Diane Keenan, Bariatric Surgery Patient

Diane Keenan - Saginaw, MI

"It's just amazing how it has changed my life in so many ways."

Hard Work and Bariatric Surgery are Helping Her Lead a Healthier Life

Throughout her life, 59-year-old Diane Keenan of Saginaw has struggled with health issues. Along with a less-than-healthy lifestyle, she was trying to manage diabetes and high cholesterol. She had a fairly high medication burden, including a cholesterol-lowering medication and four medications for treating diabetes, one of which was a routine injection. Eventually she was forced to leave her job due to her health problems.

Multiple factors contributed to her weight, including genetics, stress, a poor diet and other underlying health issues. This came with an emotional burden on top of the physical issues.

"I just had really low self-esteem and self-confidence," Diane said. She felt insecure to the point where she wouldn't try clothes on in the store, instead developing a habit of taking them home to try on. "People treated you differently, professionally and personally."

Exercising was difficult for various reasons, further complicating her situation. The weight was causing knee and ankle problems for Diane, so traditional aerobics weren't possible. Her family physician suggested that she try water exercises, but she was reluctant to go since she was self-conscious about being in a bathing suit.

Fortunately, Diane has a determined and pragmatic quality to her that helps with accomplishing tough goals. She had put herself through college, earning a master's degree, and had done well in her career before retiring. Now, she had set her mind to getting herself into better shape, through whatever means it took. "I wanted to be healthier, mentally and physically," she said.

That's when Diane decided to receive a consultation at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma for bariatric surgery as part of a weight loss plan. "I went into it knowing it would be a lifestyle change," she said. When she was screened initially, the doctor discovered that she had a fatty liver, making it unsafe for surgery at the time. She would need to lose 15 to 20 pounds before surgery would be a safe option.

Diane did begin making some positive changes to her daily life. She made an effort to have a healthier diet, starting with kicking her Diet Coke addiction. "I'd been drinking it every day since I was a kid," she said. She would drink one in the car on her way to work and even kept a can on her nightstand in case she woke up thirsty in the night. "The doctor explained to me how it would stretch your stomach and make you eat more, and the carbonation was not good either."

She was also making better decisions on which foods to eat and was working on addressing patterns and ways of thinking that could have an effect on her weight and body image in the long run. A good counselor helped her through the various processes leading up to the surgery and became a vital source of support for her.

When the time for surgery arrived, Diane was well prepared. She had worked hard and lost 30 pounds. Her doctor, General & Bariatric Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., had asked if she was okay with undergoing a robotic surgery, and she had agreed. The procedure took place on February 15, 2017.

The specialized surgical procedure Diane underwent is called a robotic-assisted laparoscopic gastrectomy. Using a computer interface, surgeons control a robotic arm with an attachment that is smaller than a regular human hand.

"There are several advantages to robotic surgery over traditional laparoscopic surgery," said Dr. Bonacci. On the surgeon's side, these include greater dexterity and enhanced visibility thanks to the robot's size and fine motor control. Dr. Bonacci adds, "Some of the benefits I have witnessed in my patients include shorter recovery and less pain post-operatively."

Fortunately, this was the case for Diane. The procedure went smoothly, and she stayed in the hospital to recover for one night. She was able to return home the next day.

Diane's body recovered remarkably well. In just a couple of days her pain was gone and there were no further complications.

Other positive outcomes happened right away. Dr. Bonacci took Diane off of her cholesterol and diabetes medication following the surgery and she hasn't needed them since. She continued seeing her counselor afterward as she transitioned into her newer lifestyle. To anyone going through this kind of operation, she recommends continuing to see a therapist after the surgery and not just beforehand.

Another great source of support was Diane's aunt and uncle. Along with their encouragement, they gave her memberships to a local gym and pool. When she first started going, Diane had to take the elevator to reach the workout floor upstairs. Today, however, she takes the stairs.

Since her surgery, less than a year and a half ago, Keenan has lost just over 150 pounds, and hasn't stopped yet. Dr. Bonacci said that so far, she has dropped 25 points on the body mass index (BMI) scale.

"It's built my confidence," Diane says, adding that she since has gotten comfortable enough to start attending water exercise classes.

"Physically, emotionally, mentally, it's all been a positive thing," Diane said of the experience, adding that the support she has gotten from her doctor and the staff at MyMichigan Health has been fantastic. "I wish I did it years ago. It's just amazing how it has changed my life in so many ways."

MyMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like more information about surgical weight management may register for a free in-person information seminar at www.mymichigan.org/bariatricseminars or watch MyMichigan's online seminar video series at www.mymichigan.org/bariatriconlineseminar.

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