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Mom is no longer sidelined
Bariatric surgery has her playing with kids
Until recently, Felicia Sumareh of Fairwood could only do one thing when she took her five children to a roller rink or amusement park: watch.
They would ask me, Mom, do you want do this, do you want to do that, says the 40-year-old single mother. We would go to roller rinks and I would just sit down.
Amusement parks werent any better. The safety bars were too tight.
I never could get on the rides; I would have to watch them, Sumareh says.
Getting on the floor to play board games or change diapers was even difficult for Sumareh.
But not since Oct. 22, when she had gastric-bypass surgery at Washington Bariatric & Weight Loss Center at Valley Medical Center.
The 5-foot-6-inch Sumareh has since lost about 70 pounds, going from 265 before surgery to 193. Her goal weight is 140. Her clothing size has dropped from size 26 to 14.
Theres a huge gap in those numbers. But Sumareh doesnt much notice.
Even now, when I look in the mirror, I see plus-size, she says. I dont visually see any difference in me. Everyone around me notices Im different, but I dont see no difference. I see the same. But I know inches are coming off, based on my clothes.
What Sumareh does notice is her increased energy. She works out at the gym at least five days a week, and practices tae kwon do with her children three days a week.
Now I can skate, Sumareh says. I can ride bikes. We go mountain biking. Im just able to do more.
Sumarehs increased energy is appreciated by her five children, ages 2 to 13.
To me, nothing seems like a big difference, says Austin, 10.
Still, he says hes happy his mom is losing weight.
I kind of like it, he says.
But Austin and his brother and three sisters always praised their mothers looks.
My children said I was beautiful, Sumareh says.
They protested when she told them she was getting gastric-bypass surgery
They said, Why mom? Youre fine just the way you are, Sumareh recalls. But then they saw the weight come off, and said, Mom you look skinny. But then they saw I had more energy.
Aside from more energy, gastric-bypass has cured Sumarehs diabetes and lowered her blood pressure and cholesterol.
Relieving medical problems and improving life expectancy is the point of gastric-bypass and lap-band surgery, the other type of weight-loss surgery offered at Valley Medical Center.
Gastric bypass is more invasive than lap-band surgery, but allows for more weight loss up to 70 to 75 percent of excess weight, compared to lap bands 50 to 60 percent.
In gastric bypass, the stomach is divided into two parts: the upper the size of a ping-pong ball and the lower the size of a Nerf football. A segment of small intestine is attached to the upper pouch, which allows food to bypass most of the stomach, reducing the amount of food that can be eaten.
In lap-band surgery, an inflatable ring is stretched around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch that controls the flow of food. The ring can be adjusted to shrink or expand the size of the pouch.
Both surgeries are intended as last resort weight-loss methods.
Gastric bypass was Sumarehs last resort.
I think Ive been overweight pretty much all my life, she says. As my mom said, I came out big.
Her weight started going up and down in her 20s, and the weight stayed after she had her first child, Dylen, 13. Diets didnt work.
It was a rollercoaster, up and down, she says. I lost weight, and then it would come back. It was just a rollercoaster.
Juggling five children, early childhood education classes and a job as an assistant director at a Seattle daycare center made keeping track of meals difficult.
The reason I gained weight is I didnt eat properly, she says. I would skip meals. Sometimes I didnt eat.
Since having her stomach divided, Sumareh can eat only half a cup to one cup of food in one sitting. She eats six meals a day. She and her youngest, Sincere, 2, split plates when they eat out.
Ill be in trouble when she gets older cause she wont want to split no more food with me, Sumareh laughs.
Sumarehs portions are limited, but not her food choices.
The only thing lately is carrots, she says. Ive tried them shredded, cooked. But thats the only thing thats giving me a problem at the moment.
Dylen helps Sumareh cook at home.
He says, Mom can you eat this? Or, Is this too much? Sumareh says.
All her children have helped, especially during the few weeks just after surgery.
It brought me and 10-year-old Austin closer, Sumareh says of surgery. He didnt like to see me in discomfort. He wanted to make sure he was doing his chores. Then when mommy got better all was back to normal, she laughs. But he was making sure all the girls were doing what they were supposed to do. That was neat to watch.
Sumareh calls her children her support group.
The whole thing has been like a family affair, she says.
Family time has increased since Sumarehs surgery.
I feel like were having more quality time instead of rush time, she says. And my kids never say anything, but I think theyre prouder (of me) when we go out in public.
So is Sumareh happy with the results of gastric bypass so far?
Yes, she says. I think my kids are, too. Now they cant keep up with me.
Emily Garland can be reached at email@example.com or (425) 255-3484, ext. 5052.
Washington Bariatric & Weight Loss Center is at the north end of the Valley Medical Center campus, at 4033 Talbot Road S., Suite 560, in Renton. For more information, call 425-251-5111 or visit www.valleymed.org.
The next free informational seminar on weight-loss surgery at Valley Medical is on the first floor of the Medical Arts Building on June 4 from 6-7 p.m. Call 425-251-5111 to register.