Connect with the Caribbean Weight Loss Center
The Caribbean Weight Loss Centre is here to help you regain your optimum state of health and weight through the right mix of surgical solutions, diet and exercise. The medical complications of obesity are many – fatty liver disease, gallbladder disease, heart problems, joint pain…it can seem like a losing battle: dieting, losing weight, then gaining it again and more. It is possible to reduce one’s weight and keep it off through a lifestyle change. Marie Thomas did just that in 2013. These are her words:
How Marie Thomas Lost Weight & Regained Her Health with Bariatric Sleeve Gastrectomy
I had been thinking about this surgery for a while. I was 278lbs and not doing well. I did not have serious complications because of my weight like diabetics or high blood pressure, it was difficult to breathe and I had sleep apnea and slept with a machine. It was getting very difficult to move around easily. I walked with a limp because my knees and ankles hurt. It was uncomfortable to sit in chairs, especially on airplanes. I was huge, wearing size 4 X large clothes. My GP had been encouraging me for about 2 years to have bariatric surgery and although there was a Doctor on the Island she had told me about, who I had seen, I was not keen to have surgery at that time. A year ago, I started thinking about the surgery again. I had been seeing a dietician for a few months and I was losing weight but very, very slowly. Last February I had taken my fears and worries in prayer to God. In my journey in trusting that through God I can do all things all things and nothing without Him, I will tell you that what I will share with you in my heart was not a coincidence, but a God-incidence. Last February (2013), I went to Sandy Crest Medical Center around 7 pm after spending a day in great pain in my stomach. After being seen by the doctor and having an x ray, I was diagnosed with an entrapped hernia and would have to have surgery as soon as possible.
The doctor asked me if I had a preference in surgeons. I mentioned the name of a surgeon that had operated on me before, but he was not available. The doctor then told me she had spoken to a surgeon who had an office in the same building and he was on his way down to meet with me and my husband. As we waited, we were given a pamphlet on the doctor and his clinic. The Doctor’s name was Dr. Griffith. Dr. Griffith was not just a surgeon, he was also a bariatric surgeon and when we met with him a few moments later I realized how passionate he was about bariatric surgery. So here I was at Sandy Crest in great pain, about to have a hernia operation and talking to a bariatric surgeon about having surgery to help me with my weight loss. This was like an answer to prayer for me. Imagine meeting a bariatric surgeon late in the night at Sandy Crest after I had been praying and thinking about having this surgery? A total God-incidence! Dr. Griffith told me we could discuss this further after I had the hernia surgery and after I had time to really consider having this surgery done. My husband and I met with Dr. Griffith a few weeks later and he went through thoroughly what options were available for bariatric surgery and what he suggested would be the best option for me.
As much as you could see the passion and desire on this doctor’s face to help someone who was struggling with being overweight, (obese) at no time did I feel I was being forced in to something because of the money it would make. I felt the passion in this doctor’s voice about being able to help someone like me and others who are obese . His concern was for me his obese patient. The best option for me was the Bariatric Sleeve Gastrectomy, which meant that 80 percent of my stomach would be removed and my new stomach would look like the size of a banana. The surgery would be laparoscopic, with a few small incisions in my stomach and recovery would be much quicker than if I had a huge cut. Dr. Griffith told us of his team of staff who I would be meeting with prior to surgery.
The team comprises of the Bariatric Advisor : Nurse Alicia Clarke, a Registered Dietician : Meshell Carrington, a Mental Health Advisor : Gina Griffith, a General Practitioner : Dr. Ingrid Burrowes and then of course Dr. Griffith the surgeon who would be preparing me through the next few months for a total life change on how to go forward after surgery. I left his office feeling confident and excited that finally there seemed to be hope for me to lose weight. I had tried just about everything over the years. Yes sometimes I did lose weight, but I just never seemed to be able to keep it off and would eventually put back on all the weight and more. After meeting with Dr. Griffith, I went home and not only spoke with my husband and children, and my GP, I also took everything to God who is my strength and advisor and who I know carries me through every breath I take.
