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Elkhart grandmother regains her health and joy in life after bariatric surgery

5 minute read
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Weight gain wasn’t a problem for Amy when she was young. But she lost control of her health and let her weight go unchecked when personal traumas interrupted her life.
Amy’s first husband died when she was only 22 years old. She faced a hard battle with cervical cancer at age 23.
Years later, her stepson died in a car accident at age 21. His son, a toddler at the time, came to live with Amy and her new husband.
High blood pressure, acid reflux, sleep apnea and a host of other health issues took their toll on Amy’s health.
Depression and anxiety began to consume Amy’s life. She chose food as her escape. The pounds slowly added up, tipping the scale above 300 before she reached age 50.
No matter what she tried, Amy couldn’t find a way out of her misery. She gave an alphabet soup of diet plans a try, from Atkins and Keto to Nutri-System and Weight Watchers. The pounds came off, then right back on again.
Gym memberships went unused. Walks around the neighborhood didn’t seem to make a difference. Pasta comforted her. Large diet drinks from the drive-thru became an addiction.
“I always had an excuse to give up,” Amy said. “I just didn’t have the right mindset.”

Weight gain takes a physical and emotional toll

 It took a painful but honest moment of truth in 2020 to set Amy on a different path with her weight. Two hernias – one in her upper stomach and another in her abdomen – made her miserable. She was sick all the time and needed corrective surgery.
However, her doctor told Amy her weight put her at too high a risk for him to do the surgery.
“A big light went off in my head when I heard that,” she said. “I knew I needed to do something different if my health was so bad that I couldn’t have surgery.”
Amy also knew her young grandson needed her to feel her best. So did her grown children and her husband.
With new resolve to regain her health, Amy decided to explore her options for bariatric surgery. It had worked for several of Amy’s friends. Maybe it would be the right solution to help her lose the weight and keep it off for good this time.

Planning, education and effort make a difference

Amy walked into Goshen Physicians Center for Weight Reduction weighing 296 pounds. After learning about her treatment options, she chose gastric bypass surgery. That would reduce the size of her stomach and divert food past part of the small intestine which decreases absorption of some nutrients, decreases hunger and increases fullness.
Her goal weight – 160 pounds – meant she would cut her peak gain almost in half.
For six months prior to surgery, Amy prepared herself physically, mentally and emotionally for the biggest transformation of her life. That meant changing 30 years of bad habits and learning how to cope with stresses in life that had overwhelmed her in the past.
It was the middle of 2020 when the pandemic had restricted access to gyms, recreation centers, in-person gatherings and elective surgeries. But Amy wasn’t about to let that slow her down.
The living room, backyard and neighborhood streets became her exercise space. She weighed, measured and logged everything she ate. Support meetings by Zoom became the norm. Counselors worked with her to control the demons of depression and anxiety.
By March 2021, Amy was ready for her next big step – bariatric surgery. She also would finally get her two hernias repaired by her surgeon, Dr. Winston Gerig, who provides bariatric surgery services at the Center for Weight Reduction.

I have never felt better!

Amy’s biggest concern before surgery was whether or not she would gain back the weight, like she did with every other diet program. She turned to her best supporters – family, friends and the bariatric team at Goshen – to hold her accountable and give her the encouragement she needed to keep moving forward.
“They always say, ‘remember your why,’” she said. “I know why I’m doing this – for myself, my health and my family.”
Two years after surgery and dropping more than 112 pounds, Amy has maintained a comfortable weight for her. She pays attention to what she eats and how to eat it. Diet sodas hold no appeal to her any more. On rare occasions, she treats herself to something sweet.
Gym memberships still go mostly unused. Instead, Amy walks as much as she can. She has even taken short jogs down the street with her grandson, something she never thought she could do. She also enjoys being able to get on the floor and play with toys with her granddaughter.
Amy also does a daily weigh in, even though she knows that breaks with one of the big post-surgery guidelines.
“They tell you not to weigh yourself every day, but the scale is my friend,” Amy said. “It keeps me in check.”
Everyday tasks come more easily at her job as a purchasing manager for an RV manufacturer. Amy now enjoys shopping for clothes. She also looks forward to airplane travel, knowing she doesn’t need seat belt extenders.

Weight loss reverses chronic conditions

Amy stopped taking anti-depressants before her surgery. With the weight gone and her confidence back, she hasn’t needed to restart medication. The medicine cabinet is clear of blood pressure medicine and heartburn relievers too. A CPAP machine no longer sits by her bedside.
Amy has gained a new perspective on life. She sets small goals for herself and celebrates her wins with her family. When setbacks come along, Amy reminds herself how far she’s come since her dark days.
“This was the best decision I’ve made in my life – for my health and my family,” Amy said.

We can help

If you have struggled with weight loss, we can help. Visit or call (574) 537-8326 to learn more about our programs.

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