For those who choose weight loss surgery, there is almost always a moment of truth. For Brenda Basile of Lynn, that moment came when she got the news that her Type II Diabetes could no longer be controlled with oral medication alone. She faced the prospect of having to give herself daily insulin injections. “ I realized I didn’t want to do that,” Brenda says. “Plus I had a new grandchild, and I wanted to be around for her.”
Her decision to undergo full gastric bypass surgery at North Shore Medical Center stemmed from her struggles with severe gastric reflux, caused in part by excess weight as well as diet. Her primary care physician, Ernesto DaSilva, M.D., had recommended exploratory GI surgery to look into the reflux problem. He then had a follow-up recommendation that came as a surprise to Brenda. “He said, ‘As long as we’re in there, would you consider gastric bypass surgery?’” And consider it, she did.
After undergoing a series of medical tests and evaluations, as well as a psychological evaluation—all standard for prospective bariatric surgery patients—Brenda underwent gastric bypass surgery at NSMC Salem Hospital in April 2014. Over time she was able to lose 70 pounds, and now weighs a healthy 155 pounds. For Brenda, as with so many other bariatric patients, the medical benefits of such a significant weight loss are far reaching. She ticks off the list of health issues that have all but disappeared. “I no longer take cholesterol medication. I don’t take any blood sugar medication. I had sleep apnea and had to use a machine to help me breathe at night. I don’t have to do that anymore. I used to cough a lot because of the gastric reflux— not anymore.”
Besides the medical challenges she has overcome since her weight loss surgery, Brenda is enjoying other advantages. “Clothes shopping is the most wonderful thing now,” she explains. “I can always buy something that fits and looks good. In the past, the only clothes I could fit into looked like my grandmother’s.” One recent event that gave Brenda particular pleasure was her 45th high school reunion. “I weighed over 200 pounds when I graduated from high school. When I went to the reunion, a lot of people didn’t even recognize me. It was awesome.”
Although Brenda is thrilled with the results of her weight loss surgery, she freely admits, “You do get some negative comments from people. Some say you are opting for the ‘easy way out.’” Brenda refuses to let such negativity sidetrack her efforts to change her eating habits from a pattern that involved “eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted” to one that requires her to eat several small, nutritionally balanced meals per days. “You are not on a diet per se. You are changing your way of life,” Brenda says. She attributes her success in large part to NSMC’s Heart and Wellness program, developed specifically for its bariatric patients. “The program is wonderful,” she says. “You meet with nutritionists and a nurse practitioner on a regular basis. You also meet with others going through the same thing as you. They are wonderful women, very easy to talk to.”
Life is good for Brenda Basile. A retired nurse, she travels a lot with her husband, mostly to warmer climes, and tries to visit her daughter and young granddaughter in North Carolina whenever possible. She also enjoys spending time with her son and older granddaughter who lives in nearby Wilmington, MA. And now, she is a regular visitor to her local gym. “Before the age of 60, I never exercised, but I joined my gym and now I don’t feel good if I don’t go,” Brenda says. “I consider myself very lucky. Thanks to bariatric surgery, I’ve probably added several years to my life.”
FREE INFO SESSIONS:
NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program is now offering free information sessions at NSMC Salem Hospital and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers. These sessions offer a great opportunity to learn more about weight loss surgery options and ask questions. Register online at nsmcweightloss.org or call us at 978-825-6505.