Bridget K. O’Brien and her friend, Carrie, had tried “everything” to lose weight. Or thought they had.
“We were on a spa weekend in Wisconsin for my birthday in early 2020, with the picnic laid out before us – wine, cheese, the works,” said O’Brien, a Cook County State’s Attorney, and a former college athlete whose weight had grown to 310 pounds on her 5-foot, 10-inch frame.
“As I reached for a piece of cheese, I said ‘maybe we’ll find that magic pill someday.’ Our friend, a nurse anesthetist at Silver Cross Hospital, asked if we had ever considered a gastric sleeve. She said she had assisted with many of those procedures, and they work.”
O’Brien, 43, and her friend can testify to that. Since early 2020, each has lost more than 100 pounds. O’Brien is down to 178 pounds and has dropped from a Size 22 to a Size 10.
“My back doesn’t hurt anymore; my knee doesn’t hurt anymore, and I’m not tired all the time,” she said.
BMI Surgery Program at Silver Cross
O’Brien and her friend attended a program presented by Dr. Brian Lahmann of BMI Surgery. BMI surgeons have performed over 10,000 weight loss surgeries at Silver Cross Hospital, which has the only program in Will County that has been named a MBSAQIP accredited center – Comprehensive and Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery.
During the program, they heard about the options, including gastric sleeve surgery – which changes the shape and size of your stomach, reducing the amount of food you eat at one-time.
O’Brien said she appreciated Dr. Lahmann’s no-nonsense approach.
“He told us, ‘You don’t see many people in their 90s who are overweight. Your weight is killing you,’” she said. “It’s hurting your bones; you may have diabetes.”
“I realized weight loss was to keep me alive and to be a good example to my 13-year-old son, who also is somewhat overweight.”
O’Brien and Carrie began the process as prospective gastric sleeve patients, which included pulmonary, cardiac and psychological testing.
Bariatric surgical patients must do this before being considered for surgery, Dr. Lahmann said, “to make sure their bodies can handle the procedure and to determine if there are any underlying causes that could undermine the surgery.”
A Multi-disciplinary Approach
Dr. Lahmann said surgery alone leads to patients gaining the weight back. Silver Cross offers a broad range of bariatric surgery care services, including inpatient, post-operative, outpatient follow-up care and patient education.
“The surgery is just one facet of a multi-disciplinary approach to changing their lifestyle,” Dr. Lahmann said.
Commitment to a major lifestyle change is key, and O’Brien said she went all-in from the beginning. That included starting her low-calorie, no-carb, high-protein diet when her friend did, even though it was two weeks longer than she needed to.
The diet included two high-protein shakes a day, and a dinner with no more than four ounces of meat, a half cup of vegetables and a sugar-free Gatorade.
By the day of her surgery, O’Brien had lost 17 pounds. Following the surgery, she said you already don’t feel like eating much; even the supplied vitamins are a little hard to swallow.
But slowly, under Dr. Lahmann’s guidance, O’Brien – and her family – began normalizing the high-protein, no-carb diet.
“My husband, Shane, was pretty scared about the surgery,” she said. “But afterward, he said how proud he was of how courageous I had been.”
Her son, also following the keto diet, has lost 17 pounds. “Diet Buddy” Carrie, “Looks amazing.
“But it’s not about looks. It’s about my overall health. And I am so thrilled. Carrie and I spent years looking for a magic cure for weight loss. This surgery is not magic. It’s a tool, and it requires commitment and work. But the results sure do feel magical!”
For more information on weight loss surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, visit www.silvercross.org.
Silver Cross Hospital
1900 Silver Cross Blvd
New Lenox, IL 60451