Janet , RN Care Coordinator at Providence Montana Bariatric Services, became involved with the bariatrics group seemingly by chance. She had been working in the hospital for several years and wanted a change in nursing positions, and because of her health and fitness background, she was attracted to the way the program highlights healthy eating and fitness as a means to maintain weight loss.
Our team recently talked with Janet to address several questions that potential bariatric surgery candidates might want to learn about.
Why is there a need for bariatric surgery? Is it on the rise?
Some people need more than just a health and fitness program. Says Janet, “I have been a personal trainer, I have seen people who are able to achieve weight loss and fitness through changing their lifestyles. But then there are others who need more. That’s where bariatrics can be an option.”
There is no ONE answer as to why a person ends up at an unhealthy weight; it is a multifaceted issue. It could be due to differences in a person’s metabolism, or it could be the result of a lack of nutritional knowledge.
Janet is seeing a rise, each year, in patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI)s of over 50, which is the equivalent of about 150 overweight. Some are even as high as 80 or 90. This can cause severe stress on every part of a person’s body, resulting in a multitude of health issues including joint pain, digestive issues, an overly-taxed heart and more. So for some, bariatrics is the answer to the beginning of a journey toward a healthier weight.
What are some of the best, most beneficial outcomes for patients?
Once patients have gone through a form of bariatric surgery (there are two offered at Providence St. Patrick Hospital; gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy), Janet has seen cases where diabetic patients’ insulin levels dropped immediately, allowing them to leave the hospital no longer having to take their medication - or at least having dosages changed. Bariatric surgery can also greatly reduce cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and symptoms of sleep apnea - just to name a few.
Can you think of any specific patient story that keeps you inspired to do the work you do?
Janet has seen patients who are able to get jobs they had never been able to get prior to having the surgery. She’s seen people finally reaching their goal to “Hike the ‘M,’” which is a popular local mountain. Some have begun training for a half marathon, others report being able to do outdoor activities with their families that they had not been able to do in the past. Watching whole families become healthy and active has been extremely rewarding.
What else should people know about the process?
Bariatric surgery is NOT an easy way out. It requires a big commitment and big lifestyle changes. Since food intake will become much smaller, a person will need to follow a regime of vitamin and mineral supplements in order to get the nutrition that is needed. Regular exercise is recommended to help maintain lean body mass, burn a few calories and help with your general feeling of well-being. Those who can commit to doing all of the work will achieve the most successful outcome - and it’s worth it.
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