Pam Ferrill of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, never realized just how much she relied on food for comfort, joy and friendship. It wasn’t until she made the decision to have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery on October 18, 2010, that she had this critical realization.
“Throughout my life, I struggled with my weight. I tried it all–popular weight loss programs, packaged meal plans and trendy exercise routines. I would lose weight, but eventually I would always put it right back on.”
By the time she was in her mid-forties, she had developed pain in her hips and knees, and her energy level was at an all time low. That’s when she reached out to Dr. William T. Avara, III, after researching gastric bypass surgery.
“I absolutely loved him. He was honest and direct. He told me that the surgery he was to perform required me to commit to changing my habits,” Pam described. “He explained that although it was a tool in the process, it was I who would ultimately be responsible for ensuring a successful outcome.”
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure involves creating a stomach pouch out of a small portion of the stomach and attaching it directly to the small intestine, bypassing a large part of the stomach and duodenum. Not only is the stomach pouch too small to hold large amounts of food, but by skipping the duodenum, fat absorption is substantially reduced.
Pam moved forward with surgery on October 18, 2010. In the weeks that followed, Pam found herself in a better position to begin the journey of change. She immediately noticed a decrease in her hunger levels and transitioned well to the adjustment in her diet. For two and a half years, she followed instructions precisely. She ate small meals on small plates. She eliminated carbonated beverages from her diet, and she took vitamins regularly, including calcium.
For her dedication, she was rewarded with a 150-pound weight loss and a level of success she was never able to reach before on her own. She found new joy in clothes and shoe shopping. Her hips and knees no longer ached. Life was good.
In the immediate months that followed, however; she would be tested. Old habits that had developed over a lifetime tried to make a comeback, and as a result, she began gaining back some of the weight she had worked so hard to lose.
“It was at that point I remembered what Dr. Avara had told me and gave myself a pep talk. I simply would not allow food to come between me and my health again.”
Pam knows it will always be a struggle. “You’re not obese if food isn’t your best friend,” she explains, “but you have to seek out other connections and change the relationship you have with food. It’s not easy, but being healthy is worth it.”
A regular day now for Pam begins at 4:45 am with exercise and continues with healthy eating habits. She enjoys full days without pain, walking and spending time with family and friends. She also offers support and shares her experiences in the hopes of helping others living with the struggle of obesity.
“To me, Dr. Avara is number one, the best. I have recommended him often to others, including my own son Chase,” said Pam. “He has also experienced great success after surgery.”
Since 2006, Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula and the South Mississippi Surgical Weight Loss Center have partnered to offer bariatric surgery for Gulf Coast residents who are significantly overweight and who need more help than traditional exercise and diet can offer.
“If you’ve reached this point in your life, please don’t sit and do nothing,” advises Pam. “Reach out. Research. There are so many people willing to help you. I have added 15 extra years to my life!”
» Discover more about Singing River Health System’s weight loss surgery program.