A Texoma woman at the crossroads is taking Newschannel 6 on a journey to a new life.
Like so many, Irene has been battling obesity and the health issues that come with it, but a life changing decision is giving her control of the fight.
Newschannel 6 anchor Ashley Fitzwater has been following the 44-year-old for more than a month, and even went inside the Operating Room to bring you the latest on the gastric sleeve, a surgery she hopes will give her the chance at a long healthy life.
Irene said once she turned 40-years-old it felt like everything just went undone.
If it wasn't the high blood pressure, it was the news of diabetes.
But the game changer came with the death of a family member.
So weighing in at 335 lbs., Irene knew something had to be done.
"Your body is a temple and you are supposed to cherish it, and I haven't been doing that," said Irene. "When you grow up large the way I did, you just get sort of tired of every time you go to restaurant you sit at a table.You would like to sit in booth but you can't."
A friend told her about the gastric sleeve, a popular bariatric surgery, and she started looking into it.
Doctors told her should could get off her diabetic medicine in 3 days, and off the blood pressure medicine in 3 months.
The $12,000 procedure isn't a quick and easy fix though. In fact one of the hardest parts happens before you even have surgery.
Patients are placed on a liquid diet 9 days out; so before the plunge into the blender, Irene did what most would do, indulge one last time.
It wasn't long before it was time to jump into reality. And when that time came Irene had lots of support, especially from her daughter.
"It's amazing how the body processes and works so fast, and gets you healthy. That's the ultimate goal in my mind that she
needs to get healthy, and I think everything else will fall into place after that," said Arianna, Irene's daughter.
Arianna left lots of signs and notes full of motivational words. Although things weren't always comfortable Irene did push through.
Irene had her surgery at Wise Regional Hospital and Newschannel 6 was allowed inside the operating room.
Dr. Scott Stowers with My Bariatrics Solutions in Decatur, performed the surgery.
He said they take out about 80% of the stomach and leave the more muscular part so you can't eat as much.
The gastric sleeve is minimally invasive.
Doctors make 5 small incisions and use tiny tools to remove part of the stomach.
Dr. Stowers said it has a faster recovery and less limitations.
As with any surgery there are risks, the biggest one with the sleeve, is leaks.
"Anytime we do a staple line we can have leaks. The equipment is so much better now though, so it's less likely. It's also something we test for in surgery and the next day," said Dr. Stowers.
Irene's surgery went off smoothly and Dr. Stowers said she could even head back to work just a week later. He also said she should be able to start eating whatever she wants in about a month.
She's expected to lose about 40% of her weight in the first year, but that's not all.
"The resolution of diabetes it's the best thing, if we can fix that for people that's the best thing I can do," said Dr. Stowers.
Just a week later, you wouldn't know Irene was just in an operating room.
She's walking around, no nausea, no major pain and is even adding some substance to her liquid shakes.
"I don't have any hunger pains. I served myself half a cup of broccoli soup for lunch and I could barley finish it," said Irene. "It put everything into perspective that this is the new way of how you are going to eat from now on."
Irene's short term goal is to get below that 300 pound mark, which she is anxious to do by our next visit.
Newschannel 6 will check in with her in a month, and then every 3 months for the next year.