Bariatric Gastric Bypass Surgery Success Stories

If you’re struggling with your weight, you’re not alone. The WVU Medicine Bariatrics team can help you in your journey to better health. Some of our Bariatrics patients have agreed to share their stories in the hope that they will encourage and inspire others who may be facing similar health challenges.

Returning to Health

John and Brenda Mallis’s health was in great danger – they were each more than 100 pounds overweight. John was taking 22 pills a day to manage his diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health conditions. Brenda had trouble with her blood pressure and was trying to manage her diet to prevent diabetes. They knew they had to do something before it was too late.

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Making Healthier Choices

wendy-g-2-webWendy Goings has struggled with her weight since she was a child. When she was 7-years-old, her doctors told her she was overweight. In high school, she weighed more than 200 pounds. By the time she was in her late 30s, her weight soared to the highest it had ever been: 410 pounds. It was then that Wendy thought she was headed to an early death.

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Down 16 Pant Sizes!

pheavnerNow that Paul has lost more than 150 pounds, he’s able to make the most out of his workout sessions.

Paul Hevner has always enjoyed going to the gym. Despite his healthy habit, he had another habit that was hard to break: overeating.

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Debora’s Life Changes

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Debbie Hines could fall asleep anywhere. Her daily routine consisted of going to work, coming home and falling asleep right away. The grandmother of three says she didn’t have much quality of life and missed out on important life moments. Then, she decided it was time to live again.

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Lyonel’s New Lease on Life

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Lyonel Weld has always struggled with his weight. The school teacher and roller coaster enthusiast says it was impacting both his professional and personal life. All of that changed when he made the decision to get gastric bypass surgery.

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Bariatric Gastric Bypass Surgery Success Story – Wendy Goings

Highlight: My attitude has changed toward life. I’m not looking at a headstone in my near future.”

Wendy Goings has struggled with her weight since she was a child. When she was 7-years-old, her doctors told her she was overweight. In high school, she weighed more than 200 pounds. By the time she was in her late 30s, her weight soared to the highest it had ever been: 410 pounds. It was then that Wendy thought she was headed to an early death.

I didn’t want to die. I lost my mother and I was depressed. My weight had gone way up and I knew my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to live like this. She’d want me to live to the fullest.”

After watching a close friend go through bariatric surgery, Wendy decided to attend an information session. She immediately felt comfortable with the WVU Bariatrics team and soon after the session, she made the decision to proceed with the bariatric surgery process.

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We met once a month for nutritional classes and to learn about what we were going to be going through, how it was going to affect us, what to expect afterwards, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle pre-op and post-op. By the time I got to the surgery, I felt quite prepared and I knew what I was getting into.”

Since the surgery, Wendy has lost 140 pounds. In just one year, she is down to 270 pounds and has more energy and confidence than ever before.

It’s great to be able to sit in a chair and not have to wonder if my keister is going to fit. I went on a trip to Vegas and I was so comfortable on an airplane. Things are just so much better on this side of the procedure.”

Not only is Wendy making healthier choices when it comes to food, she’s also exercising regularly. She lifts weights, walks on the treadmill, and goes on bike rides when the weather is nice. Wendy says she plans on being around for a long time and is looking forward to spending time with her loved ones and enjoying life to the fullest.

I’ve had a huge life change. I feel so much better. My attitude has changed toward life. I’m not looking at a headstone in my near future.”

 

 

Bariatric Gastric Bypass Surgery Success Story – Wendy Goings

paul-hHighlight: Now that Paul Hevner has lost more than 150 pounds, he’s able to make the most out of his workout sessions

Paul Hevner has always enjoyed going to the gym. Despite his healthy habit, he had another habit that was hard to break: overeating.

At one point, Paul weighed 400 pounds. He tried several different diets, including Atkins and Weight Watchers, and even though he would temporarily lose weight, it always seemed to come back.

In November 2013, Paul attended a Gastric Bypass seminar that changed his life.

“The doctor made it very clear that obesity was one of the leading causes of death. Being 66-years-old at that time and weighing approximately 378 pounds, I knew I had to do something if I wanted to be around to see my grand children grow up to be adults.”

To prepare for the surgery, a dietician told Paul he had to give up carbonated beverages and sweets. That alone helped Paul lose nearly 30 pounds. He had the operation, and by his 6 month checkup, his test results had already improved.

“Hopefully I’ve extended my life and I’ve been able to help fix a lot of my health problems. I was able to give up a lot of different medicines I had to take due to the problems with my obesity.”

Now, Paul says his biggest problem is that he has to keep buying new clothes that fit him.

“I have dropped 16 pant sizes and two shirt sizes. I used to be to the point that I was so big I couldn’t go to Walmart and buy clothes that would fit me. I’d have to look on the internet and spend 3-4 times to get clothes that would fit. Once I started losing weight, the energy came back and I am now able to do stuff that I want to do.”

