Statement of Jessica Resas FDA Advisory Committee Meeting on Gastric LAP-BAND

My name is Jessica Resas, and I am a lap band patient. In October of 2009, I had a lap band inserted inside me. For the first six months I was doing great. I had lost 134 lbs.

In April 2010, it was as if I had hit a brick wall in my weight loss journey. More important, I developed a redness and tightness on my cheeks. I thought it was just a sun burn since I did go to the beach on Spring Break in March, but I was shocked it had not gone away.

So I went to several doctors. All told me to use some topical ointment. My primary care physician told me I had Rosacea. I used the medicine and it didn’t go away. I started to notice the numbness and tingling traveling thru my facial area, then my scalp. It then migrated down to my neck and chest area. I noticed that my chest area became very red with tiny red dots all over — actually, more like red tiny streaks. Then the numbness traveled to my trunk area, arms and legs. I don’t have loss of sensation but the tingling numbness is everywhere. I even started getting burning sensations on my feet, toes, on the back of my arms, and scalp.

It’s affected my cognitive ability. I feel as if I now have ADD. It’s messed with my emotions. I’ve had terrible mood swings from bouts of depression. Even though I was overweight, I never had any issues with depression or anxiety. I never had anything wrong with me except my hypothyroidism. My thyroid levels have been changing lately, which surprises me. I also became sun sensitive and it seemed during the summer I would get pimples on my scalp, and the burning sensation that had already existed seemed to become more extreme while walking outside.

I’ve been to two neurologists. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and my neurologist and primary care physician just don’t know what to do with me. I have the lap band still in, and am scared that if I take it out, nothing will resolve. I need help. I don’t know if I have celiac disease or not, which everyone says could cause my symptoms, but I don’t have diarrhea or a lot the symptoms.  I’m scared and confused.  I just want someone to help me get better, and I don’t know who to go to or if I should or shouldn’t get the lap band out. Is there research on lap bands that can help me?

I’ve had all the testing for MS: an MRI on brain and cervical spine, which they said came out normal. I had an electric conductivity test which came out normal. I’ve had all the blood work you can imagine. My ANA was taken twice and came out negative. My rheumatoid factor was also taken and came out normal. The only abnormal blood work I’ve had were my B-12 levels. It was at 174 and the neurologist put me on shots seven days in a row and then once a month. After the seven shots and the first shot a month later of B-12, my physician said my levels were 1700. I was shocked that they went up so drastically. I was taking B-12 sublinguals during this time also and explained this to the doctor. She told me to stop taking B-12, and all the blood work she did came out normal.

My neurologist, Dr. Sara Austin in Austin, Texas, tested my ESR sed rate and that came back elevated at 33. She said it wasn’t a big deal but to see a rheumatologist.  I did, and Dr. Allyson McDonough did an extensive work up, and everything came out normal. I was told I did not have lupus or any other connective tissue disorder. She even tested me for Lyme disease which came out okay.

I was put on neurotin by the neurologist and I’ve gained weight. I’ve asked my lap band team if I could be reacting to the silicone and they tell me that silicone is an inert object. I’m frustrated and confused. I can barely get through the day without crying over the feeling of me wanting to crawl out of my skin. I’ve never had anything wrong with me before except asthma and hypothyroidism.

I know I’m severely overweight and I know a lot of health issues come with that, but prior to the lap band I was relatively fine. The only thing that has changed in my life was what I thought was going to make me healthier, and it seems as if I’m worse than I have ever been. While getting ready for the surgery I had changed my diet to exclude a lot of carbs. Also I started exercising at Curves 3x’s a week, and walking 30 minutes a day at work. I thought I was doing all the right things to get healthier, and right now I just feel frustrated, lost, and honestly angry.

I just really want my life back. I want to feel happy again. Unfortunately, I gave into the idea that just because I’m fat, my happiness wasn’t real. That is what society told me, but honestly if I could get back the days before the lap band, where I laughed everyday with my family, my sister, mother, and coworkers, and felt physically good as far as not feeling sick every single minute of the day, I would trade it back in a heart beat.

I was surprised to hear from you today that gastric lap bands were not tested on people with a family history of autoimmune diseases.  My sister has lupus.  Should I have been warned not to get this surgery?

Please advise me if there is a doctor I can see in Austin, Texas or what I need to do to verify if my issues are due to a reaction to the lap band, and if I remove it will the symptoms disappear? My insurance does not cover much, and I work for the state of Texas. I don’t want to become debilitated to the point that I can’t work or function. I have a 70-year old mother to look after. I am a college-educated person, and I know when something is not right inside of me, and I know what I feel is not how I should be feeling.

I am in dire need. I am tired of feeling the way I am feeling, and I am tired of my doctors being unable to help me. Please help me.

Thank you so much,

Jessica Resas