Go back 10 years and Shantell would’ve called you crazy if you suggested that she’d ever need weight loss surgery. See, back then she was vibrant, healthy and as she puts it “I was skinny my whole life!” But then she started feeling sick. Like, really sick. It began with bad stomach pain – so bad that she went to the emergency room. They tested. And tested some more. Nothing appeared to be wrong so they told her “You’re fine.” and sent her home.
Unfortunately, there was no relief. It just kept progressing – to the point where she began coughing up and passing blood. At this point, she knew she wasn’t “fine”. So she went back to the ER and again they couldn’t identify a cause. Exasperated and frustrated, Shantell decided to get a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. The results showed she had H. pylori, bacteria that cause stomach infections. She also showed signs of diverticular disease. She was put on an aggressive round of medication to alleviate the infection. She finally had a diagnosis and got treatment! Everything is good now, right? Well, not so fast.
Shantell was referred to a sleep specialist who diagnosed her with sleep apnea. Then a blood test revealed her cholesterol was too high. Within the next 45 days, she gained 30 pounds! And the weight gain continued – she could feel her life spiraling out of control.
Finding A Way
Mystified as she was, she wasn’t going to just let this be her “new” way of life. She was going to find a solution. After seeing several specialists, she finally made an appointment with Dr. Al-Kalla (after reading his reviews online.) Not only does Dr. Al-Kalla specialize in bariatric surgery he’s also an expert in treating GERD/reflux (which she was suffering from as well.)
One important thing to know about Shantell is that she doesn’t do things haphazardly. So she had spent hours researching physicians, procedures and any potential complications – she wanted to be educated before she ever met with the doctor. Once she met with Dr. Al-Kalla, she knew he was the right doctor for her. Initially, she thought the gastric sleeve would be her best option, but after discussing with Dr. Al-Kalla (and sharing her challenges with GERD), he suggested that a better choice would be the gastric bypass. And after he walked her through the details, she agreed and was scheduled for surgery.
Guilt Is Powerful
There’s a stigma attached to weight loss surgery – that it’s the easy way out. And like so many others, Shantell felt the pressure and the guilt to just bear down and lose the weight on her own, so she canceled her surgery. Unfortunately, her health continued to decline, despite being on 15 different medications at the time. As she remembers “I literally felt like in a matter of six months, I felt like I was going to die. I felt like it was over for me.” Scared, tired, borderline diabetic and feeling like there was no hope, Shantell said to herself “If this surgery is going to help save my life, then I need to do it.”
Road To Recovery
Well, surgery day arrived and uncovered more issues. Shantell was suffering from a very serious hiatal hernia. Her stomach was basically pushed up into her esophagus – which would explain why she felt like something was always “stuck” in her throat whenever she ate/drank. So Dr. Al-Kalla was able to repair the hernia at the same time as her bypass procedure. Recovery proved to be more difficult than she had anticipated. Mostly due to all the air trapped in her body – which can be painful. But when the nurses told her the best way to get rid of it was to start walking, well you can bet that Shantell started walking – so much so that the hospital staff started referring to her as “Speedy”!
A Life Worth Living
Fast forward to today and Shantell is living a beautiful life again. She’s enjoying physical activities like running, doing pushups and hitting the gym. She calls Dr. Al-Kalla her “lifesaver” because she had felt like her life was slipping away from her prior to her surgery. When asked what advice she has for others, Shantell responded “Do your research! I learned as much as I could because you tend to fear what you don’t know.”
That’s wonderful wisdom from someone who had to suffer through months of sickness and suffering without answers. If you or your family, friends or co-workers find yourself suffering and don’t know where to turn, we invite you to experience our approach – No Blame. No Shame. Just compassionate care that gets results.