Sabrina Monique’s body, had eaten her alive. It was never what was she was consuming, but always what was consuming her...
Sabrina Monique’s love for the arts began at such a young age. She began to dance at age of two and sang before she could talk. At 2, however, Sabrina was not only demanding the attention of her family during her “living room” performances, but catching the attention of her pediatrician. Her weight began to literally go off the charts at just two years of age and continued to increase throughout her youth. She began to see her doctor for weekly weigh-ins around at 6 and when the numbers on the scale did not stay the same, they only increased.
Despite auditioning and rehearsing for musicals and plays, playing defense on the lacrosse team, cheering at the football games, and dancing 6 styles of dance for over 15 hours each week, Sabrina Monique was still considered obese. She has been on multiple diets including Medi Fast, Jenny Craig, South Beach, Atkins, Nutri System, PALEO, Slim Fast, and, unbeknownst to her at only 7, Weight Watchers, which was monitored by her mother. All of these diets she pursued under her mother’s name, because her age was an issue from eight until fourteen. During this time Sabrina Monique sought nutritional counseling as well as hypnosis for weight loss, dietitians, personal trainers, and in her later teen years began the Insanity and P90X programs.
Sabrina Monique had always been frustrated with her weight but as she reached her teenage years, she became so obsessive, agitated and angry at herself, with herself, and those around her. Her physicians and family did not know what to do and figured it must be her fault. The conclusion was that Sabrina Monique must be emotionally eating or sneaking food. However, as much as she battled those around her, that simply was not the case. The finger kept being pointed at her, and all her errors.
Trying her hardest to lose weight and be healthy Sabrina could not wrap her head around why she could not just lose the weight. She constantly felt attacked and like the rat being studied and watched under close eye for some sick experiment.
Going to school was always an issue for Sabrina. She had switched her elementary schools twice due to bullying, but eventually as the kids got older the bullying got worse especially when entering high school. Sabrina admits that she rarely went to school. Her grades were constantly suffering due to her absences but that was no comparison to the suffering she felt while in the hallways, cafeteria, or in class. Sabrina would be ridiculed in the halls as the boys and girls would shout things such as Waddling Whale, Blowhole, Fatt Ass, Disgusting, or her favorite “Ugly Ass Piece of Shit.” She decided to transfer high schools to a smaller more private school, however her time there was full of over-privileged boys and girls, ridiculing her on the internet with pictures of her off social media, and throwing food at her in the cafeteria or on the bus. She did not fit in anywhere she went and with very few friends It was during these times that Sabrina began to feel worthless. She fell into periods of deep depression and would spend most of her days at school in the nurse's office avoiding everyone or phoning to go home. Her only outlet was music. Her love and passion for music and musical theater is the only reason she would not homeschool because when it was player season she felt at least she had something to enjoy. However, due to her size Sabrina was never properly cast and always played the roles outside her type,always falling in comparison to the other leading ladies ore softer to the eye, though she could sing and dance at a higher levels even at her weight of 190+.
Sabrina felt trapped in a body she knew did not belong to her. However the question still remained. Despite all she does and has done, why is she obese? The suffering, hurt, and depression lead her to act violently toward herself. She became so obsessed with every calorie, workout, and liquid that entered her body and developed patterns of disordered eating, binging and purging which later lead to her battle with anorexia. Sabrina’s greatest achievement was covering everything up with a smile and appearing content to the world. And at 200 pounds no one suspected that she was suffering the way she was. Inside she was decomposing and had to seek psychiatric care to protect her health and life.
Sabrina Monique discovered she had insulin resistance at the age of 13, after a series of tests and studies with specialists at one of Manhattan’s finest hospital centers, Columbia Presbyterian.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Service’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Health:
“Insulin plays a major role in metabolism—the way the body uses digested food for energy. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates—sugars and starches found in many foods—into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. With the help of insulin, cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes because the beta cells fail to keep up with the body's increased need for insulin. Without enough insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to diabetes, prediabetes, and other serious health disorders.”
When finding out that she had this disease Sabrina immediately felt as if she had found the answer, if not the cure. So many perplexed years seemed to conclude, and Sabrina rejoiced. Ironically, she felt as if a weight was lifted off her shoulders and hoped there was a way to move forward in her weight loss process now having this information. And there was. She was prescribed a medication called Metformin which when used properly could aid in weight loss, but help control her blood sugar levels, and diabetes, and prevent kidney damage.
For three months Sabrina took her metformin and worked with a nutritionist and was on a strict workout routine. In those three months Sabrina lost a total of 6 pounds. Sadly, with the work she was putting in, resulting in a six pound weight loss was not exactly good news. Although she was thankful, she was shrouded with defeat. Sabrina knew she had to do something bigger, in order to live a healthy long life.
