Deciding to Have Bariatric Surgery

This is the first installment of our Bariatric Journey series. First, we highlight the decision making process for surgery from the patient’s perspective. Watch for our second installment, the process before surgery, in December.

Jeff Harris, a 45-year-old medical office manager from Bloomington, started thinking about bariatric surgery a year ago. With two young boys, ages 10 and 13, and a wife with multiple sclerosis, he had trouble keeping up with daily activities.

“As big as I was, not being able to move well and always being so tired, I realized I was not going to be able to take care of them,” Jeff said.

It was time for a change. For one, he was just diagnosed with diabetes. He also wanted to feel like a normal part of society. His office was on the second floor, and he was the only one who took the elevator. His knees would crack every time he stood up. It became difficult to walk any kind of distance.

“You have to worry about where you park the car, how far along it is and how many steps,” he said. “When you’re bigger, those are things that are on your mind often.”

bariatric surgery patient

Jeff Harris before his bariatric surgery in October.

Jeff became aware of the bariatric satellite program at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center through his line of work. Through a partnership with Memorial Medical Center, McLean County area patients receive pre- and post-operative nutrition, physical therapy, social work, laboratory and imaging services at the Advocate-BroMenn facility in Normal. The surgery is then performed at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

“Once I realized everything except the surgery was going to be done at home, that made a big difference for me,” he said.

But Jeff still had doubts. He enjoyed unhealthy foods, often ate quickly and drank a lot of soda. All things he knew he would have to give up.

“It gets a little scary the closer and closer you get to that happening,” he said.

His wife, Lisa, also had reservations of him having such surgery.

“I said to her, ‘I’m going to die anyway the rate I’m going,’” Jeff said.

Once the couple met with bariatric surgeon, Max D.Hammer, MD, FACS, their fears were put to rest.

Jeff then immersed himself in surgery literature and began initial steps for enrollment. He started to feel more encouraged and empowered. The decision had been made. He would have gastric bypass surgery in October – 10 months after he began the surgery process.

“There’s no risk to get started” he said. “I would tell others to read the literature and know what you’re getting involved in. You have nothing to lose by checking out the program. It really can change your life.”

Have you thought about bariatric surgery or are you interested in learning more about the Memorial Bariatric Services program? Be sure to check the Bariatric Services website later this month to complete our online orientation to learn more about us and bariatric surgical options.