Gastric Bypass Patient Overcomes Lifelong Weight Issues with Compassion and Continued Support
May 29, 2018
Marianne Dergham, of Gates Mills, Ohio, had always struggled with her weight. By age 23, there were signs that it was starting to affect her health. According to her doctor, her cholesterol was high, and diabetes was looming.
Traditional dieting wasn’t working and attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law only seemed to make things more difficult. In law school, who has time to prepare healthy meals and work out regularly?
At her peak weight of 265 pounds, Dergham’s health issues and frustrations were mounting.
“That’s when I started thinking about bariatric surgery. I wanted something that would help me keep the weight off for the long run.”
A relentless researcher, Dergham already knew that studies show most individuals who try diet modification and exercise tend to gain back their original weight plus additional pounds. However, she quickly discovered that bariatric surgery has proven to be an effective strategy for long-term weight loss.
Bariatric Surgery and the Decision to Stay Close to Home
At first, Dergham thought about having the gastric bypass surgery in Lebanon, the country where her family is from. But she knew bariatric surgery isn’t just about the procedure itself. It requires preparation and a lifestyle change – before and after. For that commitment of time and energy, she wanted to be close to home.
Dergham and her family already knew about the bariatric surgery program available at University Hospitals. They believed that UH was the best place to schedule the procedure. Attending a free bariatric surgery information session only increased their confidence.
“I knew the surgery wouldn’t be the complete solution—you have to change all of your habits,” Dergham said. “I was already kind of on that path. When I was finished with the information session, I thought, ‘I can do this.’”
The bariatric team at UH helped her prepare for surgery in many ways, from arranging meetings with physicians, dieticians and counselors to supplying valuable information regarding support groups.
“I was nervous, but enthusiastic,” Dergham said. “At first, it kind of freaked me out because I realized that for the rest of my life, I might not be able to have soda or a cookie. I had friends who were saying, ‘Nobody can live like that.’ But I thought, what’s worse: taking vitamins and eating right, or taking blood pressure pills and being overweight for the rest of my life?”
Dergham said that the bariatric surgery team at UH helped set her up for success. Her gastric bypass procedure went by the book. Dergham went in for bariatric surgery on a Tuesday morning and returned home Thursday afternoon.
“Everybody was super helpful,” she said. “It was awesome the way they kept up the communication. The surgeon was unreal. It is not an easy process, but everybody was there for me.”
A key to success, she said, is when a bariatric program stays with its patients after surgery to help them make good choices in diet and lifestyle. “I loved the follow-up by UH,” she said. “They stay with you. That is their reputation and that says it all.”
Enjoying Improved Health and a New Life Thanks to Bariatric Surgery
Though Dergham didn’t tell many people she was having the gastric bypass procedure, it didn’t take long for those around her to realize that something was changing. With each passing day, the weight gradually came off. Only eight months after surgery, she had already lost 70 pounds and was down to 195. She was also making steady progress toward her goal weight range of 140–160 pounds.
“I love my life – always have,” Dergham said. “But I really feel incredible now. I’m healthier. It’s like I’m the same person, but different. Medically speaking, I am fine and I feel great. If there was something missing, it sure is in place now.”
And people are certainly seeing her differently. “Guys do talk to me more now,” she said. ”I always had a lot of guy friends, and I can see their perception of me has changed a lot. Guys are flirting with me more.”
She jogs farther without getting winded, has more energy, and gets more enjoyment out of everyday activities. Even shopping is better. “Now I can shop at clothing stores I could never go into before,” she said. “I cleaned out my entire closet. And seeing these positive results has motivated me to keep eating healthy.”
Dergham cautions that bariatric surgery is not for everyone. But for the right candidates, she said, it can change lives.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” she said. “The people at UH were fantastic. I could call them at any time if I had any questions. I didn’t have many issues but when I did, everybody was there for me. My experience was fabulous.”