Got her Life Back
In seven months, she lost 90 pounds
After one of her four sisters successfully underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2010, 51-year-old Donna Kelleher finally realized that it was time to deal with her own weight issues. She couldn't lie to herself any longer, as the Methuen resident had high cholesterol, high blood pressure that even two medications couldn't control, and she was borderline diabetic.
"I couldn't walk 50 feet without getting chest pains," she admits. "My knees and hips hurt all the time. I was a mess, and I didn't want to be this person anymore."
Her younger sister, who also was obese, asked Donna to accompany her to an informational meeting at Lowell General's Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery on a January evening in 2011.
"In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I could lose weight on my own if I wanted to," Donna recalls. "I was embarrassed to admit that I needed help. Then Dr. Jiser [Lowell General's Chief of General Surgery Michael Jiser, MD, FACS] started speaking and reminding us that surgical intervention isn't giving up or taking the easy way out in fact, it's actually hard."
"Over the years, the bigger I got, the more invisible I became," she continues. "But from the moment I walked into the Center that evening, I wasn't invisible anymore. I never felt treated like a name or a number or 'the fat girl.' They treated me with such respect and understanding."
That night, Donna and her sister both committed to having bariatric surgery. Her sister underwent gastric bypass in May of 2011. Due to multiple adhesions from previous surgeries, Donna had a procedure called sleeve gastrectomy in July of 2011.
Her transformation has been remarkable.
"I'm so much healthier than before," she says. "To date, I've lost over 90 pounds since that first meeting in January, and my goal is to lose another 40. I'm at a weight now that I haven't seen for over 20 years! I've lost six sizes, and my cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure are completely normal, with no medications. And I've had no asthma issues for almost a year now.
"I walk 40 minutes, four days a week, and have no trouble keeping up with my husband John and 15-year-old daughter Kristin," she continues.
"I'm now the one who parks the farthest away - I used to get dropped off by the door. It's a wonderful feeling. My husband says he feels like he's married to a new woman. I couldn't have done this without my family's love and support, I love them very much!"
Donna credits the Center's wealth of resources, including nutrition and support group meetings, for her continued success. "They do a fantastic job of making sure you're physically and psychologically ready for this major lifestyle change," she says. "They've given me the tools and support to keep going, especially when I hit a plateau and start feeling discouraged."
But those feelings don't last long.
"I'll walk by a window, catch my reflection, and stop and ask, 'Who is that person?'" Donna says. "I remember her, but she'd been gone for so long and was so unhappy. Today I feel like a brand-new person. It's not just about losing weight; it's about gaining back my life."