Becky Hardy says she had forgotten how to enjoy life. Her weight overshadowed everything – making routine activities like climbing a flight of stairs or tying her shoes turn into nearly impossible obstacles.
Becky tried to get her health under control through diet and exercise, but a back injury left her in excruciating pain and immobile. Metabolically, Becky was losing the battle against the urge to eat, with an influx of hormones triggering her hunger sensation.
“Physiologically, it was a losing battle. I realize that some people would never choose weight loss surgery, but for me, this wasn’t a choice. If I wanted a future, I had to do it,” says Becky, who is a nurse. She took the first step by making an appointment for a gastric sleeve surgery consultation.
“Becky chose gastric sleeve surgery due to the powerful appetite reduction associated with the GI hormone changes that result after surgery. The sleeve has the same long-term average weight loss as the gastric bypass – without all of the complications,” says Brad Watkins, MD, bariatric surgeon, medical director of the UC Health Weight Loss Center and professor of surgery at UC College of Medicine.
In a coordinated approach, Dr. Watkins worked closely with Becky’s primary care physician, Brad Mathis, MD, a UC Health internal medicine specialist, and Brad Curt, MD, a neurological and spinal surgeon at West Chester Hospital, to create a plan to provide relief from her ongoing back pain as soon as possible after bariatric surgery.
Dr. Curt discovered a large disk herniation between Becky’s L5 and S1, which was pinching the nerve and radiating pain through her lower back and legs. He performed a microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive surgery, to remove the herniated disc material and relieve the pinched nerve.
“Patients who have endured tremendous back pain often notice a remarkable life improvement after surgery, like a huge sigh of relief after holding your breath,” says Dr. Curt.
After her weight loss surgery, Becky noticed the absence of cravings and was able to emotionally detach from food. And immediately following her spine surgery, Becky reported her sciatic nerve pain gone. “I felt so amazing that I cried. I had forgotten what a pain-free life felt like.”
Becky now surprises herself with how much she’s able to accomplish. “I’m working out 2-3 times a week at the gym and I do yoga, too. I started out not being able to walk more than two minutes at a snail’s pace on a treadmill – now, I can do inclines and challenges for 30 minutes or more.”
Currently, Becky has lost more than 95 pounds, no longer has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or insulin resistance. Her sleep apnea is gone and she happily kicked her BiPAP machine (a breathing assistance device similar to a CPAP) to the curb.
“For me, choosing surgery was the best decision I could make for my body, my health and my future,” says Becky. “I feel attractive and healthy; I didn’t feel like that before my surgeries. I can LIVE my life now.”
To receive the name of a spine surgeon at West Chester Hospital, call (513) 298-DOCS (3627).
For more information about the UC Health Weight Loss Center at West Chester Hospital, call (513) 939-2263 or visit UCHealth.com/WeightLoss.