Rachel Jordan is not an interior designer but you’d never know it walking through her house. The decor is a combination of comfortable Americana and precious antiques, mixed with toys, games and the other miscellany that comes with raising two young girls. The walls are covered with family photos and shelves and curio cabinets display neatly arranged heirlooms. It’s a house full of love and tranquility, of memories and joy. It is a place that Rachel, her husband Chris, and the two girls, Caroline 7 and Ariail 11, proudly call home.
But for years the comfort and tranquility of Rachel’s home was in stark contrast with a struggle she was dealing with internally, her weight. Rachel remembers having what she calls a “smokin’ hot body” when she was younger, but after the birth of her two girls and a habit of emotional eating her weight had reached an unsafe level. “With friends and family everything always centered around eating,” says Rachel. “My husband and I had an emotional connection with food, it was our chill time. We didn’t want to eat rotten in front of the kids but in our alone time we would say, ‘Yeah let’s make some nachos, let’s have a big soda’.”
For years Rachel’s weight fluctuated between 120 and 130 pounds but during her first pregnancy she gained 60 pounds, losing a little more than half of that weight in the ensuing year. After her second child was born Rachel weighed 160 pounds and that number steadily grew. “I think it was when I hit the 180 mark that I said ‘to heck with it’ I’m never going to be the weight I was,” says Rachel. “I’ve had two children, I’m putting too many expectations on myself to be that size again, I need to be realistic. I finally got tired of struggling and gave up.” Rachel had found herself in a situation many overweight people struggle with. She had the love and compassion of her friends and family who accepted her “just the was she was”, but she was having a difficult time accepting herself and grappling with disappointment, feelings of failure and low self esteem. She took medication to control her high blood pressure and was prescribed antidepressants. “I felt like if I could have been successful at losing weight and being healthier I wouldn’t have ever been on those medications,” says Rachel. “But every year it seemed like I would gain ten more pounds.”
Rachel was desperate for a change, she tried different diets and even conducted some self imposed “food challenges” but nothing seemed to help. “I just settled in,” she says. “I was wearing lounge clothes all the time. I’d forgotten what it was like to wear something I felt good in. To be able to put on a pair of boots and have my calf actually fit into the boot.” The last straw came during a trip to the lake with friends when Rachel realized she had forgotten her blood pressure medication at home. “My best friend Shannon works at Carolina Surgical Associates,” says Rachel. “And we had to drive 30 minutes into Hartwell, GA to a pharmacy so I could get my medication. We were sitting in the pharmacy parking lot and Shannon said, ‘This is ridiculous, we just lost an hour and half of our day because you had to pick up a pill.’” Shannon pleaded with Rachel to attend one of the free St. Francis Surgical Weight Loss seminars given by Drs. Chaudhari and Anderson of Carolina Surgical Associates. “She said ‘I love you and I don’t want you to gain another pound,’” says Rachel. “I really heard her that day, it hit home. I knew she was right.”
Rachel agreed to attend one of the seminars but it took her eight months to make good on that promise. “That eight months was filled with lots of prayer,” she says. During those eight months Rachel visited the gottolose.org web site and researched surgical weight loss. “For me the biggest fear was that people would say that I cheated in some way,” says Rachel. “That I took the easy way out, that I didn’t work for it.”
Finally, after eight months mixed with research and procrastination Rachel attended one of the free seminars and now describes it as a life changing event. “When you go to the seminar you meet with Dr. Anderson or Dr. Chaudhari and they tell you about the three different types of procedures; the gastric bypass, the lap band and the gastric sleeve, which is the one I chose,” says Rachel. “They figure out which surgery is best for you and tell you how important it is to have a good support team.”
Although Rachel claims not to be nervous before the surgery she admits the two weeks prior to the event were a struggle. That’s when she was forced to give up foods containing sugar, caffeine and carbohydrates in order to put her body into ketosis. “I felt like I had lost my best friend because everything I liked to eat was a carb or had sugar or caffeine,” says Rachel. “But I knew how good the end result would be.”
Rachel weighed 198 at the time of her surgery. She describes her surgery day as “seamless” and the procedure itself “about as invasive as having your gallbladder removed.” “St. Francis made it easy and comfortable,” she says. “Both of my daughters were born at St. Francis and I’ve always had a wonderful experience there. I chose St. Francis because I trust them.” The day after the surgery Rachel was taken for a “swallows test”, a routine post operative procedure to ensure there are no leaks in the stomach. “When I got back from the swallows test there was a little bowl of tomato soup waiting for me,” says Rachel. “And it was the best thing ever! It was so good.”
Now, months after her surgery Rachel weighs 137 and is enjoying new clothes, new energy and a new lease on life. She can spend a full day at the park with her girls and join her husband on hikes to his favorite waterfall in Pickens. “We recently went to Dollywood and that’s a huge park so you’re always walking,” she says. “It was nice to hang in there and not my hear my girls say ‘oh, mommy’s tired, we need to let mommy rest.’” And recently, Rachel has discovered something about herself she never thought possible. “I can run!”, she says. “I enjoy putting my headphones on and going for a run and not having shin splints so bad that I can barely make it to the corner.”
Today Rachel looks good, feels good and is forever grateful to her friend Shannon for suggesting she attend one of the Surgical Weight Loss seminars. “My advice to someone who is struggling with their weight and is discouraged is to just get to a seminar,” says Rachel. “Getting the courage to go was the hardest part for me but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. If you’ve ever felt like I’ve felt or been in that place where I’ve been just get to a seminar. Get your support team in place, they’ll be excited for you knowing you’re going to feel better and live longer. It can change your life, it certainly changed mine.”
