Lap Band Patient Story: Segment 1
Guest: Beth Treado – Lap-Band Surgery Patient
Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry
Dr. Linda Austin: Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast. In this series we are following the experience of a special young woman, Beth Treado, as she undergoes Lap-Band surgery as the cornerstone of a weight loss program.
I am Dr. Linda Austin and this is Segment 1 of what we think is going to be a really fun and fascinating series of conversations.
I am talking with Beth Treado. Beth, you have a very exciting week coming up. What is going to be happening to you?
Beth Treado: I am scheduled for the Lap-Band procedure on Monday, the 25th. I’m extremely excited about it.
Dr. Linda Austin: And that is four days from now. What exactly have they explained to you about that procedure? What are they going to do?
Beth Treado: They are going to go in and place a saline band around the top of my stomach. The band is expandable and it can be taken out if it needs to be. It is the new form of gastric bypass, less invasive, and will actually be followed up with monthly visits to the doctor so they can increase, or decrease, the amount of saline in the band to control weight loss.
Dr. Linda Austin: Wow! So, in other words, if you end up losing weight too quickly, they could adjust that? Or, if you stall out and stop losing weight then they can make the band, what, more snug, I guess?
Beth Treado: Correct. What I have been told is the first four weeks, there will be absolutely no saline put into the band. After four weeks of my stomach adjusting to the band, because my stomach will be swollen around that area, they will go in and put in 1 cc of saline and, at that point, allow my stomach another month to adjust to that 1 cc. Basically, they call it the sweet spot and it could take up to a year to figure out where that sweet spot is for me to be able to lose the right amount of weight at a healthy pace.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, I have to admit, if I were in your shoes right now and I were anticipating this in four days, over the weekend, I think I might have one last blowout. Are you tempted to do that, or have they talked to you about that?
Beth Treado: I am, actually, going to do that. My family is going to be in town this weekend. We are going to dinner on Saturday night. I will have my last few glasses of wine and a steak, and be done with it, so, yeah.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, that will not be your last few glasses of wine forever, is it?
Beth Treado: No. I have been told that I will be able to enjoy a few glasses of wine but I do need to watch consumption because of my stomach size, number one, number two, because of the calories associated with alcohol consumption.
Dr. Linda Austin: And how about steak? Will you be able to enjoy a nice juicy steak again?
Beth Treado: They have said there are no limitations when it comes to food. With steak being such a hard type of meat, I am sure that is something that I will have to eat in small portions. It is going to have to be chewed thoroughly before I can pass it through the hole within the pouch.
Dr. Linda Austin: Well, it is going to be so exciting to watch this, Beth. I have seen other people go through this process and I think it is really remarkable. The people I have seen who have done it have commented on what an easy surgical procedure it is and they are so thrilled with the fact that they lose weight. Let’s go back. I want you to really let us get to know you a little bit. How old are you now, Beth?
Beth Treado: I am 24. I will be 25 in September.
Dr. Linda Austin: And what do you do for a living?
Beth Treado: I work in the hospitality industry. I’m in group sales.
Dr. Linda Austin: And how long have you been doing that?
Beth Treado: It is going on three years.
Dr. Linda Austin: So, when you look back in your life, at what age do you think you started gaining weight, more so than your friends?
Beth Treado: I have always struggled with weight. It is a hereditary issue our family has always faced. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have not been overweight. Even as a child, I look back at pictures and I realize that I was probably growing a lot faster than my friends, in height and weight.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, have you talked to your mother about this, like what happened when you were a baby or toddler? I mean, did it start that early, do you think?
Beth Treado: I don’t really think it started when I was a toddler. I would say that it probably starter during kindergarten. Also, I was raised in a southern family. We were raised to always eat everything on our plate. We look back now as a family and realize some of the mistakes we made as a family when it came to mealtime and realize that we really did not include vegetables and things like that. A vegetable to us is a casserole. So, that is going to have to change. I want to instill in a family of my own things that I did not learn in regards to eating habits.
Dr. Linda Austin: Have other people in your family, brothers, sisters, parents, struggled with weight as well?
Beth Treado: Always, yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: How many siblings do you have?
Beth Treado: I have one brother. He is two years older than me.
Dr. Linda Austin: So, he has weight difficulties too?
Beth Treado: Yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: How about your mom and dad?
Beth Treado: Yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: Both of them?
Beth Treado: Yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: Have any of them considered this procedure, if it is successful for you?
Beth Treado: Insurance-wise, the real key here, with my mom and brother being in a school system, they have learned that it is not a procedure that is covered by insurance. So, under that umbrella, then probably not because of the expense, but they have looked into it.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, going back again, what are some of your early memories about what it was like to struggle with your weight?
