Wife and Mom, Development Program Director and Bariatric Surgery Patient
“I know that I’m going to be able to give my family so much more than before, and live a long life with my husband that I probably couldn’t have had before.”
After bariatric surgery, Sheril Tarrant feels better about the future
After bariatric surgery helped Sheril Tarrant lose 112 pounds in about six and a half months, she felt better about the future. “I know that I’m going to be able to give my family so much more, and live a long life with my husband that I probably couldn’t have had before,” Sheril said.
Athletic in her youth, the 31-year-old Midland woman continued to enjoy being physically active and working out even as she gained weight.
“We encourage physical activity and healthy eating in our house, but I was living a totally different lifestyle,” she said. “Because of my weight, I couldn’t do some of the activities I wanted. I kept working out, but my ankles hurt, my feet hurt and my stomach was in the way.”
She tried a commercial weight-loss program and popular diets, but quickly gained back the weight she lost. Even working with a personal trainer for 2 years, she did not lose a significant amount.
“I just realized that my weight wasn’t going to go away the conventional way,” Sheril said.
One day she saw on the MidMichigan Health Web site, midmichigan.org, that Bariatric and General Surgeon Matthew Fourman, M.D., was giving a seminar on bariatric surgery two days later. Her family medicine physician had also been working with her on losing weight. When she asked him about going to the meeting, he encouraged her to do it and find out more.
“At the meeting, I was impressed with Dr. Fourman,” she said. “He was frank and honest and gave us the facts. I don’t like it when somebody tries to talk me into something. What got my attention was some of the morbidity statistics, which show the average age of death for people with certain medical conditions associated with being overweight. I was falling into some of these categories, and that just terrified me.”
Dr. Fourman also described several different types of bariatric surgery. “I wasn’t excited about having surgery,” Sheril said, “but I was attracted to the Lap-Band™ surgery because it’s reversible. They don’t remove part of your stomach. They don’t reorganize your intestinal tract. The band simply acts as a tool to help me control my portions.”
Realizing that bariatric surgery is a long-term life decision, Sheril talked to her husband. “We kicked it around,” Sheril said. “I decided to take the next step and go for an evaluation to determine whether the program was a good fit for me.”
Sheril discovered that surgery was just part of the complete program that would support and encourage her success.
“What I really liked about it was that it was not going to be just me doing it,” Sheril said. “Dr. Fourman and his staff were with me through the entire process.”
The program’s social worker, bariatric nurse, coordinator, nutritionist and exercise coach are part of the team. In addition, for every patient, Dr. Fourman is always accessible.
“When I ran my first 5K, I emailed our nutritionist and asked her, what I should eat the morning of the race, what I should eat the night before,” Sheril said. “She got right back to me and laid out some great options for making healthy decisions.”
After surgery, monthly support groups are part of the package. Bariatric patients go to support each other and talk about what works and what doesn’t. The group hears speakers and visits with resource people. Those interested in bariatric surgery are also invited. “Going to these monthly meetings helps to keep me grounded and on track,” she said.
After Sheril decided to go ahead with the program, her surgery was set for the following month. Preparation included several classes and a 10-day liquid presurgery diet. “That’s a life-changer right there,” she said.
Sheril had her procedure on Wednesday, stayed in the hospital overnight and went back to work on Monday after resting at home for a few days. Family on Board with New Habits
Sheril gradually moved from eating liquids, to pureed food, then soft foods and finally regular food in small amounts. To be ready for meal preparation, she made sure her pantry was stocked with the right things so that her choices were easier. She makes meals and lunches in advance.
The whole family is on board with the new routines. “Your family has to be part of this effort. We’ve always encouraged healthy eating, and my children love vegetables and fruit, but we’re all eating even better now,” said Sheril.
“My husband is fantastic,” she said. “He does a lot of our grocery shopping, reading labels and helping me make good choices. We are a team in our home, so he’ll pick up the kids when I need to hit the gym or run. The kids know what I’m doing, and they encourage me. Our family is moving forward every day.”
The Tarrant family hiked 6.5 miles at Tahquamenon falls, something Sheril said they would never have been able to do before. Sheril completed three 5K runs in 2010 and has signed up to run four more in 2011. They’re also having fun on some of the area’s great railtrails, where Sheril runs while her nine-year-old son rides his bike. She laughed as she remembered the time he stopped, turned around and said, “Looking good, momma! Keep going!”
“I’m just grateful that I’m living life. It’s a different type of living,” she said. “I no longer live to eat, I eat to live. I enjoy so many things I haven’t been able to in the past. I’d call the title of my life story ‘To be continued.’
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.