Kristin Szilagyi Transforms from Obesity to American Beauty, Part 1 - My Bariatric Lifeby Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate
Kristin before and after weight loss surgery and lower body lift.** Introductio **
Kristin Szilagyi waited with me in my hospital room on August 27, 2003. She was with me up until the moment the nurses brought the gurney that would deliver me into my new life. And Kristin was there on the other side, giving support to me and other patients throughout our weight loss surgery journeys.
Kristin was the bariatric surgeon's first patient. And what a spectacular patient she was. Kristin's weight loss was exemplary. It was like watching the duckling become the swan. She became a poster child for weight loss surgery. I would see her photo larger than life flash by me on billboards as I drove down the turnpike and in movies theaters on the big screen before the coming attractions.
I suspect Kristin always has been a beautiful person on the inside. After her weight loss surgery, Kristin became an American beauty inside and out.
Intervie: Kristin, you had gastric bypass surgery in 2002. After that, you ran the surgeon's live and online support groups. What is it that inspired you to want to help patients?
A: In 2001 there were hardly any surgeons in NJ that were performing weight loss surgery. The surgeon who was in my health insurance plan had 1.5 year waiting list for surgery. He also had a monthly support group. So, I FORCED myself to the first 2 meetings because I thought a meeting? Like AA? I don't have a problem! I'm not an addict! I don't even like being seen in public! However, if I was going to alter my body I needed to talk to other people that went through this. I went every month. I can't begin tell you the education, love and support this group of people showed to me, it was remarkable. So I joined their support group team. It was my way of tricking me to go every month. I didn't need them they would need me! If they needed me to do something I had to be there. It was the BEST decision I ever made. I had never went to a support group meeting ever! Boy did I learn a lot!! Now I know better, I needed them, they didn't need me. I wanted to give back and let me tell you I could not do enough. I have the honor to relay the stories of my life so that they too can have a hope for a changed life; a life not marked with suffering and humiliation, but one that is bright with dreams that become realities, a life that is free from the imprisonment that having an obese body brings. For that, I am grateful, for without my own suffering, I could never truly understand the internal strife of my peers. We all have the power to make the changes that we want to be; sometimes we need to help each other along that journey.
Q: Please help our readers to understand what led you to become obese and how you came to decide to undergo weight loss surgery (WLS).
A: I was not overweight as a child. I started gaining weight my senior year of high school. I know now after 10 years that I had led myself to becoming obese. That's a hard pill to swallow. Who would actually want to be obese? Let alone allowing yourself to become morbidly obese. Oh but the excuses did I always have! My biggest ones are that I worked in a salon 6 days a week and ate out breakfast, lunch & dinner. There was no time to eat. I would scoff down food in 5 minutes. On the weekends I was too tired to cook, so let's order out or go out. Then I had kids".baby weight. Then I owned my own salon, it was too much to handle. I was borderline diabetic. I was depressed. Then there were marital problems. I'd lose twenty or thirty pounds then put it right back on plus another forty. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I had no energy and had to take a handful of pills just to make it through the day. I even tried prescription weight loss drugs for a period of time. The list goes on and on. I decided that after being on every diet and programs out there, wasting my money on shams and fads. I had had it with myself; I was frustrated, discouraged and severely depressed. When you're that overweight, you feel like a failure. You feel embarrassed and self-conscious. I felt like there was nothing I could do, and that I was just going to be overweight for the rest of my life. I heard about gastric bypass surgery from a client who knew someone who had the surgery. In the beginning I thought the idea was absolutely crazy. I started doing research and finally made the appointment for a consultation.
Continue to part 2 of this interview.