| John's story
For John, being overweight was causing serious health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, kidney problems and high cholesterol. Just two days after his metabolic surgery, John no longer needed his daily diabetes medication. Now, his Type 2 diabetes and weight-related conditions are resolved. He says he has more energy than ever, and he’s saving nearly $3,000 per year in medications.
Helen, from Corunna, Michigan, was tired of the hassles that came with taking insulin for her weight-related Type 2 diabetes. She chose to have metabolic surgery at McLaren. Now her Type 2 diabetes has been resolved and she is free from the daily inconvenience of taking insulin. She no longer experiences extreme fatigue caused by her weight and now enjoy activities that were not possible before her surgery.
Weight loss: 142 pounds
Fenton resident Tom T. had been very active his entire life. However, a few years ago, he reached a point where his weight was negatively affecting his health and his overall lifestyle.
“I had always been athletic,” said Tom. “But my weight was limiting my activities, like softball and volleyball, and I found it difficult to play with my grandchildren. Plus, the extra pounds had caused me to have some serious health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint pain, as well as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
Finally, Tom had had enough. He was tired of his lack of energy, being restricted from activities and having to take medications due to being overweight. After speaking with both his primary care physician and his endocrinologist, he decided to lose weight and resolve his Type 2 diabetes through metabolic surgery at McLaren Bariatric & Metabolic Institute. Dr. Michael Kia, an extremely skilled and experienced surgeon, performed the procedure.
“I chose to have the procedure at McLaren because their program was highly recommended, and I felt comfortable with Dr. Kia,” said Tom. “He’s very personable and took the time to really talk with me and answer my questions.”
Tom had the surgery on June 7, 2010. Since then, he has experienced dramatic improvements in his health. His weight-related Type 2 diabetes has been totally resolved. In fact, the last time he needed to take insulin was the day of the surgery. And, to date, he’s lost a total of 142 pounds, which has helped to eliminate his sleep apnea and joint pain and to better control his high blood pressure.
“It feels great not to have to take insulin any longer,” said Tom. “My test results say I’m a lot healthier now, and I feel much more healthy, too.”
In addition to restoring his overall health, the weight-loss metabolic procedure Tom underwent has improved his quality of life in amazing ways. He no longer has to sit on the sidelines. He’s playing softball and volleyball again, works out at least four times a week, and has even completed a Warrior Dash, a mud-obstacle race event.
“I’ve regained the active lifestyle that was so important to me and that I thought I had lost,” he said. “I feel like I have as much energy as I did years ago when I was really young. In fact, I’ve even started to shovel the snow from my driveway again. I told my snowplow guy that I didn’t need him anymore.”
Resolution of Type II Diabetes Leads to Woman’s New Role as Health Advocate
Weight loss: 185 pounds
When Judi Smith first walked through the doors of McLaren Wound Care and Bariatric Institute in Clarkston, it was with the assistance of a cane and burdened with a host of health issues. At 338 pounds, she fell into the feared classification of morbidly obese. Her excess weight was putting a strain on her knees, heart, kidneys, liver, and her self-esteem. Although her visit was for treating the lesions on her legs that were a side effect of her Type II diabetes, she picked up a brochure about bariatric surgery and saw it as a lifeline being thrown out to her.
“I recall the conversation between my husband and I sitting in the waiting room that day,” said Judi. “It didn’t take us very long to both decide this was what I was going to do. I was not able to live a quality life in my condition and needed to make a change.”
Once it was determined that Medicare would cover 80% of her surgery, Judi moved through the required doctor appointments, tests, and counseling in just three weeks. She was able to loose 30 pounds before surgery through the prescribed pre-operative diet. On April 19, 2010, two days after her 45th wedding anniversary, she underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery at McLaren Regional Medical Center. In the gastric bypass procedure, the stomach is divided into a small pouch, which holds approximately two tablespoons of food. This volume restriction creates the sensation of being full after eating a few ounces of food. The small intestine is then divided and sewn to the pouch so that the food goes directly into the small intestine. Michael Kia, D.O., with McLaren Bariatric Institute, performed the surgery. Her husband Ken views the surgery as the greatest anniversary present he could have received.
“Dr. Kia spoke to me just after Judi’s surgery,” said Ken. “Dr. Kia discovered Judi’s liver was dangerously fatty and damaged and some of it needed to be cut away. He said that if Judi had not come in for surgery and her liver went undetected she may not have made it another two years. Now I know we are enjoying more time together that we might have missed otherwise.”
