Ozabeth’s Story: How bariatric surgery saved my life

Beverly Counts Rodrigues | 1/16/2014, 9 a.m.
Ozabeth Sheffield battled with her weight for years. At her heaviest, she weighed 305 pounds. “Because of my weight, my ...
Ozabeth Sheffield

Ozabeth Sheffield battled with her weight for years. At her heaviest, she weighed 305 pounds.

“Because of my weight, my health was bad,” said Sheffield. “I became diabetic, developed hypertension, asthma and knee pain. I ended up being on six medications.”

She tried dieting to lose the weight, but was repeatedly unsuccessful.

“For years, I tried all kinds of weight-loss plans – Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. I would lose a few pounds, but then gain it right back.”

Sheffield was puzzled by her difficulty to maintain the loss of the excess pounds because she would strictly follow the diet plans.

“I would not stray. I did portion control and would not eat junk food. But no matter what I did, I could not keep the weight off,” she said.

After dieting for about 10 years with no luck, Sheffield decided that she had to take a different action.

“I was depressed about my weight and all the money spent on dieting and exercising with no results,” she said.

Her doctor recommended weight-loss surgery. At first, surgical intervention was a scary thought for her. But after careful consideration, Sheffield realized that it was her best option.

In 2008, Sheffield underwent a gastric bypass procedure at Jackson North Medical Center. She was home in two days – and the weight loss was immediate and dramatic.

“Within a week, I lost 15 to 20 pounds,” she said. “Having the surgery was the best decision I ever made.”

Still, Sheffield believes the surgery was only part of the solution.

“You have to do your part, too,” she said.

For Sheffield and other weight-loss surgery patients, that means exercising regularly and monitoring what and how much they eat.

To adjust to her new lifestyle, Sheffield worked closely with a nutritionist who taught her about healthy eating and a psychologist who helped prepare her mentally for the change in her diet.

In the six years since her “life-changing” surgery, Sheffield has lost 146 pounds. She went from a size 24 dress to a size 9.

“I’m a lot happier now,” she said. “My husband jokes that I’m a cheap date, because I don’t eat a lot.”

Sheffield advocates weight-loss surgery for others who have struggled with traditional diets and have health issues related to being overweight.

“I try to spread the good news about what happened to me,” she said. “I don’t want to go back to that life anymore, being sick and taking a lot of pills. The surgery saved my life, changed my marriage, and gave me back 10 to 20 years.”