Her depression worsened during this time and for years she bottomed a new low that was unfamiliar to her. It was as if her existence was paralyzed as she floated underwater unaware of her surroundings, covered in invisibility and unseen by all around her. For two years everyday was just another meaningless day of existing. Battling with different versions of herself each day, trapped in a body of 200 pounds, she was taunted and mocked, and accepted her fate at 15 as an obese teenager, who would turn into a morbidly obese adult, with health diseases leading her to an early death. That was the path she was on and Sabrina felt as if she could not fight herself anylonger.
Sabrina rarely made it out of bed and let alone to school. But when she did it was for one purpose only, the arts. She tried to stay active in the theater department(s) but the sad truth was that, the things in Sabrina’s life that once made her feel some sliver of happiness no longer had the same effect. Her weight affected her balance and therefore she had to stop her training in dance. She became extremely lethargic while performing songs and numbers. Her flexibility was affected, she was depleted of any self confidence, and as a result her stage presence was affected immensely as well. Always seeming sad or down, what little of one she had, eventually her social life diminished as well. But it was all okay, Sabrina accepted it. She accepted the dull, unfulfilling, and depressive life she was leading.
She accepted that she was obese, unhealthy and would live a short meaningless disease filled life due to her weight. She accepted that eventually she’d stop performing altogether and exist in a realm of purgatory.
Sabrina was performing at 15 on a stage what she thought would be the last time with a full audience in a production, which once again she played a character far out of her type. She was performed one of the big finale numbers which featured a small majority of her male leads. Part way through the performance she noticed that the audience members began to stand, clap, dance and enjoy themselves. Eventually the whole theatre was standing and dancing, Sabrina saw how happy the crow was and the nature of the upbeat number, doing something she loved with creative people, watching others rejoicing sabrina was overwhelmed with emotions. Immediately as the number was over, she ran off stage and broke down. In hysterics she could not remember a time where she felt that much joy before. Sabrina felt upset at how wonderful her life could be, and in that moment of an emotional swell, she knew she had to do something.
Sabrina Monique’s body, had eaten her alive. It was never what was she was consuming, but always what was consuming her. On both sides of her family Sabrina has history of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If she wanted to actually LIVE a life, she would have to make major lifestyle changes. She had heard on television about celebrities undergoing surgeries for body contouring, various plastic surgeries, and intriguingly weight loss. Sabrina Monique began to research weight loss surgeries and the various methods and success stories that surrounded the procedures. After gathering information and phoning her local medical and hospital centers, Sabrina set up a consultation at a hospital in her county. The biggest obstacle she faced was her age. Sabrina met all the criteria as a Bariatric Weight loss patient, however she was fifteen and the minimum age that most surgeons consider the operation is eighteen.
Considering Sabrina Monique met all the criteria and made a great candidate, she was advised to get clearances from over 6 specialists in the time span of 8 months including multiple visits per specialists, and six months nutritional counseling, and 6 months of psychiatric and nutritional counseling and weight loss group therapy. It took Sabrina two months to find the doctors she needed who were willing to work with her despite her age, to clear her for bariatric sleeve surgery. Sabrina worked well with the physicians she saw and was cleared across the board for weight loss surgery. After months of hard work and weekly visits to the slew of specialists, Sabrina’s surgeon requested one final note of clearance from her primary care pediatrician. After a quick visit with her primary care doctor, they agreed to write a letter to the surgeon/insurance company clearing sabrina for surgery, or so she had thought.
Sabrina Monique and her mother received a phone call from her surgeon about two weeks later saying he would not perform surgery on Sabrina. Completely perplexed, Sabrina and her mother later found that Sabrina Monique’s pediatrician decided to write a letter stating that Sabrina would not make a good candidate for surgery and she (the pediatrician) does not support it. Shocked and outraged as to what had happened or what had went wrong, Sabrina was overwhelmed and bewildered. She felt shattered. Both herself and her mother were at a crossroads and while both angered and devastated, had no idea what to do.
Sabrina knew that she wanted to live. She was battling demons that she would not allow to destroy her.
At fifteen she knew she wanted to live a healthy long-lasting life that was free of disease and suffering. Sabrina knew that her weight loss was not in her control, but she also understood she had to get it under control. Bariatric Weight loss Surgery, was the only way Sabrina would be able to lose weight and live a healthy normal life. She was determined to get this procedure. Sabrina searched for surgeons who had a history of working with children throughout the globe! She contacted doctors in other countries and throughout the nation, stating and pleading her case. Given the fact that she had all her criteria and clearances, all Sabrina Monique needed was a “Yes!” from a willing surgeon.
