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Last year I did something I have never done before. I put myself first. I spent a bunch of money on myself. It started with some big news from my son: I was going to be a grandmother. Suddenly it was time to focus on me and my health.

As most women know, losing weight is not easy. We can’t just give up beer this week and drop ten pounds. We can however eat salad for a solid week and still gain two pounds.

I had been working with my doctor for about two years to lose the weight. We tried keto, and the pills, and the needles, but nothing worked; I could not lose a single pound.

Tracey and her son s graduation, shortly before her surgery. Tracey with her grandson, Miles, post-surgery.

So, I decided to try something I thought I would never do. After much research and price comparison, I chose to have weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery. They call this ‘medical tourism’ in Mexico, and it is big business. I got approval for the procedure, I picked my top three surgery dates, and soon I was headed on my journey to a new life began.

Alone, I was off to Tijuana.

I flew from Sydney to the San Diego airport where a van from the hospital picked up a group travelling separately but all for the same reason. Once in the van, we were in the care of the hospital until they returned us to the airport the next week. (You can take a person with you and the only additional cost is their flight and their food.)

The surgery I chose is called VSG, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, simply put, they removed 80 percent of my stomach.

Have you ever been in a hospital where you paid for your health care? For me, it was mind-blowing. The hospital glowed; it was so clean and there were so many nurses on the floor. I had a private room and bathroom with a shower and dedicated nurses; so, there was never any waiting for anything.

The second day after the surgery was the hardest day. That is leak test day. This is when you drink the horrible stuff while you stand in the X-ray machine to make sure your new stomach hasn’t sprung any leaks. I will spare you the details, but it was not a pleasant day. On day three, you get to shower and pack and then head to the hotel to continue the journey.

The hotel was beautiful. There was a nice pool and outdoor area overlooking a golf course. I couldn’t go in the water, but I could certainly read my book while laying in a cabana in the sun.

The weather was just perfect, not too hot considering it was Mexico in June. The hotel was full of people who were all there having surgeries too. There were lots of people to talk to about their experiences and to find on shared paths.

Each day I went to the office and had my bandages changed. The surgery is laparoscopic, so I had just three small sites and one drain site to clean and bandage.

After that, the day was mine. While I could have taken advantage of the tours of the city or the hotel’s services, such as teeth whitening and massages; truth be told, I used up all my bravery travelling alone to Tijuana, so I mostly hung out around the hotel and pool catching up on my reading.

Overall, the pain was very manageable, and I was able to relax and enjoy a few days alone with no suppers to cook or dishes to wash. Before you knew it, I was boarding a plane headed for home. Honestly, the travel back home was the hardest part. Remember all those news articles and pictures of people travelling last summer? Well, I was one of them. Four planes and 30 hours later I was finally home. I think every flight was cancelled and rescheduled, and the Toronto airport was a nightmare.

So how much did it cost you might be wondering? It was about $5000 for the surgery and the hotel, which included all the major expenses except the cost of the flights.

As I write this it’s been a little more than a year since my surgery. I’ve lost a total of 90 pounds and feel better than ever. My BMI went from 40.2 (obese) to 23.8 (normal weight). For me, at 51 years old, and at this time of my life, it was a great decision.

I still can’t eat very much in one sitting. I really enjoy soup and grazing throughout the day. Some foods are tough now and it’s all trial and error. I try to be home when I’m trying something new for my stomach. For example, eggs and spaghetti are a straight up no go, and my new stomach lets me know right away.

Also, there’s really no way to overeat now, as my stomach will just flat out reject whatever no longer fits. Most restaurants are kind and understanding and let me order off the children’s menu, and I still always have leftovers. My dogs are loving my new eating habits, they eat very well now.

I bet you’re also wondering about alcohol. I waited about six months and then had a glass of wine with no issues. If I pace myself, I can have a few glasses and be just as hungover as I ever was.

There are expenses too because literally nothing you own will fit you again. Jackets, hats, bras, and shoes – I even lost half of a shoe size!

I think the biggest change is the energy and the movement I have. I can cross my legs again and if I’m sitting on the floor playing with my grandson, I can get up without assistance. They might read like small things, but when you couldn’t do them before, it feels huge.

Being able to keep up with my grandson, Miles, is the best part, followed closely by shopping, which is fun now and I never leave dressing room in tears. I tried to find some photos to go with my story, but I’m sure many out there will understand, that there weren’t any to find. I was in photos, but I was hiding myself behind something or someone else. So, you’ll have to imagine it…on the day of my surgery I was 220 pounds, and I am 5”2’ (if I’m being generous).

It was a life changing decision in the best possible way.

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You are so very brave to share your experience❤️ good on you Tracey for doing something for you!!


Joslynn White
Joslynn White
Aug 17, 2023

So glad you are feeling well and happy with your body. It was not an easy decision I am sure. You sure will need all your energy to keep up with the baby!💓

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