Meet a Few of our Patients!
The Center for Weight-Loss Surgery at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s has treated thousands of patients just like you. Many of them have shed the majority of their excess weight and are living healthy lives. These are some of their inspiring stories.
Married Couple Celebrates 41st Anniversary - 250 Pounds Lighter
When Bev and Mel West married in 1963, Bev weighed 153 pounds. After the wedding bells and the birth of their two children, Bev remembers, "I never saw that number again." Both she and Mel, whom himself had battled weight gain all of his life, tried every diet on the market. While they would lose the weight, it inevitably came back. Each passing year brought more pounds.
The couple also began experiencing health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and for Bev, bone loss in her left knee. Finally, when Mel's weight had reached 344 pounds and Bev's was 308, Mel said to Bev, "We've got to do something."
The retired couple decided to move forward with gastric bypass surgery, a procedure both had become familiar with thanks to celebrity success stories, as well as the couple's own research.
After learning about the Bariatric Surgery Program at P/SL and surgeon Tom Brown, MD, Mel and Bev began all the necessary steps for surgery, including nutrition class, psychological testing, and various medical work-ups.
Through it all, Bev said, "I had no doubts. I was ready!" Also understanding the risks of surgery, Mel stated, "I couldn't live with the alternative. The weight was going to end up killing me."
The couple was scheduled for surgery one month apart. As Mel prepared for his big day, Bev supported him by fasting right along with him the required 72 hours before his surgery on August 13. Bev later underwent her Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) on Sept. 17.
Both of their stomachs were surgically converted into a tiny pouch about one to two ounces in size. While Mel was simply very sleepy after surgery, the recovery for Bev was more uncomfortable. Her anatomy did not allow for the laparoscopic operation. She didn't have much of an appetite either. In fact the consistent diet of broth, sugar-free Jello, and hot tea that she started on soon after surgery even created thoughts of "I have to eat again!" Gradually, Bev's appetite returned, and she and Mel both quickly returned to their normal routines. Mel was soon outside doing his yard work. "I could bend down and do so much more than before," he said.
While Bev is still not a big fan of Jello, her new tiny stomach has helped her lose 142 pounds.
She is even off all of her medications for high blood pressure, and says her knee is a little better to. She's also replaced her wardrobe. "This absolutely feels so wonderful," said Bev. Her husband lost 105 pounds and declared his life is, "Like night and day."
For Bev and Mel, going through the surgery process together provided an excellent source of support. "I watch what he eats; he watches what I eat," said Bev.
Support like this helped the couple through 41 years of marriage, and when they celebrated their anniversary this year, each was at a lower weight than when they said "I do" the first time. Their advice for anyone considering gastric bypass is, "Go for it!"
Having the Time of Her Life after Taking Back Control
When Jacque Chastain's only daughter informed her mother that grandchildren would have to wait three to five years until her career was established, Jacque feared she would not live long enough to see them.
At 313 pounds, Jacque battled weight problems all her life. Other major health issues had also resulted from the obesity: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, joint pain, borderline diabetes, and a sad, overall state of depression.
After years of research, Jacque found Tom Brown, MD at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, who specializes in bariatric surgery. On July 8, Jacque underwent a Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB), which surgically converted her stomach into a tiny pouch about one to two ounces in size. Recovery came without a lot of pain, since Dr. Brown performed her surgery laparoscopically (a minimally invasive technique).
This allows fewer incisions and intrusion to the body. For about a month after surgery, Jacque ate only a liquid diet of broth, Jello and protein drinks. Later, additional foods were added. It has now been 18 months since her surgery. Jacque has lost a total of 136 pounds, and she is still losing. Of course, this required a change in wardrobe. But while others may enjoy shopping after surgery, Jacque still finds herself heading to the plus size department.
"I don't know where I belong anymore!" She is extremely dedicated to her surgery decision - even driving up to six hours-and over two daunting mountain passes - just to attend the monthly support groups offered through the Bariatric Surgery Program at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. Jacque is thrilled with her wonderful results and the recovery she experienced. Happily, her other health problems also have resolved because of her surgery and lifestyle changes. In fact, she no longer has to take any prescription medications. "Looking better is only one benefit.
Feeling good and enjoying living my life is the greatest benefit of all." Still, she realizes the seriousness of bariatric surgery, and encourages others to be very careful in making the decision to have surgery. "Do your own research, and make the decision based on what you are willing to do to lose weight," she suggests. For herself, Jacque recognizes that, "I did this to save my life. Food was not my friend. It was killing me. Without the surgery, I knew I was going to die way too soon."