At 330 pounds, Deborah Lochabay knew she had to lose weight. She suffered from out-of-control diabetes, debilitating arthritis, and neuropathy that made it almost impossible for her to walk. It had gotten to the point that her treating physician could not do anything more for her.
“I needed to lose at least 160 pounds,” she recalls. Her multiple attempts to lose weight failed so Deborah made an appointment with Dr. James Dickerson at St Luke's Health – The Woodlands.
“Dr. Dickerson was very straightforward and told me what it would entail and what I should expect. He said, 'you don't go into this kind of surgery having a way out. You go into it with both eyes open, knowing that this is a lifelong decision.'” she recalls.
“Deborah, like many of our patients, was experiencing yoyo weight loss that was preventing her from achieving the weight loss that would improve her health,” Dr. Dickerson explained. “Our medical team felt that gastric bypass surgery would allow her to lose weight and keep it off. That would go a long way toward controlling her diabetes and vastly improve many of the symptoms she was experiencing,” he said.
15 million Americans are at least 100 pounds overweight and suffering from morbid obesity, a condition that can trigger and exacerbate a multitude of health problems.
"I knew what I was getting myself into, but I wanted to get my life back. I was to the point where if I basically wanted to live, I needed to have the surgery," she recalls.
Deborah underwent gastric bypass surgery on November 17th, 2021. The surgery entailed dividing the upper part of the stomach, leaving a much smaller compartment. The expected weight loss in the first 1-2 years after gastric bypass is 60 to 80 percent of the excess weight and 50 to 60 percent long-term.
At about the six-month mark, Deborah shrunk out of her clothes. While shopping with her daughter, she said, “It kind of dawned on me, ‘Hey you know, this is great.’ And then I noticed the neuropathy pain in my legs and feet was virtually gone. I was actually able to walk and move without being in a lot of pain.”
Almost one year later, Deborah lost 82 of her 160-pound weight loss goal, with more to go.
When asked if she would recommend the surgery to others, she replied, "Absolutely. 100 percent. But this is not the easy way out,” she said, referring to the changes required of one’s diet and eating habits.
“You have to weigh and measure everything. You have to eat slowly. You have to put your fork down between each bite. You don't watch TV when you're eating. There are all kinds of things you have to train yourself to do. But it has been life-changing."