Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Bariatric Surgery Patient
"Before, I felt like I was trapped in a cocoon of fat. Now, I feel like a butterfly that broke loose."
She’s Happy for the First Time In Years
Donna Wagner’s struggle with weight began a few years ago when she fell and injured her hip.
“It was really painful,” Donna said. “The more it hurt, the more I sat; and the more I sat, the more I gained.”
Days turned into months and then into years.
“I quit living. I just existed day after day and sat on the couch. I used a cane in the house but I wouldn’t go out with it. At the rate I was going, I knew I wouldn’t be around for long and, sadly, I didn’t care.”
“My attitude got worse as my weight increased,” she said. “A couple of doctors had mentioned to me that I would be a candidate for bariatric surgery, but I didn’t want to hear it. I had tried diets and I was convinced nothing would work.”
A television program planted a seed of hope.
“I watched a show about a father-and-son team who specialized in bariatric surgery and I was intrigued,” Donna said. “Next, I went to a seminar about bariatric surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot to learn more.”
Donna’s struggle ended on December 9, 2008, when Ernest Cudjoe, M.D., performed Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.
“I was 58 when I had the surgery so I expected some pain,” she said. “The first couple of weeks I was thinking, 'What have I done?' but by week four, I was back on my treadmill – five minutes at first but I was up to an hour before I knew it.”
Thirteen months later, Donna is 138 pounds lighter.
“I still have some hip pain from the fall, but the weight loss has made it so much better,” she said. “I haven’t taken a pain pill since a month before surgery. I’m off my cholesterol medicine and my doctor is talking about eliminating my blood pressure medicine.”
“Some people think bariatric surgery is a quick fix but it is not; you have to work at it,” Donna said. “I’ve had to change how I eat, but I also changed how I look at food. I had to completely give up some things, like carbonated beverages, and I’ll have to eat small meals for the rest of my life, but it is so worth it!”
“I am happy for the first time in years,” Donna said. “Before, I felt like I was trapped in a cocoon of fat. Now, I feel like a butterfly that broke loose.”
When the scales showed she had lost 100 pounds, Donna celebrated by getting a butterfly tattoo. On a family camping trip last summer, the butterfly had a ball.
“My husband and I walked, we took the grandkids to the park – I even went swimming! I am truly a new person,” Donna said.
Family support was her secret to success, Donna said.
“I had to do the work, but they have been there every step of the way. My husband is always by my side.”
Donna had her surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot in Alma, an affiliate of MidMichigan Health.
“Dr. Cudjoe gave me my life back,” she said. “The entire staff at the Bariatric Center was great. They could not have treated me better.”
Donna and her husband, Bob, still attend support group meetings, where she often shows a photo scrapbook her daughter created that chronicles her journey.
“I want pre-bariatric patients to see what I looked like before surgery and let them know what they can look forward to,” Donna said. “I can give them hope.”
Donna’s husband of 40 years reaped an unexpected benefit. Simply by modifying his diet and activity level in support of his wife, Bob lost 60 pounds. Best of all, the woman he loves is healthy and happy again.
“I got my best friend back,” Bob said.
Learn about laparoscopic weight loss surgery and how it can improve your health and your life. Attend a free bariatric seminar highlighting laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy options. Medicare, along with most other insurances, is accepted. To register for a seminar or for additional information on bariatric surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot, call MidMichigan Health Line toll free at (800) 999-3199. Or visit our Web site at www.midmichigan.org/bariatrics.