Choosing better health
“My mom died of a heart attack early. She was only 55, and it was due to her being obese for so long,” says Jessica Barnett. “That’s pretty young, and I want to live longer than that.”
This is the primary reason for Jessica’s decision to have weight loss surgery. In May 2015, she weighed in at 250 pounds, wore a size 22 and had a BMI of 40. She had worked with nutritionists and tried every diet. Then she turned to Dr. John Dockins, a surgeon at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
“Gastric bypass has saved my life,” she says. “I recommend it every day.”
Jessica started her weight loss surgery journey like all other patients at Sentara. She watched a formal presentation on obesity, how it affects overall health, the science of obesity, how to treat it, what surgeries are available and how pre-operative and post-operative processes work. She then went to see Dockins for an initial consultation.
At that point, some patients decide not to move forward, but Jessica elected to proceed. She committed to a medically supervised weight loss program with a nutritionist. Most patients spend three to six months losing weight and going through pre-op testing to make sure they are fully educated, and it is safe for them to proceed with surgery. The staff works with patients to make changes prior to surgery; these pre-operative changes ultimately aid in their post-surgical success.
Jessica now weighs in at 143 and has been maintaining that weight for months. She wears a size eight, which she achieved in nine months. Helping her are the in-person and Facebook support groups offered by Sentara. The private online group shares healthy recipes, offers words of encouragement and holds clothing swaps so members don’t have to buy new wardrobes as they lose weight.
“It’s inspiring for people who are going through their surgeries,” Jessica says.