A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words. But two years ago, when Mary Price first saw the picture of her with her newborn grandson, Ronan, the words that crossed her mind were relatively few, but decidedly urgent.
For as long as Price could remember she had struggled with her weight. And, the diminutive 5-foot-tall nursing manager had a lot of successes, losing 30 or more pounds each time she dieted.
But then, she always gained those pounds back and many more, until late 2011 when she received that telling photo when she weighed 210 pounds.
It was simply far too much weight for her tiny frame. And, as a nurse who trains other nurses, Price knew all too well what all that extra fat meant for her health. In fact, she could feel it in every fiber of her being.
Every joint in her body ached. She couldn’t stand for long and became easily winded. She was pre-diabetic, and even though she took medication, her cholesterol levels were too high. Even her asthma had worsened as her stressed and overweight body worked ever harder just to breathe.
The Florence mother and grandmother knew she had to do something radical about her weight or she probably wouldn’t be around – or at least wouldn’t be healthy enough – to really enjoy her three children and their five youngsters.
“So, I did my research and went to all the information sessions for the different programs at the Weight Management Center at St. Elizabeth Florence,” she recalls. “I went to the surgical weight loss program and learned about the sleeve gastrectomy. That’s when I just felt this huge – excuse the pun – ‘weight’ come off my shoulders because I remember thinking that this is my answer – that surgery. And the thing that really sold me on it was that it cuts off the part of the stomach that creates most of the hunger hormone. So I just thought, ‘Bingo! This is my answer.'”
That was October 2011. By the following February, Price was signed up and beginning preparation for the surgery – like all Weight Management Center patients – by undergoing several months of medically supervised dieting, nutritional and psychological counseling, physical evaluation and pre-operative education.
Both Price and the weight management experts at the center say that pre-operative preparation period — which typically lasts three to six months — is critical to long-term success with bariatric surgery.
“I think that this is a major strength of our program that is not offered at other surgical programs in the area,” says Weight Management Center Clinical Psychologist and Behavioral Therapist, Dr. Laurie Little.
“Effective weight management should address biological, nutritional and behavioral issues, and St. Elizabeth is the only center that addresses all of these areas,” Little explains. “Healthy weight management is not just about what you eat, but a great deal about how and why you eat. Although the surgery is an incredibly powerful tool that helps restrict the amount of food one can eat in one sitting, if a patient does not address any underlying maladaptive eating patterns, they will not lose the amount of weight they want to lose, or they run the risk of regaining it back over time.”
A surgery that removes the source of hunger-triggering hormone
By the day of Mary Price’s Aug. 15 surgery, she said she was very well prepared and ready to dive right in to a new lifestyle. And that she did, immediately dropping 15 pounds the first month and about 10 pounds monthly after that until, by this past August, she had shed almost half of her body weight.
Part of her success can be attributed to one of the key benefits of this popular form of bariatric surgery. As her surgeon, Dr. Magued Khouzam explains, sleeve gastrectomy takes both the stomach’s capacity and source of hunger triggers away.
“We remove the portion of the stomach that allows it to stretch,” says Dr. Khouzam. “So, instead of having a big stretch of stomach, this sleeve gastrectomy procedure gives you a very limited volume stomach that doesn’t stretch. When we remove this [stretchable] part, we’re also removing the part where it’s believed the hormones are secreted that create your appetite in your brain. So patients are no longer hungry.”
The procedure – the most popular bariatric surgery at St. Elizabeth – worked so well for Price that today she is not only a svelte 122 pounds, but she’s much healthier and energetic. For instance, she walks everywhere she can because the pain that plagued her joints is completely gone.
She’s no longer looking to a future with diabetes because her blood sugar levels are normal. And even though cardiovascular disease runs in her family, she has been able to cut her cholesterol medicines in half. Even her asthma has greatly improved.
In short, Price is on track to live a long and active life. And that’s something that many people in her extended family are very thankful for this New Year.
“I can get down on the floor now and play with my grandchildren and I don’t have to look for the nearest piece of furniture to grab to get back up. I can take a walk with them and be on my feet enjoying life,” she says. “I just feel more confident and better about myself. In fact, I can even jump. I couldn’t do that before, but recently I was somewhere with my grandsons and I jumped. It’s funny, but I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can jump now! I can jump!'”
To learn more about the St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center, a Bariatric Center of Excellence certified by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, call (859) 212-4625.
This is a special advertising supplement, paid for by St. Elizabeth Healthcare