Have you ever been body shamed? Made to feel like a second-class citizen because of your weight? It’s the last socially-acceptable form of discrimination and it happened to Sherri R. one day. As unfortunate as that incident was, it was the spark that lit the flame for Sherri to make the positive change she needed to make.
Sherri, who is a nurse, was first concerned with how she would hold up after bariatric surgery. She had questions about how nutrients would be absorbed after surgery, what effects might it have with medications she was taking, and how it would affect her health long-term. Sherri then educated herself by joining support groups and talking to friends who had gone through bariatric surgery, and later she decided to have the gastric sleeve procedure.
“I was a bit overweight in Junior High. I wasn’t skinny like the other girls and got teased,” recalls Sherri. Sherri got into sports in high school and was able to control her weight until she went into nursing school. With work and homework, Sherri became sedentary and began gaining weight. She tried different things to help lose the weight but ended up yo-yo dieting. She says she didn’t feel like she was an unhealthy eater but still she was always gaining.
“Gaining after losing just messes up your confidence in keeping the weight off,” says Sherri. “After so many failures, I said to myself ‘why even try?’ so I gave up. Then the body shaming incident happened and I felt sick and mortified. I’m more than my exterior, I’m a human being, and I don’t deserve to be treated this way. That same day I picked up the phone and called Anchorage Bariatrics.”
Sherri suffered from hypertension, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, and back pain all due to her weight. “The chronic pain was the worst part. I could hardly walk long distances. I could not sit or stand for long lengths of time; I was constantly repositioning myself to find comfort. I felt stuck,” remembers Sherri. “I was going down a slippery slope and realized if I don’t take care of this now, my health won’t allow me to do it later.”
Sherri decided to phone her friend from a past nursing job, Kristi, who works at Anchorage Bariatrics and who’s also had bariatric surgery. Sherri had heard such great things from Kristi and trusted her judgment. “As a nurse, I have seen others who had bariatric procedures – I know it’s more than just a surgery, it’s how you take care of yourself after surgery. I knew I needed to be a good candidate,” explains Sherri.
Sherri later consulted with Dr. Clark and says, “Dr. Clark is very professional and non-judgmental. When you’re overweight and don’t know what you’re going into, it’s scary. I had lots of reservations. Dr. Clark listened, gave me options, and was very frank about how surgery is a tool and you still have to do your part.”
Sherri knew very well that for this plan to work, she would have to give it one hundred percent. She felt confident because of the accountability that she got from Dr. Clark and the support from everyone at Anchorage Bariatrics. “All the staff were on my team – from front desk staff, to dietitian and psychologist, they were all very encouraging and helpful. I was very impressed with the psychological care,” says Sherri.
“Tim, the physician assistant, was wonderful. He made sure everything was in order, and counseled me as to what was going to happen. He is super-positive and I felt comfortable talking to him. He answered detailed questions about my procedure and what to expect. He checked on me, along with Dr. Clark, after surgery in the hospital and I worked with him again post-op. Like everyone else at Anchorage Bariatrics, he truly cared about me and was there when I needed him,” recalls Sherri.
Post-surgery, Sherri is feeling great and has lost 66 pounds in six months. “I’m on an adventure. Learning about my new stomach tool and what my body can and can’t handle. I’m taking it slowly and looking at things as challenges and how to overcome them. I feel peaceful and calm, because I know I’m doing the right thing,” says Sherri. “I have about 20 more pounds to go to reach my goal weight and I’m confident I will get there. I’m encouraged by the results I’m seeing and am now able to walk more and swim. For the first time in so many years, I’m looking forward to summer and hiking and beach combing!”
Sherri’s advice for those planning to undergo bariatric surgery? “Follow instructions. Listen to your doctor and medical team,” she advises. “Stick with the plan. You’re going to have emotions come out, so acknowledge them and work through them. Make sure you get support, and finally, don’t give up!”