Defeating Diabetes with Bariatric Surgery

“We have more fun together.”

That’s how Jennifer Westein describes time with her daughter—after bariatric surgery. Jennifer had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure in June of 2014 and lost more than 120 pounds in the year that followed. 

Now Jennifer can get down on the floor and play with her daughter, run around outside, and even, she says, share a ride at Bay Beach without worrying about crushing her little girl.

15 Years of Diabetes

Jennifer was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in her 20s. The disease steadily progressed and was likely a contributing factor in two miscarriages. Eventually Jennifer transitioned to an insulin pump to better manage her condition, and her daughter Ireland was born some time later. 

Still, after five-plus years on the pump, Jennifer was fed up.

“One day I just decided it was enough,” she says. “Dr. Geocaris said Roux-en-Y would get rid of the diabetes and I said, ‘Well that’s what we’re going to do.”

Ready, As a Family

Throughout the whole process, Jennifer says her husband was more nervous than she was. But he was also her motivation and support. “He took time off work to take care of me. He encouraged me and got me up and moving after surgery,” she remembers. “Once I did that, the healing seemed to go faster.”

Her husband, Randy, says that bariatric surgery has been a team effort as they adjust to the diet and lifestyle changes. Still, he’s incredibly proud and happy for his wife. Together, they agree, they wouldn’t tell anyone to wait.

“Absolutely do it,” Jennifer says. “This is not a fix all. You still have to work hard. You have to be in the right mind set. But I was ready, and it’s made a huge difference in my life.”

Jennifer sees her surgery day as such a turning point, she’s chosen to memorialize it. On the inside of one wrist she has tattoos of the most important days in her life: Her marriage, her daughter’s birth, and the day she had bariatric surgery.

Today Jennifer is completely off her diabetes medicationNo more shots. No more pump. She’s breathing better, sleeping better, and her hips no longer hurt.

“I’m free!”