Jenna Kriel

My name is Jenna Kriel, in January of 2016 I suddenly and unexpectedly became sick, I lost most of my memories, my speech and was rapidly going blind. Doctors diagnosed me as having an idiopathic neurological condition that caused the pressure in my brain to increase and responds as if you have a brain tumor however it can’t be seen on a MRI, I suffered extreme headaches and couldn’t find a cause or a reason, I was told my weight may have been a factor to my illness and while I was unsure if this was actually a fact, I was piling on even more weight due to the medication I was given. I was miserable, I was becoming extremely overweight and at the end of my rope.

I had 2 brain surgeries to insert a shunt into my brain and multiple ancillary surgeries in between. My tummy was operated on 13 times since my diagnosis. I wanted to take my own life because living in pain and being embarrassed about how I looked and feeling running down and tired all the time was taking a toll on me mentally and emotionally.

I struggled to get doctors to take me seriously as most would only see my weight and no further. After much research I decided to look into bariatric surgery, I thought well if it doesn’t help my condition then at the very least the doctors will see that I’ve tried and perhaps help me. I was dying a painful and slow death in front of my children and didn’t know where to turn for help.

I googled bariatric surgery and met with Dr Funnel, that was the day my life completely changed. Dr Funnel did not make me feel bad for being overweight and treated me with dignity and respect, I cried in his office because I finally had a doctor that heard me, he treated me for some of the ancillary surgeries I had and a date was booked for the bariatric surgery. Dr funnel was kind and compassionate the whole way through and worked side by side with my new neurosurgeon, even consulting with him before my procedure. The entire bariatric team was phenomenal and made my journey so easy.

The weight slipped off and slowly I got my life back, I was still ill however losing the excess weight gave me the energy to fight and with the support from Dr Funnel and his bariatric team, I once again felt alive. I had a new shunt inserted into my brain and every day I woke up with a renewed purpose. Within one year I was able to wean off ALL MEDICATION and now only control my condition with the shunt and weight loss. I dance and laugh and go to work like a normal person, things I never imagined I would be able to do again because I was just too tired. Being part of the bariatric process is like being part of a supportive secret club and I have never once felt abandoned or alone.

My successes were celebrated and I have never felt better. My husband thought he had lost me but I dug my way back up and I’m on top now. I will never go back to that dark place. I have Dr Funnel and his team to thank for my life today, thank you for hearing me, for seeing me and THANK YOU for helping me. You gave me so much without knowing it and I will be eternally grateful. It is still sometimes strange for me to see myself in the mirror but holy cow is it great to walk into a shop and buy clothes because I love them and not because they fit.

I started my journey at 115kgs and in 8 months was down to 60 and my weight has been stable there for the past 6 months. I love my life.  To anyone that is perhaps considering this surgery….do it. There will be no regrets. You’re worth it.

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