17 Year Old Bariatric Surgery Patient Jessy Inspires Others

Meet one of the most inspiring Duodenal Switch patients. 17 year old bariatric surgery patient Jessy inspires others seeking a solution to obesity. Her weight loss surgery journey and her post-op transformation moves me to tears. At 11 months post-op Jessy had lost 129 pounds and posted stunning pictures of herself before heading out to her prom. “I danced all night tonight and don’t hurt at all!” She reminds so many of us of the courage and tenacity it can take to fight to have surgery and why we chose this path to embark on the journey towards improved health and enhanced quality of life. Jessy was just 17 when she had Duodenal Switch surgery July 11, 2009 with Dr. Marchesini in Brazil. She is no longer 17, is growing up and moving on with her life. Her story is worth the read.


Jessy’s Story in Her Own Words

My life since having Duodenal Switch (DS) surgery one year ago is absolutely wonderful. I mean that! It’s better then I could have ever imagined. All this time I’ve been thinking about being “one year out”. I was wondering if I should tell my back story, so here goes!

About 4 years ago my mom’s older brother was sent to Mississippi to a training camp because he was going to be deployed to Iraq once he was done. But while going from one training camp to the other his Humvee was hit from behind by a man high on drugs, my uncle and the man in the driver’s seat were instantly killed.

You may wonder what this has to do with anything, but this was a big part of me being able to get my DS.

After my uncle’s tragic death my mother received a call from my aunt (this was around the time that I was getting very serious about getting the DS) telling us that my uncle had left her just enough money to cover my weight loss surgery. To this day it saddens me that he died, but in a way he helped saved my life… without that money I would not have been able to get the DS in time. That funding came JUST in time. I was 16 years old and weighing in at 535 pounds, my body was completely broken. I always had this feeling, no matter how hard things got, no matter how scary, that I was not going to die at such a young age. It was not acceptable or believable to me.

I had gotten to the point where I could not turn myself over in my bed, I could not do anything. I felt like this gigantic burden to my mom and sister’s, my sister was a “pre-teen” and she was ashamed of me. I’ve always had confidence no matter how big I was, so I tried not to pay attention to those things. But it got harder and harder. I started to develop lymphedema in my legs. I had no idea what it was at the time, I went to a local ER and as soon as the doctor saw me he said “it’s just fat” and walked out.

I was so ashamed of my weight that I hadn’t gone to a PCP for a while, because the last time I did she did nothing but hurt me, emotionally. She blamed me for “trying to kill” myself by eating, my reply to her was “oh yeah, because I totally enjoy dying a SLOW PAINFUL death.” (HEAVY sarcasm) The last straw with her was when she told me that she would have a bet that I would die before I turned 20. She also refused to even let me think about WLS as an option because she said I “simply needed to stop eating so much” even though at that time I was on a STRICT diet (and she knew).

My mom finally convinced me to go to her PCP, and so out of desperation I agreed. He turned out to be a wonderful man who played a big role in me getting the DS. When I went to see him for the first time I had not been weighed in a very long time. I got on that scale and it read 500 pounds and I cried. I cried like I never cried in my life, when I saw that number it felt like I was looking death in the face. I cried and he and my mother sat with me, he was the first doctor to ever treat me kindly.

He looked me in the eyes and told me that there is something WAY more wrong with me then just “over eating” (he knew I wasn’t) and said that it would take something more then just over eating to get me to my weight I was at. I finally had met someone who understood; who didn’t blame and bash me, someone who knew that it was my body that was messed up, and not my mind! It was one of the best feelings in the world to meet someone who finally believed me, who finally saw my pain and frustration and who was just as puzzled as I was!

He himself only knew about the lap-band and the RNY (like a majority of the doctors) and so he told me that he supported me 100% in my pursuit of weight loss surgery (WLS) and that he would fill out every paper and do every lab I needed done, as soon as possible. At that time I only knew about the RNY and lap-band as well and so we submitted my paperwork to the only RNY surgeon in Alaska. And after we did, I had to wait.

I was sleeping when the RNY office called. My mom came down to me with a red swollen face from crying and hugged me and told me that the RNY surgeon’s assistant said they would not do my surgery and told me to loose 100 pounds and then come back to them. I lost all hope. That was the worst feeling in my life; loosing my hope. I remember sitting there and there was no feelings. I felt empty, then the rejection began to sink in and I felt the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, I knew that without WLS I was going to die and I felt like death was my only option left and I felt like I was just going to sit in my home and eventually just pass on.

For the next couple days after my rejection the only way I could get myself up in the morning was by promising myself that I would take my own life rather then succumb to my obesity. I already felt so ashamed for being the size I was, and I felt that I would be even more ashamed if I let obesity be my cause of death (and obviously it would have been). Looking back at that time in my life, how I promised myself that I would take my own life hurts me. I’ve never been one to feel like that, to say such a thing. I’ve always loved life no matter my size, but I had come to the realization that I would never get to enjoy a life at that size and I saw no reason to live anymore.

