Published on July 14, 2022

Experiencing New Found Freedom Thanks to Bariatric Surgery

Photo of Traci Sandel on her motorcycle holding her before bariatric surgery photograph.

In addition to no longer needing oxygen, Traci Sandel can finally go motorcycling with her husband again.

Traci Sandel had a list of health issues connected to her size that were impacting her quality of life, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Her weight was exasperating her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and she required oxygen therapy daily. After considering gastric bypass surgery for a number of years, she consulted Bariatric Surgeon Ernest Cudjoe, M.D., at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland.

Dr. Cudjoe performed a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy on Sandel. “This procedure uses staples to divide the stomach into two sections,” Dr. Cudjoe explains. “The largest section, which accounts for approximately 85-90 percent of the stomach, is permanently removed. The remaining portion of the stomach is long and narrow, resembling the shape of a sleeve. Patients who undergo a sleeve gastrectomy feel full quickly and therefore, consume less food at each meal. In fact, on average, patients lose about half of their excess body weight in 12 months. It’s life-changing for many patients.”

“I am so much happier now,” said Sandel. “I don’t need oxygen anymore and can finally motorbike with my husband again. It’s fabulous!”

Sandel continues to be amazed by the scale and her energy levels. “After the surgery, I didn’t have any pain, but there was a huge mental adjustment,” she shared. “I had to retrain my brain to make healthier choices and adjust portions, but I’ve learned. I used to wear a men’s XXXL and now I’m in a women’s size 6.”

Sandel continues to attend weekly, virtual support meetings to talk with others about their experiences with bariatric surgery and techniques they use to stay healthy. “Some folks are just out of surgery and others are veterans,” she said. “We get to share about some of the aftereffects of surgery, how we balance meals and exercise, and the stress that can come with drastic lifestyle changes. I learn a lot and hope some learn from me.”

Like others, Sandel has lost nearly half her body weight and is feeling freer than ever. “I caught myself jogging in the grocery store parking lot the other day and thought ‘hey, look at me!’ I could barely walk across my living room before. I have Dr. Cudjoe and the weight management team at MyMichigan to thank for helping me get back in control of my health and happiness.”

Sandel and her husband are out on their motorcycles every chance they get. She intends to make the most of her new size and outlook.

MyMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in Alma, Midland and Sault Ste. Marie. Those who would like to watch an information video or take a free weight loss assessment may visit