The weight loss program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano provides comprehensive and compassionate care to patients who elect to have weight loss surgery. Our goal is to provide peace of mind and confidence to patients as they pursue sustained weight loss, improved health and a better quality of life.
|Since her surgery in 2010, Bonnie Simons has lost 180 pounds.
Bonnie Simons, 52, had always planned on getting healthy, but was discouraged by what she considered bad timing. The Allen resident had yo-yo dieted, considered weight loss surgery and made promises to herself but never followed through. In 2010, she weighed more than she ever had and her diabetes was unmanageable.
“I always had an excuse for not losing weight – my job was too stressful, I was too busy, or I was about to go on vacation, or the holidays were coming up,” said Simons. “I finally had to realize that there would always be a reason to put this off. I had to make my health a priority. So even though my husband was gravely ill with cancer, I made an appointment to have gastric sleeve surgery.”
Ten days before Simons’ scheduled weight loss surgery, her husband was readmitted to the hospital with stage 4 colorectal cancer. Two days after that, Simons’ sister unexpectedly passed away in California. Once again, it seemed as though her weight loss surgery would be postponed. Simons was ready to cancel her surgery, but from his hospital bed her husband told her she had to go through with it.
“He was so supportive of me when I was ready to cancel again, but he told me I had to do it," she said. "And he was right: I was taking three diabetes medications daily at the maximum recommended dose, my doctor told me I would need to start taking insulin every day. I had to follow through with the surgery.”
On May 4, 2010, Simons had the gastric sleeve procedure, also known as a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, which removed approximately two-thirds of her stomach. The gastric sleeve procedure causes patients to feel full with smaller food portions and greatly reduces their feeling of hunger.
“Many patients prefer the gastric sleeve procedure because it does not require the implantation of an artificial device into the body,” said Stephen Hamn, M.D., bariatric surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano. “The procedure does not require disconnection or reconnection of the intestines and has far fewer eating restrictions because the stomach continues to function normally.”
A few days after her procedure, Simons was able to return to the hospital to be by her husband’s side. She said focusing on him kept her mind off the surgery and eating.
Simons’ husband lost his battle with cancer about a month after her weight loss surgery. They were college sweethearts and were married for over 25 years. The Simons shared a passion for travel and visited places all over the world including Africa, Egypt, Tahiti, Australia, and Greece.
“I never let my weight hold me back from traveling, but I did miss out on some of the things that I always wanted to do, like zip-lining. I finally got to go on a zip-line after losing the weight, and it just reminded me how thankful I am that my husband encouraged me to change my life,” said Simons.
Life After Weight Loss Surgery
|Bonnie's gastric sleeve procedure was performed by Stephen Hamn, M.D., bariatric surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano.
The weeks following Simons’ gastric sleeve procedure were especially difficult. Dealing with the loss of two loved ones as well as having massive surgery could have easily derailed her weight loss journey, but she instead gathered strength and was determined to lose the weight she had always wanted.
“I knew this surgery was my last chance at losing weight and I didn’t want to blow it,” she said.
However, surgery did not come without challenges. One of her biggest struggles was finding foods she wanted to eat.
“During the gastric sleeve procedure, ghrelin, the hunger stimulating hormone, is removed when the stomach is sectioned off,” said Hamn. “The foods you like before surgery could taste completely different post-surgery. Patients have to retrain their brains to know what hunger feels like so they know when to eat.”
Simons credited the weight loss support group at Texas Health Plano for helping her discover foods she enjoys eating.
“Some people are standing at the refrigerator at the end of their five week liquid diet waiting to take a bite of something, but I had no physical desire to eat,” Simons said. “The support group helped me find foods that worked for me.”
Simons continues to stay involved with the weight loss support group at Texas Health Plano almost four years after her surgery. She even meets outside of the scheduled monthly meetings with friends she met from the group.
“Many people get discouraged after having weight loss surgery because they have no one to talk to,” said Nancy Velting, bariatric coordinator at Texas Health Plano. “People in the bariatric support group have experienced the same things. They are able to encourage one another and answer each other’s questions. It makes patients feel like they are making progress and doing the right things.”
Since surgery, Simons has developed an active lifestyle rivaling that of professional athletes. She works out at the gym five times a week, employs a personal trainer and enjoys strength training, cardio classes and Pilates. Her newest hobby is running 5K races and she ran five of them in 2013.
“Before surgery I was carrying around the extra weight equal to a full grown man,” Simons said. “I finally feel like I am back in the world.”
Outside of the gym, Simons has become somewhat of a daredevil. This past year she has gone skydiving, zip lining and went to Six Flags to ride rollercoasters.
Since her surgery in 2010, Simons, who is 5-foot-8, has lost 180 pounds and reached her ideal body weight of 150. Her secret to continued success?
“I weigh myself every morning and adjust my snacking for the day based on the scale. Before surgery I didn’t know how to eat, or I didn’t care. Eating is part of who I am. I’m a sugar addict, a carb addict and it will always be a struggle for me, but I finally feel like my body is where it wants to be.”