Bariatric Surgery Weight Loss Journey - April

Follow April's Bariatric Surgery Journey

Click here to register for a free bariatric surgery weight loss seminarWeight loss surgery can be a difficult decision to make, with many questions along the way. April, a Port Huron Hospital Bariatric Center of Michigan patient, has allowed us to follow her journey from the difficult decision to have gastric sleeve surgery to today. Come back regularly to follow April’s journey.

April’s Journey 

January 2012

“I hadn’t even thought about having weight loss surgery when my sister asked me to go with her to an appointment with bariatric specialist Dr. Karen McFarlane. Dr. McFarlane was so good with my sister – it was obvious she really cared about her -- that I decided to attend a seminar later that day at Port Huron Hospital. I was impressed with Dr. Nunnally’s knowledge and I felt a good connection with him personally.” 

At 288 pounds, April is ready for a change. She is on a number of medications, uses a CPAP machine because of sleep apnea and has a hard time keeping up with her grandchildren. Her sister told her about Port Huron Hospital’s Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence and she attends a free seminar to learn about the weight loss surgeries offered there – gastric banding, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass.

Impressed with what she hears at the seminar and with Dr. Nicholas Nunnally, she begins thinking seriously about weight loss surgery. Comparing the surgeries offered, she decides on the gastric sleeve. In the following six weeks, she gets a referral from her primary care physician, meets with a psychologist and obtains approval from her insurance company to pay for surgery.

Two weeks before her March 23 surgery, April goes on a liquid diet to help her system prepare for the changes it will encounter following surgery and to start her weight loss process. 

April - January 2012 - before bariatric surgery
Before surgery 

March through May 2012

“I think it’s important to take things slowly. Listen to your body. Your body tells you everything you need to know. I’m looking forward to playing softball with my grandchildren.” 

On March 23, the day of surgery, April officially weighs 270 pounds. She suffers from sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, restless leg syndrome, and can’t go up and down the basement stairs.

Before going into surgery, she talks with her surgeon, Dr. Nunnally. She’s looking forward to the surgery and beginning a healthier life. The next thing she remembers is waking up in post-op and Dr. Nunnally coming in and telling her that her surgery went well. She’s now fully into her weight loss journey.

During the next few weeks, she recuperates from the laparoscopic surgery and the physical changes to her stomach. She continues a liquid diet for two weeks and gradually begins to eat the way she will be eating from now on. It’s a learning process. Starting out, she adds soft foods like cottage cheese and poached eggs. She’s careful about what she eats, listening to her body and what it is telling her.
She shares a birthday goal with Dr. Nunnally that she isn’t sure if she can achieve. Her birthday falls on her one month anniversary following surgery, April 27. She feels good the day she turns 61. She decides to go for her goal -- to eat steak on her birthday. It’s a small piece, but tastes wonderful.

She now sees Dr. Nunnally monthly and is pleased to see that she is steadily losing weight.       



June to November 2012

“I have so much more energy. With energy comes ambition. I’m working in my garden myself instead of having my granddaughter do the weeding in my flower beds. Last week, I stained my deck. There is no way I could have done that before. This fall I played football outside with my grandkids. I’d never have done that before. It was just touch football, no tackling…I am a grandma after all.” 

Down 53 pounds, April is positive about her progress. She is no longer using the CPAP machine to sleep at night and wakes up rested. She has more energy than she has had in years, she’s working in her garden and can walk up and down her basement stairs. Her cholesterol is down, her thyroid meds are decreasing and she has fewer restless leg symptoms. She’s still on high blood pressure meds, but her blood pressure has come down.

April continues to add different foods into her diet, seeing what she can tolerate and what she can’t. She’s happy to discover that she doesn’t have many of the issues that other bariatric patients tend to encounter. She can eat most things, but must eat them in moderation. She feels full quickly, eating only a portion of what she used to eat. But just because she can eat something, doesn’t mean April will. She’s more conscious of what is good for her.

