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J.N. - November 1st, 2009

I'm a 45 year old married mother of six, grandmother of three, Army Veteran. I've been fighting the obesity battle since I had my first child in 1983. I sustained injuries while on active duty and was medically discharged from the Army in 2002. Being in the Army helped me keep my weight in check. Once discharged, I began eating my way through life, which brought me to Morbid Obesity and a BMI of 46.

My highest known weight was 268–272 Lbs. I am 5'5" tall. I wore a size 30 pants and size 4X top.

I have degenerative disk disease in my cervical and lumbar spine with permanent nerve damage. I have had two surgeries to replace discs and was looking at having more surgery, as well as, a hip replacement within five years. I also have osteoarthritis in my hips, neck and right shoulder, bursitis in my knees, as well as, osteopenia (only one point away from osteoporosis).

I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, GERD, sleep apnea in which I would stop breathing 96 times in a 1/2 hour and was a level 18 on my CPAP machine.

I was constantly tired, depressed and I felt worthless. I was actually envious of my own family because they 'had a life' and I didn't. I wouldn't go to my kids' games, track meets or matches at school or go visit friends, I was always in too much pain. Food was my only solace; my way to escape. It was the only 'friend' that allowed me to sit on my pity–pot and not judge me.

I was ashamed. Life was too much of a chore. I always had to use a cane and lean on someone's arm to walk anywhere. Some days I would have to walk with two canes just to get to my bathroom. And some days my hubby would have to help me get into the shower. I couldn't walk two houses down without having to sit down.

In January 2008, my husband came home with news that my insurance would cover the Lap–Band. My physician, my Neurosurgeon, Orthopedic Surgeon and Chronic Pain Counselor all agreed that instead, RNY was the better way to go because I would get faster pain relief if I were to lose the weight more quickly.

I had my Lap RNY with Dr. Dieter Pohl on June 4, 2008.

I've regularly attended support groups each month. I follow–up with Dr. Pohl and my nutritionist as suggested and diligently follow the 'pouch rules'. I have recorded my weight, food intake and exercise daily in an online journal and joined www.obesityhelp.com/forums/ri for extra support.

I have lost 152 pounds! I reached my weight loss goal at nine months out from surgery and have lost another 20 pounds since then and have maintained for four months now.

I no longer have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, GERD or sleep apnea! No more CPAP machine! NO MORE CANE! I walk without assistance!

I'm not tired and depressed all the time. I go out and do things with my family and friends and volunteer my time helping others help themselves.

I run a WLS support group that meets each month at Roger Williams Hospital where I had my surgery. The main group focuses on Post-Op Living and is aptly named the "Living Life Support Group". With the group's one–year anniversary coming up, a new Gastric Band group will also begin! I'm passionate about helping others share their experiences and strength with one another!

There was a time before my weight and co–morbities became unmanageable that I was the lead vocalist for a country music band. I recently went to New York City with two WLS friends and my daughter. I auditioned for 'America's Got Talent'! 18 months ago