She never liked having pictures made, but after losing 279 pounds via bariatric surgery Robin Ayala of Cleveland, Tenn., might want to reconsider that one photo she loathes most – the one on her driver’s license.
“I’ve had to show people my driver’s license and they won’t accept it!” Ayala said recently. “They don’t believe it’s me. I ask them, ‘Why would I show you that ugly picture if it’s not me?!’ I have changed a lot.”
Not only has her shoulder-length hair been traded for a short ’n’ sassy cut, but the 45-year-old mother of four is noticeably thinner – in her face, stomach, arms, legs and even her feet. So much so that friends began to do a “double take” when they saw her. What made the difference? The Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Jonathan Ray, a surgeon at the Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery.
Ayala, who had packed on most of her pounds during her four pregnancies and was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, was referred to Dr. Ray by her primary care provider in Cleveland who had told her that she “wouldn’t be around for her kids” if she doesn’t do something soon.
She searched the internet and found a schedule for Dr. Ray’s evening bariatric surgery seminars held at various locations throughout Covenant Health. There, she found not only the answers she needed but the doctor she wanted.
“I was 477 pounds and almost immobile,” Ayala said. “I had diabetes, high-blood pressure and sleep apnea. I could hardly walk and I wasn’t getting any smaller. I felt I had to do something and it has to be something drastic.”
So, Ayala decided to follow Dr. Ray’s instructions, attending four required nutrition classes to help her shed the needed pounds to qualify for the surgery. “If you don’t go to the classes, you don’t have your surgery – period,” she said.
By the day of her surgery, Ayala had lost 77 pounds. When she was discharged two days later, she began life anew.
The pounds began falling off quickly. Today, the 5-foot-6 Ayala weighs 204, and hopes to lose about 30 more.
She doesn’t mind getting her picture taken anymore either. But when she looks at her “before” pictures, Ayala says, “I think, ‘Lord have mercy! How did I ever let myself get like that?’ It’s not because I was in a car accident and was bed-ridden and I couldn’t get around. It’s because I kept putting that food in my mouth and I didn’t stop. I really do recommend that surgery. It’s not an easy way out, but for some of us, it’s the only way out.”