In 2013, Kellie Kirby was a wife, a mother of two, and had a job she had
always enjoyed. But a somewhat rare condition took away the quality of
her life, leaving her with a very limited amount of enjoyment in any part
of her life. The little things, like playing with her children, or spending
time outdoors with her family, caused her a lot of discomfort and extreme fatigue.
She was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, a condition that occurs when
pressure inside the skull increases for no obvious reason, with symptoms
that mimic those of a brain tumor. Kellie found herself on a schedule
of waking up, going to work, returning home and going to bed. The migraines
caused by the condition were devastating to her and her family, and Kellie
did not respond to the prescriptions she tried.
“I decided I needed to research my condition for myself, and found
a study about a woman in London with the same condition. Gastric bypass
was able to put her condition in remission, and while I had never thought
about weight-loss surgery, it seemed worth exploring,” said Kellie.
“My primary care provider agreed that it was an option, and that
I was a viable candidate for the surgery with my body mass index.”
Further research led her to Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) for a
seminar, where she met and instantly connected with Libby Shaver, the
Surgical Weight Loss program’s director. From there, she moved forward with the process.
When she did follow-up research on Dr. Jonathan Hata’s credentials,
she found he had her rare condition listed under reasons to consider gastric
bypass surgery, which made her feel even more comfortable about the procedure.
Now the decision to take this surgical weight loss journey was in Kellie’s
hands. After a lot of thought and discussion with her husband, family
and friends, Kellie came to a simple conclusion, “I want to live
Kellie scheduled her surgery following a medically-supervised diet for
six months. The diet, required by insurance, is offered at no cost to
CVMC patients. “I had given birth to both of my children at Catawba,
so I was confident my experience would be good. And, in spite of a few
physical challenges that I faced in the weeks and months after the surgery,
I can say without a doubt, I made the right decision on the hospital and
doctors who cared for me.”
Indeed, the painful, rare condition has been in remission since the surgery,
and now two and a half years later, Kellie has lost more than 100 pounds.
She follows the dietary and nutritional guide she received from the
CVMC team very closely, and exercises regularly. Kellie has been able to spend more
time enjoying life, even taking a return trip to Disney World with her
family – this trip was very different than her first. “My
children were having to keep up with me this time,” Kellie boasted.
“We rode every ride and stayed until the park closed.”
Today, she still attends the bariatric surgery support group, and when
asked to speak at the
weight loss surgery educational seminars about her positive experience, she does so with passion and a beaming
smile, telling other perspective patients, “I wanted to live life.”