For Paul, losing this weight has made a dramatic difference in his life. He says he no longer gets hungry, and when he does he is able to control what he eats and how much he eats. He also continues to go to the gym almost every day.

Bariatric Gastric Bypass Surgery Success Story – Debora Hines

Type of Surgery: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

Highlight: “It was time to live again.”

Debora Hines could fall asleep anywhere. Her daily routine consisted of going to work, coming home and falling asleep right away. The grandmother of three says she didn’t have much quality of life and missed out on important life moments.

“I missed out on a lot of time with my grandkids because I couldn’t stay awake. I didn’t have enough energy to get out and play with them the way that I would’ve loved to. I was very limited and my weight really slowed me down.”

Another concern of Debora’s was that her health was deteriorating. She was taking four insulin shots a day and still struggling to control her diabetes.

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“My diabetes got to the point that I literally just slept all the time. Nothing seemed to work.”

Her family doctor suggested that she consider gastric bypass surgery.

“I knew with my health condition, I was going to have to do something in order to be around to watch my wonderful children and grandchildren grow up.”

Despite her fears, she decided to make an appointment with the Bariatric team at WVU Medicine. She says they walked her through each step of the way.

“In July 2012, I took the most important journey of my life. I decided I no longer wanted to be someone that had no energy to do anything. It was time for me to live again.”

Debora says having gastric bypass has changed her life tremendously. She has a lot more energy and goes to the gym several times a week. She no longer takes four insulin shots a day and is now able to control her diabetes through oral medication.

“Before surgery, I was unable to walk very far without my knees hurting and I was so ashamed of the way I looked. Since the surgery, I am now able to walk several miles a day and love to do Zumba.”

Debora says she would recommend this surgery to those who need it. In fact, her daughter just went through the same surgery. She says it’s important to remember that this isn’t a quick fix, it’s a life change.

“Going into it, I thought ‘oh wow, I’m going to have surgery and never worry about it again.’ No, that’s not how it goes. I still want pizza and things that I know I shouldn’t have. The difference is, now I know what’s going to happen if I eat the things I want, I’ll get sick. You never get to the point where you don’t have to worry. You are responsible for what you put in your mouth.”

 

Bariatric Gastric Bypass Surgery Success Story – Lyonel Weld

Type of Surgery: Gastric Bypass

Highlight: this roller coaster enthusiast can now ride roller coasters again!

Lyonel Weld has struggled with weight all of his life. When he was 26, the California, Pennsylvania native weighed 540 pounds. He was able to lose 340 pounds over a three year time period, but unfortunately he gradually gained it back until one day he was nearly 500 pounds again.

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“I was just miserable, absolutely miserable.”

Despite his best efforts to exercise and eat right, Weld could not lose the weight. He made the decision to seek medical help after watching his co-worker enroll in the Bariatrics program at WVU Medicine.

“I had a lot of friends who did it. There was a lady at work who had it done at Ruby and she had great success and looked great. I asked her about it and she gave me the number and told me to go in for a consultation.”

A few months later, Weld attended a WVU Medicine Bariatrics information session to learn more and decide whether this procedure was right for him. After attending a six month pre-surgery education program, Weld says both he and the team felt that he was ready to move forward.

“I felt comfortable with them and with going through the process. They went over all the risks and walked us through how it’s done. They showed us what the body looks like inside both before and after the surgery is done.”

Now, Weld says he does his best to continue exercising often and eating well balanced meals. He says through his support group, he has learned about healthy eating, how to keep the weight off, how to handle holidays, and more.

“I love the support group because it keeps me on track. A lot of places don’t have that kind of support. You get the surgery and they’re done. Some friends I know had it done elsewhere and didn’t get any help. Now, they ask me questions.”

That said, Weld says gastric bypass is not for everyone and it’s also not without complication. He himself has had a few complications.

“I would really say, I don’t think it’s for everybody. Food is an addiction just like anything else. If you aren’t ready to give it up, it’s not worth doing it because I don’t think it will work. Really think about it and think about your life and what you want to do with your life.”

For Weld, this surgery has been life changing. As a school teacher to a group of energetic sixth graders, he says that now, he can finally keep up with them. In fact, he says he seems to have even more energy than them.

“I work four flights up in a building. My knees and back were killing me. Now, I go up and down those stairs 20-30 times a day. I can walk now without feeling like I’m dying. I used to sweat and pant and now I can do it without losing my breath.”

Outside of work, Weld says he’s now able to partake in his favorite activities again, such as riding roller coasters. The roller coaster enthusiast says it’s something he was unable to do when he was overweight, so now, he’s making up for lost time. Just last year, he rode 68 new coasters that he had never been on before. His goal is to ride no less than 50 roller coasters a year.