More weight-loss surgery stories

PANA – Christine Brizendine lost 100 pounds on a diet once.

That big weight loss a couple of decades ago gave her the confidence she needed to get a different job and go back to college for a master's degree.

But she gradually returned to her old eating habits, and the weight returned.

A 5-foot, 4-inch case worker with grown children, Brizendine says she grew up in a family that loved to eat.

"In high school, I was at least 200 pounds, and after I had children, it just kept going up," she remembers.

When her weight reached 367, she started checking out weight-loss surgery. But her former health insurer wouldn't cover the procedure.

When her insurance was changed to Blue Cross/Blue Shield in 2006, coverage became possible but only after she followed the insurer's requirement to try supervised weight loss programs again, Brizendine said.

Meanwhile, she was battling high blood pressure and carrying so much weight she had to have knee-replacement surgery.

Brizendine said she managed to lose 33 pounds after a year of dieting, "but I had so much to lose and I wasn't able to get out and walk or exercise."

It was even hard to go shopping.

"I didn't even go to Wal-Mart," she said. "I couldn't walk through the store."

Now 53, Brizendine underwent gastric banding surgery in June 2008, and has lost 90 pounds. She'd like to lose 60 more, she says, but already feels so much better.

She can walk more and faster. She no longer has back problems. She can fit easily into movie and airplane seats and there's even more room in the car.

Food now comes in tablespoon-size servings for her.

A day of eating might be an egg for breakfast if she's not too full from dinner the night before. Lunch is a small bowl of cottage cheese and a small bowl of coleslaw if she's got room for both. Dinner might be a couple ounces of steak, a tablespoon of mashed potatoes and some green beans.

When somebody's birthday rolls around, she can have a small piece of cake if she wants. But after all she's been through, she doesn't really want it.

"Sometimes I'll have a little Lean Cuisine meal, and that little meal is plenty," she says.

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