Now, nearly two years after surgery, Judi is looking slender, healthy and radiant at 67 years old. She has lost 185 pounds and feels like she is at a good weight. Her BMI dropped from 58.05 before surgery to 27.1. Her Type II diabetes is resolved. She has been able to stop taking insulin injections, hypertension medication and no longer suffers from asthma. She confesses she has always been a homebody and still is. She enjoys walking for fun outside and helping her husband with some of the yard work, something she could never do before.
The experience has changed her life for the better and she is quick to help others struggling with obesity and the co-morbid conditions that often accompany it. Judi and her husband regularly attend the bariatric support group meetings at McLaren Bariatric Institute’s Clarkston site. She drew on the strength of members of the group throughout her journey and now enjoys being a source of information and encouragement for new patients. In addition to the support group sessions, Judi calls to check on many of the new people and has visited several of them in the hospital following their surgery. Through this involvement, Judi has developed friendships with patients and bariatric staff members who she claims feels more like a family to her now.
This is the second New Years holiday Judi is enjoying her restored health and happiness and she is grateful to be able to share her positive story.
“I carry the ‘before’ pictures with me in my purse in case people want to see what I used to look like,” said Judi. “Some people don’t like to look at their old ‘heavy’ pictures, but I think it’s important to keep them around. The pictures make it real for people who want to want to change themselves too.”
Weight loss 77 pounds
For Daniel Perez, obesity was keeping him from being the father he wanted to be.
“My son took an interest in t-ball and I couldn’t practice with him,” said Perez. “I would get tired too quickly and my back would ache. My son and daughter are young. It is important to me to be able to play with them instead of sitting in a chair and just watching. ”
In addition to fatigue and back pain, he suffered from hypertension, Type II diabetes and sleep apnea-all complications associated with obesity. His predisposition for obesity was high. He credits his heredity, although he didn’t feel comfortable telling relatives he was considering surgery to fight the extra weight.
“I told my family I was having gallbladder surgery instead of a bariatric procedure because I felt like there was a stigma associated with having surgery to lose weight,” recalls Perez. “Like being unable to control my own weight was something to be embarrassed about.”
In July 2010, Daniel had a gastric banding procedure at McLaren Flint. All of his pre-op and post-operative care was handled through McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute in Clarkston. For Daniel, bariatric surgery was the boost he needed to help him start living the life he wanted. He has lost 77 pounds. He no longer has hypertention or sleep apnea. His Type II diabetes is completely resolved. He runs 4 miles a week and is able to play with his kids all he wants.
“The whole experience has been the best thing for my self-esteem,” says Perez. “I don’t feel embarrassed about having bariatric surgery anymore. In fact. I tell everyone exactly how I’ve changed my quality of life for the better.”
His advice to anyone considering bariatric surgery?
“The care after surgery is very important. I feel like the staff here are my health cheerleaders. Feeling cared about is the extra touch I needed to stay motivated and be successful. To anyone struggling with obesity, I would share that if you put in a little effort, you’ll get big results.”
She just had to BELIEVE in herself.
Weight loss: 102 pounds
Mandy Milarch is a self-professed emotional eater.
“I began to struggle with my weight in 7th grade,” Mandy said. “I would eat to feel better short term. Of course, I realized that was causing me to feel worse afterword.”
Although her weight fluctuated throughout her teen years and early twenties, the extra pounds she gained when pregnant for each of her four daughters seemed to linger long after the babies were born. In 2010, she attended a couple of seminars to learn about the bariatric programs in the area and decided McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute in Clarkston was the right fit for her. Mandy spent over a year fulfilling all of her insurance company’s requirements to qualify for bariatric surgery. In May 2011, Harris Dabideen, MD, performed a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y procedure to reduce the capacity of her stomach and bypass a portion of the small intestine to reduce calorie absorption.
As part of recovery and post-operative care, Mandy had to learn a new way of eating, which was difficult given her sweet tooth. The nurse practitioner and registered dietitian at McLaren helped her learn tricks to cope with her cravings, like keeping a stock of tasty, yet healthy options ready in the refrigerator. Now 102 pounds lighter, Mandy feels she is at a good place, referring to both her physical and emotional health.
