Obesity Action Coalition in Washington DC

The Obesity Action Coalition sent a group (weight loss surgery post-ops, doctors, etc) to Washington DC spend the day on the Capitol Hill speaking with legislators about obesity related issues. One of the main messages we shared was about access, access to prevention and access to all treatments (behavioral, nutritional, pharmaceutical, psychosocial, and surgical) for those affected by obesity. That's one third of all Americans. We met with legislators, shared some great information, stories and hopefully are making some of them understand what it is like to be affected by obesity in America and how with prevention and treatment we can change the staggering fact that one out of every 8 deaths in America is caused by an illness directly related to obesity. It seems like a no-brainer to me to help prevent and treat obesity and improve the health of American's now or be faced with the growing costs related to not taking action.

It was a whirlwind trip... I left for Washington DC at 3 AM on Sunday and was back in California Monday night at 10 PM. We packed a lot into that day. We split up into groups and met with legislators from a bunch of states individually sharing our message, our group met with Senator Boxer (D-CA), Senator Cantwell (D-WA), Congressman Thompson (D-CA), Senator Feinstein (D-CA), and Congressman Issa's office (R-CA) and invited them to an awesome and powerful legislative briefing about the complexity of preventing and treating obesity, the barriers facing us and the harsh stigmas associated with being obese (common stigma: we all just need to put down the donuts and jog), hopefully blowing some of those stigmas out of the water. It was a great day and I got to utilize the under-used Political Science degree I have by taking part in a political process for a cause that is meaningful to me personally.

For those of you that aren't aware, I am an American citizen that was insured through my workplace, had a BMI of 54 (super morbidly obese) with several co-morbidities (severe GERD Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (my father died at 67 of sleep apnea related heart failure), High Blood Pressure, and a host of other issues related to obesity) all of which were being treated by my doctors and costing my insurance company and myself major bank BUT I was repeatedly denied any weight loss related treatments: no weight loss or fitness programs, nutrition classes, pharmaceuticals, nothing related to the treatment of weight loss was covered and I was denied weight loss surgery even though I was told by my doctors that many of the painful, debilitating, and life threatening conditions impacting my health would be potentially relieved and that having weight loss surgery was the best option.

As I got sicker and sicker, I worked through the hellacious insurance maze and also began to research the option of self paying for weight loss surgery. My research led me to some medical tourism options and I ultimately decided to self pay in Mexico for Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. My outcome was great I had a wonderful medical tourism experience. The weight loss I achieved and maintain resolved all my co-morbidities, I am off all 8 medications I was on before weight loss surgery, -158 lbs lighter, Size 28 to 4 I got my life back and now with continued commitment to healthy food choices, taking my vitamins, moving my body every day and working on the head stuff I hope to continue to live a healthy life BUT I should never have had to go out of my country or decimate my savings to get treatment.

It seemed only fitting and extremely meaningful to me that I was spreading the message to our government on June 20th, 2011 my 5 year anniversary of having weight loss surgery! Thanks to the OAC for inviting me.

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Lisa_Gibson said...

How wonderful and what a great process to be a part of. That's terrific!

Jacquie said...

You are my hero! Truly you are!

Melissa said...

Thank you for being a voice for the overweight in America. This is definitely something that we as a country should be more aware of.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary! WLS is a literal lifesaver for so many of us - it's criminal that insurance companies are so reluctant to cover it!

Lisa said...

Awesome thing to do. you rock. :)

- Lisa

o.c. bandster said...

thanks for speaking for all of us! p.s. looks like sandi from banded living in the pix with you...you two must have been the dynamic duo!

Joianne said...

I am sooo happy for you! Congrats on all that you have achieved and even a bigger congrats on looking fabulous while doing so! Thank you soo much for sharing. You've inspired me so much. My surgery is on 7/11/11 and to document it and hopefully help someone else I've started my own blog. Even if all it reaches is family I hope to one day change someones mind about WLS. Without reading blogs like yours I never would of had the courage to do so!

Nica said...


I'm a non-traditional student (meaning I decided to go back to college in my 50's!), my major is nutrition and my goal is to work with overweight children/adults. I feel with my WLS, would be beneficial in many ways. Can you connect/send me links, info on how I can get involved with some of the organizations you are associated with? Is it okay to contact you by email? Please let me know and I'll send off an email to you this week.

Thank you.

Nica said...

P.S. Thank you for your involvement with obesity in America!


amy said...

Thanks for sharing. Lucky for me, my insurance will pay for my surgery. I don't have the date yet, but shouldbe sometimg in August.


Michelle "Shelly" said...

Thank you guys. It always feels good to help cause you believe in :)


Nica, Certainly and this link is great way to start to get involved:


Best wishes with your studies!

Nkara said...

it's wonderful how much your giving back. I know for me I don't have any co-morbidities but I'm a band patient trying to go for a revision. I might be approved and I might not. My high risk is family history and of course being incredibly uncomfortable. Plus I have arthritis up and down my spin along with arthritis in my right knee. How much more do we have to prove that more people deserve these surgeries to lead a normal healthy life? I appreciate all you do.

Kim :)

Kim R said...

Thank you for taking the time to go and represent "us"!
I have to say, your blogs are like
Protien Powder Porn !

Electronic Medical Records said...

It is good to follow a diet to make sure that the calories are going to burn to make way for a healthy body and disease free life.

Luanne said...

Shelly, Right ON!! Thank goodness for those of you are continually involved for taking it to another level. That's awesome that you got to speak w/a lot of key folks on Capital Hill. Do you feel like a lobbyist? Unpaid I'm guessing, but a lobbyist, none the less ;-)

Thank you!!