Courtesy Kaitlyn Smith
Kaitlyn Smith
March 03, 2015 05:00 PM

Once tipping scales at more than 400 lbs., 19-year-old Kaitlyn Smith from Portland, Tennessee, lost 208 lbs. through diet and exercise. One thing she hasn’t been able to lose is the excess skin, a common side effect of extreme weight loss. As she gears up for, and then undergoes, several skin removal surgeries, Smith will be sharing her story at PEOPLE.com. Come back every week for updates on her inspirational journey. You can also check out Kaitlyn’s website and follow her on Facebook.

I knew recovery wasn’t going to be easy. I’ve definitely had a few days when I just wanted to sit and cry like a little baby – and I did once or twice. I ended up getting a sinus infection that came with hot flashes and when I was sweating out the infection it caused my incisions to itch horribly! Thank goodness my baby sister was there to fan me (even if she accidentally hit me with the object she was supposedly using to keep me cool).

The drainage tubes – one on each hip drained fluids after surgery and helped reduce swelling – were a pain in the butt. I kept forgetting about them and trying to get up or walk away without them being clipped to my body and my sister would yell, “Kait, your tubes!” Getting hit by an elevator on the side of the tube is also not fun. The other day I was moving about as quickly as a turtle and walked into the elevator when it started shutting on me. I thought I was going down!

Shortly after that I was at my follow-up appointment to get my last tube removed (craziest and weirdest feeling), and the nurse began changing my bandages. All of the sudden I was dizzy and felt tingly. I couldn’t focus or respond to questions. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, but I had the best nurse who knew exactly what to do. She laid me down and had me sniff some strong stuff – shortly after that I was fine! (I swear Dr. Michael has the best team of workers.)

Today is much better. I’m sore but getting back to normal. It feels good to not have tubes in me and I can lay more comfortably.

I can’t express how great it feels to not be carrying around a big sagging belly of skin, and how amazing it is to look down and see nothing but my feet. Dr. Michael and his team made this whole first stage a great experience. I’ll miss them but will see them again soon for stage two and then later stage three of surgery! I fly home today (I cannot believe I’m leaving 85 degrees and sunny skies for the freezing temperatures and snow at home), but I am so excited to see my family, sweet boyfriend and friends!

I still have a couple weeks of recovery but I’m taking it day by day, listening to my body and the doctor. This is all so amazing and life changing. I cannot believe the first surgery is done. In two weeks we will schedule the second one! Ahhhhh, it’s crazy!

Kaitlyn

This Woman Lost 208 Lbs. – Here’s What She’s Doing Next

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