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Rosemary | Lost 144 lbs. * Results may vary

|, Women|Rosemary | Lost 144 lbs. * Results may vary

Rosemary | Lost 144 lbs. * Results may vary

“My heart is filled with gratitude for Dr Kuri’s dedication to allowing those that may have never experienced life, to do far more than I had ever imagined.”

The Blessing of a Second Chance in the Midst of a Miracle

I am in the midst of a miracle and wanted to share my story as I walk the Journey of a warrior woman and her most trusted friend.

I had made a life changing decision to have lap band surgery in an attempt to reclaim my life from the chains and death sentence of obesity. I can give truths and excuses for how I wound up in this place, in this life on this walk, but instead I will share the inspiration, the journey and the road to healing.

After two severe back injuries and the lack of ability to walk, lift or function. The father of my children was lying on his death bed when I realized that If I choose to be here for the people I love and care about the most on this planet I would need to make a life saving decision immediately. My hand was on Terry’s heart as I was blessed with the last pulse of Terry’s heart in the palm of my hand. As his heart stopped a part of mine stopped beating too. He was the love of my life, the father of my children .My children and I lost him to an addiction to alcohol that slowly stole his physical body from this physical world. It was then that I realized I was in the midst of inflicting this pain on my loving, devoted children by allowing this disease of obesity to slowly kill me. Terry never got to kiss the cheeks of Avery Kelly or see her blue eyes sparkle with pure innocence. If I could find the courage needed I could give my children back their mother and share the glory of Avery’s childhood. I could no longer turn a blind eye to the truth and reality of how my illness and addiction to food was killing me.

I had researched my options for years regarding weight loss surgery. I had friends that had survived and some that barely survived the Gastro Bypass surgery which has originally been my first option. Knowing I was a high risk for any surgery at all because my previous experiences with numerous dances with death and anesthia I continued to research for other options. When I found out about Lap- Band surgery I knew instantly although risky I had found an answer to my dilemma. With further investigation I found out about Dr Pedro Kuri in Tijuana Mexico. I joined his Internet group and began talking to people all over the country that have had this surgery and felt a spiritual connection with him. Financially the surgery was less then half the cost in the United States, so with the money Terry had left me I choose to move forward with scheduling the surgery for May 27, 2005 with Dr. Kuri and his staff in Tijuana, Mexico.

I had made a life changing decision to have lap band surgery in an attempt to reclaim my life from the chains and death sentence of obesity. I can give truths and excuses for how I wound up in this place, in this life on this walk, but instead I will share the inspiration, the journey and the road to healing.

It was Wednesday May 25, 2005 as I said my farewells to my family and drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet a Greyhound bus with my dearest sister friend Mona Lisa aboard. Mona had taken a bus from her home in Mt. Ida, Arkansas in an attempt to keep my expenses down. When I asked her to accompany me to Mexico for my surgery. I knew that when she agreed, without hesitation I must add that I had hand picked the Earth angel to see me through one of my toughest journeys on this path we call LIFE. Mona is a quiet, gentle soul filled and over flowing with love, knowledge and grace. I knew then and I know now that she is a special angel sent from God.  So after a delay in her arrival I picked her up at the bus depot and we headed to our Motel room in Albuquerque. We would be flying out at 6:10 Am the next morning and we were one step closer to my life changing surgery.

Early Thursday morning the alarms went off with only limited rest for either Mona or I. we would need to be at the airport early enough to check in and early enough to get a wheelchair to get to the gate. This back injury was in a crisis state and I was very concerned with traveling in this condition. However we made the journey as anxious feelings mounted knowing at the end of the flight was waiting all the pre op testing for surgery.

I could smell the salt water in the air as we exited the San Diego airport terminal. A flash of childhood memories rushed through me recalling the Long Island summer air. This childhood flash allowed me a moment of freedom from the life-changing journey I had embarked on.

As the elevator doors opened I spotted a young kind faced Mexican man standing by the exit doors holding a sign up with my name on it. He had a gentle face with kind eyes as I explained that he could pick me up at the door outside the terminal. It was evident that he could not speak English. With a smile he took control of the wheelchair and began pushing toward the open parking lot. I remember looking back at Mona as she struggled with all the luggage to keep up with our fast paced escort Miguel. After what seemed like a very long walk across the parking lot we stopped at a white van with a Be Lite decal on it’s side. The van door opened exposing five crowded people and what seemed like no seats left for Mona and I. As we positioned our selves on half a seat each I wondered how far a ride we had ahead of us. Where the first stop on the pre-op exams was and if Mona and I could survive the ride with only one cheek hanging on.

