Posts Tagged ‘Weight Loss Surgery’

My Journey Through Weight Loss: Part 4

Tanya McGill sightseeing in Paris, a trip she completed following bariatric surgery.

Although it’s been almost six years ago, I remember my laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass surgery date like it was yesterday. Most of the time when people are admitted for surgery they are scared, possibly even terrified. There’s a good chance they don’t want to have whatever surgery it is they are having, and all the unknowns can make the day of surgery one of the scariest days of a person’s life.

This was not that day for me.

On the morning of my surgery, Monday, November 15, 2004, I was excited, relieved and giddy with anticipation for the new life that was waiting for me right around the corner. I didn’t know that part of that “new life” would include some of the challenges that it did, and I also didn’t know that there would be amazing experiences on an almost daily basis associated with my weight loss that would lead me to reassess my life in ways I could never have anticipated.

Between the support group meeting I attended monthly to the medical staff at Emory that I saw before and after the surgery, I thankfully had a huge support system in place to help me prepare, and I was able to learn so much about what to expect from life after surgery. As goes with anything of this nature, there is only so much a patient can anticipate and plan for; everyone’s experience is going to be a little bit different.

The evening of my surgery, I was up walking around my hospital room at Emory University Hospital Midtown. It wasn’t easy, and it sure didn’t feel comfortable but I was doing it one step at a time. I was told that getting up and moving around as soon as possible was crucial to my recovery, so I somehow did it. By Wednesday afternoon I was walking laps around my hospital unit and by that evening I was headed home to recuperate for another 10 days before heading back to work. I would soon be very grateful for that recovery time because there would be a lot to learn and re-learn before heading back into the real world with a tiny new one- to two-inch “pouch” instead of a potentially 64-ounce stomach that I had spent a lifetime filling.

Next up: But I’m still me, aren’t I? The psychological aspects of weight loss.

My Journey Through Weight Loss: Part 3

When a person knows they are going to have  surgery, individual preparation can vary depending on the

Tanya McGill in London Following Bariatric Surgery at Emory Bariatric Center

Tanya McGill in London Following Bariatric Surgery

nature of the surgery: for example, post-surgical wound care, guidelines regarding the resumption of normal activity, dietary adjustments. It all depends on the procedure one is going to have.

Weight loss surgery has its own very special set of pre-operative and post-operative guidelines that are incredibly unique. Not following these guidelines could result in a range of undesirable results varying from  minimal or temporary weight loss all the way to life-threatening complications. As a gal who’s definitely got an affinity for drama, one might think I’m exaggerating this point. But as one of my very best friends likes to say, “this is not a joke!”

To those preparing for or contemplating bariatric surgery I would like to offer this golden piece of advice as it was once offered to me: follow what your doctors and nutritionists tell you as best you can. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the best post-surgical outcome possible. I have witnessed individuals first-hand who have had great weight loss success because they listened intently to their doctors, developed lasting relationships with them, and took notes during their office visits and support group meetings. To so many, those notes have become their weight loss bibles and their content is priceless.

I have also had the unfortunate experience to observe weight loss surgery patients who worked so hard to   surgery only to view their surgery as the “magic fix,” expecting it to do all the work for them. This view of weight loss surgery produces less-than-desirable results, I’m afraid. Understanding that weight loss surgery is a tool and not a “magic fix” is another key piece of knowledge. The surgeon and his or her team  give the patient the initial tool to jump start the weight loss process, but after that it’s largely up to the patient to experience the success they really want out of weight loss surgery.

All the effort that goes into the painstaking process of learning what should be done before surgery to change one’s eating habits as well as after surgery is truly a waste if the patient doesn’t view this entire process as a change that will affect them for the rest of their life. It really does lay the groundwork for a lifestyle change, in every way shape and form!
Next up: Let’s do this! My surgery date at Emory Bariatric Center can’t get here soon enough.

