Aishia Chism, 44, knows the value of unconditional love that a mother, grandmother or even a godmother can instill in a child’s heart.
A Tyler native who now lives in Dallas, Chism remembers fondly the love shown by her family, especially her godmother.
“As a kid, I had an awesome godmother who lived next door to my grandmother,” explained Chism. “She never had children of her own, so I became the ‘apple of her eye.’ I always looked up to her, so I decided to be the same type of person whom children could trust and come to me for anything, no matter if it was something good, bad or ugly. Later, I became a godmother to four children.”
During college, first at Tyler Junior College and then at Jarvis Christian College, Chism studied early childhood education and child psychology. “I just knew that I wanted to have a lot of kids around me all the time, going out with them and doing fun things,” she said.
Unfortunately, Chism’s weight and mobility issues hindered the time and activities she could spend with her godchildren.
“I was always a heavy kid,” she recalled. “I come from a heavy family with genetic markers to be heavy on both sides of the family. The weird thing is that I have never been a big eater. I had a horrible habit of only eating just once or twice a day, so my doctors said that my body stayed in starvation mode. Whenever I ate, my body just held on to it.”
Chism enjoyed taking her godchildren on outings, like walking at the zoo or at the park. But because of her weight and the pressure on her legs, she became totally dependent on a walker to get around.
“I could not stand for long periods of time without my back, knees and ankles being in excruciating pain,” Chism said. “That’s when I decided that this was a ‘do or die’ situation. I did not want to die this heavy. I did not like seeing the hurt in my godchildren’s eyes when I told them I couldn’t go to their school activities or sporting events. It was up to me to do something because I didn’t want to live like this anymore.”
Surgery and rehabilitation
“When I first met with Dr. Hugh Babineau, I weighed 634 pounds and it was the most miserable time in my life,” she said. “At first, I worried if I would be cleared for bariatric surgery. Dr. Babineau said that they usually tell heavy patients to take a year and show them that they can lose weight. But he told me that he could see my determination to succeed.”
So Dr. Babineau put Chism immediately on a high protein, low carb diet to get used to the discipline of losing weight. He also put her on physical therapy at home for exercises and nutrition classes.
“I stuck with that diet for four to five months and lost more than 40 pounds during that time. That success helped me keep going, because once I set my mind to doing something, I complete it at all costs,” she said.
With proof that Chism was working hard to lose weight, the date was set for her to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
The gastric bypass procedure divides the stomach into two unequal parts. The top part, now called "the pouch," is only about the size of an egg. The rest of the stomach becomes called "the bypassed stomach," or "excluded stomach" because food and drinks no longer enter it. The bypassed stomach is not removed, and still makes stomach enzymes and fluids.
Once the pouch has been created, food comes in at the top, and then leaves the pouch through a small opening called the “stoma," and travels into the intestines where digestion can take place. The fluids from the bypassed stomach travel down a different part of the intestines and ultimately are mixed with the food. No part of the stomach or intestines is removed.
After surgery, Chism started on a clear liquid diet and then gradually moved to thicker liquids like yogurt and pudding. As one tolerates those foods, they can slowly introduce solid foods into their diet.
“I did have instances where my stomach didn't tolerate certain foods, but my nurse Jennifer said that if I can’t tolerate it now, just wait awhile and go back to it later. Now I can eat those foods with no problems.”
During her journey, Chism got down to her lowest weight of 252 pounds, losing a staggering 382 pounds. Through it all, she has maintained a healthy mindset that keeps her eating right, walking 30 to 45 minutes most days and staying active. Her mindset has also inspired many others to investigate bariatric surgery as a solution to their weight issues.
“I documented my weight loss journey on my Facebook page,” she said, “and a few ladies told me that they decided to have bariatric surgery because of my journey. I’m happy for them because the surgery is not ‘the easy way out’ of losing weight. You have to work hard and consider your relationship with food, how you look after surgery and how you view yourself as a person. It's mentally challenging as well as physically challenging, and there's nothing easy about it at all.
“If you are thinking about bariatric surgery, do it for yourself. I did it because I didn't want to leave this world knowing that I didn't give myself a chance for a better life. To me, the date of my surgery is my second birth date!”
She credits Dr. Babineau and his staff for inspiring her throughout her journey. “They believed in me and never gave up on me,” she said. “They always built me up and gave me a pat on the back when I was really hard on myself.”
Chism was also motivated by an image in her mind.
“I was always one of those people who looked at other women who had lost significant amounts of weight,” she recalled. “So I always said to myself, I want my own ‘Before and After.’ For years, I never thought that I would be one of those people who had a ‘Before and After,’ but now I do. I am so glad I stuck with it because it means so much to me.”
Spreading their love to others
With a healthier lifestyle and renewed energy, Aishia Chism and her husband Brandon are ready to start a new phase in their lives.
“My husband and I are formally adopting our two-year-old foster child and it has made me think so much about the future,” she explained. “We will take Jaylen to his games while we watch from the stands. We’ll go to amusement parks and do so many other things that I couldn’t do when I was so much heavier.”
With Brandon’s support, they will also continue to spread their love to 13 godchildren and 20 nieces and nephews.
“Brandon and I have been together for ten years and he still looks at me the way he did when I was over 600 pounds. I really thank God for him because it takes a special kind of man to love a woman at her heaviest. I am just really blessed.”
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.