Consumers Energy Employee and Bariatric Surgery Patient
"Choosing to have bariatric surgery was one of the best decisions of my life. My only regret is that I didn’t have the surgery sooner."
A New Outlook on Life: Shelly Struble's Story
From Wallflower to Walker
“Bariatric surgery gave me my life back,” said Shelly Struble of Alma. “I had been overweight since childhood and had tried every diet known to man.”
She had tried weight loss groups, liquid diets, even prescriptions, without success.
“Finally, I just accepted it.”
However, after undergoing back surgery and developing arthritis, 38-year-old Shelly realized accepting her weight wasn’t the solution.
“I was at a point where I couldn’t take walks without being winded,” she said. “My weight was interfering with my life.”
Shelly approached her family doctor about bariatric surgery.
“He told me it might be a good option for me so I started doing research.”
She learned that MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot is recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
“It was important to me that Gratiot is a Center of Excellence,” she said.
Shelly attended an informational seminar about bariatric surgery in February of 2008.
“After my doctor referred me to the Gratiot Bariatric Treatment Center, things moved quickly. Everything was approved and I made the decision to undergo surgery,” she said.
On May 27, 2008, Shelly had adjustable gastric banding surgery performed by Ernest Cudjoe, M.D.
Adjustable gastric banding surgery is performed using a laparoscope, a less-invasive approach than traditional open surgery. During the surgery, an adjustable silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a smaller pouch which subsequently feels full more quickly. By limiting the amount of food that can be eaten, the patient’s weight decreases until a stable weight can be maintained.
“Everything went smoothly,” Shelly said. “I spent only one night in the hospital and even walked the dog the day after I was released. I had no complications at all.”
Shelly was committed to the lifestyle changes that accompany bariatric surgery and had made some changes before she underwent the procedure. “I had already stopped eating some things like cookies and pop,” she said. “With the band, your diet isn’t quite as restricted; you do have to eat much smaller quantities.”
The initial weight loss surprised and delighted her.
“In the first week, I lost more than 10 pounds and couldn’t believe how good I felt,” she said. As more weight came off, Shelly’s activity increased. “My energy level soared – now I can’t sit still and I haven’t stopped smiling.”
Shelly admits that she was actually prepared for a different outcome.
“I went in expecting to fail and I was shocked at the outcome,” she said. “I lost 85 pounds and dropped from a size 22-24, to a size 12-14. My goal is to lose another 20 pounds.”
Shelly’s husband Joe says his lovely wife is happier.
“My wallflower came off the wall. She did a complete 180,” said Joe.
He added that the transformation was so dramatic Shelly had to introduce herself to a family member.
Now that she has her life back, there’s no stopping her.
“Exercise is fun now. I love to walk, use the exercise bike and go camping,” she said. “We’re planning to walk the Mackinaw Bridge this coming Labor Day.”
Shelly’s advice to people considering bariatric surgery is to do some homework.
“Start by getting all the information you can from reliable sources,” she said. “Go to support group meetings or join an online group. Somebody will always be there."
“Choosing to have bariatric surgery was one of the best decisions of my life,” Shelly added. “My only regret is that I didn’t have the surgery sooner.”
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.