Kind yet pensive smiles were exchanged as introductions were made. Yanna and Trent a couple from Seattle. Yanna had had the lap band surgery with Dr Kuri months prior and was so happy and impressed with her own success her husband was coming for the same procedure. I smiled to myself and felt good that we had a past patient with us and that she was so impressed she would recommend the same procedure to her husband. Patricia a kind woman in her mid 30’s from Maryland was traveling alone. She said her sister was suppose to escort her but couldn’t make it. I liked her right away and instantly knew how blessed I was to have my dear friend Mona with he to take this journey, I also knew that if she would accept our friendship we would adopt her and help her feel less alone. Lastly was a couple from Alaska Pat & jack. Pat was there for the procedure and was an inspiration as she explained that she was wheelchair bound due to MS and hoping the weight loss would bless her with some mobility. Together many lives merged to share what would be a life changing procedure. A bond of friendship and compassion grew thick within this crowded space.

Mona and I had only half a seat to hang onto as we sped through traffic and entered the border. Just a half hour of exchanging life stories, dodging cars and taxi’s horns blowing and billboards changing from English to Spanish we pulled into a driveway which led to the back of a building Our first stop of pre-op exams and testing, all in preparation for our surgery scheduled for early tomorrow morning.

We entered the building and sat down in the waiting room. One by one we were brought to the back for our weight and blood tests, A young angel faced Mexican girl lead me to a small room with just a chair and medical equipment. I noticed a picture of the Lady of Guadalupe carefully positioned on her workstation as she prepared the necessary tubes for the blood test. A Rosary hung on the wall behind the chair reminding me that the Spirit of the Lord was very much present I sat down in this little room, smiles were exchanged as she tied off my right arm and gently felt around for a strong vein, unable to find one she changed arms and felt around again. Finally she looked up and smiled, uncapped the needle, tapped my arm and gently put the needle into my arm. With out any pain the needle filled with blood, I smiled meekly into the eyes of this sweet-faced young girl and said Thank You. As she smiled back at me this entire experience reminded me of the sacredness of the human spirit and all people and the unimportance of our language.

We were then instructed to take the elevator to see Angela, once upstairs we completed our paperwork, made payment and were given a bottle of water and a power bar. We had all been fasting since 3 AM so both were welcomed. The simple kindness of water and food was much appreciated.

From there it was a short ride through busy streets passing what appeared to be Catholic Schools with children of all ages in uniforms, again memories of my childhood flooded my head. Young faces laughing, smiling and playing celebrating the end of another school day. Small uniformed children filled the street. We went into a small office and waited, One by one my new bandster friends were called to the back. Picking up a magazine I smiled to myself as I turned the pages which were all in Spanish. The TV on the wall with Spanish speaking guests chatted away. Testing my three years of Spanish classes I had taken in High School made me aware of how little I had retained.

Finally it was my turn to step into the back. Met once again with a very welcoming smile I was led to the back where I was weighed and then brought to a room that doubled as an examining room and the Doctors office and desk. We spoke of medical history and family medical history while he quickly jotted notes. After completing the EKG the Doctor said he was concerned about my swollen ankles and legs and said that I would need to take one more test a chest X-ray. The look on this handsome mans face and the eyes filled with sincere concern, opened a floodgate of thoughts and fears. Had I spent the past few years hoping, planning and researching, had I traveled to another Country to find out that I may not be a candidate for this life saving surgery? Had that deep look of concern meant that he had heard something or found a medical problem I was unaware of?. Tears filled my eyes and doubt filled my heart as I exited the back room. This additional testing would mean that the others would have to go to the X-ray Clinic instead of being taken to the Hotel. If they were all as tired and anxious as I was they never once made me feel like the delay was an inconvenience. They each rallied with hugs in the form of kind words as I apologized to them for the delay. Mona’s facial expression required no words. She said it would be okay. I could tell she was praying her words were true. It was only a very short ride perhaps a few blocks when we stopped in front of a Medical Building. As I exited the van I looked back and Mona was right with me and staying close with her gentle-reassuring smile, never showing her fears of these additional tests.

The waiting room was filled with Americans, evident by the chatter in English a vast contrast to the last stop.

By now between the lack of sleep, the travel and the three stops for pre-op testing everyone was hungry, tired and anxious. Yet this extreme sense of connection, a feeling of unity and friendship gave us all the strength we needed.

Dr. Kuri must really have a position of respect and power in Tijuana because in this crowded waiting room of at least 20 people I was immediately called to the back. The young technician instructed me to remove my bra but leave on my shirt. I was quickly positioned three different ways and sent on my way. As I exited the building Miguel and my new friends were waiting. I was grateful that the wait was minimal. I climbed into the front seat as tears fell behind my dark sunglasses. The occupants of the van shared words of kindness and reassurance as we finally proceeded toward the Hotel. The kindness of these strangers and the loving look in Mona’s sweet eyes made me feel loved and encompassed in a heart connection.

This was one of those moments in life that the awareness of Gods presence washed over you with a soothing calmness that dismissed all doubt and fear. I knew then that I had turned the process over to God. Secure in knowing they will be done. Yes, I had at least for now “Let Go and Let God.”