Beth Treado: To be honest with you, I have never allowed my weight to hold me back. I have so many friends, I can hardly keep up with them. I am very active with everything I get involved in. But there was one time in my life when I felt I was made fun of for my weight and that was fourth grade. Since then, it has always been in the back of my mind. But, honestly, it has never held me back.
Dr. Linda Austin: What happened in fourth grade?
Beth Treado: I had on an outfit that was green and had cows all over it, my mother put me in it for some strange reason, and I was mooed at in the lunch room. And, since then, it has always played in the back of my mind. I look back now and I laugh about it, but at the time, it really got to me.
Dr. Linda Austin: It really wounded you, I am sure.
Beth Treado: Yeah.
Dr. Linda Austin: Teenagers, of course, become really aware of body image and fashion, and so forth. What was that like for you?
Beth Treado: Like I have said, coming into this surgery, there is nothing I have ever wanted more than to walk into the Gap and be able to buy a pair of jeans. I have never had that luxury. So, growing up, it was always an issue for me as a teenager, where I could and could not shop. That was probably the worst part of being a teenager for me. And, even now, I am into my adult years, you know, it is a little easier with work attire, but just having the luxury of going shopping with my girlfriends and being able to try anything I want. But, like I said, I truly have the personality and the willpower and it has just never held me back when it comes to social things.
Dr. Linda Austin: I wish that the folks listening could see you because you are so cute and so bubbly and so vivacious that I can see, obviously, that you have great self esteem and this will just kind of be one more thing that you can feel really good about.
When you were a teenager, did you try dieting?
Beth Treado: I have. I have done basically every diet you can possibly think of, starting at the age of seven being assigned to a dietician through a medically sponsored program to Weight Watchers, Atkins Diet, which I was extremely successful with, but through that I developed a kidney stone so I stopped. I have done hypnosis for weight loss. You know, to be 24, I have done quite the list.
Dr. Linda Austin: So, in some of those diets that worked, how much weight would you lose in the course of the diet?
Beth Treado: Atkins, being the one I had the most success with, I lost between 30 and 40 pounds over a three-month period. That was very fast.
Dr. Linda Austin: And then once you went off the Atkins, what happened?
Beth Treado: I maintained my weight loss for a period of time but, of course, it did start creeping back on, college came around. Surprisingly though, when I went to college, I did not gain the weight that everyone else was gaining. I was, at the time, medically sponsored by my doctor and was taking adipex, a dieting drug. So, I did lose 30 pounds while in college. But, since moving to Charleston, I have found that my social life has revolved a lot around going out, having a few glasses of wine and eating, and it has crept back on quickly.
Dr. Linda Austin: I read somewhere that Charleston has 11,000 restaurants if you count McDonald’s, and it is such a big part of social life to go out and go to a bar, go to restaurant and enjoy that. So, at the time you left college, or graduated from college, how many pounds overweight do you think you were, in retrospect?
Beth Treado: Medically speaking?
Dr. Linda Austin: From what your ideal weight might be.
Beth Treado: Probably 100 pounds. I am 100 pounds overweight at this point.
Dr. Linda Austin: And you were, as well, at the end of college?
Beth Treado: Yes, probably.
Dr. Linda Austin: Is that right?
Beth Treado: I have always had an extremely high body mass index (BMI) which is what they base the surgery on. So, I have always been in the morbidly obese category based on my height and weight.
Dr. Linda Austin: How long have you been thinking about this surgery? When was the first time you gave it serious consideration?
Beth Treado: Back in August, my grandmother passed away and a lady that came to her funeral was a close friend to the family and she was actually one of the first people in the United States to go through the surgery. It has never been anything I considered, or my family considered, because we thought it was kind of along the same lines as the gastric bypass procedure, which can be a dangerous surgery. And not really knowing enough about the Lap Band procedure, that it is non-invasive and reversible, we just never gave it any consideration.
So, I started really thinking about it in August. My cousin, who works with the doctor and is part of the team, told me that MUSC started doing the procedure last June. So, I just kind of started thinking about it. I really thought about it on my own without anyone else’s opinion. I did some research and at that point I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. I spoke with her about it and she strongly encouraged me to consider it.
Dr. Linda Austin: Some people may not understand what you mean when you say non-invasive. How has that been explained to you?
Beth Treado: The gastric bypass procedure involves having your organs moved around, decreasing the size of your stomach. Basically, everything is moved around.
Dr. Linda Austin: With an incision?
