Weight loss journeys are as varied as the people who embark on them. In fact, one person can go on several weight loss journeys, each of which is different from the last. Some people don’t need to exercise and only change the way they eat. Others are the exact opposite, eating whatever they want as long as they hit the gym every day. Some people swear by weight loss programs like Weight Watchers. Others merely eat more veggies and cut back on sodas.
Amanda Higginbothem, 37, of Leesburg, Georgia, has been on many weight loss journeys herself. She is no stranger to “yo-yo dieting” – the cycle of losing weight, not maintaining the weight loss, gaining back some or all of the lost weight, and then starting over again.
“I had lost weight before with other ways like Weight Watchers, and I had done some Beach Body stuff, 21-Day Fix,” she said. “I knew I could lose the weight. I had lost up to 50 pounds before, and then a holiday comes, or you fall off the wagon, and you gain all the weight back, then you start over again. I was just tired of starting over.”
Higginbothem needed a more permanent reminder to stay on the wagon, so she decided to undergo a bariatric procedure called the gastric sleeve, which removes part of the stomach to create a new, smaller tube-shaped stomach.
Higginbothem had her surgery performed at Colquitt Regional Medical Center by Dr. Amber J. Holt on July 12, 2017. Higginbothem met Holt during a friend’s appointment with Holt and began asking questions.
“I had already spoken to some other surgeons locally in Albany, and they were telling me I was going to have to jump through several hoops Higginbothem said. “So, I called one day and spoke to Karole Brown (at Sterling Center Bariatrics), and I wasn’t a patient there, but she asked me several questions and tried to find out what I wanted to have done and what I was looking to achieve. She checked my insurance and let me know right off the rip what she could do for me and what it would cost me and where I would be as far as how much weight I could expect to lose and that sort of thing. It was going to happen a lot sooner than what the other doctors here (in Albany) were telling me what it was going to be.”
Higginbothem said the staff at Colquitt Regional Medical Center made her experience before, during, and after surgery the best it could have been.
“I stayed overnight, and they were very good to me,” she said. “I have never been in a hospital that was as nice and well maintained as Colquitt. They encouraged me to do liquids; they gave me the breathing machine to help move the gas that you acquire after surgery, they checked on me on a very regular basis. It was just a wonderful experience, the hospital, in every aspect from talking to Karole originally in insurance and billing, the surgeons, right down to the hospital and even the cleaning staff. When they came in to change our garbage cans, they asked how we were. I mean, just the facility itself is phenomenal. I just really enjoyed my experience, and I would recommend it to anybody who was in a situation where they needed something like that.”
As for the results of her surgery, Higginbothem saw results almost immediately.
“It was like several pounds a week in the beginning,” she said. “For the first 20-25 pounds, it was several pounds a week as I got going, and then it was still a pound a week through Thanksgiving at least. Now I’ve had to pay more attention to what I’m taking in and how I’m working out and that sort of thing, making sure that I don’t do a whole lot of cheating or overeating. It was something I’d do over and over and over again.”
Higginbothem had a bit of advice for anyone else considering undergoing a bariatric procedure and found the surgery life-changing for her.
“Research; it’s not for everybody, I’m sure,” she said. “It’s just a tool. It doesn’t fix you. You still have a ‘fat’ brain. You have to get your mind right. I often say to my husband and family that’s my fat brain talking or my fat brain wanting whatever. It was well worth it for me, I mean, life-saving, life-changing. I have three kids, and I want to be around for them. I feel like this made a difference. The very last day that I took blood pressure medicine was the day that I had my surgery. My blood pressure was low after surgery, and I’ve never taken another blood pressure pill.”
Gastric Sleeve Surgery
The gastric sleeve is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the stomach. It is non-reversible but highly effective for those with a BMI over 40.
Written by: Anna Limoges