It wasn’t long at all till we pulled up to the front doors of Palacio Azteca the Hotel we would call home for the next three days. As we exited the van we were swarmed with bellboys and attention. We all entered the lobby and went to the front desk to check in. the lack of common language held no barriers as we each stated our names and were taken to our rooms. The lobby was beautiful, clean well decorated and welcoming. I would compare it to any Marriott here in the States. Once in the room, Mona’s reassuring smile and hug gave way to a new sense of comfort. During the past few hours we had been informed that we would meet with Dr. Kuri and his staff that evening between 5 & 6 PM so we decided to go to the Hotel Restaurant for some late lunch, most welcomed since we had not eaten for over 12 hours and needed the nourishment. We called Patricia and she agreed to meet us in the Restaurant. So we washed our faces, brushed our hair and headed to the elevators.

The Restaurant was impeccably clean and the waiters were most attentive. We sat close to the windows that looked out over the Palm tree lined pool. I felt very comfortable and at ease as we laughed and smiled exchanging life stories with our new friend. By the time lunch was finished which was very tasty and satisfying we were all ready to head to our rooms for a rest prior to meeting with dr. Kuri and his staff.

It wasn’t very long before the phone rang letting us know we were to meet Dr. Kuri in the lobby of the Hotel at 7:30 Pm. Mona and I exchanged glances as my fears once again rose to the surface. The questions dancing through my mind. Why so late? Was he going to meet with the others early and then with me to tell me I was not a candidate for the surgery? Had they found something on the chest x-ray that would send me home without surgery? Had I come all this way emotionally and physically to find out I couldn’t have surgery. As my mind flooded with doubt, fear and questions Mona instinctively knew that I needed some answers so she suggested we call Patricia to see if she had gotten a call with a time to meet Dr. Kuri. Mona’s loving eyes met mine as she dialed the phone. The unspoken knowledge that & if were all meeting at the same time it would confirm that I would have surgery. A smile of relief washed over Moans face as she relied, Ok, great, see you in the lobby at 7:30. We both smiled and felt assured that the process would proceed as planned.

We laid down for a nap to rest our bodies and minds. The multi-leveled exhaustion was evident as we drifted off to a safe peaceful place. I remember still praying as I dozed off. Praying that God would continue to guide me through this process.

That intense knowing feeling that I would need to stay connected to my journey and path here on earth. This connection was very important because my ability to travel to the other side has always been easy once under amentia .I have already been Blessed three other times with the ability to go beyond this physical world and had been Blessed to return to my family and friends. Knowing that my body was weaker and my spirit was tired I prayed for strength, to complete this journey and return to the arms of Avery Kelly, my beautiful bright eyed Granddaughter waiting for me in New Mexico. I remember glancing at a picture of my children and that special picture of Kelly (my daughter) and Avery (my granddaughter) laughing together and found peace as I drifted off. Trusting God had a plan and I can trust in that plan.

We awoke and both knew that the answers to all those questions would be answered shortly. The music playing in the streets, horns beeping and the activity below in the streets of Tijuana distracted me and eased my spirit as I dressed for our meeting with Dr. Kuri.

Down in the lobby it was nice to see all our new friends. We chatted about our afternoons as we waited for Dr. Kuri’s arrival. When he arrived we were directed to a meeting room filled with an oversized conference table. Dr. Kuri, Dr. Morales, and Dr. Espinoza entered and we all sat quietly as he showed us the Lap band and explained in details the procedure. Over and over I counted the green file folders laid before him, there were only three folders, my heart felt heavy as I realized there were four patient and only three files. Then it happened Dr. Kuri looked at me, with a soul searching deep connection our eyes locked and in that moment I knew that he knew the importance of completing this surgery. It was a deep spiritual moment that you knew that God was present and all was divinely guided. The look in his eyes and the expression on his face turned to one of kindness and compassion. I looked down at the table and saw that the fourth file was there. I smiled at him and he smiled back. A truly magical moment between Doctor and patient.

Times were given out to meet in the lobby. I was to be ready at 6:30 Am. Relief washed over every cell in my body as I knew that I would be given the opportunity to have this life changing surgery. I also knew in that moment I had a lot of work and prayer to do to prepare for tomorrow. I smiled at Mona knowing that she would have a hard day ahead of her, she smiled back knowing that she was about to face a very intense day ahead. Mona by now was tired and perhaps frightened about what lie ahead. But her bright smile and twinkling eyes shared nothing but hope, enthusiasm and love. I feel so blessed to have her with me, to be able to share this life and death moment with such a loyal, loving and compassionate woman. I knew that her presence made all the difference in this experience. Redefining friendship, gratitude filled me as I acknowledged that I was not alone. I was supported by someone that loved me and supported my decision 100%.

