“I know now that many of those health issues were exacerbated by my weight,” she admitted. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I knew I needed to lose weight. I began praying about it and researching bariatric surgery in 2008 and, within a year, I had decided to have gastric bypass.”
Michelle said she had been diagnosed as morbidly obese and had many of the co-morbidities that were listed to be a candidate for bariatric surgery, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and sleep apnea.
“I had been on every diet or weight loss program out there,” she recalled. “One evening at dinner, I told John and Matthew that I was going to have the surgery. They didn’t know I had even been thinking about it until that night.”
“My son’s reaction was, ‘No, Mom. You can die from that surgery.’ I told him, ‘I’m dying now.’”
Although her husband was against the surgery, Michelle said he accompanied her to a Meritus Bariatric Support Group informational meeting. After the meeting, he agreed to go with her to consult with a surgeon in May of 2009.
“At that first meeting, we discussed gastric bypass and lap banding as my alternatives,” she said.
“Because of my health issues and my weight, the doctor said gastric bypass was my best option. I began my process that day.”
Michelle said her son still didn’t want her to have the surgery and refused to talk about it with her.
“It took him several months of researching it himself to accept my decision,” she said.
On Oct. 19, 2009, Michelle had gastric bypass.
“That was the beginning of my 218 pound weight loss,” she said, as well as the beginning of a new life.
It wasn’t long before her son began to notice the positive changes — both in weight loss and attitude.
“I watched Mom lose weight and began contemplating the surgery for myself,” Matthew said. “I started my bariatric journey in November of 2010 and had my surgery on Aug. 17, 2011. I’ve been able to come off of all of my medications.”
John soon followed his wife and son and underwent gastric bypass in December of 2011.
“It was not as much about weight loss as it was about getting a handle on all of my health issues,” he said. “I saw that Michelle was off of her diabetes medicine within 30 days of her surgery and many more of her medications were reduced. Due to my inability to lose weight on my own, and at the urging of my primary care physician, I decided I would start the process of bariatric surgery. My insurance required a six-month diet and I felt that I could lose the weight with the help of a dietitian — possibly avoiding the need to even have the surgery. I lost a total of six pounds in those six months.”
Since his surgery, John said he no longer takes diabetic medication or insulin shots and is currently only taking a very low dose of medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux. He’s hoping to be taken off the blood pressure medication in the next few months.
The surgery has changed their lives, Michelle Hoover said, forcing them to eat healthier.
“We have also learned, as a family, to support and encourage one another,” she said. “We have always been close. But this has given us a chance to grow. We also have a desire to spread the word that it’s OK to choose bariatric surgery as your tool to weight loss.”
When she was a size 5x, Michelle Hoover said she was forced to buy clothing from catalogs or over the Internet “because I couldn’t shop in any stores in Hagerstown. I also had not owned a bathing suit or blue jeans for more than 10 years.”
Now, she said, “I have really enjoyed shopping for new clothes because I can shop in a store again. I bought a bathing suit last year and I’m wearing jeans again. What a boost to my self-esteem. I have even had friends tell me they see a difference in my self-confidence and that I seem happier.”