"When people ask me about my incision. And I always tell them, every day, when I see that incision, it's the most beautiful thing I see, because it's given me a new life."
You won't meet many people happier to be alive than Miranda Jackson. "My life is so full. Every day I do just about anything I want to, things I never dreamed I could do before. I play with my grandchildren, go camping, work out in the yard, go shopping. I can take vacations and go sightseeing and don't have to stop or sit in the tour bus because my back hurts or I'm just so tired."
She's happy now because Miranda remembers that, in the years before her surgery, she couldn't do all those things. Vacations were particularly painful. "When you're sitting there, watching your family having fun, you might as well be on the other end of the earth, because you feel that isolated. You're glad because they're enjoying themselves, but you want to be there with them."
Her family physician was the one who put Miranda on the track toward surgical weight loss. "I went in for a visit and he says, I think it's time you considered weight loss surgery. And I thought, weight loss surgery? Me?" But the idea stuck in her mind. "I got online and started looking, and then I ran across Dr. John Maguire's name. I researched him and called his office and found out about the Information Sessions. I went by myself, and it was a hard thing to do, walk in there by myself, but Dr. Maguire was there and he answered questions. You could ask him anything, anything you could think of.
"I went home and read and thought and prayed about it. My quality of life had gotten so bad that I thought, something's got to change. I'm not that old to park it in a chair and not live any longer. So I had a long talk with my husband and decided to do it."
After the surgery, the changes began immediately. "It doesn't take that much to fill you up. You think, well, I just had an egg and I'm stuffed, but full is full, whether you eat 15 bites or you eat three bites." And then she started to see the big change she'd been hoping for. "The weight just starts kind of melting off. It's just magical. You can stand in the mirror and watch yourself getting smaller and smaller.
"When you have this surgery, you know ahead of time about what I call trade-offs. I take vitamins and minerals, I drink a protein drink: things I know I'll do the rest of my life. But what's taking a few vitamins or a protein drink each day? And as the weight comes off, that makes things easier because you're excited. I had a closet full of clothes, every size you can imagine. And I'd think, I can't wait till I can get into this or that. But sometimes I'd pass that size up and not even know about it. I'd go in and try something on and I couldn't wear it: it's too big. It's too big! I can't believe it. It's just one joy after another.
"My energy level is unbelievable. I used to have no energy, sleep all the time, do one thing and have to go sit down and regroup. Now, I go from one thing to another to another: it just makes life so fun. It's like my whole world opened up. Now I can live again."