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A New Sense of Boldness

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Laura Tenbus

September 20, 2018
Gerri Baum joined her first diet program when she was just 12 years old. Throughout her life, she dealt with the emotional and physical roller coaster of losing weight and then gaining it all back. As a social media manager and consultant, she frequently makes presentations to clients and she found it difficult to find clothes that looked professional and fit her properly. While she didn't doubt her expertise, she felt like she wasn’t taken as seriously as she'd like to be. Her struggle became more poignant when her daughter began walking. She had difficulty keeping up with her rambunctious daughter and Gerri could see that she was taking a backseat in her life. Despite her desire to lose weight, she simply didn't have the tools to make it happen.

"I've been on every diet program there is," she said, but nothing ever stuck. With each attempt, she would see short-term success that faded away with the everyday stress of being a working mother. It was difficult to keep up a consistent exercise schedule and the extreme diets she went on were unrealistic and unpleasant. Gerri struggled to maintain regular healthy habits.

She hadn't considered weight-loss surgery until she saw a coworker transform before her eyes. Gerri watched as she quickly shed pounds after her surgery. There was a profound shift in her coworker — she was happier, healthier, and completely changed her demeanor. That was when it clicked for Gerri and she decided that surgery was her next step.

She was devastated to find out that her insurance wouldn't cover the procedure — but she didn't let that stop her. Determined to take this step for herself, Gerri traveled to Mexico where she could afford a laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (lap-band) surgery without the coverage from her insurance company. While she saw a slight improvement after surgery, Gerri wasn't able to get the support she needed and soon gained back all of the weight she had lost. Ten years later, she was prediabetic and back in the same place she had started. Gerri became depressed and discussed her weight issues with her primary care physician, who suggested she consider the Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP) at GBMC.

After attending an information session, Gerri made an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth Dovec. During the appointment, they reviewed her medical history in detail, as well as her past and present weight-loss efforts. It was decided that best course of action was a revision surgery that removed her lap-band and created a laparoscopic gastric sleeve. This time, the surgery was covered by insurance and it didn't cost her a penny.

This surgery was very successful, and she lost more than 100 pounds. Unfortunately, Gerri also suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and over time, it became apparent that the sleeve was contributing to her discomfort. After discussing this complication with Dr. Dovec, they decided that the best option to relieve her symptoms was a gastric bypass revision surgery. This, too, was successful and Gerri lost even more weight.
She no longer feels held back by her body and she isn’t experiencing GERD symptoms. One of the biggest changes is her new sense of boldness. For the first time in her life, she feels comfortable in her own skin and she’s doing things she never thought she could. Her recent trip to Italy is the perfect example. She walked miles each day exploring sites and “climbed more stairs than [she] cared to count,” but she had a wonderful time with her daughter. She afforded herself the luxury of buying a beautiful Italian dress — something she never would have done when she was heavy. Gerri said she wouldn't have even planned the vacation had she not lost the weight.

Her professional life has changed, too. She has a much easier time finding clothes and is more confident while making presentations to her clients. "I don't think I lacked credibility before, but I definitely feel like I'm taken more seriously at work now." Gerri currently weighs less than half of what she did at her heaviest. "I never thought I'd get to the point where I wouldn't need to lose any more weight," she said. "I finally feel free."

Interested in taking the first step in your own weight-loss journey? Register for a free COMP information session today!
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