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Doctors Hospital Bariatric surgery life changing for two women
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Doctors Hospital coordinator for Weight Loss Surgical Services Erin Bashaw is pictured with two recent patients Stephanie Hughes and Lisa Benson who had Bariatric surgery give them back the lives they once enjoyed. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Two Manteca women — both having weighed near 350 pounds — are in the process of losing half of their body weight and are thrilled at the weight loss already in just five months.

It admittedly took courage and determination to follow the program through to fruition and listen to their dietitian when having the urge to fall off their diets and eat the forbidden foods in lieu of less fattening salads — forgetting the milkshakes and other high calorie treats.

Both Stephanie Hughes and Lisa Benson had their Bariatric surgeries earlier this year. Both have religiously stuck to the process of continuing to lose their extra pounds to support the surgery

Stephanie had hers May 11 at Doctors Hospital of Manteca with her highest weight measuring 340 pounds before surgery and 296 when she went into the hospital, she said. All patients must see a dietitian a couple months before they go into the hospital. They’re asked to lose some weight on their own to prove to the surgeon they have the appropriate attitude to support the weight loss surgery.

Nurse coordinator Erin Bashaw said the surgeries aren’t about making money but about giving overweight patients their lives back with normal weights and getting them off of medications.

“I cut out sugar, refined carbs and processed flour before the surgery — and I still do,” Hughes said. They both proved their intent to go along with the process in search of a new and better lifestyle.

Benson, who had her surgery about a month later at Doctors, interjected that she had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was always tired and sluggish. I didn’t want to go to work but I would force myself to go and then eat all the time. I ate and ate and ate. My sleeping patterns were not all that great. And the pain — always had pain with my arthritis. I wasn’t happy,” Benson said.

They agreed that because of their weight, the fear of falling was always on their minds. Benson, in fact, did fall when she said her ankle just gave out.

Her greatest weight was 361 before seeing the dietitian and 330 the day of surgery. Her surgery took 9 minutes and 40 seconds, she said. 

Hughes said the first for her was being able to bend over and tie her “damned shoes” without huffing and puffing in the effort. 

“I’d buy a new pair of jeans and then ask myself how long it would take to grow into them — and when I would put them on (a smaller size) and be able to zip them up, I would shout ‘Yes, Yeah!’” Hughes said.

Another problem with buying new jeans, Benson said, is when you buy them too small and wait too long to try them on and they are too big — those are the moments. 

“I am able to get out and walk now without pain,” Benson said. “I am able to get out every day and do things that people who are thin take for granted like showering and whatever. 

Benson Lisa is a care giver for developmentally handicapped adults and has already lost 99 pounds.  She said it doesn’t seem like much because she still has a long way to go to reach her goal. Arthritis in her knees and in her back was another reason she opted for the procedure. 

“Losing weight I have been able to stop taking my arthritis medication,” she said.

Hughes said her mom was completely terrified when she learned of the surgery and thought she could do it on her own without surgery.

“I always knew this was going to be my ultimate goal to get this surgery because I knew it was right for me,” Hughes said. “I said mom  I am 46 years old and if I haven’t done it already it’s not going to happen.  This is a tool — it is not a magic wand that is going to make me skinny.  But after she saw my determination and the weight starting to come off,  she had something of a change of heart.”.

“There was always the fear of surgery.  I was lucky and didn’t have any complications and my pain was relatively nil — stopped taking pain medications while I was still in the hospital.  And for the scarring, I have five little laproscopic scars and I didn’t have any issues with those — still don’t.” 

The weight loss coordinator said the medical world is seeing resolutions from the surgeries helping with conditions of diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol.

For the first month after surgery the patients are given meals of baby food and curries.  At one month they can have more solid food but limited to very small portions (three ounces) three times a day — a soft and moist food in ice cube sized portions.  The two women said it wasn’t difficult for them because they were just not hungry. 

“It’s a commitment,” they agreed.