Journeys in bariatric surgery: Cristianne's story
Hello! My name is Cristianne, and this is my story.
When I began looking for photos to submit for this testimonial, I realized I didn’t have very many of myself from before surgery. I came to the realization that I spent most of my time hiding behind the camera or behind closed doors. The photo that dropped me to my knees in disbelief and motivated me to start this journey, was a candid photo I found on my phone that my 4-year-old took of me. Thank God for her and that moment.
My journey with food began as a young girl. At age 8, I had to take on the role of “mom” to my 3 siblings. I would make us Idaho potatoes for dinner every night. Quickly I had advanced to canned soups, top ramen, eggs, etc. As my relationship with cooking and food grew, my upbringing also grew to become more traumatic. Food became my own personal salvation and got me through the darkest of times. Food and cooking not only brought me happiness, but also the temporary satisfaction I craved. There were times we didn’t have much food and when we did, my father (who was overweight all his life) stocked up on mountain dew, bags of sugary cereal, frozen burritos, anything cheap that could feed four kids. Growing up, the only vegetable I remember eating was creamed corn from a can with sugar and butter added. My dad would often do fad diets. I remember him once on a diet where he would eat a pack of bacon a day. My dad passed away when he was 46. This was NOT going to be my story.
I decided to have surgery for ME, but mostly for my daughters. My biggest fear was that I was going to pass along my unhealthy relationship with food to them. My daughters are so proud of me for changing my lifestyle and I hope they always feel that way. At 37, I can say my relationship with food is a healthy one and I am proud of where I am at. I feel in control! I dance every day. I socialize again. My marriage is the strongest it has ever been. I am the strongest I have ever been!
I just recently celebrated my 1-year surger-versary! I have gone from a size 18 to a size 8 and I am currently 80 lbs. down. I am now a “Mudgirl” too (accomplished a mud run)! On my social media, I am vocal about bariatric surgery because it saved my life, and it can save someone else’s too. Being honest and vulnerable is so important to me, to inspire others to live a happier and healthier life! I refer everyone to Dr. Houman Solomon. He truly gave me the tools to completely change my life and I am forever grateful. I’ll never forget the morning after surgery, I wasn’t drinking enough water or protein to be discharged home. I was feeling sorry for myself, and he walked in and said, “What’s going on? I did my job, now you do yours.” It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it put me in my place REAL quick. This is not a game, but if it was, I had the best coach!! Thank you, Dr. Solomon, I hope to continue to make you proud.
My surgery was at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance in December 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a lot of firsts at that time, but the staff was stellar from beginning to end. They did not skip a beat and they have this down to a science. They rolled with all the changes that came with having bariatric surgery during a pandemic and I wouldn’t have wanted to have my surgery at any other time, strangely enough. Thank you to my pre-op and post-op nursing team!
At 1 year post op, I know my journey is just beginning. My maintenance journey will be a long one. I am committed to working hard and to continue to heal myself physically, mentally and spiritually. If I could offer advice to anyone considering bariatric surgery I’d say:
- Do your research! I started my journey scouring YouTube, watching hours of videos of bariatric surgeons and bariatric patients. This self-research helped me the most! I was prepared for stalls, hair loss, post op care, etc. There is an abundance of free information online. Use it!
- Invest in yourself! If you’re like me, you are used to putting others first. This time, put yourself first! Buy the protein, the vitamins, a food scale, pay for a gym membership or bariatric support group membership. So worth it!
- Plan ahead! Keep healthy snacks at work and in your car. Have water bottles in your car. Keep protein shakes in your desk. I rarely eat out and am always satisfied. Sometimes I feel I am always eating, but I am always listening to my body and honor what it is asking for.
- Trust the process and be patient! Take body measurements, so you can track progress when the scale isn’t moving. Be proud of your consistency and celebrate all the wins, big or small! Love your body. It has loved you through thick and thin and still fights for you every day!
For more information about our Bariatric Wellness Program, please visit our website or call our Program Coordinator, Colette Micko at 310-303-5613.