After Surgery: A New Life, A New Journey
Cynthia Maio works as a high-frequency radio operator in air traffic control. She’s 48 years old and had been overweight since she was 20. She’s tried all the diets, with only moderate results.
“My mother was visiting,” says Cynthia. “She saw an ad for the New York Bariatric Group in our local paper and asked if I ever thought about doing anything like that. I said it had crossed my mind, but I never looked into it. I decided to check it out.
“After a meeting in October at the center in Port Jefferson, everything moved quickly. I already had all the doctors in place — the pulmonologist and cardiologist — so I didn’t have to wait for any new patient procedures and insurance issues. My surgery was scheduled for January 11.
“When I decided to have the procedure — and this is not recommended — I chose to really enjoy my 92 ‘last meals.’ This was something I thought up on my own. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat the same way in the future.
“As a result, I gained almost 20 pounds. When I had my surgery, I weighed 281. It was the biggest I’d even been. I couldn’t walk from my computer desk to my bathroom without getting winded. I started to have health problems. I had an asthma attack in each of those three months. I was on two inhalers.
“In my mind, I knew it was going to go away once I started on my new journey. And that’s how I think about it — I’m on a new journey.”
Cynthia had lap band surgery at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. “They treated me like gold. I had the single incision through the belly button, so I have no scarring whatsoever.”
She remembers waking up in the recovery room after surgery. “As soon as you are awake enough, they start walking you to get rid of the gas in your body, which is put there so they can work laparoscopically. They walked me every two hours — like a puppy.
“I was in the hospital just one night. Once I was home, it was easy. My husband was very helpful. Before you leave the hospital, they make sure you can handle mushy food. If you can eat, you can go home. The hospital meal looked like a scoop of mashed potatoes, but it was actually pureed turkey with gravy. If you can get past the texture, it’s very tasty.
“When I came home, my husband did more the same. He would puree chicken with cauliflower for me. And we had recipes from the hospital for salmon and pot roast. It was good to have the variety. I was on pureed food for one month.”
Before surgery, Cynthia averaged about 3,000 calories daily. “Now I’m eating 800 to 900 calories a day.” Three months after surgery, she had already lost 55 pounds.
“I feel great. I have about 50 to go. I started working out two weeks ago. They do encourage that. I hadn’t done it earlier because of my schedule, money and life circumstances. Now I go to a gym and walk and do a bit of weight training for my arms.
“Psychologically, I still have a long way to go. People have complimented me about my weight loss, and I say thank you, but in my mind I’m not there yet.
“My husband calls me a cheap date now. We’ll go to a steak place, and I’ll eat maybe a quarter of my meal — nothing fried. I’ve tried a french fry here and there just for a taste, and it upsets my stomach so I stay away from it. I’ll order grilled chicken or a turkey burger with a salad, and that will be it. No desserts. But I still enjoy my food.
“Today, I ran errands and had to eat on the run. I stopped at my favorite Mexican place — one that makes fresh food — and I got a quesadilla. I ate half of it and was way beyond full. It will last me until about 5 p.m., then I’ll have a yogurt, since we won’t go to dinner until around 6:30 p.m.
“I have more energy now. We like to go out for karaoke. Before, I would need a seat. Now I can stand, and I can dance with my friends instead of watching them.
“It’s the little things where I notice the difference. I don’t like sitting around the house any more. I have to be doing something. I was complacent in my fat life. There’s a lot I have to get caught up on.
“I look at this as a gift. I don’t want to do anything to ruin it. My target weight is 165. My doctor tells me around the 180s would be good.
“So far, I’m happy with where I am on my journey. I would recommend it to anyone. I wish I had done it sooner.”