One of my life long dreams was to have a horse come to me when I called it in the pasture and to be able to
ride it. My daughter acquired a sad black and white
paint horse whose registered name is ‘Look at Me Now.’ He needed
a lot of love and attention. She calls him Tex. When he came to us
five years ago, I was overweight and in terrible shape. I would watch
my daughter work with Tex and wish that it were me. I made a deal
with Tex that he did not need to worry because I would not be riding
him but just wanted to be friends with him from the ground. Tex
saved me! Tex helped me to realize just how much being overweight
was really costing me. At 150 lbs overweight, I could barely walk let
along climb any stairs without great difficulty. I wanted to ride Tex.
“Two months after Tex came into our lives, I had back surgery to help
ease some of the damage done by my weight. Following this surgery, I
developed a severe staph infection. I had realized that my incision was
infected, but the doctor’s office did not believe me. When I arrived at
the office and told that doctor that it was infected, he laughed until
he finally looked me and he believed. I missed two months of work
since I had to have IV antibiotics twice a day. I could hardly get out of
bed or put my own shoes on. I began to consider joining a weight loss
program. Our church started a new Weight Watchers meeting and of
course they needed just one more person to bring the numbers to the
minimum for opening, or so my friend advised. I went and it worked
for me. Today I have lost a total of 166 pounds and I’ve kept it off!
“On my 55th birthday, I was able to ride Tex. My dream came true.
I would ride him several times a week. Then my daughter decided to
move and wanted Tex to go with her. I thought my life was over. My
husband was afraid that without my own horse, that the weight would
return. On our 35th wedding anniversary, my husband gave me my
own horse. Not only was I able to ride Tex, but now I have Amamiss
Rocket, aka Topper.
“A major problem when a person loses this much weight, your skin
just hangs no matter how much you work out. It is there as an ugly
reminder of what you were. I was walking a lot now, caring for the
horses along with cleaning the stalls. I had arm muscle, but the extra
hanging skin from my arms looked like bat wings. It seemed almost a
cruel joke. I dreamed of plastic surgery to have the extra skin removed,
but there were a couple of obstacles.
“First was the expense since insurance would not cover this kind
of surgery, and secondly I did not have much faith in surgeons. But
all of that changed when an accident involving my finger and a couple
of dogs took me to an emergency room where I met plastic surgeon,
Dr. Barlow. The dog had bitten off the end of my finger along with
some of the bone.
“Normal protocol called for taking the finger to the first joint,
leaving no nail. He explained that the finger might not heal properly or
as quickly with only a skin graft. Naturally when Dr. Barlow explained
this to me, I cried. I begged him to try to save as much of my finger and
leave a nail if possible. He listened to me, talked with me and created
a strategy to save as much as he could. He managed to save my finger
and the nail! It was during my care with this issue, I began to discuss
the extra skin that I was carrying around with me. When I was on
vacation with my family, they all took notice of my discomfort with
the extra skin hanging from my arms and legs. My brother and his
wife made arrangements for the financial part of the surgery and told
me to consult a surgeon. There was no one else but Dr. Barlow that I
wanted to do my surgery.
“During my consultation for the surgery, I discussed with Dr.
Barlow how I felt guilty about spending that much money on myself
and wondered if I really deserved this. In his gentle way he listened to
me and addressed my concern. He said, ‘Reba, you’ve already shed the
pounds, now it is time to let go of the shame.’ He pointed out that I
had done the really hard work by losing all the weight and he was just
there to finish the job by helping me to feel even better about myself.
The surgery was a huge success. Dreams do come true, not only can
I ride a horse, but I can walk wearing pantyhose and the whole world
doesn’t hear me! I feel like Dr. Barlow and his staff are family to me
and when I walk into the office I feel so at home.”
Erin, receptionist for Plastic Surgeon Dr. Mark Barlow, says “I’m
so excited that Reba is sharing her story! Being part of other’s change
has been life changing for me! I’ve worked for six other physicians in
three other practices and nothing compares to my experience here.
I’ve always worked hard and cared tremendously for the patients, but
here, everyone shares my passion and the rewards go way beyond
She continues, “I feel I know what most of our patients are experiencing
because I underwent a bilateral reduction mammaplasty
(breast reduction) myself. I did not know Dr. Barlow then, much less work for him. While I had a good outcome with my doctor, I often
envy the fact that Dr. Barlow’s patients get more than a great outcome.
Everyone here is extremely committed to making the entire experience
as wonderful as possible. Plus our patients get complimentary
laser hair removal (three sessions) following their surgery. Most of our
breast patients chose the axilla area because they feel more comfortable
wearing tank tops after surgery. Our tummy tuck patients usually
chose the bikini area, and one of our otoplasty (ear) patients chose to
have the hair removed from his ears! Our facelift patients get a laser
peel. Our patients want to tell their stories and share their positive
experiences with others. I’m especially moved by Reba’s story because
I know that it will give so many other people courage and hope. While
our motto here is ‘At your service!’ our patients have independently
created a motto of their own because they all say it, ‘I only wish I’d
done it sooner!’”
Dr. Barlow says, “The expression of being comfortable in one’s own
skin seems cliché in Reba’s case but it really is my dream for everyone.
I hope Reba’s story will inspire others to take good care of themselves.
Taking control of your health is a journey that begins from within. We
are so proud of Reba and all of our patients who have chosen to give
the gift of good health and positive change to themselves. The best
New Year resolution is to learn to accept yourself as you are or create
healthy change and move forward. Christie, Erin, Eileen, our extended
team of medical HOSA, nursing students and I want to wish you a
happy and healthy New Year!”