Beth Treado: Right, with an incision and stitches, and so forth, exactly. They are now doing that procedure laparoscopically but what they do inside you is different than what I am about to go through. When I say non-invasive, I am referring to the fact that they are putting the band around my stomach, and it can be reversed, whereas gastric bypass cannot be reversed.
Dr. Linda Austin: What I think is so important about that too is that the day may come, for example, in five, ten, or 20 years, when we have good medications to help with appetite control and it would be nice to know that if you at some point want to try something else, or do something different, that would be an option for you. Now, what was the response of people in your family, your mom and dad, when you started talking about this? Were they concerned about it?
Beth Treado: It was basically a cry fest. We sat in the kitchen over cleaning the dinner dishes and I told them that this was a decision I had made and they did not agree with me. But, at the time, I said, very clearly, that I am at an age now when I do make my own decisions and this is something I feel very strongly about it and I would like their support. Since then, they have been 100 percent for it. We came to MUSC about three months ago for a class they were required to take as family members of the patient. My parents listened very diligently and took lots of notes.
Dr. Linda Austin: What do you think the tears were about?
Beth Treado: Just a realization of where I am in my life, that I am 25 years old, that it is something I need to do for myself, for my future.
Dr. Linda Austin: So, you were just filled with emotion about that and really ready to make that move?
Beth Treado: Right.
Dr. Linda Austin: How about friends, what have your friends had to say?
Beth Treado: I was very hesitant to tell friends at first. It was a process that I thought really long and hard about, starting with my best friend who has been 100 percent supportive of my decision, then moving onto colleagues who were basically shocked. While talking to a very close friend on Monday night, he told me that, at first, he did not know what to think and was not sure that it was a good decision on my part. He said, “You’re Beth and I don’t want you to change.” So, I have made it very clear that I am not changing, you know, personality wise. It will just be me changing physically.
Dr. Linda Austin: What do you make of that response, “You’re Beth and I don’t want you to change?”
Beth Treado: It hit me hard. I think that people think that through this, somewhere along the way, I will lose a piece of who I am right now, because this is the only way anyone has ever known me. This is the only way I have ever known myself.
Dr. Linda Austin: Interesting how even for close friends one’s body size becomes how you think of that person. And there are actually nice stereotypes about overweight people, the jolly fat person.
Beth Treado: Right. I am tired of being that person.
Dr. Linda Austin: I understand that. But I think it is testimony to the fact that sometimes in life we become accommodating of people, choosing lifestyles or patterns, in all sorts of ways, that may not really be in our best interest. That just becomes part of the fabric of the relationship.
Beth Treado: Yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: Have you dated in your life?
Beth Treado: I have but not much. I have not done a lot of dating. Like I said before, I have so many friends that I have no idea what to do with. In that sense, I am also just the girl. So, I am excited to see where this is going to take me. I really am.
Dr. Linda Austin: What do you mean, “the girl”?
Beth Treado: I am the girl who is everyone’s friend. So, in that sense, I am really excited to see what is going to come out of this. At the same, it makes me a little nervous too.
Dr. Linda Austin: What is your fear?
Beth Treado: That people are going to realize that I am different now that, outwardly, I am changing.
Dr. Linda Austin: And you will have more choices open to you and maybe there is something a little scary about that too?
Beth Treado: Definitely.
Dr. Linda Austin: It is like when someone leaves a bad marriage or if someone decides that they can move out of their hometown, that there is a big world out there. Sometimes some of those fences that we put around ourselves can be protective as well as confining.
Beth Treado: Very much so. Moving here was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself which was creating who I am now, without everyone else’s opinion. And I feel like I am doing that once again. It is scary but, at the same time, it is super exciting.
Dr. Linda Austin: It is a new chapter.
Beth Treado: Yeah, definitely.
Dr. Linda Austin: So, how do you hope you will be feeling a week from now?
Beth Treado: Hopefully, I will be back at work. I hate using vacation time for things like this so, hopefully, I will be back at work enjoying my job.
Dr. Linda Austin: How many days have they told you to take off?
Beth Treado: They suggest a week but if I can return to work before that, I will.
Dr. Linda Austin: This is so thrilling. I cannot wait to see you go through this process.
Beth Treado: Thank you. I am very excited.
Dr. Linda Austin: I would predict that you are going to be thrilled.
Beth Treado: Thank you.
Dr. Linda Austin: Beth, thank you so much for talking with us today.
Beth Treado: You are welcome. Thank you for interviewing me.
For more information about the MUSC Bariatric Surgery program, you can call our Medu-line at: 792-2200, or long distance: (800) 9922-5250. Please remember that these podcasts are just about the experience of one person and are not meant to replace a conversation you should have with your own physician.