Surgery helped Brenda get back to the things she enjoys.
Brenda Fuchs, 53, of St. Cloud has lost more than 244 pounds after bariatric weight loss surgery at the CentraCare Bariatric Center. Brenda had a duodenal switch (DS) on Dec. 13, 2012 performed by Dr. Sayeed Ikramuddin. Dr. Ikramuddin recommended a DS surgery because it would create a shorter channel for food to pass in the intestines. “You feel so much better about yourself,” says Brenda after her weight loss. “It’s not easy, but I would do it again.”
Brenda originally looked into surgery a few years ago at a different clinic, but didn’t feel comfortable with it at that point. After having some issues with an irregular heartbeat, she talked to Dr. Leland Lindquist, internal medicine physician at CentraCare Clinic – River Campus, who suggested she look into the CentraCare Bariatric Center. Brenda took his advice and attended the free informational seminar. After attending, she met with Kristin Ewing, a registered dietitian, who introduced her to the program. “I can’t say enough good things about everyone here – they are great,” Brenda said.
Before surgery, patients must meet a certain level of criteria, such as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, a BMI of 35 to 39.9 and a serious obesity-related health problem, and an ability to make a variety of lifestyle changes required for weight maintenance after surgery. They must also complete six months of medical weight loss. “I worked closely with Kristin for the first six months to lose weight, even before surgery,” said Brenda. She lost 67 pounds before her surgery. The support Brenda received from the team contributed to her success. “They are so reassuring; make you feel so good – a warm and fuzzy feeling.”
Brenda also met Dr. Ikramuddin to discuss her options before surgery. “I don’t have enough nice things to say about him. He spends the time with you and he truly cares.” After her surgery, Brenda received a phone call from Dr. Ikramuddin to check in on her. “He wasn’t scheduled that day and another doctor was taking care of me, but he took the time to personally call me – just so caring.”
During recovery, Brenda faced some initial struggles. “I was scared to eat – how would it feel?” One of the student nurses on her case was helpful in this process. She had the same surgery as Brenda five years prior. The nurse reassured her that it would get better. “The first month is not easy. I was tired and scared. But the pain goes away. You see the advantages and what you gained back,” said Brenda. The weight loss improved her glucose numbers, her blood pressure and she is now in cardioversion, meaning her heart is back in rhythm.
After meeting with one of the rehab nurse practitioners, Brenda had a “wow” moment. “I told one of the nurse practitioners that I had lost (at this point) 197 pounds and she told me ‘You lost me – think about giving me a piggyback ride to your car’. It really makes you think and be proud.”
Brenda continues to follow up with the Bariatric Center to continue her weight loss journey. It’s something she has come to enjoy. “I am excited to show them my progress. The way they respond to you – excited to see me! Some of the nurses get tears in their eyes when they see me. The encouragement is amazing!”
Brenda has gained her life back. Before her weight loss, she avoided going to plays with a group of friends, “I didn’t go because I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in the chair.” Now Brenda is enjoying time with friends, participating in group outings and helping out with different family functions. “Before I couldn’t do that, I would have to just sit and watch.” She is also back to enjoying shopping, “I can browse stores now, I haven’t been able to do that in years!” Brenda is still in awe of the improvement, “You forget how good you can feel.”
Brenda’s advice to those considering weight loss surgery: go to the support groups, attend the seminar, ask questions, do your research, talk to those who have experience.