Meet Manager Melinda Kane

Melinda Kane, Project Manager, Emory Bariatric Center

Melinda Kane, Project Manager for Emory Bariatric Center, is passionate about helping others attain their health and wellness goals.

Meet Melinda Kane, MS-HCM, Project Manager for Emory Bariatric Center. Melinda joined the Emory Bariatric Center team in 2005 as Operations Manager. Under her guidance, patient processes were significantly improved and the program received national accreditation. Melinda recently transitioned to the role of Project Manager in which she leads specific initiatives to further improve the program, such as the newly completed online bariatric surgery seminar.

I feel fortunate to work with this incredible team of providers and patients. I have always been passionate about health, nutrition and exercise. I have worked hard to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family, so I get excited when our patients reach their personal wellness goals.

I worked with a pediatric outpatient therapy facility before I came to work at Emory and I see amazing parallels between the parents of the children with special needs in that program and the individuals we treat at the Emory Bariatric Center. Both groups have encountered stares, social stigma and discomfort in public. Both groups seek respect, compassion, knowledge and support.

One of my favorite things is to see the impact that a healthier lifestyle has on the family, friends and co-workers of our patients. Of course, losing the weight is a tremendous benefit in and of itself, but when a patient regains his or her life – they can once again travel, or play with their children – it has a profound impact on the people around them. One of our patients was an elementary school teacher who was unable to travel with her class on educational field trips. After bariatric surgery, she was able to travel not only the country but the world with her class and her students benefited from her teaching in a whole new way.

My role – and the role of everyone on the team – is to help guide our patients on their journey. For some, that means bariatric surgery; for others, it involves a nonsurgical approach to weight loss. Regardless of the technique, the team is wholeheartedly invested in helping that individual attain his or her personal goals. We partner with them, provide the tools they need for success, and support them in determining which path will be the safest and most effective way to a healthier new life.

My Journey Through Weight Loss: Part 2

Paperwork, paperwork paperwork!

It makes one almost wonder if a paperwork obstacle course is there to see how many weight loss surgery applicants will just give up and drop out versus those who want and need it badly enough to stick with the laborious process and push on.

This was where my note-taking abilities came in handy. I spoke with so many people at my insurance company that if I hadn’t kept a detailed record of names, dates, times and information regarding our conversations, I would have never known where I stood with anything during these many steps to surgery.

There are quite a lot of qualifications established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for gastric bypass surgery  – and rightly so. If the NIH hadn’t developed guidelines for surgeries of this nature then standards for this surgery and others wouldn’t remain high. So I am actually very thankful for what I had to go through to ensure that I was a candidate for gastric bypass surgery. It helped me feel confident that this was the right choice for me.

Next up: Preparing for surgery! This would be as much a mental and psychological process as a physical one.

My Journey Through Weight Loss Surgery: Part I

My journey into weight loss surgery began one warm evening in August 2003 when, ironically enough, I was at dinner with a few very close friends. One of the ladies having dinner with our group that night was particularly full of zeal and was really enjoying herself quite a lot. I remember thinking that although she was always a very happy person, she seemed especially exuberant and alive. And then it hit me: my dear friend had gastric bypass surgery eleven months earlier, and she’d had it at Emory.

After over a year of research and more than almost thirty years of being either overweight or morbidly obese, I got the “yes” that I had been waiting for from my insurance company. Yes, I was approved to have gastric bypass surgery. I remember getting the news at work on September 24, 2004. It was so significant to me that I even remember the time; it was 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Needless to say, there wasn’t much else I could think about for the rest of the day.

The friend that I’d had dinner with – the one who had gastric bypass surgery – ended up becoming my support person. Every patient absolutely must have a support person when going through this lengthy process. I was incredibly lucky that she would be mine. She would attend my initial surgeon’s consultation with me and also attend the monthly support group meetings I began attending that summer to prepare for surgery. Needless to say, she was amazing and I only wish that every patient could have someone just like her as a guide through this potentially life-changing adventure.

Next up: The Paperwork Challenge! Keep breathing…