I would set my day to when I wanted to possibly end it all, and I would make a mental promise. But something, something kept me waiting. I would say “next Sunday.” and when Sunday came around I would say “next Tuesday.” and when that day came I would say another day.

But then one day I remembered the Obesity Help website, I hadn’t been on it in a while and so basically as a last straw when I went and posted about being rejected for RNY surgery and many lovely people came to my aid, and told me about this wonderful WONDERFUL weight loss surgery, Duodenal Switch! I am SO thankful to all those people everyday of my life; every single day. The more time I spent on the Obesity Help website and the more people that educated me about the DS, I began to get my hope back and that was one of the best feelings I have felt.

So from there on I did my research on DS and my hope grew and grew. I knew that I was going to have to travel for the DS because no one here in Alaska does it and I was ok with that. I took all the information I could find on the DS and showed my mom, and my PCP. Because of my age I needed them, I had to convince them. And I did.

The DS was all I ever talked about, I was on the Obesity Help website everyday reading all the success stories to my mom. Because we were on a budget and because of my age (which was annoying!) I started to look at out of USA options and I found Dr. Marchesini in Brazil. I talked to his past patients and I liked him more and more. I remember asking my mom what her reaction would be if I told her we had to go to Brazil for my surgery. Her answer was “NO WAY. I am not going out of the country!” But as we all know she ended up changing her mind lol!

I remember being worried about my size, being as big as I was I felt like no one would take me, such a high risk. Plus my age bothered some surgeons. But I began to talk to Dr. Marchesini through e-mails and he told me he would love to help me, and he’d love to do my surgery. And from there on I was set. I got all my paperwork done, and I waited. My surgery date was set for July 11th.

And so I have just been loving my DS ever since.

Now in my life I feel like I can do anything, I have high expectations for myself because my obesity is no longer holding me back as much. I am still pretty big but that’s ok, I know my DS is still working and I am still doing what I need to do. While I was at my biggest I wasn’t able to do school, so I did online classes, something happened with the home school program computer system and they lost my grades and refused to give me my credits so I am still in high school just finishing up my last year. I go to a public school now that I found right after getting home. It’s wonderful because at that time I was still healing, and I couldn’t go to a normal school everyday but this school has a flexible schedule and I love it.

I currently have straight A’s and I only have a couple classes to finish and I graduate!

Some WOW Moments:

  • Before surgery I wanted to be able to drive SO bad, but I could not fit. At one year post-op I am down 141 pounds and I now I fit and have my license!!!
  • I can wear regular size flats!! My feet no longer look pudgy and weird in flats! They look like normal people feet! I love flats!!
  • My younger sister and I share some clothing (she’s a lot smaller then me, but some things fit her lol! if that makes sense)
  • I go on a bike ride at least once a day, and go on walks all the time! I love them!
  • I can stand for so long now.
  • I can feel my knees. Before my sister use to tease me and saw “Wheres your knee cap Jessica??” and she would feel around and it was funny. She went to tease me the other day and was saying “Where’s….” and she said “WHOA! I can feel your knee cap! Ah….weird….I’m not use to feeling you all bony….this isn’t fun.” and we laughed so hard. I was so excited that I yelled “MOM! I CAN FEEL MY KNEE CAPS!!” and she clapped. Awesome.
  • I am now a size 9 shoe 🙂 I use to be a 10 or 11 wide. Now I’m just a normal 9.

Sept 2010 Update – Down 180 pounds since surgery

Jessy got her first job!

“I went in for the interview with two other ladies applying for the same position, I having no past work experience felt that I didn’t really have a chance. But going with my personality and my ability to learn fast and work hard I kept with it, went through the hour long interview, submitted my paperwork and waited. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel that my weight could or would hold me back. I didn’t go into that building worrying I’d be the biggest person there; I didn’t shoot myself down standing next to much smaller women. I had confidence (something I’ve always had) but I was also at peace with myself. The whole interview the thought “oh no I won’t get this job because I’m fat” never ran through my head like it would of.

Another amazing day living life with my DS.”

More WOW Moments:

  • All of the things above are amazing wow’s! But for me the one that tops them all was when I went with my mom to her doctor appointment (we have the same PCP) when he walked in and saw my weight loss he said “Holy sh*t” he then went on to say “excuse my language but you are a success! I haven’t had a weight loss surgery patient loose as much as you! Amazing!”
  • I got to play tag with my youngest sister the other day. We all went on a long walk and it was awesome!
  • 2X shirts are on their way to becoming baggy!
  • My double chin is almost gone!

Jessy, we wish you continued success in your weight loss journey and look forward to continued updates.