Case Study: Rowena, 54-year-old female

Sleeve Gastrectomy in 2015.

Initial Weight in 2015: 114 kg

Post-operative Weight in 2016: 79kg

Post-operative Weight in 2017: 76kg

Read Rowena’s story below, unedited in her own words:

My Sleeve Story…

Gosh!  I’m not sure where to start with my “Sleeve Gastrectomy Story”???

I guess if I just give a brief history and then go from there…

My name is Rowena Sardeson and like most women, I live a crazy busy lifestyle!  I am happily married to my husband of 32 years Neil, and together we have two grown up sons (well… they are “works in progress”) aged 21 and 19 years… I am 54 and work full time as an Admin Assistant / Receptionist in a beautiful childcare centre.

I feel that for most of my life I have been fat; well at least “plus size”.  There was a brief time in my late teens – early 20’s that I don’t remember feeling this way but certainly for most of my adult life I have been big!  The “happy fat chick”, confident & extroverted…  Not afraid of much and prepared to give everything a go!

A few years ago, as the need for my involvement in the boy’s daily lives was beginning to lessen, I found that I had some time that I could invest in myself…  Like a typical mummy I had put my “everything” into my family and neglected myself… time to change things…  I really wasn’t happy with myself and felt fat and frumpy, and probably a little embarrassed.  Our finances were a little better and I could afford to join a gym and perhaps even spend a few dollars on some personal training just to “teach me what to do and then I would be able to do it on my own”  So I joined a gym.

Oh!  And there had been a moment…  It was an “oh s#*%!” moment…  Neil & I had attended a Gala Ball, me in a borrowed dress…  I HAD felt quite glamourous and beautiful until a “moment” where I ended up as the butt of a joke…  At the time I laughed with everyone and mocked myself, but inside I was dyeing a very painful death…  It was horrid…  Plus, there was a photo…

Joining the gym turned out to be a life changing decision.  I invested in personal training sessions and had the most wonderful young man as my trainer.  Together we achieved all sorts of “wins” however weight loss never really was one of them…  No matter what we tried!  I would lose a few kilos & have small successes but could not sustain such strict eating and exercise regimes.  And I so desperately wanted to be slimmer!

Regrettably for me, “Ben the Wonder Trainer” (by now a very good family friend) left the gym…  I continued on for another 12 months on my own but with no further success…  I was wasting my time, effort AND money…  And getting heavier!  I joined another gym (one with no mirrors!) and again I enjoyed the camaraderie and was very strong but yep, I was still fat…  I was around 114kg.

I had of course thought about weight loss surgery but had always dismissed it as being too expensive and if I’m truthful, I thought it was a bit of a “cheat’s way”…  That was until I had the opportunity to speak at length to a friend who had undergone surgery two years earlier… And there was no question that was off limits…  I witnessed her “everyday”, I saw her new body and I wanted to know more…  I wanted to be like her!

Sooo… I asked Neil…  After all, I didn’t want to investigate and research this further if he wasn’t on board with it…  I was already experiencing incredible amounts of guilt when I thought of the money that I had already spent on trying to lose weight… And here I was asking to invest even more!  I fessed up to Neil how anxious I was feeling as I awaited his response…  His answer: “Row, if it costs $10,000 and you have your health & happiness then it’s worth it…”  (Loved him even more right then!!!)

Jump forward only a few weeks later and I have had my surgery and begun THE most exciting time of my life!  I was sooooo ready!  Has it been easy?  Nope!  Have I been challenged?  Yep!  Do I regret my decision? Nope!!!

With the support and encouragement of Dr Jordaan and his team, I was well informed and knew without a doubt that I was not doing it on my own…  I knew what the recovery process was and why it was so important…  I knew that the surgery itself was only a part of the process…  I learnt that my mindset and what’s going on in my head are just as important, if not more than, the actual surgery!

At every step I have learnt!  And I continue to learn! I am learning what food choices work and which ones don’t… I am learning how to choose foods that will be most beneficial to my health & wellbeing…  I am learning the importance of maintaining a food diary…  Constantly learning, refining and reworking…  This is not a quick fix…  It requires a lot of effort and it’s really hard work.

I am now 10months into my weight loss journey, and I feel blessed to have had such a positive experience…  My Sleeve Gastrectomy has been very successful with my weight currently in the high 70’s!  Say what???  Deciding to undergo surgery has been life changing… A decision further enhanced by what is seen by some as a rather brave decision to “own it”!  Prior to surgery there were only a few friends who knew of my plans however afterwards I told the world with a post on social media…  That in itself has been THE MOST EMPOWERING TOOL EVER!  I haven’t hidden it away as a “secret”; rather I have fessed up and been open and honest about the path chosen!  I welcome folks asking questions!  And ask they do!  Constantly!  J  It has been incredible just how many people are interested and want to know more…

My weight loss surgery has changed my life… I was always happy; now I’m truly happy…

Photo caption: Rowena and Dr Jordaan in February 2017