Weight loss: 118 pounds
(and still losing)
The McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute shares office space with the McLaren Wound Care Clinic in Clarkston. Rob Rose first came to the office as a wound care patient. He now returns as an energetic, healthier and happier post-operative bariatric patient.
“I first came here in September 2011 for wound care treatment,” said Rob. “My legs were so swollen they were cracked and weeping. By November, I knew I wanted to have bariatric surgery. I received clearance through my insurance quite quickly, and I had my procedure December 26.”
In just three months, Rob shrunk his waist size from 63” to 48” and continues to lose. Typically, patients realize their greatest weight loss one to two years after surgery.
“I can’t believe how much energy and pep I have,” he said. “I spend one hour everyday in the gym, using the bike, weights etc. I also like attending the support group sessions. It was a helpful way to have my questions answered before my procedure and now I can share with others what has worked for me as well as learn from others’ experience.”
Surgical procedure: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
Weight loss following procedure: 138 lbs.
Date of Surgery: March 5, 2007
"I had run out of options. I had lost 100 pounds or more four times before, without lasting success. I needed something permanent. The laparoscopic Roux-en-Y surgical procedure along with the support I received from the staff was truly a life-saving experience. The recent results of my annual physical were so great, my doctor wrote me a letter congratulating me on my perfect test results. I no longer have to take any medications I took prior to my weight loss surgery. I am now more alert, energetic and get around a lot easier."
“Although I had previously attended weight loss surgery seminars at other hospitals, the one I attended in July 2009 at McLaren Bariatric Institute in Flint literally changed my life,” said Grace. “I was apprehensive and excited listening to Dr. Dabideen describe the procedures and how other people have used them as a tool. Something told me that this time would be different. At my first surgical consultation I weighed 343 pounds and was just 23 years old. That was an eye-opener! I was tired all the time, wasn't sleeping well, and literally just sat all day. I'm thankful that I hadn't yet developed co-morbidities like diabetes or high blood pressure. But that didn't mean much to me--- I always felt lousy! When I met the other staff members, I knew I could lose the weight and regain my health with their guidance. So I began to take care of all of my insurance's requirements, which wasn't easy to say the least! After some hoops and hiccups, I was finally cleared to have Adjustible Gastric Band surgery. The pre-op diet isn't easy, but I got through it and even lost 10 pounds! Anytime I was tempted to cheat, I thought of how important surgery was to me and how ready I was to change my life. Two months after surgery I walked my first 5k and finished. Nine months later I had already lost 100 pounds. I'm currently flirting with a weight that begins with the number 1, but I know I will get there. My 2-year ‘bandiversary’ is coming up and I'm so thankful for all the help this little tool has given me!”
Surgical procedure: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
Weight loss following procedure: 97 lbs.
Date of weight loss surgery: June 25, 2007
"My hip was really bothering me. My orthopedic surgeon said I had to lose 50-60 pounds before he would perform hip replacement surgery. The next day, I called McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. I decided to pursue a permanent solution with my weight. With their support, I was able to lose 50 pounds before my weight loss surgery and I have lost over 125 pounds since the Roux-en-Y surgery. The counseling by the dietician was very informative and I received excellent care. I still call them with questions. I am no longer short of breath. I feel a whole lot better now and am definitely more active."
Surgery June 12, 2009
Surgery: Gastric Banding
Q: What most bothered you about carrying extra weight? Can you give an example that stands out to you as a defining moment?
A: What bothered me was being out of breath when walking up a flight of stairs and my knees hurting so badly. I always had to shop in the Plus size sections of the store and I am short so nothing ever fit in both directions. I also had difficulty putting on my socks and shoes.
Q: Name a moment that prompted you to consider surgical weight loss for yourself.
A: I take care of my mother who has Alzheimer's. It is sometimes very difficult to move her because of her weight. I started asking myself: What if someone has to take care of me? How much trouble would it be? That's when I decided I had to do something.
Q: What did members at the Bariatric Institute do to educate you about surgical weight loss?
A: McLaren Bariatric has a great program. There classes cover everything you need to know to make an informed choice. They cover things you never thought about like body image and reading labels. Everyone there really cares about the patients and wants them to succeed.
Q: What in particular do you remember from the education and orientation?
A: The thing I remember most from my classes is portion control and compliance. The surgery is only a tool. You have to work at it. Is does you no good to have the surgery and eat ice cream every day!
