The Smith Family - Sumner, MI
"We went to the Louisville farm show and spent three days walking miles upon miles - and I wasn't exhausted because I'm 60 pounds lighter."
Bariatric Surgery Helps Mom, Dad and Son Lose 245 Pounds
Brian and Candy Smith, and their adult son, Chase, lost a combined total of 245 pounds within a year of having bariatric surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot.
"All three of us had tried again and again to lose weight," Candy said. "We tried everything from commercial diet programs, to prescription medication, to starvation diets." Despite their efforts, Candy weighed 220 pounds, Brian weighed 294 and Chase weighed nearly 350.
When Brian's doctor gave him information on bariatric surgery to review with his wife, Chase joined the conversation, and the three decided to attend a free education session at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot.
"That session was the best way to start," said Candy, a registered nurse and manager in the Medical Center's medical, surgical and pediatric departments. "Step by step, it laid out a foundation for what we needed to do."
The Smiths learned about the procedures offered from General and Bariatric Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., and they all decided on the sleeve gastrectomy procedure. This surgical procedure keeps the stomach's basic function, but reduces its capacity, so the person feels full quickly and eats less food at each meal.
Once they decided on surgery, the Smiths began working out and started a two-week, pre-surgery diet that focused on protein, fruits and vegetables. They attended pre-surgery classes, participated in a required psychiatric evaluation, underwent blood tests and Brian saw a cardiologist. They also joined support groups, which they could continue as needed.
"I couldn't say enough about how well Dr. Bonacci's office prepared us and made sure we had all the information we needed," Candy said. "You always knew what was expected of you, what you would need to do next and what they were able to do for you," she said. "There were no surprises, because they did their job."
On surgery day, Brian's procedure was at 7 a.m. Chase came next at 10:30 a.m., followed by Candy at 1 p.m. "We planned it so that I had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Bonacci about both of the boys before I got into surgery," Candy said. "All went well. Chase went home the next morning, and Brian and I went home the second day."
In the year that followed, losing the weight benefited both the Smith family's health and their outlook.
"I'll never forget throwing away my blood pressure pills," said Brian. "I went from taking three to five pills a day to zero. Now my blood pressure is lower than it was with medication."
For Chase, a peak moment was buying smaller waist-size pants, and then even smaller ones. "The first time I went down a pants size, I said, 'I can do this!' I went from a size 46 to a size 40 in no time."
Candy started looking forward to flying again. "The last time I was on an airplane, I was uncomfortable for the whole flight," she said. "I look forward to being much more comfortable when I fly again in a few weeks."
Brian and Chase, who have very active jobs, also appreciate that as the weight comes off, it's easier to move and do their work.
"I'm a farmer and I also manage another company," Brian said. "When you shed 70 pounds, work isn't so hard anymore. It's almost like shaving 20 years off for me. It also changes your view on life. You just muddled through because you were so overweight that it didn't matter. Now you tend to look for tomorrow and then the next day and the next year."
Chase, who delivers propane, finds it much easier to get in and out of the semi and drag the hose around. "Instead of dreading going to work because you know you're going to be tired all day, you can actually enjoy it again," he said. He also has more energy for his family, including playing with his young son.
Candy says she's glad to be more active and that she and Brian can keep up with the kids when they all play miniature golf this summer. "I park the farthest I can from my office at the hospital and walk the distance without huffing and puffing," she said. "We went to the Louisville farm show and spent three days walking miles upon miles. I wasn't exhausted because I'm 60 pounds lighter than I was last year."
Chase remembers the three of them trying again and again to lose weight with approaches that didn't work. "This was our last effort," he said. "And it was the best choice we could have made."
MidMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like more information about surgical weight management may register for a free in-person information seminar at www.midmichigan.org/bariatricseminars or watch MidMichigan's online seminar video series at www.midmichigan.org/bariatriconlineseminar.