Ready to learn more about the Surgical Weight Loss Program at St. Francis? Attend a free seminar in Greenville.
Laura remembers getting a big wakeup call when she turned 30 years old. As a young woman and mom, she had been through the whole routine of diet after diet. In college she was able to lose over 100 pounds, but over the years that weight, plus more, crept back on. “I knew I could diet, but I was tired of the weight regain,” she says. Laura finally realized that she was ready to win the battle over her weight once and for all.
As she was researching options for weight loss surgery, one of the biggest questions became finance. Her insurance didn’t cover the surgery, forcing the finances to be a larger factor. “I chose to self-pay for the surgery. You’d buy a new car if you needed one and this situation was no different. I was investing that money in me,” she says. Her choice of St. Francis came easier. “I liked that the program was structured, well put-together, and organized,” she says. “When I made the decision to [pursue surgery] and start my new life, I wanted to do it as soon as possible. St. Francis made the process straightforward.”
Since her sleeve surgery, Laura calls this journey “exhilarating”. She enjoys her increased energy and the ability to play with her kids. Even the little things have made a huge impact in Laura’s life. She remembers sending a picture to her husband of herself sitting cross-legged in a chair; something she hadn’t been able to do for years. “This has been one of the hardest, but most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I now have control over food instead of food controlling me. Attend a free seminar in Greenville.
Ron was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. The diagnosis didn’t come as a big surprise. Goodwin’s family had been affected by diabetes for years. For Ron to be diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 35 seemed par for the course.
At the time of Ron’s diagnosis, he weighed a whopping 427 pounds and went by the name “Big City.” Ron figured diabetes was his fate, his destiny, and he didn’t put much effort into changing his lifestyle to battle the disease. But by 2008 he started to feel some of the effects of the disease. His vision became blurry and his hands and feet were often numb. His issues continued to get worse, and in that same year, it was necessary to amputate one of his toes, and in 2009 another toe, and another toe in 2012. By 2012, ulcers were consuming Ron’s feet and the consensus was that at some point both of his legs would need to be amputated just below the knee.
Finally, Ron decided to make some changes. He began a series of hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments that spanned over the course of two years, 60 treatments. He then decided to pursue surgical weight loss because he was determined to live.
Ron claims that surgical weight loss has changed his life. It has helped to remove the diseases and allow him to live a happier and fulfilling life. Choosing St. Francis Surgical Weight Loss was an easy decision for him. “God is in this place,” he says.
And being healthy has opened the doors for Ron. His life has now given way to entrepreneurship and giving back to the community. Attend a free seminar in Greenville.
Helene felt as though her life was slipping away. Not only was she unhappy with how she looked and felt, she could no longer garden, which she loved, or do any other activities that she enjoyed.
Helene’s declining health, along with various medical conditions such as sleep apnea, trouble breathing and worsening back pain, led to a serious conversation with her primary care physician. She took the advice of her physician and attended one of the free St. Francis Surgical Weight loss seminars. After the seminar, Helene realized that she would need to change her whole way of thinking to be successful with this surgical tool. Helene was ready to improve her quality of life.
In order to achieve success with the surgery, Helene worked hard by changing her diet and exercise routines. Since her surgery, Helene has seen a resolution in her sleep apnea, an improvement in her breathing and a huge decrease in back pain. She enjoys exercising on a daily basis and getting back to activities that she hasn’t been able to do in years. “[This surgery] truly gave me my life back.”
“The St. Francis Surgical Weight Loss Team is the heartbeat of the program,” says Helene. “The team is always only one call away. You don’t have to go through this process alone; you have a whole community behind you at Bon Secours St. Francis.” Helene says she would recommend this surgery to anyone trying to improve their life and well-being. “This has been the most emotional and physical challenge of my life, while also being the biggest blessing. I would do it all again!” Attend a free seminar in Greenville.
When Lancy was in elementary school, she was diagnosed with dysmetabolic syndrome which threw her into the pattern of constant dieting at a young age. “This form of diabetes causes my body to produce too much insulin and it does not use it,” says Lancy. She recalls numerous conversations with her parents, along with lots of money spent, in an effort to lose weight against a condition that made weight loss and maintenance nearly impossible.
Lancy felt as though she had exhausted all of her weight loss options. Surgical weight loss had crossed her mind in the past, but as she was about to turn 21, she decided it was time to get more serious. “I did my research before choosing to pursue surgical weight loss and I knew that if I wanted to be healthy for the rest of my life, this was the right choice,” says Lancy.
Finally, Lancy attended one of the free seminars offered by St. Francis Surgical Weigh Loss. She began to feel excited about her new journey after meeting with Dr. Anderson. She also had the support of her parents, boyfriend and the surgical weight loss program to help her reach her goals of a healthier future. “I loved that the St. Francis Surgical Weight Loss program made me comfortable during the surgical weight loss process. I knew I had a team of people cheering me on at all times and helping me become the best version of me. You are not just another patient with this team. You can go to them for life.”
Post-surgery, Lancy says that her life has changed in the best ways possible. “Besides an increase in confidence, my health is 100 times better.” She feels better about herself and says the smaller clothes are just a nice benefit of the whole process. “My main goal with this surgery is to be healthy for the rest of my life and now I know I will be.” Attend a free seminar in Greenville.