Q: What did you think of the surgery and recovery in-hospital?
A: Getting the Realize Band© put in was snap!! My surgery was at 8:30 AM and I was home by 2:00 PM the same day. McLaren staff was welcoming and caring.
Q: What did you do to change your lifestyle?
A: When grocery shopping I keep mainly to the perimeter of the store. Produce, meat, and dairy...eating healthy can be fun. When eating out I either split my meal with my husband or put half in a box for home.
Q: Have you achieved the results you desired?
A: I am well on the way to my goal but still have a ways to go but it is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I feel better and my knees don't hurt like they did before I lost 40+ pounds.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone considering bariatric surgery?
A: If you are considering weight loss surgery I advise you to check everything out. Come to the support group meetings and talk to real people that have had the surgery. Ask questions
For Megan Wentz, life got better at 40. A multitude of health problems had plagued her throughout her twenties and thirties, the greatest of which was type 2 diabetes. Megan knew many of these health problems stemmed from her lifelong struggle with obesity, yet poor health and extra weight left her with little energy, making it difficult for her to make a lasting change.
“I knew I needed to be more physically active,” stated Wentz. “But by the time I finished work, I was in a lot of pain and my legs were so swollen, it felt like they would burst.”
Megan’s struggles are not uncommon. The number of Americans with diabetes is growing at an alarming rate. In 2011, CDC estimated that there were 25.8 million Americans with diabetes. This was an increase of 8.5% in three years.
For most of her adult life Megan struggled with her health, conditions including obesity, asthma, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, water retention and joint pain were all taking a harmful toll on her body and quality of life. Her body had stopped responding to oral medication for her diabetes and was prescribed an insulin pump; a device that monitors the body’s glucose levels and administers insulin as needed into the bloodstream. She worried about her health and feared what lay ahead.
“I saw my dad dealing with the complications of diabetes. It was tough,” said Megan. “I saw myself going down the same path.”
One day, Megan went to the McLaren Wound Care Clinic, for treatment of a non-healing wound, a common complication of diabetes. Here she picked up a brochure for the McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, a program offering surgical solutions for obesity and type 2 diabetes. At over 350 pounds, she knew she had a serious weight problem and wanted a solution. She talked to the Clinic’s nurse practitioner, Kristie Kocenasz, and decided this might be the help she was looking for. Megan attended an informational session given by one of the Institute’s surgeons and was excited about the possibility of changing the course of her health and her future. She scheduled an appointment with Michael Kia, DO, one of the Institute’s surgeons.
“During my consultation with Dr. Kia, he stated that for the results I wanted, mainly to get off insulin, the best option for me was the gastric bypass surgery.”
Gastric bypass surgery, also known as Roux-en-Y, is one of three surgical procedures available through McLaren to treat obesity and the most successful at resolving type 2 diabetes because of the metabolic change that occurs as a result of the procedure. In a gastric bypass, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch and then constructs a "bypass" for food. The bypass allows food to skip parts of the small intestine. By skipping a large part of the small intestine, the body cannot absorb as many calories or nutrients. As many as 90% of patients have improved glucose control following bariatric surgery.
On December 6, 2010, three months before turning 40, Megan received gastric bypass surgery at McLaren Flint. The medical center has a specially equipped surgical recovery floor and staff trained to care for the specific needs of bariatric patients. During her recovery, she was surprised at how quickly she noticed the effects of the surgery. After two nights in the hospital, Megan went home without being attached to the insulin pump.
“At my discharge visit with Dr. Kia, he told me he didn’t want me to take any insulin or other medications,” she recalled. “I found that hard to get used to. I actually held on to my insulin pump and supplies for a long time, not quite believing I wouldn’t need them anymore. Since my surgery, my doctors have been astounded at how well I am now. My gynecologist showed me a list two pages long of all the medications I used to take. I don’t need any of them anymore! My endocrinologist told me my cholesterol levels are now normal. That was the first good cholesterol reading I have had since I was in high school! I’ve now lost 184 pounds and am no longer considered a diabetic. I feel great!”
She noticed a dramatic increase in her energy level as well. Megan is now able to do things she was afraid to do before or not able to do, like riding her new Harley Davidson motorcycle, and flying to Myrtle Beach for a vacation with friends. She attends the bariatric support group meetings monthly and has joined a gym.
I now have a second chance at life and am not going back,” Megan says. “It is a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is worth every bit.”