'Living the Life I Always Envisioned'
After she hit 295 pounds and developed weight-related health issues, weight-loss surgery helped Vaughn Hyndman turn her life around.
A lifelong athlete, Vaughn Hyndman carried a few extra pounds when she was young, but the non-stop rotation of sports such as softball, swimming and dance, helped keep her weight in check. But at age 20 as her activity level slowed, she gained 100 pounds in one year.
Determined to lose the weight, over the years Hyndman hired a personal trainer, adhered to an endless number of diets including the Weight Watchers program, and even consulted a therapist who specialized in food issues. “I tried everything,” she says. But her weight kept creeping higher.
"I thought I still had time to lose the weight." Then she received a diagnosis of prediabetes: Hyndman’s A1C blood glucose level was 6.4 percent—the highest point of prediabetes and just a step away from a full diabetes diagnosis.
"I was 36 years old at the time and weighed 295 pounds," she says. "I thought of my young son, and I wanted to be an active, participating parent and be there for him in the future."
In addition to the early stages of type 2 diabetes, Hyndman had also developed sleep apnea and bursitis in her hips. She began taking the diabetes drug Metformin twice a day.
Her doctor suggested she meet Pamela Foster, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Mills-Peninsula, to discuss weight-loss surgery options.
"Initially, I fought my doctor on resorting to surgery because I wanted to lose the weight on my own," Hyndman says. "But time was running out, and I knew other people who had success with the program."
A Supportive Team
Before her surgery, Hyndman attended Mills-Peninsula's monthly pre-operative weight-loss surgery support group meeting to ask questions and listen to stories of other people who had gone through the program. A post-operative support group session is also available after surgery.
"Mills-Peninsula has a whole program. They have a nurse who is with you throughout the process, a dietitian who works with you on eating habits, they give you a diet to follow and teach you how to cook healthy things. You feel like the whole office is on your team. Everyone is super supportive."
In March 2014, Hyndman opted for a type of weight-loss surgery called Vertical (Sleeve) Gastrectomy, which restricts a person’s food intake by removing about 60 to 80 percent of the stomach.
She lost 30 pounds before the surgery through a liquid diet, which is part of the program. After surgery, as she stuck to the high-protein diet and regular exercise requirements of the program, Hyndman's body steadily shed the pounds.
One month after her surgery, her diabetes completely reversed and she no longer needed diabetes medication. Her sleep apnea disappeared as well.
"Before I had this surgery, I never felt full in my whole life. Now I have a very clear and distinct feeling of being full. I love it—it's the best tool. I weighed 265 pounds on surgery day. I got down to 165 pounds in six months after surgery."
She still has bursitis, but says it is no longer painful, which allows her to exercise every day. Now at 155 pounds, Hyndman is back to playing softball, hits the gym regularly and runs at lunch with her co-workers.
"I'm healthier and in better shape now than I was as a teenager," she says. "Our family recently went to Disneyland and to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It sounds simple, but before I couldn't fit on an amusement park ride. I'm living the life I always envisioned."