Since having weight loss surgery, Tracie Green is able to walk and exercise without knee pain (Photo: August 2019)
At 247 pounds, Tracie Green felt miserable thanks to a slew of weight-related health problems. When she couldn’t take it anymore, Green decided to try bariatric surgery. In the 12 months since then, Green has lost almost 60 pounds and her health has improved significantly. Although she has no regrets, Green’s weight loss journey hasn’t been easy.
Enough is Enough
Green, 47, is proof that weight loss surgery is not the easy way out. Her family and friends didn’t even think she weighed enough to qualify and worried it was too drastic. But health issues -- including high blood pressure, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, GERD, arthritis, and knee pain -- were getting the best of Green, and she was tired of it.
"I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I wanted to exercise. I wanted to walk. I have a 10-year-old son. I really needed to do something,” Green said. “No matter what I did, I couldn’t lose the weight.”
Green, who lives in Burlington, NC, read books and articles about weight loss surgery, and she talked to people who had been through it. She’d heard that Duke’s weight loss surgery program had a great reputation, so she made an appointment. In March 2018 she met her surgeon, Kunoor Jain-Spangler, MD, for the first time.
“We just clicked.” Green said. “She’s such a sweetheart, and she has such a bubbly personality. I’m so happy I got her.”
Although Green initially wanted the gastric sleeve procedure, she and Dr. Jain-Spangler decided gastric bypass would be more likely to address some of her health concerns. Five months after her first appointment, Green had the surgery. For about a week afterward, she felt intense, almost unbearable gas pain, which she hadn’t expected. Apart from that, she recovered quickly.
Since then, Green has experienced highs and lows. Initially, she was losing weight quickly, but she has since plateaued. Injuries from a car accident in February 2019 made it difficult for her to exercise, and she returned to some of her old eating habits. She no longer enjoys drinking water because it doesn’t taste the same, but she has started adding flavor mixes to make it more palatable. She stills struggles to find foods that don’t make her feel sick, although she’s having more success every day.
“I’ve gotten to the point now where I kind of stick with the things that I enjoy and I know will go down and stay down,” Green said. “I have to plan everything I eat.”
Despite her difficulties, Green is glad she chose to have the surgery. Now at 190 pounds (and aiming for a goal weight of 150), she no longer has knee pain, her blood pressure is coming down, and her Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis are gone. She can do things now that she couldn’t before, like running around with her son, painting her toenails, and strapping on a pair of high heels without getting winded. Ultimately, Green said, it came down to deciding whether she was willing to commit.
“It’s a big, life-changing experience. And if you’re not equipped or ready to make that change, then you should not have the surgery,” she said. “It’s what I signed up for. I have to do this.”