Photo of Lisa Flannery, Bariatric Surgery Patient.

Lisa Flannery - Mt. Pleasant, MI

"This surgery has completely changed my life and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience."

She Resolved to Live a Healthier Lifestyle

Lisa Flannery knew she wasn’t healthy. She was overweight, got winded doing small tasks, had chronic back pain and high cholesterol and was a cigarette smoker for the past 26 years.

Lisa lives a mobile and active life. She enjoys being outdoors hunting, fishing and playing softball. She loves playing with her 7-year-old grandson, and she also has an active job as a paramedic.

With a high risk of developing diabetes or heart problems and an even higher motivation to watch her grandkids grow up, Lisa decided it was time to talk to her doctor about managing her weight.

“I tried to lose weight in other ways before and I would lose it but then gain it back, plus some,” she said. So she talked to her doctor who told her she would be a good candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy, a minimally-invasive surgical weight loss procedure. During the procedure, the surgeon makes the stomach smaller and shaped like a sleeve by stapling the stomach into two different sections and removing the larger section. The transformed stomach still stretches and expands, but it prevents the patient from overeating.

In the months leading up to the October 2017 procedure, Lisa had to prove that she was ready for the lifestyle change. The medical weight management team required that she lose weight and have a psychological assessment, blood work and an endoscopy. There was also one more significant lifestyle change she had to do.

“I had to quit smoking. That was a tough one,” she said. “I’d been a smoker off and on since high school.” But she did it. And now she’s gone three years cigarette-free.

Thankfully, breaking the addiction and losing weight were not things Lisa did alone. Her fiancé, mom, daughter and friends supported and encouraged her every step of the way so when the day of the surgery came, she was ready.

“I never had major surgery before so I was nervous about it,” Lisa said. “But once I woke up when it was done, I was happy. Physically I was a little uncomfortable, but mentally I was ready for the change.”

The procedure performed at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma by Bariatric Surgeon Ernest Cudjoe, M.D., went great. The incisions and muscles healed well, and she was able to go back to work earlier than she anticipated.

“I lost 140 pounds. People haven’t recognized me! They’ve done double-takes,” she said. “My back pain went away so I don’t have to take Tylenol every morning. I’m more active. I run anywhere from three to six miles every day and I go to the gym as much as I can. I’ve had a gym membership for two years now!” Lisa even thinks the surgery made it so she can care for her patients better.

As living proof that bariatric surgery can change a life, Lisa recommends the procedure to anyone thinking about it.

“The reason we do this is to be healthier, look better and feel better about ourselves. That’s what this surgery does – it makes you healthier and makes you feel better about yourself,” Lisa said. “It completely changed my life and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

MyMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like to watch an information video or take a free weight loss assessment may visit www.mymichigan.org/weightloss.

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