First Step – Joining the Clinic
I joined the clinic on March 15. I met Alicia Clarke the Bariatric Advisor and she went through all the particulars of joining the clinic -who I would be meeting and how often. Alicia is so encouraging and always ready to listen to what you have to say. She made sure I knew what I was getting myself in for. One thing that sticks out in my mind (even today) what Alicia stressed to me was that surgery is NOT a CURE it is a TOOL and what you do with that tool is how you will get the best results. I have never forgotten that and it is so very true. I met with Alicia once a month. I always felt encouraged and even if I did not lose a lot of weight in the month, I felt cared for and not a disappointment. Alicia encouraged me to walk with a pedometer and try to walk 10000 steps a day. The first week, I met with other members of the team the GP, Dr. Ingrid Burrows, the Dietician, Meshell Carrington, the Mental Health Advisor, Gina Griffith. Dr.Burrowes was thorough in her examination with me, and made sure I was in good health after taking all the various tests and blood work necessary to confirm that.
I met a few more times with Dr. Burrowes before surgery. I met with Meshell once a month and she was always very encouraging. One thing I remember Meshell saying to me was keep your eyes on your goal. My first meeting with Meshell, I thought that goal was just to lose weight. What I soon realized after meeting with her was that the goal I so wanted to keep in mind was just being a more healthy person. Meshell helped me through this every time we met. She taught me and prepared me for life after surgery, when I would only be able to eat small quantities of food at a time. I learnt how to eat sensibly and slowly. I started using a smaller plate for my meals, measuring the amounts of food and writing everything down. This was very difficult at first, but it helped a lot. I met with Gina once a month. I was a little worried about meeting with Gina. I guess in my mind meeting with a mental health advisor was admitting I had something seriously wrong with me. Gina was awesome. It was so easy to talk to her and she just listened. I learnt new things about myself. I learnt that I tended to sabotage myself and I learnt how to deal with the triggers that caused me to seek food. I learnt how to journal and express my feelings instead of grabbing for food. After 3 months with the clinic, everyone was in agreement that I was ready for surgery.
I was scheduled at the hospital for the 11th of July. I met with Dr. Farnum the anesthesiologist, had a few more blood tests was on a liquid diet for 2 weeks and then I was ready for the Big Day.
The Big Day – Surgery
I was the first patient with the clinic to have this surgery in Barbados. My team made me feel very special. The surgery went well. I had Alicia and Sophie taking shifts monitoring me during the night. All went well. Dr. Griffith and Dr. Farnum visited with me that morning and made sure everything was going well. I was scheduled for a swallow test to make sure there was no leaking after surgery. I was very nervous about the swallow test.
Thankfully, Dr.Griffith met me for the test. For the test I had to take a liquid that was very bitter tasting and I had to swallow when told to do so. It was quite a test to go through having just had surgery but it was necessary. It was a comfort knowing Dr. Griffith was there with me. I was able to see my stomach on the screen it really looked like a banana, it was so cute. The swallow test showed there was no leaking of the stomach. I was allowed to have a thimble full of water that I sipped for half an hour. I continued having small cups of water and juice for the rest of the day. I was able to go home the next day. Just before I left the hospital, I met with Meshell and went over my program for the next 2 weeks. Of course it was mainly liquids water, broth and protein powder mixed in to the liquids. I was amazed at how well I felt. I know laparoscopic surgery is supposed to be a much quicker recovery from surgery, but I guess I was not expecting to be up and about so quickly.
Follow up After Surgery
My first check up with Alicia and Dr. Griffith was the following week. Everything was going well. Thanks to all the advice and all that I had been taught by Alicia, Meshell and Gina, I was able to stick to my programme and control my food intake and not overdo even when I was having a bad day. About a month after surgery, my dad had a bad fall and never regained consciousness. He died 4 days after he fell. Even though it was a very difficult time for my mum, brother and our families, with God being my strength and recognizing my triggers where food was concerned, I was able to get through without turning to the fridge, which is what I would have done in the past.
It has now been 7 months (at Feb 2014) since I have had my gastric sleeve surgery. I weighed 267lbs when I joined the clinic. At my heaviest, I weighed 285 lbs. and wore size 4 X large clothes. Today, with the help of my tool (surgery) and my clinic team, I weigh 179 lbs and I am fitting in to medium to large sizes and of course I am so healthy. I have a personal trainer Renee who helps me to tone up and keep fit. I no longer walk 10000 steps a day, I walk and jog for 45 minutes a day, sometimes twice a day along with circuit training which I do with Renee twice a week. I don’t have shortness of breath. I have not had to stop my exercise training because I am out of breath and I have learnt to enjoy the exercise part of my life. I do eat 6 times a day, small quantities, and sensible meals. This past month the weight loss has started to slow down, and because I “work out” I am gaining muscle and loosing inches. I have not put on a pound in the past seven months. Another amazing thing for me is now when I travel in an airplane, I have room in my seat the tray does not rest on my stomach and I can pull the tray closer to me if I want to. Oh yes and I can cross my legs while I am sitting.