To her surprise, April has found that she no longer craves sugar. Her husband, on the other hand, has a sweet tooth. But he has diabetes and has to watch what he eats. April has always loved to bake and try new recipes. She doesn’t want to let that go, so she sets out to find ways to make recipes healthier. Not afraid to experiment, April starts substituting ingredients in well tested recipes…using agave nectar instead of corn syrup in some, sugar free puddings instead of regular pudding, along with low fat alternatives. Instead of keeping all of these concoctions, though, those that are successful find their way to neighbors, family and friends. Cherished family pet, golden retriever Roxy, gets to sample some of those that aren’t a total success.      

  April 3 months post-op
3 months post-op

December 2012 to February 2013

“I like the active person I’ve become. I want to get out of bed in the morning. ” 

Down 75 pounds, April is getting ready for the holidays.With the extra energy she has, she enjoys playing with the grandchildren and doesn’t need any help getting up off the floor afterwards.

April is even comfortable moving furniture around the house. One of her big moves is relocating her sewing room to the basement. She figures going up and down the stairs is good exercise. Sewing is something she really enjoys - from making purses that she gives as gifts and sells in consignment shops, to making wedding and prom dresses. She used to make teddy bears and dolls. She loves doing creative things with her hands.

Good with her newfound eating habits, April finds she isn’t tempted by all the holiday goodies. When tempted, she puts on her tightest pair of pants, laughs and decides she doesn’t need those extra calories. She continues to experiment with making recipes healthier and comes up with a good cranberry relish.

There is one issue that does get her down. Several years ago, April broke her ankle. It took a long time to heal and she still has to be careful with her exercise. Much to her chagrin, April injured that ankle again with a bad sprain. She is told she has to stay off the ankle and has to curb her exercise. She realizes she needs to take it easy and to let herself heal. Between the winter weather and being sidelined from exercise, she finds herself depressed. It’s hard…she likes the new active person she’s become. She bides her time while she is healing and looks forward to spring.  

April 8 months post-op
8 months post-op 

March 2013

“This is how you get to a new you. The new me is a happy me, a happy person. I used to wear dark colors. Now I wear bright colors. Color is a good thing…kind of ‘out there’ like me.”

It’s been a year since surgery and April is doing well. She’s off blood pressure meds completely and feeling great. Tired of winter, she decides to travel to Oklahoma to see her daughter and grandson. As she makes plans she recalls a trip to Florida several years earlier, remembering how mortified she was with needing to ask for a seatbelt extension and she didn’t fit into some of the theme park rides. For the first time ever, April gets on a plane by herself. Unlike that trip to Florida, this time she doesn’t have to worry about fitting into the seat and there’s no reason for a seatbelt extension. It’s a pleasant trip. The weather there is nice, in the high 60s and she enjoys daily walks around her daughter’s six acres.

Back home just in time for Easter, April is anxious for winter to be gone and spring to arrive. While she is waiting for better weather, she starts baking – making sugar cookies for her grandchildren and for three special kids who consider her their Michigan grandmother. They are Dr. Nunnally’s three children. She also makes a creamy and luscious crème puff dessert for the adults. Because it’s been made with healthy ingredients, both she and her husband can enjoy a little of it and it’s perfect for others for the holiday.
She’s looking forward to getting back out in the garden. But even more than the garden, she is looking forward to summer when she can get back into the pool. It’s by far her favorite way to exercise. She calls her grandchildren water-babies and admits to being a water baby herself. She and the kids are often in the pool from morning until night. She’s confident that once she is outdoors again, she’ll get past the plateau she’s been on over the winter.

 

August 2013 

“Since surgery, I simply can’t sit still.”

April has so much more energy than she expected. She has kept very busy this summer between her garden, mowing the lawn and swimming. She is very excited about her garden of cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and much more. She is even using the push mower, and to her surprise, she likes it!

She has been cleaning house like a “crazy lady”. She finds that bending at the waist to wipe cabinets and walls is so much easier now that there is less of her. She even stripped the bathroom wallpaper, sanded and re-papered, something she never would have done before.
At her family reunion this summer, she received many compliments from relatives such as: “you look wonderful” and “where did the rest of you go”! Her family has been very supportive in her weight loss. She has inspired some of them to start their own weight loss journey of eating better and becoming more active.

April 17 months post-op

17 months post-op