Real strug­gles with weight loss

Mark­land na­tive loses 105 pounds af­ter bari­atric surgery

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

It’s been 41 weeks since Kayla Ben­nett took the big­gest step to­wards the most dras­tic change in her life.

The 28-year-old Mark­land na­tive just reached a mile­stone, a weight loss of 105 pounds. But for Kayla, it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to be­gin her jour­ney, which started with a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure.

Kayla didn’t take the de­ci­sion to un­dergo bari­atric surgery — a pro­ce­dure that re­duces the size of the stom­ach — lightly, but she felt it was nec­es­sary.

“De­spite be­ing ex­tremely ac­tive I was al­ways un­able to main­tain a healthy weight,” Kayla told The Com­pass. “For as long as I can re­mem­ber I had aches and pains in my hips, knees and feet; not to men­tion I had an un-di­ag­nos­able is­sue with one of my an­kles that would force me into a walk­ing cast for weeks at a time.”

Lead up

It wasn’t just about how she looked. In fact, it was an emo­tional roller­coaster.

“Have you ever got­ten on an air­plane and the seat belt wasn’t large enough to fit around you?” she asked. “I flew for a work con­fer­ence in Novem­ber 2014. I had to ask for a seat­belt ex­ten­der. I have never been so em­bar­rassed in my life.”

For years, she would hear neg­a­tive com­ments from peo­ple about the way she looked. It took an emo­tional toll.

The Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion (CIHI) re­ports one in five Cana­dian adults are over­weight, which in­creases the chances for chronic health con­di­tions such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pres­sure and sleep ap­nea.

Kayla’s health is­sues were more in her joints, but they were still both­er­some. Be­ing young and ac­tive, the is­sues she ex­pe­ri­enced from be­ing over­weight were a hin­drance to the life­style she wanted to have. She en­joys soft­ball, but she was hav­ing dif­fi­culty play­ing with the ex­cess weight.

“This past sum­mer I hit my very first triple, and I ran it on my own. I can­not ex­plain that feel­ing. I could have cried with joy.”

She noted her team, fam­ily and friends have been her big­gest sup­port sys­tem through­out her trans­for­ma­tion.

Why not wait?

Some 6,500 bari­atric surg­eries were per­formed in Canada in 2013-14, as per CIHI. The “typ­i­cal” pa­tient is a fe­male ap­prox­i­mately age 45.

Kayla is much younger. And be­cause she doesn’t have diabetes, high choles­terol or any other ill­ness that re­quires her to lose weight with­out putting her life at risk, she was not con­sid­ered a pri­or­ity for bari­atric surgery in New­found­land and Labrador, fac­ing a five-to­seven year wait.

Kayla and her mother planned a trip to Ti­juana, Mex­ico this past Fe­bru­ary to have the pro­ce­dure done. The full cost out-of-pocket was ap­prox­i­mately $4,500 U.S. The New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal Care Plan (MCP) cov­ers the surgery in-prov­ince.

“At 28 years of age I thought it was time to take con­trol and be­come a bet­ter me,” she said.

Kayla joined gyms, did boot camps and food man­age­ment pro­grams. She would lose some weight, but once the pro­gram was over, she would gain more back than she lost.

Af­ter re­search­ing the pro­ce­dure, ask­ing many ques­tions, learn­ing the risks and get­ting tes­ti­mo­ni­als, she was ready to take the next step.

The re­sults

When she re­turned home she changed her eat­ing habits. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause she can only eat a small amount of food at a time, she has ex­pe­ri­enced some mi­nor side ef­fects.

“I have lost some of my hair, and that comes from not get­ting the right nu­tri­ents,” Kayla ex­plained. “My blood sug­ars have been low and I have fainted a few times, but that’s un­der con­trol now.”

She has not had any is­sues with ex­cess skin, and she thinks it’s likely from her age and ac­tiv­ity level.

“Per­son­ally, I would rather have some ex­cess skin then con­tinue on the path I was,” she ad­mit­ted.

Kayla doesn’t re­gret any­thing about the surgery, and is proud to say she’s hap­pier, much more con­fi­dent and doesn’t mind ap­proach­ing peo­ple, which is good since she is the vol­un­teer pub­lic re­la­tions di­rec­tor for the Pen­ney Mazda St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League. She also a clin­i­cal trails ethics co-or­di­na­tor for the Health Re­search Ethics Author­ity.

This op­tion is not for ev­ery­one, Kayla noted. She advises peo­ple to se­ri­ously con­sider their op­tions be­fore jump­ing into surgery.

Her life has been full of changes since Fe­bru­ary, but so far things have been for the bet­ter. And she does as­sert that it hasn’t been an easy jour­ney.

“Some peo­ple say this surgery is the ‘ easy way out,’” she said. “I re­spect the opin­ions of oth­ers, but I ask that in turn they re­spect my de­ci­sions as well. The mis­un­der­stand­ing lies with the fact that hav­ing this surgery ac­tu­ally isn’t a quick fix. It does re­quire work.”

I flew for a work con­fer­ence in Novem­ber 2014. I had to ask for a seat­belt ex­ten­der. I have never been so em­bar­rassed in my life.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

On the left is Kayla Ben­nett the day of her gas­tric sleeve surgery in Mex­ico. On the right, Kayla aftr 105 pounds of weight loss 41 weeks later.

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