Let’s be clear – there is nothing easy about the preparations for bariatric surgery, but the rewards can be great.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a big struggle,” said Wendy Blake, 46, who serves as a 911 dispatcher in Mineola. “The preparations and the liquid diet before surgery were not easy. I just had to get through the program and the surgery because losing weight was something I truly wanted.”
Blake had dealt with her weight for many years. She was “big and athletic” during high school while playing softball, basketball and volleyball, but started gaining weight after delivering her first child at age 18. She also developed high blood pressure, headaches and sleep apnea, which greatly affected her health.
That’s when Blake started dieting. “I tried every diet you can imagine,” she recalled, “but I just wasn't feeling good during those years. Then came the accident.”
Seven years ago, Blake was sitting in the front passenger seat while her husband Brett was driving when a young driver, traveling 120 miles per hour, collided head-on with their car.
“I pretty much broke every bone on the right side of my body,” Blake said. “Broken arm, ribs, femur and more, which led to 14 surgeries, including a hip replacement. I spent many years in a wheelchair and then a walker, so I had very little mobility, which didn’t help my weight loss efforts. I weighed 290 pounds then, so I realized I needed to find a way to lose weight and get in better shape.”
“After reading the online information and doing my own research, I asked my primary care provider for a referral to Tyler Bariatrics so I could explore my options,” Blake said.Her first meeting with Dr. Keith and his staff went very well.
“My daughter Kyla, who was 13 at the time, went with me because she was a little concerned about the surgery,” said Blake. “I think she was recalling memories of all my surgeries after the accident. But Dr. Keith was so thorough and answered all the questions she had that it put her completely at ease.
After consulting with Dr. Keith and other healthcare providers in the program, Blake decided that gastric sleeve surgery was the best option for her.
“On the day I had the bariatric surgery, Dr. Keith called Kyla afterward to tell her I had done well, that I was going into the recovery room and all the steps that would happen next. He was very comforting to her,” she said.
Gastric sleeve surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery involves the removal of a large portion of the patient’s stomach. It keeps the stomach at the same length but with a much slimmer width, like a shirt sleeve. No changes are made to the patient’s intestines.
Bariatric surgery at UT Health East Texas is performed with minimally invasive techniques. That means small instruments are used through small incisions and a camera for visualization. This leads to less pain, shorter recovery and better outcomes for the patients.
With a sleeve gastrectomy, approximately 80% of the volume of the stomach is removed. After surgery, patients eat much smaller meals and tend to have fewer cravings and hunger than they did prior to surgery. This is because most of our 'hunger hormone' is created in the portion of the stomach that was removed. Removal of that part of the stomach results in much less 'hunger hormone' produced.
After the surgery, Blake started a new program of diet and exercise.
“I have remained on the program’s recommended diet that is high in lean proteins and green vegetables,” Blake said. “I stick to it religiously and don't do sweets, sugar or many carbs. I still enjoy a good cheeseburger, I just have to modify it a bit. My favorite is a low-carb quesadilla burger, where you smash a burger in a pan, add some turkey bacon, caramelized onions and put it on a low-carb tortilla with a little mayonnaise. It’s really good!”
Without any physical limitations and with her weight now down to 140 pounds, Blake feels like she has her old life back.
“I have a lot less pain and can actually jog now,” she said. “I was able to get a full-time job and go off disability. I told Dr. Keith that he gave me back the life I had before the accident, which I never thought I would get. This has been such a profound change in my life that I can't even put into words how thankful I am.”
“The entire office has been so wonderful. To this day, they are still very informative and helpful. I have been to other hospitals, but when I met the Bariatric Center people, it changed my mind completely.
“This was the best care I have ever had.”
For more information and to find out if you qualify for weight-loss surgery, visit our web page or call our office at 903-593-0230.