It was not too long that Sabrina came across a video of a girl who weighed more than she did and not much older than Sabrina, receiving Bariatric Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss surgery. The procedure was performed at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C., under the care of Surgeon, Dr. Evan Nadler. Sabrina Monique contacted Dr. Nadler within seconds of watching that video. Within two days Sabrina had a consultation to meet with Nadler in D.C to discuss her weight loss surgery options. Sabrina and her mother drove 5 hours from New York to Washington D.C with all of her paperwork and clearances in hands with high hopes and a positive attitude!
When Sabrina and her mother met Dr. Nadler, they were overjoyed. Dr Nadler works as a pediatric surgeon and is co director of children's national hospital centers, obesity unit. His specialty is weight loss surgery in adolescents along a team of dietitians, medical physicians, phycologists, anesthesiologists who work to provide excellent care for their patients and adolescents who are starting their weight loss journey. With a kind and warm demeanor Sabrina felt as if he was sent from above! They discussed the multiple weight loss procedures Sabrina could reciving including, lap band, bariatric sleeve, or the more severe-gastric bypass. Within minutes of meeting Dr. Evan Nadler was hopeful that Sabrina would make an excellent candidate for bariatric sleeve surgery and with all her paperwork handy, they submitted to Sabrina’s Insurance company right away!
It is highly unlikely that insurance companies will cover bariatric weight loss surgery especially if the adolescent is under eighteen years old. Being fifteen by the time the procedure would be performed, she would be one ear older. Nadler said that it would take weeks for them to review the case and if they were to be denied, could try again and the odds of coverage may be greater. However Sabrina and her single mother of two, were not in a financial state stable enough to pay of the procedure, so to be denied was not an option for Sabrina Monique!
Within two weeks of submitting all her paperwork and clearances, Sabrina Monique’s received a call from her surgeon's office saying that her insurance company has agreed to fully cover her Bariatric sleeve weight loss surgery!
Sabrina Monique could not believe what she had heard. It seemed as if all the chips were falling into place and she had never been happier in her life. Having bariatric sleeve surgery would change her life and allow her the capability of being healthy and to truly live.
On July 22, 2013 Sabrina Monique underwent bariatric gastric sleeve surgery.
Due to the nature of the procedure and Sabrina’s current circumstances and adolescents, Sabrina Monique and her mother decided not to tell anyone about the procedure or that she even underwent the process. Sabrina was mortified for she had family in her class and could not handle the scrutiny of her peers and family members. This three hour procedure cuts out a majority of the patient's stomach and made her food intake exceedingly minimal. After surgery Sabrina was determined to get up and move, and start her new life on her weight loss journey! Very active for her circumstances, Sabrina Monique had a speedy and wonderful recovery of 3 weeks. The one thing she wants people to be aware of is that weight loss surgery IS NOT A QUICK FIX. Weight loss surgery is a tool which aids in your weight loss as you make major diet and lifestyle changes that you must practice for the rest of your life. There is a post operative eating regime that extends for almost three months after surgery where you train your stomach and body to digest and eat (again) properly. It is as if a baby had just been born and you move from liquids, eventually up to solids, and then introducing certain types of foods, etc.
Sabrina began to lose an average of 5lbs per week and in one year lost over, 100 lbs, being one of her surgeons most successful cases!
After the inevitable weight loss surgery plato (around 6-9 months out), with her new regiment, lifestyle habits, and diet, Sabrina Monique lost additional weight naturally, and even reversed her insulin resistance! To this day, Sabrina Monique no longer has insulin resistance or any signs of current or future health risks, and is expected to lead a full and healthy life! Unlike her family genetics to herself- Sabrina has reversed her insulin resistance through weight loss, and cannot pass the traits, she was given genetically, down the line.
Sabrina Monique has said time and time again, the weight loss surgery she underwent completely changed her life. “My body ate me alive. If it was not for this surgery, I would not be on this earth today.” Her confidence skyrocketed exponentially and life began to have a meaning. She no longer had inhibitions or anxieties on a social level and survived her senior year of high school, admitting it was more pleasant as people began to accept her more due to her weight loss achievement(s). Sabrina’s happiness grew and it was as if she was transformed into a new person. Sabrina admits most of her mental health issues dissipated with her weight loss. She finally saw the value of life, and began to live it.
She started her career and training in the performing arts and currently resides in Manhattan, training, studying, auditioning, and and can be seen performing in New York City. Sabrina Monique wishes to share and spread her story, raising awareness about pediatric Weight loss surgery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
“The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.”
Sabrina has often said that “No child wishes to be obese and suffer, and no parent should be afraid to take an action as drastic as surgery.” Understanding that the procedure is alarming, sabrina hopes that she can be an advocate and inspire adolescents through her story and success to help youths throughout the world lead healthier, longer, but most importantly, happier lives, for she believe the surgery is transformative.