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The Transformation of a Lifetime

Local patient loses nearly 200 pounds after weight-loss surgery

Julie before surgery

At age 40, Julie Hughes, a paramedic from Russell Springs, Kentucky, weighed 400 pounds. Overweight most of her life, Julie had tried dieting on her own and though she was able to lose close to 100 pounds, she ended up gaining nearly 50 back and was faced with starting her weight loss journey all over again.

“After years of trying to lose weight on my own, I finally accepted that I needed help,” stated Julie. “I knew that I could not get to where I wanted to be physically and mentally on my own. After a lot of prayer and research, I knew this was the right journey for me.”

Julie began researching local weight loss options and after seeking guidance from her family physician, it was decided that weight loss surgery was the answer she had been searching for. Julie was referred to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital’s bariatrics program at the Cumberland Bariatric Institute where Dr. Joseph Eid, general and bariatric surgeon would be providing her care.

“I did a lot of research and knew that I wanted to come see Dr. Eid,” stated Julie. “His background was very impressive, and it was nice that he was local.”

In May 2021, Julie had her initial appointment at the Cumberland Bariatric Institute where she was introduced to Dr. Eid; Myra Frye, the Weight Loss Navigator; and other team members that would be overseeing and supporting her journey.

“Julie came to us seeking help with her weight, informing us that it was hindering her quality of life and posing challenges with her job as a paramedic,” said Dr. Eid.

“After my first visit at the Cumberland Bariatric Institute, I was completely sold,” said Julie. “They treated me like family and not only was this journey personal for me, but it was personal for them. They understood what I was going through being morbidly obese and accepted me right where I was in my journey and started to fight for me.”

During this first appointment, all the steps of the weight loss surgery process were discussed in detail, including medical weight management, available procedures, and long-term follow-up care. Due to insurance requirements, Julie met with her family physician monthly for weigh-ins as part of her six-month pre-requisite dieting protocol. She also had appointments with Dr. Eid to work through other medical screenings such as an upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) and endoscopic procedure known as EGD, to ensure she was the right candidate for a procedure. After the six months on this preoperative journey, Julie was able to follow-up with Dr. Eid to discuss her surgery, schedule the procedure and plan her follow-up care.

“The staff was always kind and courteous and if at any time I had any questions or concerns throughout the process, Myra was just a phone call away,” said Julie.

“Over the course of 6 months, Julie completed her preoperative bariatric pathway and was deemed an excellent candidate for surgery,” stated Dr. Eid. “We discussed the benefits of either a sleeve gastrectomy versus gastric bypass and Julie elected to proceed with the gastrectomy.”

Julie’s vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) was completed on December 29, 2021. A VSG is a minimally invasive procedure in which the size of the stomach is reduced by 80-85% to approximately two to three ounces. The decrease in size limits the amount of food a patient can eat and allows levels of ghrelin – a hunger hormone – to drop so the appetite is reduced and weight loss is achieved. This type of minimally invasive surgery is associated with minimal post-operative pain and shorter recovery times.

“I had never had any kind of major surgery before, so I was scared to death,” explained Julie. “However, the staff at Lake Cumberland made me feel at ease and I knew they would take great care of me. Being involved in EMS, I see how they treat their patients, and it is always impressive. They are always kind and caring and any nurse or doctor I have come into contact with there is very knowledgeable. I knew those were the kind of people I wanted taking care of me.”

Following the procedure, patients are required to schedule follow-up appointments at two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, and then annually. These post-op appointments are meant to help guide the patient through lifestyle and dietary changes that are needed to see the most success.

“Since her surgery, Julie has kept in close follow up care with us at the Cumberland Bariatric Institute and has exceeded all of our expectations,” said Dr. Eid. We are very proud of her efforts to lead a healthier lifestyle.”

Julie after surgery

“This surgery gave me my life back. Since my procedure, I have lost nearly 200 pounds and it has opened doors for me that I never thought possible,” said Julie. “I can play with my kids now. I go hiking and I am just able to enjoy life without being exhausted or in constant pain. I can actually fit in normal seating at events and restaurants and can shop in a regular store for clothes.”

“Julie had a goal in mind, and nothing was going to get in her way,” said Myra Frye. “I loved her motivation and commitment to this journey. She was very determined, always eager to learn, and didn’t shy away from the challenge. I was glad to help provide support, education, and encouragement to her along the way. It’s amazing to see how far she’s come.”

Julie encourages others who may be struggling with obesity, their overall health, and weight-loss to do their research and learn about ways that weight-loss surgery or other weight-loss support may help their specific situation. She knows that it is hard to live a life morbidly obese, where you worry about judgement and little things such as where you can sit down comfortably. She highly recommends seeking care from Lake Cumberland.

“Dr. Eid, Myra, and bariatric surgery saved my life,” says Julie. “Morbid obesity is killing people every single day. Dr. Eid and Myra are in your corner to help you fight it. They accept you where you are and will help you in any way you allow them to, but you have to take that first step and though it may be scary, I can tell you with full confidence that it is worth it!”

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