Still full from our late lunch Mona, Patricia and I opted for tea and desert poolside before calling it a day and preparing for morning surgery. We sat, laughed and chatted about our lives, as we knew it and the brand new perspective we would have after waking up from surgery. Optimistic and excited about my life changes I felt comfortable and at ease. Pat & Jack came by and visited for a while and it was nice again to feel such warmth and camaraderie. Slowly we drifted to our rooms to rest and prepare for surgery.

The short elevator ride gave me a moment to say goodbye to a life and lifestyle that no longer held purpose. Knowing that I would awake tomorrow in a New World ready to be redefined by me. A New World, a healthier, happier world. Yes, the healing had begun.

I remember standing at the big picture window in the middle of the night, looking out over the twinkling lights of the Tijuana sky. You could hear music, the laughter and singing of the people below and the horns and engine noises of the traffic. Remembering that I was just a speckle in the big picture of life. As I stood there in prayer and thinking of my children and Avery I thanked God for the wonderful life he had blessed me with. And was grateful for the new life ahead of me.

I awake early and as Mona slept I stepped into the bathroom to shower and prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually for what was only hours away. I felt blessed to have been given a second chance, and pledged my determination to utilize this second chance to God and myself. I washed myself and showered as if in a sacred ritual visualizing the washing away of this old now tattered shell, this unmended back injury, replacing it with a leaner, healthier and vibrant me! As Mona woke and began to prepare for the day we talked about what was ahead, both knowing that her love and presence would make the difference between life and death. I assured her that my intentions were pure and that I would do all that I could to return. Mona smiled as she promised to hold the kite string; and keep me anchored to the physical world. I tried to express how much it meant to me to have her here with me, to let her know that her love and strength was so very much appreciated sharing that new level of love and sisterhood.

As we entered the doors of the Hospital I was surprised at how small it was, we walked down this small yet endless hall to the end where two young women with welcoming smiles greeted us. They handed me gown and compression stockings and showed me my bed. After changing into the hospital gown Mona struggled to get my compression stocking on. It was pretty obvious that these were not going on over these swollen legs. It would have been hard enough with just the weight but the edema made it even worse. Mona had broken into a sweat trying to make this fit as I apologized for being such a task. She reassured me that it was all okay, as the nurse came in and just wrestled me around and somehow got those leggings on. When the nurse put my I V in it was such a gentle and painless procedure I remember asking myself why the Americans made things harder and why wasn’t that same gentleness something I was familiar with in The States. A short time passed as that sweet-faced nurse came to me with a smile and a needle and said, “For you, Tequila.” I laughed and smiled back and said, “yes, Tequila.” I don’t even remember putting my head on the pillow.

Aside from the miraculous heart expanding experience I had while under anesthesia. Which is a story in itself that I will share at a later time. My first recall was of Mona as I awoke; her tired eyes sparkled as my heavy eye lids fluttered trying to open. With each new flutter I could see more of the worry in her face. I was still dancing between the worlds and she knew it. I uttered the words, “it’s not over yet, it,” still a multiple choice; as I squeezed her hand silently asking her to hold on tight. Of course it wasn’t till later that I found out that this 45 minute surgery that turned into over 2 hours left Mona knowing there had been some complications. As the others scheduled after me were still waiting I was still in surgery all were concerned.

Dozing in and out of consciousness I remember seeing gentle faces and soft voiced nuns in sky blue with white habits praying over me. Consumed with a peaceful, serene feeling, knowing I was in the palm of the Lords hand and the final outcome belonged to God and his plan for me. Feeling cradled in the arms of protection I drifted off again. Occasionally I would open my eyes and see these beautiful nuns floating in out of my room often stopping to pray. You never heard them walk, you never saw their shoes, and like angels they floated the halls of the Hospital. Their presence and prayers reminded me again of the many languages my God speaks and the Universal power of prayer.

On one of my conscience moments I remember praying for the strength to stay awake, the strength to move and trying so hard to just sit up. I felt like I had used every cellular molecule in my body to stay alive and to be here on this earth at this time. I remember Mona talking to me with a tired, sad and cautious tone. I remember finally being able to say, “I’m ok” and watching her sparkle return amidst the tired and worry lifted my heart and my determination to keep trying. What a sister, what a friend, never leaving me or making me feel like I was a burden, her Grace equal to my Angels in blue.

So now five years later as I live a life filled with activity, health and wonderful memories I give thanks to Dr Kuri and his team for all that that have done to save my life. I remember saying to my beautiful daughter that my one goal is to be able to walk along the beach collecting seashells and playing in the ocean. Since then I have done just that multiple times. I have ran, I have hiked I have been blessed with a second chance. My heart is filled with gratitude for Dr Kuri’s dedication to allowing those that may have never experienced life, to do far more than I had ever imagined.

* Results may vary.