Retired Teacher and Bariatric Surgery Patient
"Dr. Fourman has the most wonderful bedside manner, and the staff’s attitude toward people who are normally avoided and shunned is delightful. That kind of encouragement is so important when you’re working so hard to change.”
"Life-Changing" Is How She Describes Bariatric Surgery
Anne Obermeyer of East Tawas tried for years to overcome a weight problem that began in childhood. Last year, when Anne found a complete bariatric surgery program convenient to home and decided to have the life-changing surgery, she knew things were going to be different from now on.
Six years ago, after being diagnosed with type II diabetes, Anne went to the diabetes center at her local hospital, did everything they told her to do and lost 30 pounds. But she could not lose any more weight. Even exercising two hours a day did not help.
“I wanted a better life,” said Anne, who retired from teaching in Roscommon three years ago. “It was very discouraging to not feel well. I had high blood pressure. I had two knee replacements. They had to keep increasing my diabetes medication.
“Being heavy makes everyday things very hard, too,” she said. “I wanted to sit comfortably in an airplane seat or movie seat and shop for clothes in regular sizes. I wanted to spend time with and play with my grandchildren without feeling exhausted.”
Anne’s oldest daughter and her husband live in Midland and have four children, including two teenagers and two younger children recently adopted from Haiti.
As Anne researched bariatric surgery, she found that success required a complete program of evaluation, thorough preparation and long-term follow-up, in addition to the actual procedure. She thought there was no such program convenient to East Tawas, until her daughter told her about one at the MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland.
“We lived in Midland for a number of years and grew to trust the physicians and the hospital there, so that’s where we have nearly all of our medical care,” Anne said.
After attending a seminar in Midland, Anne made an appointment with Bariatric and General Surgeon Matthew Fourman, M.D., to discuss gastric band surgery called Lap-Band™. She decided to take the next step of being evaluated for the program.
From the first, Anne was impressed by the tremendous support she received from the bariatric surgery team. Evaluation by a dietitian, social worker, bariatric nurse coordinator and exercise coaches assured that the program was a good fit for her needs, and the team prepared her to be successful.
“They guided me through insurance approvals and presurgical medical tests. I had two hours of nutrition training, an hour with the social worker and a session at the fitness center,” she said.
When Dr. Fourman performed Anne’s surgery, he repaired an abdominal hernia at the same time, so she stayed in the hospital for two nights instead of the usual one.
“Dr. Fourman has the most wonderful bedside manner. He’s very personable and likeable and caring. He takes the time with you. All his people do,” Anne said. “Their attitude toward people who are normally avoided and shunned is just wonderful. They are always happy, and just delighted when I come in and I’ve lost weight. That kind of encouragement is so important when you’re working so hard to change.”
After surgery, Anne followed a clear liquid diet for a while, and then gradually added pureed foods, food cut up in small bits, then small servings of selected regular foods.
“I didn’t feel hungry. I could tell when I was full because of pressure in my stomach area,” she said. “I did exactly what they told me to do, and I didn’t get sick.”
In the weeks following the procedure, she was able to reach the team easily to talk about any concerns. She had cell phone numbers and was able to contact anyone she needed, including Dr. Fourman. She also emailed the team nutritionist several times to check on her new way of eating, and received a quick response.
“They understand that you’re going to have questions, and they are there for you,” she said.
Six weeks after surgery, Anne was about one-third of the way to her goal of losing 100-pounds. Her doctor allowed her to cut down two of her three blood pressure medications and cut her diabetes medications in half.
“That was one of the main reasons I did this,” she said. “I didn’t want to take more and more medications, some of them with side effects. Doing without them costs less and is just a whole better for me.”
Sometimes it’s still hard for Anne to believe that she can lose weight. “It’s a thrill to get on the scale and say, ‘my goodness, I’ve lost another pound.’ I realize when I sit down that I’m not scrunched against the arms of the chair,” she said.
She now walks about two miles a day and does the exercises her trainer gave her at facilities near home. Her husband, Jon, walks with her. “He makes a point of telling me that I’m doing well and looking good,” said Anne. “He tells everybody he’s so proud of me.”
“I’m so very thankful this program came to Midland,” Anne said. “I’m thankful there is something that obese people can use to help them lose weight. Sixty percent of this process is what we are willing to do, the other 40 percent of the effort is the surgery, which is a tool we didn’t have before. Why not do everything you can to make it work?”
At MidMichigan Health, we see weight loss differently. It’s not just about achieving a particular weight or body shape, but about improving your health and giving you more energy to do the things you love. To learn more about bariatric surgery and other weight management options, register for a free seminar by calling MidMichigan Health Line toll-free at (800) 999-3199. Or visit our Web site at www.midmichigan.org/bariatrics.