The life you get back after this surgery—it’s just amazing.
For years Stacy Taft was too scared to consider bariatric surgery. It seemed “too extreme.” Then she realized her health was in serious danger, and she needed an aggressive solution for her weight problem. When Stacy met the right doctor and learned she could have the procedure at Bronson her fear disappeared. Today she’s enjoying a full, healthy life, thanks to exercise and bariatric surgery.
Stacy’s story begins with a visit to her family doctor several months ago. She knew the news wouldn’t be good—she had steadily gained weight since the birth of her son 14 years earlier, and at the age of 43, weighed 356 pounds. She had high blood pressure, sleep apnea and edema (swelling in her legs), and she’d even had a heart scare earlier in the year. Still, it was a shock when her doctor told her she was just two points away from diabetes—and if she didn’t make changes in her life, she would die.
“I remember coming home and just bawling,” Stacy says. “Then I looked around my house and realized I hadn’t been down to our lower level for three weeks because it hurt to walk up the stairs.” At that moment she realized she had to do something more than diet.
Stacy’s weight loss story had been typical. Diets worked for a while, but then the pounds came back, she says, “with friends.” The wake-up call from her doctor prompted her to attend an informational seminar, “Bariatric Surgery: Is It Right for You?” presented by the area’s only fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon, Kibwe Weaver, MD, and Krista Hampton, RD, program coordinator with Bronson Medical & Surgical Weight Management.
Stacy says she felt an immediate connection with Dr. Weaver, and when she found out she could have the surgery at Bronson, she decided to proceed as quickly as possible. Given her high body mass index (BMI), hypertension and diabetes risk, her health insurer waived the typical waiting period of 6-12 months.
Now motivated to get as healthy as possible before surgery, Stacy returned to Weight Watchers and dropped 30 pounds in four months. She also embraced Bronson’s six-week Bariatric Pre-Surgery Program, part of a comprehensive approach that provides education and support before and after surgery.
The program included a fitness assessment with an exercise physiologist, nutrition consultations with a registered dietitian, and a session with a psychologist—all to make sure she sought bariatric surgery primarily for the sake of her health—not her appearance. These consultations also helped her prepare for the dietary and lifestyle changes she would have to make for the rest of her life.
Stacy also began attending Bariatric Surgery Support Group meetings held monthly at Bronson and also a series of weekly group education sessions. “At every turn, everyone was just incredibly warm and interested in my success,” Stacy says.
Dr. Weaver, in particular, was supportive. Stacy met with him to learn about the gastric bypass procedure, which makes the stomach smaller and causes food to bypass part of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of food that can be consumed at one time and also reduces how much food and nutrients are absorbed, leading to weight loss.
“Dr. Weaver was absolutely wonderful,” Stacy says. “He is so knowledgeable and dedicated, but also really and truly caring. He didn’t rush me in any of my appointments and made sure he answered every question I had.”
Stacy’s surgery in April 2012 at Bronson Methodist Hospital was uneventful, and she was up and walking by that evening. She went home after a two-night stay on Bronson’s surgical unit. She admits to “hurting a bit” but had very little pain within two days after surgery.
Once home, Stacy says her recovery “was a breeze.” She followed directions to be up and walking as much as possible. She wanted to begin her gym workouts two days after she came home but followed Dr. Weaver’s directions to wait a week.
Once Stacy started working out, she didn’t stop! She took full advantage of the 10 private, one-hour personal training sessions included in Bronson’s program. “This surgery can’t be successful unless you also exercise,” she says. “Now I’m passionate about it. I’m a workout junkie.” Stacy is at the Bronson Athletic Club swimming, using weights or walking nearly every day. She also attends Hydro Fit classes twice a week.
Her son Jason often works out alongside his mom. “He’s my biggest cheerleader,” she says. If she stops pedaling on the stationary bike, Jason says, “Come on, Mom. You’ve got five more minutes in you!” Stacy’s new, healthier lifestyle has inspired both Jason and her husband of 20 years, Jeff, to eat better and exercise more, too.
“Maybe I could have done it, eventually, with diet and exercise,” Stacy says. “But I was in such terrible health that I decided I needed a rapid solution. “ Indeed, the improvement in Stacy’s health has been remarkable. Her blood pressure and blood sugar levels are now normal. Her sleep apnea has disappeared, and she no longer needs blood pressure medication.
In the four months since Stacy’s bariatric surgery, she has lost an additional 90 pounds. She’s got 80 pounds to go, and is confident that she’ll reach her goal. In addition to her daily workouts, she’s working on her lifeguard certification, mentors others who are considering bariatric surgery and is a Pampered Chef consultant teaching healthy cooking. She is also active in Your Turn Women, a local fitness and support group.
Bronson’s bariatric surgery program, exercise and support from family and friends have transformed Stacy’s life. At a family vacation to Niagara Falls, she was able to climb three flights of stairs on the water slides—all day long. “Jason told me, ‘Mom, you couldn’t have done this before,’ and he’s absolutely right,” Stacy says. “The life you get back after this surgery—it’s just amazing. You don’t realize how much you weren’t living. Food used to be my life. Now nothing tastes as good as being healthy.”