. For Leigh, it was the loss of her grandmother when she was in second grade. She began sneaking snacks and food became her source of comfort. “That’s just how I dealt with it,” she said. For Lorraine it was the loss of her husband that pushed her over the edge. As adults, both women struggled with obesity and all the side effects that came with it. While both were in fairly good health, with the exception of their weight, they recognized that it would not stay that way if they continued down the path they were on.

After her father died in 2010, Leigh went through a four-year period of focused weight-loss attempts. She experimented with various diet and exercise programs, but nothing lasted long-term. Her weight constantly fluctuated and she found herself worn down and exhausted. "I got to the point where I just didn't know what else to do," she said. This was when weight-loss surgery came onto her radar. Leigh had a conversation with a coworker who was considering surgery for herself and it piqued her interest enough to sign up for an information session with GBMC's Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP).

What surprised her the most was how candid the presenter was about the details of the surgery. This was the first time she had heard factual information about it and she found it incredibly refreshing. After the information session, she decided to schedule a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Dovec to learn more. "I went in with the thought that it couldn't hurt to get more information and I left that appointment knowing this was exactly what I needed to do," Leigh said. Lorraine, however, was very apprehensive about her daughter getting weight-loss surgery. It seemed extreme to her and she was worried about the potential risks. Despite her mother's concerns, Leigh was confident in her decision and had a sleeve gastrectomy in 2014.

Lorraine watched as her daughter gained confidence in herself and began to enjoy things like going shopping and attending social events. Seeing the change in Leigh's life made Lorraine realize how unsatisfied she was with her own. She had trouble keeping up with her grandson and even the smallest physical exertion left her exhausted and short of breath. After losing her husband, she "ballooned" and never recovered. "I wanted to be happy again," she said, "and seeing the overall change in Leigh made me realize that this was a really good thing." In 2016, just two years after Leigh, Lorraine underwent gastric bypass surgery.

Together, they've lost more than 200 pounds, and they both say their quality of life has dramatically improved. Leigh loves that she no longer has to shop in the "deep, dark corner of the plus size section," Lorraine can now play with her grandson without getting tired, and both women have learned healthier ways to cope with strong emotions. They have gained a whole new support system in their COMP family and it has been "extremely helpful" both before and after surgery. "I love that I can send a message or make a call and get an almost immediate response from a doctor or practitioner," says Leigh. While it isn't always easy, both women believe this was one of the best decisions they've ever made. "It was a Godsend," said Lorraine, "now, life is just grand."

If you’re ready to begin your own transformation, or would simply like to know more about weight-loss surgery, sign up to attend one of our free information sessions!
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