Kellie Kirby: I wanted to live life

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 life.”

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.”

kellie kerbie cvmc weight loss surgery successIndeed, 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 prospective patients, “I wanted to live life.”