“You can stop losing weight.” Those were the words 35-year-old Ashlyn Delson of Perkasie heard from Grand View Health bariatric surgeon Michael Fishman, MD, one year after bariatric surgery. “It was the first time in my life that I ever heard those words,” Delson said.
From age 16 on, Delson was trapped in a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. “I’d diet, lose a massive amount of weight, and then gain it right back,” she said. “Eating was very emotional. When I was happy, I’d celebrate with food. When I was angry, I’d eat.” That cycle left her with several health conditions, including high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.
Then came New Year’s Day 2017. Delson woke up, stood on the scale and couldn’t believe her eyes. “I was over 250 pounds,” she says. “I was sitting in my bathroom crying.”
The next day, she made an appointment with Dr. Fishman to discuss bariatric surgery. “You can always tell whether a patient will do well with bariatric surgery based on why they want it,” said Fishman, who has been performing bariatric procedures at Grand View for four years. “Ashlyn was very worried about her pre-diabetes and had an extensive family history of diabetes. I could tell she would succeed.”
After her initial appointment, Delson went on a 1200-calorie-per-day diet supervised by registered dietitian Jenny Koscho with the Grand View bariatric surgery program. She lost 40 pounds prior to surgery. On June 21, 2017, Delson underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Dr. Fishman removed a portion of her stomach and created a small, banana-sized pouch in its place.
Today, Delson is 100 pounds lighter. Her body mass index (BMI) is 23.4 (it was over 40 pre-surgery). Her pre-diabetes and hypertension are gone. And she’s enjoying time with her husband, Neil, and 7-year-old son Max.
“Your life changes so much when you’re this happy with yourself,” Delson said. “It’s not about how I look, but how I feel. I was sad and miserable, and Dr. Fishman gave me a new life.”
That motivated Amanda to attend her first free Grand View Health bariatric surgery information session. Her husband, Benton, joined her. They not only chose to have bariatric surgery, but eventually did so on the same day – April 19, 2017.
A love of food – and for each other – defined Amanda and Benton’s life. So too did weight issues. They both had tried Weight Watchers and other programs and had successfully lost weight, only to gain it back.
By the time they began Grand View Health’s bariatric surgery program, Amanda weighed 287 pounds, and Benton weighed 380. Benton also developed sleep apnea and new onset type 2 diabetes that required insulin. “I was too young for this,” says Benton, now 32.
When they attended the information session, “We were crazy inspired,” says Amanda, also 32. “It wasn’t a sales pitch. (Bariatric surgeon) Dr. Fishman gave us the info, and we figured it out.”
Grand View offers a comprehensive program. “Our patients meet with dietitians four-to-six months prior to surgery so they learn what it takes to be successful,” says bariatric surgeon Michael Fishman, MD, an area native who has been performing bariatric procedures at Grand View since 2015. The program also includes a behavioral health evaluation to prepare patients for the emotional challenges of bariatric surgery.
“Jenny (Koscho), the dietitian, put us on a plan that guaranteed we’d lose weight,” Benton says. “We went on high-protein diets, learned about proper portion sizes, and about what foods we could eat afterward.”
In April, both Amanda and Benton underwent vertical sleeve gastrectomy, during which Dr. Fishman removed a portion of their stomachs and used a stapling device to create a “sleeve” about the size of a banana. “It’s become the most popular bariatric surgery option in the U.S.,” Dr. Fishman says.
One year out from surgery, Amanda and Benton have lost a combined 306 pounds. Benton no longer needs insulin to control his diabetes (his hemoglobin A1c level is now normal). And long gone are the days when they couldn’t walk a mile. They’ve run seven races since surgery, and last May, Benton completed the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia.
“For us, success after surgery is more than the number on the scale,” says Amanda, who also picked up a second job at the Upper Bucks YMCA in Quakertown to stay fit. “It’s about doing better and feeling healthier.”
Sign up for a free bariatric surgery info session.
Enough was enough for Janessa McCracken. The 35-year-old insurance agent weighed 300 pounds and had tried everything to lose weight on her own through diet and exercise. Nothing worked. Her motivation dwindled with each passing day. Yet she longed to have a more active lifestyle and the chance to have a baby with her husband, Jim, with whom she has three stepsons.
Janessa’s primary care physician suggested bariatric surgery as a way to lose excess weight and improve her overall health. From the moment she met Grand View Health Bariatric Surgeon, Michael K. Fishman, MD, at the hospital’s free informational seminar, Janessa knew he was going to change her life.
She qualified for surgery and underwent a sleeve gastrectomy on Nov. 18, 2015. Eight months after her procedure, Janessa was exercising regularly, adjusting her diet, and enjoying a new outlook on life, all while losing 120 pounds. She decided to pay it forward by helping others who struggle with obesity-related issues by writing a blog chronicling her personal journey.
“People come into your life for a reason,” Janessa said. “Because of Dr. Fishman and the bariatric team, I have new confidence, more energy and endless possibilities. They helped me press the restart button. I feel this need to help others do the same.”