By Shelley Grieshop
Editor's note: Two and a half years ago Deb Borns of Celina underwent gastric reduction surgery to help her control a weight problem she's lived with most of her life. As a final chapter to the story she's shared publicly, the 53-year-old businesswoman reflects on the decision that's changed her life.
By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
When she looks at herself in the mirror these days, Deb Borns isn't sure who's looking back.
"It doesn't look like me anymore," she says of her new, slimmer reflection. "My feet even got smaller."
Borns' life-changing decision to have gastric reduction surgery in November 2002 has done more than shave one-third of her body weight away. It's given her a new lease on life, educated her about respecting others and taught her a lot about herself, she says.
She's not the same person, inside or out, as she was at the obese size of 310 pounds.
Since the risky surgery at a Dayton-area hospital, the Celina realtor shed 120 unwanted pounds off her 5-foot 6-inch frame. Just two months after doctors performed the medical procedure, she had dropped 45 pounds; before the year was up she'd lost a whopping 100 pounds.
She could get lost in her former size 28 clothing, if she hadn't thrown it all away following the surgery. She now fits comfortably in a much smaller size 16.
But like most people, the closer she gets to her goal of 136 pounds, the harder it becomes. She admits to putting 10 pounds back on in recent months.
"I'm working on that," she says with confidence. "For everything I put in my mouth these days, I chastise myself."
It's not unusual to gain a little back, here and there, doctors told her.
Surgeons created her new stomach into a pouch no bigger than an egg, preventing her from eating large amounts at one time. As she slowly began to eat slightly bigger quantities during the last two years, her stomach stretched to about the size of a grapefruit. Still, her altered small intestines can no longer handle certain foods.
"I'm hungry all the time," Borns says straightforwardly.
Others who had the same surgery say they've permanently lost their appetites.
"It's all in here," she says pointing to her head. "It's all psychological, it's me."
It is, indeed, still a mind game for Borns who's learning to combat the cravings she's given into since her high school years. She knows better than to stock her office drawer with her favorite Dove chocolates. "Grazing," the term she uses for all-day nibbling, will quickly destroy the success she's had so far.
The side effects of falling off the diet wagon aren't pleasant, she says. Because her stomach is dramatically smaller, it revolts when overfed.
"It can make me really sick, that's the price I pay," she says.
Her sister, Vicki Weisman of Celina, is her coach, "dragging" her to work out at a gym three times a week. Borns, who admits she's never been one to stick to an exercise program in her life, is thankful for her sister's inspiration.
Although others who've had the weight reduction surgery have followed up with cosmetic skin tucks to hide excess skin, she has no desire to go that route at this time. She adds with a grin, "My grandkids love to play with that soft, flabby skin under my arms."
Borns knows the facts: obesity is closely related to heart and blood pressure problems, diabetes and even cancer -- and she was at high risk for all of them before surgery.
"I didn't do this to look good, I wanted to be healthier. I wanted to be there on the back of that jet ski, to be able to do things with my family, my kids and my grandkids," she insists.
She's already realizing that dream. Her blood pressure stabilized soon after the procedure. Then last summer, her family -- including two new granddaughters via her son's marriage -- took a vacation to Disney World. They hit the amusement park five days in a row in the sultry heat.
"Before the surgery, I would have been huffing and puffing. It didn't bother me," she says. "My son, Kirk, commented how I was a step ahead of everybody all day."
At the park she eyed plenty of people her age, overweight and struggling to keep up. Since her weight loss she catches herself becoming judgmental toward others with weight problems -- the same way others were toward her all her life.
"There's no doubt people treat you differently," based on your weight, she says.
Because of her business position in the community, she believes she was accepted more readily than most obese people. She may have come across as a self-confident person back then, but inside she wasn't, she says.
It's been a long journey -- one she does not regret. She knows she'll endure the weight struggle the rest of her life but the continuing love and support from her loved ones will keep her on a steady course.
Moments like her daughter's wedding day, Aug. 16, 2003, keep her forging ahead.
"I got wolf whistles all the way down the aisle," she says with a smile.