Bariatric Surgery Patient Stories

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Bariatric Surgery Helped Mary Lose Weight and Fight Type 2 Diabetes

In retrospect, I can say July 7, 2009, was a turning point in my life. After many years of exercising and dieting, I visited my primary care physician, Alan Gruman, MD, weighing 267 pounds -- the most I have ever weighed in my life. From my teens on I always weighed approximately 125 pounds. Even giving birth to my two sons, my weight never exceeded 155 pounds. However, during menopause I began gaining five pounds here and there, topping the 150 mark on scales at doctors’ offices then 180. Even though I was still exercising and walking, I continued to gain.

I went to Weight Watchers, which is an excellent resource, but I would lose some weight, plateau, stop going, and then gain the weight back and more. On that fateful day that I weighed 267 pounds, Dr. Gruman asked if I had ever considered weight loss surgery. I told him that I hadn't, but at the time I was willing to pursue anything. The previous week I had gained 10 pounds for no apparent reason; I had made no changes in diet or lifestyle.

Keep in mind that I am not a couch potato. I am a very active person. So I was frustrated! My husband and I went to a Town Hall Meeting, where we met Ronald Clements, MD, and Deborah Thedford, RN, bariatric surgery coordinator, and we listened to all they had to say. I was disappointed when I heard there was an age restriction; at that time I was 68 years old, well past the 50s age range first mentioned. However, Dr. Clements was open to my situation, perhaps due to my activity level, overall good health and appearance. Also, I received a lot of support from Thedford (she continues to be my support).

I tell everyone that once you do make the decision to have the surgery and the doctor agrees, you have numerous "hoops" to jump through. This is a good thing, because it further checks you out to see if you are a good candidate for surgery and, just as important, gives you time to evaluate whether you are dedicated to this life change.

My husband supported me to make whatever decision I felt I was right. I had some family members who were very concerned about the surgery. The day after surgery I no longer took meds for Type 2 diabetes or reflux. I was blessed that I never had high blood pressure. I am not down to my ideal weight of 125 pounds (I weigh between 181 and 184), but I no longer have to take the meds I needed before, and for the first time since I was in my 30s my cholesterol is below 200! I feel great and have what I consider a good energy level for someone 72 years old. I cut my own grass and do some landscaping on 3 acres and maintain a two-story home. But best of all I am “Nana” to my four grandchildren, which is my favorite thing since retiring 14 years ago after 40 years in the steel industry.

My husband and I have been married 52 years, and we love to spend time with our family every chance we get, as well as travel, camp and enjoy the country life. I am so thankful I had the surgery and for all of the support I received and continue to receive at UAB!