I wanted to share my story about my journey and my experience with the Caribbean Weight Loss Clinic and Surgical Solutions. This team of passionate professionals, people who have been given the gift of providing a service to those of us who are obese and have tried everything and have just about given up. This team guides you through the process of changing your lifestyle and exchanging your old lifestyle for a new one. One I have been able to stick with; one where I can eat anything in moderation; one where I am confident that if I needed to call on Alicia, Meshell or Gina, I would be welcomed to come by for a visit. Of course I look different today from 7 months ago and I am getting used to the shocked looks I get from people who finally realize they are looking at me. Even when I go to the clinic and I see the team, I love the look on their faces as I walk in. It is amazing.
You are worth it!
I remember when I was thinking about having the surgery, I was talking to my husband that it would be quite a lot of money to have the surgery and I did not know if it was worth it. My husband looked at me and said YOU are worth it. From God’s mouth to my ears. When I think of all the other ways I have tried to lose weight and failed and think of the cost I would have spent on all those ways it would probably have added up to the same. With this outcome, I can see and so can everyone who sees me a changed me inside and out. I am worth it and so are you out there who has a dream of having the opportunity to live a healthy life. Thank you Dr. Griffith and the entire team. Thank you for your dedication, encouragement, passion in your field to help those who have a disease called obesity and thank you that I was not left on my own after surgery, but you are still there even though you have made sure I am able to stand on my own, by teaching me what I needed to physically and mentally do in order to stand on my own. You gave me the tools and showed me how to use them correctly. It is up to me to decide how I use those tools and what I learnt as I continue my journey and continue to live a healthy life. Sincerely Marie
My Journey After Bariatric Sleeve Surgery Continues
It has now been 5 years since I had the Bariatric Gastric Sleeve surgery, right here in Barbados. (July 11th, 2012). Time has just flown by. I would love to share what I have been up to since I had Surgery. My life changed so much after surgery, not just the way I look, but the way I feel and what I have been able to do after losing my weight. 6 weeks after surgery, I had a lot of help with a personal trainer, who helped me appreciate the importance of exercise along with eating healthy.
The first year after surgery, I lost so much weight it was a transformation I would never have expected. I used to wear size 4 X Large clothes. The following year, I was able to fit in to a large shirt and a medium – large skirt, pants, shorts, depending on fit. That has remained to this day. Along with losing a large amount of weight, I suddenly realized that I could challenge myself more actively.
As I continued with my personal trainer, whom I trained with 3 times a week, she encouraged me to make some goals for myself. So I did. One of my goals was to run a 5K. I had been adding running into my exercise routines, and as time went on, I was able to run a 1K without stopping and it went from there.
In June of 2014, I ran my first fun Run from Chefette, Rockley to Chefette, Fontabelle. It was roughly 6K. I did not run alone, there was huge crowd of people, (I let all the fast, serious runners go before I started my run) and off I went. It took me 55 minutes to complete and I was thrilled. I ran a 5K with other people.
Since then, and including the fun Run, I have competed in 6 5Ks, 4 last year alone improving my time as I went and enjoyed every moment. I’ve completed the ICBL 5K run, the Terry Fox run for cancer Canada and Run Barbados all in 2016
As much as I have enjoyed exercise (which I never imagined I would) I have learned that exercise is not the only thing that keeps me at my new size. It is very important to make sure you eat healthy. I always remember my team nurse Alicia Clarke stressed to me. Bariatric Surgery is NOT a cure, it’s a tool. If you use your tool wisely, you will have great results.
If you don’t, the results will not be what you want it to be, and it can be frustrating. Being human, I have had a few hick ups here and there. Thankfully, I was able to remain focused, remember to use my tool wisely. Knowing that even after 5 years, I could call on my team for help and advice is a comfort and I have kept in touch with Doctor Griffith, Alicia and Meshell.
Thank you, Surgical Solutions, Dr. Griffith, Alicia Clarke, Meshell Carrington. Thanks also to Gina Griffith and Dr. Burrowes. I can’t believe 5 years went by so quickly.
Me as I look now: