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Failed Band: My earliest memory of feeling ashamed of being “too heavy” is from kindergarten. For over 30+ years I have struggled with gaining weight, trying to lose weight, or going mad maintaining my weight. There is no shortcut that does not come back to bite you in the butt. There is no diet that effectively changes you permanently. For me exercise is a mindful struggle I sometimes successfully commit to over small periods of time.
I was desperate and ready for a real change. I wanted a genuine difference in the way I consumed and related to food and decided the lap band was the way to go. It was marketed as a “non intrusive, non permanent, easily reversible weight loss tool” and that is EXACTLY what I thought I needed and wanted. I was so very wrong, after my surgery I was considered a “success”. In fact up until the removal of my second slipped failed band, esophagus damage, and poor nutrition; I was considered a success. I look back and think how troubling this was/is. How very damaging to the person struggling and dealing with weight issues. Truly, it messed with my mind and my ability to speak up, admit to myself and out loud the band was NOT working for me. In fact, if I’m completely truthful, it was dangerous and turned me into a residue of the person I once was. I was not able to eat comfortably or eat out any place I happen to be. With the Band, I would need to consider how long I was going to be away from home because I could only eat small bites in small quantities to ensure I did not get stuck or worse vomit what I put inside my mouth. Yes, I had lost almost 100 lbs, but I had given my quality of life as payment. My guilt ensured I would never speak up or complain since I felt “fortunate” and grateful to have had this second chance at life. In my mind, speaking up meant possibly losing the tool (lap band) that allowed me to change my life and reality. Because for the first time in memory, I was the same weight at the start, middle, and end of the year. I did not have to buy different sizes of clothing or underclothing. I could predict what I might wear since my size was stable and my clothes fit. The reality is and was far from this corrupted self truth. I was unhealthy with the restrictive nature of how the lap band worked. In fact my band slipped twice after a severe stomach virus. I later learned of many other symptoms I was making excuses for and quite frankly straight out ignored.
I met Dr. Keshishian (Dr. K) at my lowest weight and at the lowest point in my health. I finally realized, the lap band needed to come out after it had slipped again. It was clear I needed a doctor who would be straight with me and cared for my health and not his/her “success” rates and have the expertise to deal with my failed band. I researched and called several bariatric surgeons then attempted to make appointments with each to discuss the urgent band removal surgery I needed (not as simple as you would think). I was also hopeful I might have the option to undergo the bariatric sleeve surgery because I knew I would not be able to keep my weight under control on my own. I was unwilling to undergo the emotional and mental torment of gaining and losing weight for the rest of my days. I succeeded in making three appointments and truthfully after meeting and speaking to Dr. K and his office staff I canceled them immediately. Let me start with the staff as that REALLY is important; they help you feel comfortable with the doctor, the procedure, and overall experience. They represent and reflect how the doctor you’re about to see will treat his patients. The expected standard within Dr. Keshishian’s office immediately made me feel like I called the right place. I was taken by the knowledgable, kind tone and efficient manner in which they requested the necessary information to effectively help me get from the starting point to the end goal. When I got to my appointment, Dr. Keshishian BLEW MY MIND. He not only presented himself as an approachable person I immediately felt at ease with but also reveal my concerns and questions. He treated me like a person. This may sound strange but this doctor made me feel like a human being with real concerns. He listened to me, asked questions rather than talked at me, and explained how and what was happening to my body and mind. He spent 3 hours with me to answer all my questions (even if I repeated them), draw diagrams, show me video to better help me understand what was happening, and then just sat with me while I cried for a moment. I cried because my 30+ years journey of ups and downs, crazy and insanity finally led me to the door of a man who understood and knew how to help without judgment. WHICH DOCTOR DOES THIS! None that I know.
My life post surgery is what I always hoped it would be. I am able to eat vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, grains and basically a well rounded diet. What’s amazing is that I naturally do not crave sweets, heavy creamy dressings, sauces and fill up quickly. There is after all a difference between the restriction of a lap band and the feeling of being full with the sleeve which Dr. K patiently explained. Today I am able to go any where, at any time, enjoy the moment and the company rather than worry about what I’m not able to consume. My days of scanning to locate the nearest bathroom in case I need to dash to it are over.
As I write this today, I feel like a real person, not some transient hoping to savor my life at glimpses. I am a person that is balanced in my heart with the average person’s anxiety and mindful eating habits. The sleeve is not a magic end to weight gain, it does give you the fighting chance to make choices in life leading up to results you’re willing to work for.
~ Grateful and Mindful, Hasmik (September 2015 Sleeve Op Patient)
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