Christy Brown has struggled with feeling overweight her entire life. In 2017 Brown says she stepped on the scale at 325 pounds, her heaviest weight, and knew she needed help.
She intensified her efforts to eat nutritious foods and increase exercise. After a year and a half of vigorous effort, she had lost only 12 pounds. “I felt I did everything I should be doing, and I hit a point where I couldn’t do it on my own,” Brown recalls.
Weighing Her Options
Brown learned from her primary care physician that she would be a good candidate for weight-loss surgery. She attended several weight-loss surgery seminars, including the informational session led by K. Robert Williams, MD, bariatric surgeon at Parkwest Medical Center.
“When I heard him speak, he was direct and compassionate,” Brown says. “He was calm and thorough in his explanations. I was considering major surgery, so I wanted someone who was in control. The way he interacted with his staff really impressed me, and I thought that was really important.” Brown made an appointment with Dr. Williams in June 2019 to discuss her options.
“I’m Doing This for Me”
Dr. Williams performed a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in June 2020 at Parkwest Medical Center, where Brown spent two nights. “We selected this operation because of her history of reflux and esophagitis,” reports Dr. Williams. “Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is often a good treatment for reflux as well as obesity.”
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common method of gastric bypass surgery. Done laparoscopically, small incisions are made in the abdomen to reduce the size of the upper stomach to a small pouch. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery helps reduce the amount of food consumed by decreasing hunger and overall calorie absorption from fat.
“Christy had great success because she was motivated and followed the rules after surgery,” Dr. Williams says. “She has been compliant with diet, exercise and vitamins, which has allowed her to reap the benefits that this operation has to offer.”
For patients like Brown, Dr. Williams indicated the risks of not having surgery can exacerbate weight-related medical conditions like diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypertension and fatty liver disease. Overweight men and women in their 30s are also at higher risk of developing sleep apnea, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers as they age.
Brown recalls, “The morning of my surgery, I was nervous, but I didn’t have any doubts. I had no problems with surgery.” She continues, “It has been one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Fast Forward to Today
Seven months after surgery, Brown has lost 111 pounds and weighs less than 200 pounds.
“I still have to get up every day and decide to eat correctly and move my body,” she says. “If I described it in one word, it would be ‘freedom.’ That is the one thing that comes to mind. Freedom in my body, my thoughts. And I just feel…lighter.”
“This process has given me an opportunity to have the life I always wanted,” Brown says. “Being able to have this tool, and to have this support, made me feel like I could accomplish this. There’s freedom in that. Knowing there is a team behind me made me feel like I could do it.”
Searching For Support
Brown says, “For me, the support group is somewhere to go that’s safe, to share successes, and even times when I’m not so successful, and how I have learned from it.”
Stella Mouzon, RN, BSN, MSM, is the bariatric coordinator at Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery. Mouzon says, “Christy was more reserved when I first met her. She has blossomed during her journey and become more outgoing. I think the group has helped that.”
Mouzon continues, “We see in our bariatric support group that it helps to hear what others are going through. We often feel alone, and think we are the only ones struggling. It helps to hear from other people with similar experiences to get us through difficult times, to help us stay on track and to encourage each other.”
Bariatric support group meetings are held on the third and fourth Monday of each month from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Parkwest Medical Center. Participants choose the meeting day that is most convenient for them. Registration is required. Please call 865- 374-PARK (7275) to reserve your spot.