Many people who live with a chronic illness feel encumbered by it. Their whole lives revolve around managing the illness: Where will I go? What will I wear? How will I transport myself, my medications, my assistive devices? What will I eat? When will I eat? What will I do if something goes wrong?
Such was the case for Mattie Ann Burnsed, a Lakeland, Georgia, native who was struggling to live with diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that hinders the body’s ability to process and use glucose, an important source of fuel for the brain and the cells that make up muscles. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease; nerve, kidney, or eye damage; and hearing impairment.
“I thought I was eating healthy being a diabetic, but I was missing the mark so, so badly,” Burnsed, 69, said.
She felt she couldn’t enjoy her life in the ways she wanted to. Among the difficulties she listed were cumbersome insulin bags, taking insulin multiple times a day, and making sure she had enough insulin before leaving the house.
“I have had health issues for a long time, and I was tired of having to take insulin, so much of it daily,” Burnsed said. “My whole life was just focused around the insulin and shots and my hip, so I wanted to break those bonds and be more productive in my life.”
Burnsed decided weight loss would be the first step for her to take control of her health and her life. She met with Dr. Howard L. Melton at Sterling Center Bariatrics, and they decided a gastric sleeve was the best option for her treatment. Burnsed said that Melton and the Sterling Center were valuable resources that could help anyone on their own weight loss journey.
“He (Melton) has a fantastic team, and everyone was just above and beyond all of my expectations,” Burnsed said.
Before she could undergo surgery, however, Burnsed had to make some immediate changes to her diet to assist in her weight loss.
“I had to either stop carbs or go on a reduced-carb diet,” Burnsed said. “It was difficult in the beginning; the first month was very hard. I had a drive that I wanted to achieve this process and make my life and my family’s life so much better.”
Looking back on the operation, Burnsed believes that the results of her efforts were well earned. She said she saw results post-op almost immediately.
“With the diet that you’re on before the surgery, you automatically start dropping pounds quickly,” Burnsed said. “After surgery you are on a strict regimen of liquid diets, protein, vitamins, and exercise routines. The entire experience from beginning to where I am presently – it was a challenge, yes – but I made up my mind, and I was committed to make my life better. I just had the mindset. It was a hard process, but I was determined to improve my life.”
As more people learn to live with diabetes and other illnesses that adversely affect their weight, they can look to places like the Sterling Center to assist them in making choices that can lead to a healthier life.
For those experiencing similar circumstances or simply struggling with their weight loss plans, Burnsed said, “Go straight to the Sterling Center, meet Dr. Melton and his team, be honest with them and your expectations, and they will help you change your life.”
Written by: Diamante Hewitt and Anna Limoges