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One Year Later: VSG Weight Loss Surgery

 Thanks to Chronicles Photography for this shot!

Quick note y’all: this is going to get long. My journey from starting my VSG weight loss surgery to now has been a long road, soooo…sorry. But there is a crazy before/during so stick around! One year (and two days ago) around this time I was sitting in a hospital bed plotting every way I could give a likely excuse to get out of surgery. Supernatural was on the TV, which if you know the show totally helps with nerves…like totes, and I kept watching out the window of my small pre-op room to see if anyone else was making an escape. It wasn’t like I was in jail. This whole process had been completely of my volition. However at that point I had been so apathetic towards things I’d just kind of ridden the lazy river into this room and it was at this moment that I had a choice to make. Do I stay on the raft and just drift along? Or should I get off that crappy raft, swim to the edge, and get out?

Ultimately, I chose swim because I was too afraid to say no to my really nice doctor.

Note: If you’d like to skip a lot of details you can view the video I made to go along with this post! 🙂 

Just two months prior to October 23rd, 2013, I was over 300 pounds and couldn’t find a way to get under. I’d heard of weight loss surgery but laughed it off: “I won’t ever need that!” And then my depression would rear it’s head, I’d try to lose weight, and nothing would work. In August, when I finally started research on this, I’d had two people I know have the VSG and turn things around. I saw their results and felt myself longing to get back to who I’d been before I moved to North Carolina. My research on which weight loss surgery option to get was easy: I didn’t want a foreign body in me (lap band) and had heard of people coming back for a revision on it anyways and I didn’t want my insides rerouted (bypass). That left me with the option of having most of my stomach removed (vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or sleevie in my case!). I watched the operation on youtube while in the decision making process and the surgery was so easy and simple that I was sold. Also, if you’re curious it’s not all that gross!

With that decision made I went through the ringer with doctor’s appointments. I had appointments at least once a week to make sure my body (aside from being super weighted down) was healthy enough to undergo surgery. I had many blood draws (and multiple sticks thanks to my way too hidden veins at the time, OW), EKGs, and followups. Then the hard part started: liquid diets and deciding on a date. This is going to sound lame to many people but the reason I chose October 23rd -and can’t remember if I chose before I knew it or not at this point- is because of the Grand Floridian. The hotel had opened the year and almost month I was born and it was then in the process of adding a DVC Villas building scheduled to open on October 23rd, 2013. I figured we could start our new chapters together (I told you I love hotels).

The surgery, from what I remember, went great. When I was wheeled into the operating room I remember hearing Britney Spears’ “Toxic” playing! Like, what better omen could you ask for than the Princess of Pop? After that, my next memory is waking up in Recovery and then being wheeled into my room, where my mom and Andrew were waiting on me. The next few days sucked. Pain and being in a hospital and not being able to move around and being stuck with whatever I could find on cable TV without a guide is the WORST. The next few weeks were even worse though. Even more pain, nausea, not being able to walk very far, and the grossest protein drinks that you can’t even gulp (honestly, they might not have been that bad but by that point I would have set fire to all protein drinks if I could have).

However, things got better. Slowly I was able to walk more. Then I was able to feel that I was smaller and SEE it. Those first few months were some of the hardest I’ve had to deal with because not only was I dealing with drama in my body, but also drama in life. There was something different though. I was no longer rolling over and letting it happen – I was reacting like I would have before the weight ever happened. I quit my job and went back to school. Started photography again. I stopped being silent when I thought it would upset people otherwise. I let myself not be afraid of saying “can’t wait”. Heck, I even covered up my cleavage a little because I knew I had other things to offer finally! Andrew & I got married just 6 months after my surgery and I looked worlds different. It was not the happiest day of our lives due to many outside factors and I can say that now without being sad because we KNOW that the best is yet to come (like with our 10 year vow renewal).

Before I would have been beaten down by so many things that happened but now it barely gets a glance from me. I still have to deal with things like depression and other issues that persist because weight loss surgery is not a cure-all. If you’re looking for it to be then there are probably other things that need fixing first. Also, don’t get your expectations up. Many people lose SO much weight in that first year. Did I hit my goal weight? No. Did I hit my goal size? Goodness no. But you know what? I can shop in regular stores now. I went from being terrified to say I was around a size 26 (or so) to being currently a 14/16 (and not afraid of saying it). I wear skinny jeans and am really developing the style that I’ve allowed to be hidden – just because I was bigger. It’s a little sad that it took this long to see that but at least I’m no longer waiting around for that smaller size to celebrate how (curse alert!) fucking awesome I am.

weight loss surgery vsg before during after

May 2013; May 2014; October 2014! First of all: collarbones! Neck! CUTENESS!

So! After the longest post in history, I can say with 100% certainty, while I didn’t hit my goal weight/size/whatever, I am so happy with where I got. I can see places that need fixing and now that I have that clarity of this year I can fix them properly and work even harder than before. Do I have any regrets? Geez, aside from not being able to eat ALL the delicious food sometimes? No. Because weight loss surgery is NOT easy. It is a very strict teacher that uses pain and a lot of tears before it’s done with you. But if you’re ready for it, you can change everything.

Wishing you many huge Thanksgiving meals (that I can’t eat most of),


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  • Reply kathycnc

    You made the hard choice…and wow, what a difference! So proud of you, Shantelle! You look amazing…and the light in your eyes tells the whole story! Hugs!

    October 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Jessica

    You look awesome and I am so glad you don’t use the scale anymore because the scale won’t tell you how fabulous you are! Not only did you body make a remarkable transformation but so has your professional career. I love to follow you and your story so keep the videos and blogs coming!!!

    October 27, 2014 at 10:27 am
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