Bariatric Patient Takes Steps to Better Health

Beckie Ellis’ sewing room has long been her sanctuary, creating quilts her joy. But there was a time when her passion became a painful proposition for the 66-year-old. Everything Beckie needed to create her masterpieces was located on the second floor of her home. Bad hips and being overweight made getting up the stairs a daunting effort; even standing at the kitchen sink to do dishes was difficult.

“You start avoiding things because they’re just too hard,” Beckie recalls. “So I tried eating programs, weird cabbage soup diets and all sorts of things to lose weight, but they never really worked. Either I didn’t lose weight, or the weight that I lost would immediately come back.”

Beckie’s weight struggles led to, or worsened, other health problems as well. She had high blood pressure and diabetes, and was taking medication for cholesterol issues. She knew she needed to get a handle on her health and wellbeing.

Beckie turned to the nationally accredited bariatric program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. The program is a unique collaboration between Texas Health Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center that gives patients access to care and resources from both world-class institutions.

The program’s holistic approach to care includes a variety of advanced surgical weight-loss options, along with ongoing follow-up treatment after surgery. In between, patients like Beckie benefit from physical, nutritional and psychological consultations to confirm their readiness for the lifestyle and emotional impact that often comes with a weight-loss journey. Other available tools and resources include comprehensive patient education, support group meetings, physical therapy and financial counseling.

“Everybody was very good about explaining what needed to be done,” Beckie says. “There were discussions with the nutritionist to say here’s what you can eat, here’s what you don’t want to eat and here’s why you don’t want to eat something.”

“Surgery is only a piece of a bigger puzzle, or pie,” adds Michael Green, M.D., the bariatric surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas who performed Beckie’s surgery. “We consider the whole picture and the whole person when determining the right weight-loss solution for each individual.”

For Beckie, that solution meant gastric bypass surgery. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that creates a small stomach pouch and reroutes the digestive tract so food intake is restricted. This allows for fewer nutrients, fat and calories to be absorbed by the body.

Beckie’s surgery and healthy lifestyle changes helped her lose 175 pounds. But that’s not all. As a result, she was able to go on to have hip replacement surgery and get back to a normal routine. She is off her medication for diabetes and she no longer needs a sleep apnea machine at night. Beckie’s success even inspired her husband to follow in her footsteps and pursue bariatric surgery. Between the two of them, they have now lost almost 350 pounds.

Beckily happily admits: “My pain is gone and my health is better. I can move, I can climb things and I’m able to do stuff that I just haven’t been able to do for years. My confidence level is way up. It has changed my life for the better. My husband and I are looking forward to doing more things together, to traveling. Life is good!”

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