Health First, Weight Second
For Sandy Linsmeyer, bariatric surgery meant a chance to get healthy. The weight loss was just a bonus.
Her doctor, bariatric surgeon Dr. Daniel McKenna suggested she look into weight loss surgery as a way to address some chronic health conditions. “I went in because of my diabetes and high blood pressure,” Sandy says. “It’s worth getting healthy.”
Sandy had been overweight for about 35 years. Like many people who struggle with weight issues, she’d been on countless diet plans. “Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach,” she says, “just about anything you can think of, I’ve tried.”
In early 2015, Sandy weighed 242 pounds. She lost 20 during the six-month preparation period before her Roux-en-Y surgery, and then dropped another 50 in the four months after.
Sandy’s doctors took her off her diabetes medication the same week she had surgery. She’s stopped her acid reflux medication, and her high blood pressure medication has been cut in half.
“I should be completely off it in another six months,” she says.
Beyond those measurable benefits, Sandy says she feels better. Before surgery, she had relatively constant pain in one of her knees, but that doesn’t bother her anymore. And taking care of family is easier now too. The Linsmeyers have six foster children, ages 4 to 17.
“I didn’t realize how much the weight bothered me until it came off,” she says. “Things are easier to do. I don’t get as exhausted as quickly. Just bending over and tying your shoes is easier!”
Overcoming Her Fears
Before deciding on weight loss surgery, Sandy was most concerned about the pain and recovery. But those fears went unrealized. “I was amazed at how little pain there was and how easy it was to go through,” she said.
“Everyone at Aurora BayCare made me feel so comfortable. They were so caring and personable. I think my experience was better because of the staff.”
Small Changes, Big Results
When she talks to other people about the surgery, Sandy says people often express concerns about the eating restrictions. But she hasn’t found that a challenge.
“You can basically eat anything afterwards. Once you learn portion control, it works,” she says. Although Sandy does admit that family dinners can be a difficult distraction. “We get to talking and I forget to chew enough! I have to concentrate on that.”
But overall, she says, the changes have been small ones. Except, that is, when it comes to her size.
“I did this to get healthy. The added benefit is losing weight,” she says. “I started at a size 20, and now I’m down to a 12. I feel good, and I feel good about myself.”