Dropping Pounds and Gaining Health
August 16, 2021
Josette Pitman, a 35-year-old Somerset, KY resident, is a young, busy mother of three boys who realized her weight, lack of energy and overall health were getting in the way of achieving her dreams. Josette was a stay-at-home mother but had always wanted to pursue a degree in nursing and thanks to a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), her dreams can finally become reality.
“When my weight reached a point that I could not walk across my house without getting winded, and my toddler would cry because I couldn’t play with him for as long as he wanted me to, I knew it was time to make a change,” said Josette.
Josette had tried many times in the past to lose weight through various methods of dieting and all were either unsuccessful or fleeting. She knew she needed a tool to aide her in her journey and finally began investigating surgical options. After weeks of research, she decided to take the next step and talked with her primary care physician who referred her to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital’s bariatrics program at Lake Cumberland Surgery Specialists.
“I knew that if I did not want to end up like my mother, who sadly passed away in her early 50s from complications of diabetes and congestive heart failure, I had to take control of my life,” said Josette. “I was glad I finally took the next step in reaching out for help where I needed it the most.”
The timeline to bariatric surgery for any patient is often a lengthy one. Josette’s first bariatrics appointment was scheduled for August 2020. During this appointment, Josette met with Dr. Joseph Eid, a minimally invasive general and bariatric surgeon, and Myra Frye, Weight Loss Navigator, who discussed all the steps of the weight loss surgery process in detail including medical weight management, available procedures, and long-term follow-up care. After her initial appointment, a three-month follow up was completed in which medical screenings and further testing, such as an upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) and an endoscopic procedure known as EGD, were performed. Most insurance companies require a six-month pre-requisite dieting phase with a primary care provider and a psychological and nutrition evaluation for approval of the procedure, as well. After the six-months of dieting was completed, Josette was able to follow-up with Dr. Eid to discuss her surgery, schedule the procedure and plan her follow-up care. She was then placed on a two-week high protein, liquid diet prior to surgery.
“Dr. Eid and his team have been wonderful throughout my entire journey,” said Josette. “My appointments are always completed in a timely manner, they always return my calls when I have questions, and I’m always greeted with a smile – even from behind a mask.”
Josette’s vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) was completed by Dr. Eid on February 15, 2021. A VSG is a minimally invasive procedure in which the size of the stomach is reduced by 80-85% to approximately two to three ounces. The decrease in size limits the amount of food a patient can eat and allows levels of ghrelin – a hunger hormone – to drop so the appetite is reduced and weight loss is achieved. This type of minimally invasive surgery is associated with minimal post-operative pain and shorter recovery times.
“After surgery, patients are required to schedule follow-up appointments at two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, three months, six months and annually,” said Myra Frye, RN. “The post-op appointments with our team help guide our patients through the lifestyle and dietary changes that are needed to continue to see success post-surgery.”
“Dr. Eid is so encouraging and friendly. He is like the ultimate hype-man,” said Josette. “Myra is also wonderful; she is so knowledgeable and relatable. I appreciate all of the help and encouragement I have received from them both.”
“Ms. Pitman underwent our standardized preoperative protocol followed by a robotic-assisted sleeve gastrectomy,” said Dr. Joseph Eid. “She has done fantastically well after surgery and we are so proud of her accomplishment. I hope this is a start to a long and healthy life ahead!”
The Road to Long-Term Success
Josette is now 5-months post-operation and has already lost over forty pounds from surgery, plus another thirty that she lost during her six-month prep phase. She is experiencing life in an entirely new way and credits the weight loss for giving her the motivation to go back to school to pursue a degree in nursing.
“I feel like a completely different person. I have energy to spare and have the desire to get out of the house and experience life now,” Josette shares. “I am no longer basing every decision on food and can finally enjoy celebrations and gatherings with friends and family instead of focusing on what I consume. I feel alive!”
Josette encourages others who may be seeking a similar weight loss transformation to do their research and learn what procedure may be best for their specific situation. Patients must also ask themselves if they can mentally commit to the total lifestyle change that this surgery requires. As always, she suggests seeking the advice of a primary care provider in determining the next best steps for each specific individual.
“Understanding that weight-loss surgery is not a quick fix or the easy way out is so important during this process,” said Myra Frye, RN. “You have to be willing to make the lifestyle changes and that was one thing that Josette learned very quickly. We do not expect patients to be perfect or learn everything overnight. The key is to stay in contact with myself or Dr. Eid and ask questions if you have them. That’s a critical piece in being successful.”
“This is not an easy button for weight loss,” said Josette. “In fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. The first few weeks post-surgery were trying and mentally taxing, but a strong support system is key to success. Without my support system at home, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”
For more information on weight loss surgery options at Lake Cumberland, visit LakeCumberlandHospital.com/surgical-services/bariatric-services.