Hospital:

Tricia Brewer - Healthier Life, Healthier Me

August 21, 2020

A Bariatric Success Story 

People think bariatric surgery is the easy way out. It’s simply untrue. From the beginning to the end, it’s a long process that involves a lot of hard work and lifestyle changes.

Almost three years ago, I underwent bariatric surgery with Dr. Louis Balsama. He and his team made the experience one that I’ll never forget.

I was growing tired of having next to no energy, struggling to exercise any chance I tried. Additionally, medications I was on due to my autoimmune disorder were causing me to gain more and more weight. I knew it was time to make a change.

I already knew about Dr. Balsama, because I work for RowanSOM and have worked closely with his team members in the past, including Kathy McKeever and Christine Arroliga, RN, CDE, SMC, CBN. Not only did I hear wonderful stories from them, but I watched several women in my office benefit tremendously from the surgery.

My surgery experience was one of the most unique parts of my journey. It was the first time Kathy and Christine were in the operating room for a surgery. We became very close throughout the whole pre-op process, so I was open to them sitting in. When they wheeled me in, Kathy and Chris were holding my hands. It felt so comforting to have her there by my side. I’ve never had a medical experience quite like it.

I have lost more than 100 pounds! I typically fluctuate between 125 and 130, but I’ve learned not to let the number on the scale bother me. Exercise is so much easier now, and I can be on my feet a lot more, because my stamina has improved so much.

I feel great, but there have been ups and downs. After bariatric surgery, your body feels a lot different, and it takes some getting used to. There were times my weight actually dropped too low, and Dr. Balsama and Chris taught me how to adjust my diet to gain it back in a healthy way.

I also struggled at first with how people reacted to my rapid change in appearance. Sometimes it’s hard to accept all of the newfound compliments, and sometimes you can tell that they’re negative. It’s important to just shrug it off and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Many people don’t understand all that bariatric surgery entails. You have to completely change your eating habits. You have to stay active, and make sure you take all of your vitamins. When you don’t consume the proper nutrients, such as enough protein, you can actually feel it.

Understanding how to nourish and care for yourself is a key part of the process. I’ve learned to not take my health for granted, and I’ve also learned that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Having a community of people that support you is vital to the process. You can’t do it by yourself. I can’t thank Dr. Balsama, Chris, Kathy, and their team enough for being one of my biggest support systems. Of course, I couldn't have done it without the care of my family and close friends as well. My husband, sons, mother, best friend Jess, and God mother Jenny have all provided so much ongoing support. (Not to mention, my sons even exercise with me now!) 

My mindset and focus have completely changed. In a way, I feel like it’s my second chance at life. I can become the person I truly want to be.

To learn more about Bariatric Surgery at Jefferson Health - New Jersey, click HERE

View below for more photos of Tricia's journey: