Gwen says she did more than lose weight following her gastric bypass surgery. "I feel like I turned back the clock 30 years and renewed my life. It's such a great feeling! I want to shout it from the rooftops."
She began having problems with her weight after the birth of her first child. Before her pregnancy she weighed 125 pounds but by the time she delivered, she had jumped to 299, a weight she maintained during her second pregnancy and delivery.
"And then 23 years passed" she says. "I stayed really heavy, around 250 pounds. During all those years I gained and lost weight. I was on all kinds of crazy diets. I tried everything that came out, and they worked while I was focused on them, but when I stopped focusing, I'd gain back all the weight I'd lost, plus more."
I decided my health was too important to jeopardize. I wanted a 'do-over,' an opportunity to take good care of my body and put myself first.
In 2000, she lost 60 pounds on a popular high-protein diet. Then, at the age of 43, she discovered she was pregnant again. After she delivered, her weight problems remained constant.
She developed type 2 diabetes, urinary incontinence and intermittent dizziness, and at one point began suffering episodes of vision loss.
Seven years later, Gwen suffered a mild stroke while sitting at her desk at work. When her neurologist told her she was a candidate for a major life-altering stroke, Gwen made an immediate decision to have weight loss surgery.
"I decided my health was too important to jeopardize," she says.
"I wanted a 'do-over,' an opportunity to take good care of my body and put myself first. The stroke gave me a real sense of urgency. I didn't ever want to go back to the stroke unit."
Before her surgery, which was performed by weight loss surgeon Garth Davis, MD, who is affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, Gwen weighed 279.
Today, she weighs more than 100 pounds less and says she feels great.
"When I awakened after the surgery, I felt like a 30-year-old woman. Every day since then I've been getting better and better and better. The weight loss is just icing on the cake. I have no problems with incontinence or my vision, and no numbness in my arms. I'm not afraid to drive my car. I don't have to worry about every single bite of food I put in my mouth."
Gwen says she walked out of the hospital diabetes-free.
"I have not had insulin since the day of my surgery, and I've not taken one sick day from work either. I never had any serious complications. I'm very, very, very happy with the results and the experience. When you're obese, life is very difficult. If I could do something for everyone who reads this, I'd say, "Just ask your doctor a simple question: 'Would bariatric surgery help me?'"