Having a healthy relationship with food was more than a daily struggle for Terry Lalicata of Glendale; it was a life-long struggle. Turning to food for comfort had always been Terry’s way of dealing with the good and bad in life. She tried many different diets over the years, each time with a new resolve to be successful; but ultimately she would end up putting more pounds back on than she lost.
“I’ve always been an emotional eater,” said Terry. “My doctor continually warned me that my health was heading in the wrong direction.” That wrong direction turned out to be a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes for Terry at the age of only 48. She was required to take three different medications to manage her diabetes in addition to taking cholesterol and reflux medications.
Only a few years later, she was at the point of considering insulin injections. Terry’s health was continuing to deteriorate and her diabetes put her at high risk for other serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke. “I hit a turning point while on vacation with friends who told me that I repeatedly stopped breathing in my sleep,” said Terry. “I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and started using a CPAP every night.” A CPAP is a continuous positive airway pressure that provides a constant flow of oxygen, preventing a person from ceasing to breath during sleep.
Terry now faced two severe health complications because of her obesity. At only five-feet tall and 237 pounds, she knew that both her Type 2 diabetes and her sleep apnea needed more medical attention than her medication and CPAP mask could provide. “I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know how to do it right,” said Terry.
It was at this point that her physician recommended exploring weight loss surgery. “I wasn’t comfortable with the idea at first,” said Terry. “I was afraid that people would think less of me for not being able to lose the weight myself.” But she kept her appointment with Dr. Joseph Regan, surgeon and medical director for Columbia St. Mary’s Bariatric Center and had gastric bypass surgery the summer of 2010.
Almost immediately, she was able to stop taking two of her diabetes medications. “The restructuring done during surgery allowed my body to recognize and process insulin,” said Terry. By the following summer, Terry was no longer taking any of her medications that helped manage her diabetes and cholesterol because of the weight loss.
Terry is now 80 pounds lighter and has a new outlook on her life and her health. “I have a better handle on emotional eating and consciously focus on controlling my portions,” said Terry. She still has an occasional snack, but it’s not fast food or from a vending machine. Terry also credits her success partly because of the genuine support she received from her daughters and family.
Exercise is now part of her daily routine. There is an indoor track where she works and she walks two miles on the track every day and regularly attends fitness classes. “I’m doing the work I need to do to be healthy,” said Terry. “This surgery has given me the structure and guidelines I need in my life to make wiser food and exercise choices. I am so much more comfortable with who I am and just happier.”