“Getting the courage to go was the hardest part for me, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
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.”
Learn more about the bariatrics services and weight loss solutions we offer at Bon Secours.