“I’m Heather Oset and I am 29-years-old. I was 356 pounds and borderline diabetic. I experienced hypertension, sleep apnea, problems with sciatica and back pain as well as leg pain all from being morbidly obese. My weight was not only affecting my health, but my job as I’m a hairdresser. I’m on my feet all day and there were days I really struggled to make it through the day. When I did get home, I was barely able to get out of my car to my front door, that’s how much pain I would be in on a daily basis. I’ve been overweight almost all my life starting at a very early age.
My father was abusive and anytime something bad happened, I would run to the fridge and would eat whatever hostess cakes, snacks, pies, or cookies I could find, because they were his and I guess in my head that was my way of fighting back when I physically couldn’t. I never really talked about It to anyone. I just felt embarrassed and ashamed, so instead I would just eat my feelings and would continue to do so over the years.
As I got older and started working my first job as an assistant in a hair salon, my eating habits just got worse. I would never eat breakfast and then I would eat whatever I wanted for lunch.
Whole Sub sandwiches, pizza, Chinese, you name it because in my head I thought oh I didn’t eat breakfast, so I can eat whatever I wanted for lunch. Also, was a huge soda drinker, basically would have soda all day long. Dinner time was just as bad, as I worked a lot of late nights. So, dinner for me was eating a two-cheeseburger combo meal, chicken tenders, and an apple pie from McDonald’s. I never cooked or meal prepped so I basically had take out all day long.
One day when I was in the middle of a blow dry, I was experiencing sharp chest pain. I tried to ignore it thinking it would go away and continued to finish my client’s service. After I was done and still felt that pain and palpitations, I was so scared, and I left work early and my husband took me to the hospital. I remember feeling so embarrassed as they were literally taking my clothes off and putting all these wires and ekgs and I’m half naked in front of everyone. I felt like I hit rock bottom and all these thoughts in my head of ‘oh my gosh I’m going to die’ and ‘I’m too young to die.’ Thankfully after all the tests and everything I was ok and the drs. believed I was experiencing the chest pain and palpitations due to hormones. My body was so messed up due to my weight. Prior to this event, I was on birth control for years and when I got married in 2014 I stopped the pill in hopes of being able to start our family.
That never happened, because I never had a cycle for over a year and a half. My weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life between family, work, and day to day activities. After talking to a coworker of mine one day, we happened to be talking about my weight and she recommended me this local bariatric center after her mother in law had bariatric surgery and did amazingly well. I made an appointment right away.
I met with Dr. Yurcisin and we discussed my options. I wasn’t a candidate for gastric bypass, but I was left with a decision to make to either have the sleeve or the loop duo denal switch. The loop DS is kinda like a sleeve, they still remove a portion of your stomach, but they also reroute your intestines, so you have malabsorption as well as the restriction. After he explained the difference in the procedures and how if I wanted I could have the sleeve done and if I felt like I didn’t lose enough go back in for a revision to the loop DS. Just the thought of having to go back in for a revision I dreaded. So, I left that day with two decisions I had to make the next coming months, what surgery I was going to have and also putting off starting our family even longer as I would have to wait 18 months after surgery to even think about getting pregnant. That was really hard for me to hear as I had hoped I would have had a baby already. To find out I would have to put that dream off even longer was hard. I knew though in the back of my mind that there was no way I would be able to have a healthy safe pregnancy with the weight I was at. After talking it over with my husband and making sure he was ok with my decision, I went ahead with the process.
Over the next couple months, I went to my nutritionist appointments and medical testing to get clearance for surgery. I also had changed some of my eating habits before surgery and lost 20 pounds on my own right before surgery. I cut out all soda, made my lunch, and drank protein shakes for breakfast in the morning. I didn’t work out or anything because I physically was in pain all the time.
I had my surgery January 18, 2017 and it was one of the best decisions of my life. It was the start of the first day of the rest of my life. I’ll never forget the day of my surgery. I remember being butt naked on the OR table with my goods out for the world to see thinking ‘Oh my gosh am I making the right decision?’ Next thing I knew I was knocked and waking up in recovery.
It was an amazing experience the next couple months. Having to relearn my body and this new way of life actually wasn’t so bad. I’m one of those people that you tell me what I need to do, and I’ll follow everything (for the most part) to a T.
In the beginning the only exercise I was doing was just walking. Eventually after 3 months, I joined my local YMCA where I started my love for water aerobics. To this day it is my favorite workout! It’s amazing on the joints and the body and it really is a great workout. I had this fear in the back of my head that I would be the one person who had this surgery and went through all of this and not be able to lose weight.
I remember setting my first goal in my head was to hit 250lbs. As I got closer to that number I then lowered it to 200, than to 180, than to 160. Never did I think I would weigh 125lbs as of today! I’ve lost 231lbs total including the 20 I lost on my own right before surgery. I remember thinking that even if I only lost 100lbs I would have totally been ok with that because that just meant I was 100lbs healthier than what I was. Never thought I would have lost all my excess weight as I was told by my Dr with the loop duo denal switch you can lose 80-85% of your excess weight.
I never thought I would go from 356 pounds. to 125 pounds. This all just seems surreal to me! I’m so happy with my decision to have bariatric surgery, it’s saved my life! I have my health back! I’m no longer a borderline diabetic, have hypertension, or sleep apnea and eventually I’ll be able to start my family one day.
Through this journey though recently I received a good amount of comments/negativity about my weight loss. ‘You’re done losing weight right’ ‘you’re too boney’ ‘you’re too skinny’ ‘oh you took the easy way out you had surgery.’
Nothing about having surgery was easy. You have to put the work in, you have to eat right. It’s not a magic wand, it’s a tool and it’s something I’m always going to have to keep in check. I hear all the time now ‘So, are you eating normal food now?’
A couple months ago I started making and recreating recipes from Pinterest and kind of making them my own by using ground up sunflower seeds as my flour since I have a tree nut allergy. I make different variations of protein bagels, donuts, muffins and etc. This really is helping me with my maintenance because I’m still able to enjoy the things I used to love so I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself. I think that’s one thing that has really helped me with my weight loss journey is finding different/healthy ways to eat the things I used to love.
Not every day is going to be a good day. I’ve had my moments where I ate my feelings and I ate a bite more than I should have and regretted it. But I’m only human and it’s something I’m always going to deal with the rest of my life. I can tell you I have no intentions on going back to the way I was that’s for sure. I’m incredibly thankful every day for this second chance at living an actual life! I’m excited to be the best possible me I can be.
I hope to inspire others in their own journeys and just know that you’re not alone! That the impossible is possible, no matter how out of reach it seems in that moment.