Patient Stories: Weight Loss Surgery
For as long as she can remember, Karen struggled with her weight, experiencing the familiar “yo-yo” effect: Lose some weight, gain back some more and then restart the cycle. By her early 50s, it was clear that the excess weight had taken a toll on her body and her health and she was beginning to lose hope. “No matter what I did, I just didn’t seem to get the long-term results,” she says. “It felt like I was stuck in mud. I decided it was time for a change.” Watch her story below.
It wasn’t until college that Tina Rambarran began to put on weight. A self-described “secretive eater,” Tina started gaining 40 to 50 pounds each year and stopped going out with friends or "living life," she recalled. “Eating became a friend and a habit,” she said, “and I just didn’t know how to stop.” It was more comfortable to stay home and avoid people. “I didn’t want people to see what I had done to myself.”
In her mid-30s, at 455 pounds, Tina decided that enough was enough. She had tried many diets but needed real help. She turned to the experts at the UMass Memorial Weight Center and, after several months of learning and incorporating new eating and exercise habits into her life, had gastric bypass surgery in May 2010.
Since then, Tina has lost 320 pounds.
“I can’t say enough about my surgeon, Dr. Donald Czerniach, and all of the staff at the Weight Center,” said Tina. “They each made this my journey and taught me how to take the small steps to make this big change in my life.” Watch video to learn more about her journey.
Tina also credits the support of her longtime boyfriend Brad, now her husband (he proposed a month before her surgery) and her family. Brad now makes Tina’s protein shakes and describes her as “amazing” and “more confident, outgoing, bubbly,” and says he has learned from her how to eat healthier, too. These days, instead of hiding, Tina is learning to say “yes” to invitations to go out and enjoy life.
“I never imagined this would be my life. Never.”
Arelis and Dwayne
"My husband was 360 pounds and had tried diets and other options until doctors recommended gastric bypass. I became interested after seeing my husband take the initiative to lose weight. After having five children, my weight kept accumulating, making it harder to lose the pounds. During the time my husband was recovering from gastric bypass, I was taking care of him and also taking classes to prepare for my own surgery. I lost twenty-five pounds and was then cleared for surgery.
"Before surgery I suffered from sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and rheumatoid arthritis. Now, after my gastric bypass surgery, I no longer have any of these symptoms except rheumatoid arthritis, but now I am more able to walk and exercise. I experienced some set backs but I did not let it discourage me. My husband and I now live a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising together."
"As a mom working full time and getting an MBA, I lacked sleep and exercise. I would diet, but the weight came back. With high blood pressure, cholesterol and sleep apnea, my health was deteriorating and I needed a permanent lifestyle change. The Weight Center offered continuous support from its team of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and exercise experts, so I entered the program upon graduating and had surgery on April 9, 2009. I was a size 24. Now I feel fabulous. I'm a size 8, and the pounds are still dropping. A rewarding new job, regular gym workouts with my supportive husband, the love of my family, and healthy eating are a part of my new lifestyle.
"Thanks, Weight Center, for helping to make the transition a successful one."
"After I began losing weight, people didn't even recognize me! I weighed 540 pounds and am now approaching my goal weight. I keep pictures of myself at my old weight as reminders - even my old driver's license. Now, I'm a totally different person. I'm running and going to the gym, and I no longer suffer from sleep apnea and high blood pressure. I'm back at school, studying to be a physical therapy assistant. And, except for a few foods, I can truly eat what I want.
"Dr. Donald Czerniach is a lifesaver! He's my hero, because for me, it was either do or die. He and the entire Weight Center team gave me the tools to make good health decisions and taught me that this is a lifelong commitment. Life is exhilarating!"
"After trying so many different diets, I was mentally exhausted. I had high cholesterol and sleep apnea. I became motivated because I wanted my son to have a healthy mom! But I didn't have the tools to lose weight and keep it off on my own. That's why I can't say enough about Dr. John Kelly, Dr. Mitch Gitkind and all of the Weight Center team members who understand what an effect this can have on you physically and mentally. The UMass Memorial program is a complete and caring one and just as good, if not better, than any program in Boston.
"Now my weight is in a normal range, my cholesterol is normal, and I discovered I had a petite frame. I have never felt better in my life!"
"I've been overweight all my life. Before going to the Weight Center, I was 340 pounds. I had high blood pressure and with a history of diabetes in my family, I knew I needed to change my situation. Today I am 185 pounds - my high school weight! I eat well and exercise to keep a normal weight because I've learned how to make healthy choices. Losing all that weight is a huge accomplishment for me, and the Weight Center professionals have been so supportive in helping me reach my goals. I am overjoyed to discover that even at age 53, life can begin anew.
"Thank you for creating an atmosphere of healing--medical excellence combined with compassion and kindness-- at UMass Memorial Medical Center."