Patient Story - Ellen Luckow

Gastric Bypass Leads the Way to Renewed Confidence  

Ellen LuckowWhen she weighed in for the first time at Dr. Callery’s office, Ellen Luckow was mortified to see the scale tip at 350 pounds. After yo-yo-ing for years with several different diet plans, she was ready to make a permanent change.

“I was at the ‘end of my rope’ because of those failed attempts at weight loss,” she says.

“I figure I had lost 700 pounds of weight over a 35-year struggle, losing 50 to 100 pounds several times, before determining that I had to take control of the situation if I was ever going to be happy.”Ellen’s obesity had taken a significant emotional toll throughout her adult years. It hindered her ability to do the physical activities she once enjoyed. In high school, she Varsity-lettered in three sports (volleyball, softball and tennis) and played on intramural volleyball and softball teams in college. Over time, she stopped doing her favorite activities like boogie boarding, swimming, boating, dancing, biking and hiking.

“I was embarrassed by my appearance and, because of greatly reduced cardio strength, I didn’t have stamina to enjoy these activities anymore,” Ellen says. “I realized that in addition to limiting my physical activities, obesity was diminishing my natural outgoing social nature and stunting my professional growth.”

Ellen lost confidence in her ability to excel in her chosen career as a human resource technician for the Vista Unified School District. She stopped applying for promotions, believing that obese people are perceived as lazy, non-productive. It even became difficult to play the organ at her church and duets with piano students.

Compounding the emotional toll obesity was taking, Luckow was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2008 and also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She felt depressed and wasn’t sleeping restfully because of chronic snoring.

“I began to realize that as I grew larger because of excess weight, my world was actually getting smaller as I had to give up the activities and dreams I had for myself,” Ellen says.

Following a big emotional setback when she attended her daughter’s wedding alone, Ellen decided it was time to take control. She made an appointment with Dr. Charles Callery, who is Medical Director of the Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence at Palomar Medical Center Poway.

“I was so impressed by Dr. Callery’s staff and how thoroughly they assessed my medical history during that first evaluation,” she says. “They do so much to educate patients with classes, support groups, nutritional counseling and online forums. I was really well prepared for surgery.”

Since gastric bypass surgery on February 23, 2009, Ellen has lost about half of her body weight and resumed a rigorous schedule that includes ocean distance swimming three or four times a week during the summer. She’s gone from a size 28 to size 10.

“I have more energy to do the things I love again,” Ellen says. “People see the outward change, but there are a lot of changes that need to take place internally to achieve permanent weight loss. I’m still working on that, but it gets better every day. I am ready to dream again.”


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