Kristene Osborn had tried for many years to lose weight. “I wasn’t ever truly successful,” admitted Osborn, 40, of Clintonville.
Ultimately, she developed health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. The biggest impact was how her health affected her ability to be involved with her children’s activities. “I want to be able to run around and play with my kids while they are still kids,” she said.
Osborn, who weighed 378 pounds, decided on bariatric surgery although she admitted she was hesitant at first to consider it, especially when she would hear surgery issues in the news. “That was a big part of why I waited so long” she said. “It got to the point where I was like I really don’t want surgery and it really scares me.”
But she also heard from several people she knew who had success stories. “I had hit that point where I really couldn’t stand giving myself these insulin shots and all these pills,” said Osborn, noting that another clincher was that her diabetes numbers were getting out of control.
Bariatric surgery is not a simple decision or solution. It requires meetings with doctors and specialists and patients who are determined to make the commitment to do lifestyle changes for a successful surgery outcome.
“The people have to understand that it is more than just surgery,” said Dr. Kevin Wasco, who, along with Dr. Ray Georgen, is co-medical director of Midwest Bariatric Solutions and Bariatric Program at Theda Clark, which is a Center of Excellence at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah.
The patients have to be the ones who want the surgery, he added, noting that they have to thoroughly research the decision. “It’s really a commitment,” Dr. Wasco said. “You have to understand the risks and benefits and be committed to the whole program not just the surgery. We’re not changing genetics.”
Nutrition, exercise, counseling, medicine and surgery are all vital to the success of bariatric surgery. “We emphasize to them that it is truly a team approach,” Dr. Wasco said. “It’s more like a long-term chronic illness that we keep treating all along.”
Osborn attended an informational meeting in March 2010, where she heard from doctors, nurses and patients. She started the line of meetings the following month. Her surgery was in January 2012 and she is doing great.
“It’s great to try on clothes that six months ago were tight but are now practically falling off,” she said, noting that she now weighs 266. Her goal is to focus on diet and exercise so she can get back to her pre-wedding weight.
Osborn’s health is improving and she is taking only allergy medicine. She praised the medical team who have been supportive every step of the way. “They took wonderful care of me,” she said.
Since the surgery she has been attending support group meetings and meets with a physical trainer once a month. Osborn said the diet has been the hardest part but she is learning.
“Your body doesn’t tolerate certain foods like it would before surgery,” she said. “The way you are going to get the best results is to stay carbohydrate free. It’s those carbs that make you gain the weight. They are evil. You learn through trial and error. We are all a bunch of defiant teenagers when it comes to eating. You’re going to try it and you are going to pay the price.”
She has no regrets about the surgery and encourages those considering it to “do it. Don’t let fear keep you from doing it because it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.”