Starting My Life Over Again...

Starting My Life Over Again...

Bariatric Support Group Article_header

Bill, Brian, Carl, Randolph, Charlie and Jami get together one Wednesday each month. Sitting in a circle, they adjust their baseball caps, stretch and lean back, laughing after a long day or lean over the table to rest on their elbows – completely at ease. They talk about everything. They talk about life, the game that was on last week, their kids, their jobs and how they’re doing. Sounds like your typical BBQ or poker night, right? But it isn’t. It’s the tight-knit family that formed at Sky Ridge’s bariatric support group.

Bill, Brian, Carl, Randolph, Charlie and Jami have all had gastric sleeve or gastric plication surgery with Medical Director Dr. Frank Chae at Sky Ridge’s Bariatric Surgery Center. While Dr. Chae and his Registered Dietician Kelly Elliott develop personalized treatment plans for each of their patients, they know that surgery isn’t enough. You need guidance, support and encouragement. So they started a free bariatric support group that meets on the third Wednesday of every month in Sky Ridge’s Auditorium.

While this group of six may disagree on their favorite football teams, they do agree on what makes the bariatric support group outstanding…Dr. Chae and Kelly Elliott. Bill said, “They are the finest team I’ve ever encountered and that includes my experiences with the Mayo Clinic.”

From repeated orthopedic injuries and genetics to working too much or being told to bulk up for sports, all six had individual journeys that led them to Dr. Chae and Kelly. Not only were their paths different, but so are they.  From a police officer and an investment representative to another working at a horse ranch, they each have their stories.  

However, what united them and helped build such a remarkable camaraderie is the perseverance and determination that they share. When asked “why did you choose weight loss surgery?” They all mentioned their families and their quality of life. Brian said, “I want to start my life over again.”  Carl said, “I don’t want to take an early exit. I just can’t do that to my kids.”

Dr. Chae provided this group of six with a free consultation – as he does for every patient -- to walk them through their options.  Then he and his team helped them navigate the sometimes complex insurance issues before scheduling surgery at a center that has some of the nation’s best weight loss results.

When Sky Ridge and Dr. Chae tout a comprehensive team of caring specialists that can provide you with care before, during and after your weight-loss journey, they mean it. This group of six will tell you, you’re not done after surgery, but that you don’t have to worry because Kelly is there to help you with a structured plan for diet, exercise and sound advice during the support group. Charlie said, “It’s so easy to slip back, but we have a bond” to keep each other on track.  During the support group, patients discuss their best recipes, how small a ½ a cup of food originally seemed and the best ways to drink enough water, to name a few.

They all emphasized that things sometimes fall apart, and it’s ok.  Just remember:

  1. This surgery is a tool, not a solution.
  2. This is not a physical game, it’s a mental game.
  3. When you ask yourself, “Am I going to have to eat like this the rest of my life?” The answer is yes.

And if you ever need a little extra help, Dr. Chae, Kelly and Sky Ridge are here for you…Brian walked out the door that evening with a smile and a quiet acclamation, “I have my family at home and my family here.”