Christie Lee remembers being an overweight kid, gaining pounds steadily through her childhood and teen years. She continued to struggle with her weight once she hit adulthood, particularly after she had children.
“I’ve been on diets—pretty much every diet out there,” she explained. Sometimes, she would lose 20 pounds, but it always came back.
For Christie, the turning point came when she was 55 years old. “I was tired of being tired,” she said. “One day, I hope to have grandchildren—and I want to be able to play with them.” She was about 125 pounds over a healthy weight, her cholesterol was high and she had been on medicines for her high blood pressure for over 20 years. She also had to have a total knee replacement not long after she turned 50.
Christie began seriously considering bariatric surgery for the first time.
She started doing her homework and joined online support groups. “I researched the heck out of everything,” she said. She hesitated to tell her family, though, unsure what they would think, but they embraced her with support and encouragement. “My husband saw how miserable I was,” Christie said. Though he worried about her having surgery, “Once he saw all the research I had done, that made him feel better.”
St. Luke’s Clinic – Bariatric and General Surgery helped Christie take the next steps. She attended a seminar, met with the surgeon, and spoke with a nutritionist and a counselor. “The staff there is excellent,” she said. “They always put my mind at ease and make me feel a lot better.”
In October 2017, after a medically-supervised diet and exercise program—helping her make lifestyle changes that would improve her chances of success after the surgery—Christie chose to have the sleeve gastrectomy, which greatly reduced the amount of food she could eat. Though it wasn’t a decision she took lightly, she doesn’t regret it at all.
“My self-esteem has improved, my quality of life has improved, my outlook on life has improved,” Christie said. She has lost 55 pounds and knows she isn’t done yet. Not only does she feel better, she is healthier and fitter. “I didn’t think I would ever be off meds,” she explained, but her cholesterol levels and blood pressure are now normal.
Christie is also an active participant in her health. “Your surgery . . . it’s a tool to help you get on the path to losing weight,” she said. “You still have to watch what you eat and you still have to exercise.” Though she had never liked to exercise, she learned that she just needed to “start walking, start moving.” Now, she can walk several miles—and even enjoys it.
“I can just think of the way my life would have been different, had I been able to do it 10 years ago,” Christie said. She spends more time looking forward than back, though, especially to the day when she can play with her grandchildren.