Patient Stories

Patient Stories


“The turning point that made me want to do the surgery was my declining health. I had high blood pressure, acid reflux and knee pain. The day of my surgery, Dr. Abkin and Dr. Jawed came to see me before I went into surgery and it was a great reassurance. Since the surgery, I have lost 70 pounds, I enjoy going to the gym and walking my dogs, and I enjoy living life! I have been able to cut back on my high blood pressure medication, go off my acid reflux medication, and I no longer have the knee pain I had before surgery. The only regret I have is not doing the surgery sooner. “

Ask Tammy - Tammy’s Surgical Weight Loss Journey

Tammy Orr is a patient that chose to have weight loss, or bariatric, surgery. From a patient’s perspective, Tammy answers questions to help others better understand the process, the surgery, the recovery, the lifestyle changes, and to basically tell her story to help others in their decision making process and on their journey.

  • Why did you decide to have weight loss, or bariatric, surgery?
    • I had been on so many different diets since I was young. I would start to have success and then ultimately fail. I was having health related issues due to my weight. I felt that this step would be the tool that I needed to live a long and healthy life.
  • How did you feel about the surgery prior to going through the process and the surgery?
    • I was definitely nervous prior to meeting with the physicians. I had heard all the horror stories of regain, stomach stretching, and dumping syndrome.
  • Did you have preconceived notions about weight loss surgery?
    • Absolutely - I really believed it was only for those over 500 pounds. In the media you only see those with severe morbid obesity being highlighted. Also, that surgery was the “easy way out”. It is in no way easy! You have to work for it and it is a new way of life.
  • What was most important to you when going through the process for weight loss surgery? What was the most concerning or frightening aspects?
    • The most important thing to me going through the process was the constant reassurance from the physicians. Their support really anchored my decision to have the surgery. The most frightening for me was that I would never be able to enjoy food again. I felt like eating would be mechanical and that I wouldn’t enjoy food. This simply wasn’t true! I do enjoy food now, on a much smaller scale but I get just as much pleasure eating the foods I love today as I did prior to surgery.
  • How long did it take to make the decision to have weight loss surgery?
    • I made the decision to go ahead after my first visit with Dr. Jawed. I knew that this was the right path for me.
  • Did you receive nutritional counseling prior to and after weight loss surgery?
    • Yes, I received nutritional counseling. It was extremely helpful. The meal plan is given to you in a packet and then you spend an hour going over each step until you are back to eating a regular diet. Having a face to face discussion is so valuable. Also knowing that help is a phone call away continued to reassure me that I could do it!
  • Did you receive a behavioral health screen prior to weight loss surgery? What was that like?
    • Yes, I received a behavioral health screen. During the behavioral health screen you discuss your feelings and anxiety prior to surgery and also important information regarding how your lifestyle will be changing over the next year. It is so important to have a support system in place prior to surgery. The screener gives you tips about buying clothes, handling questions from people, and emotional support as you go through the process.
  • Did you attend a seminar or support groups for weight loss surgery and if yes, how did that help?
    • I did not attend a seminar but have been regularly attending support groups. I can’t stress enough how important this part of the process is. Talking with people that have been through the surgery already is instrumental. Their advice has helped me tremendously. I have received samples of shakes, different recipes, strategies for getting over plateaus, exercise help, and lectures on head hunger vs. real hunger, etc. I can’t say enough good things about going to the support group and would encourage people considering the surgery to attend a seminar.
  • Did you have diabetes, high blood pressure or joint pain before weight loss surgery?
    • I had high blood pressure and joint pain with damage from my weight to my knee. My knee has been so much better post-surgery. I still take medicine for high blood pressure but it has been reduced.
  • Who and/or what was the most encouraging, comforting and supporting as you went through the weight loss surgery process, and ultimately affected your decision to move forward with the surgery?
    • My family and friends have been awesome throughout my surgery and recovery. Dr. Jawed and his staff walked me through every step of the way and never tired of my endless questions! I’m so thankful for all the support that I have received. I was continually encouraged by the people I met in support groups and being able to see their progress and hear about their experiences.
  • How supportive were your friends and family about your decision to have weight loss surgery?
    • I was so lucky to have friends and family that were extremely supportive from the beginning. They stood behind me and encouraged me throughout my six months of visits prior to surgery, and after the surgery was complete. Sometimes I couldn’t see the changes in the mirror but hearing from others that they were seeing my progress encouraged me to keep going and keep my eye on my target.
  • What was it like for you the day of surgery? What emotions were you experiencing?
    • I was both scared and excited the day of my surgery. It was so reassuring to see both Drs. Jawed and Abkin smiling at me the day of my surgery. The staff at Saint Clare’s was so great and comforting. Even though I was nervous, everyone was so great at reassuring me that they had the best care set up for me that I could possibly receive. Anesthesia came in and reassured me they would do everything they could to keep me comfortable with as little nausea as possible. The surgery was over so quick!
  • What were your first thoughts after surgery?
    • How many pounds have I lost? Only kidding. . . I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t in more pain than I was.
  • How did you feel, physically, after surgery?
    • I was so lucky to have very little nausea post-surgery. Pain was easily controlled with medicine. Walking was helping moving the gas out and making me feel not so bloated. The heating pad was my best friend! I couldn’t believe that I had no appetite!
  • What was the recovery like the first few days after surgery? Was there a process involved in the recovery? How long before you felt totally like a new you?
    • The first couple days is kind of like a blur as you come out of anesthesia and stay on clear liquids. The pain was manageable with just basic Tylenol. When you move to eating puree such as creamed based soups it becomes very boring and you are on this type of diet for a couple of weeks. For me, I felt like I was going through a food funeral. I felt so mixed up that my head was telling me that at 8am, 12noon and 6pm I needed to eat a meal, but my stomach was saying no way! I had to keep reminding myself that my stomach needed time to heal and that soon I would have other options of food to try with some texture and more flavor. Taking walks helped, as well as trying to keep as busy as I could to keep my head from thinking about food too much!
  • How did you feel, mentally, after surgery?
    • I was relieved the surgery was over and so ready to get on to this new chapter in my life.
  • What was your experience like at Saint Clare’s Dover Hospital?
    • I really loved the private rooms in Dover - it’s like a five star hotel! The nurses and the aides were so nice and quick to answer my call bells. The liquid diet options with broth, tea and water were perfect for the first day. The anesthesiologist stops by to check to see if you have had any issues or questions. The dietician comes by on the day of discharge to make sure that you understand the diet and answers any questions that you may have. The discharge nurse reviews your medications and goes over any restrictions that you may have over the next few days. It is truly a complete center to start your healing and they cover everything before you get discharged.
  • Tell us about your physicians and your experience with the physicians?
    • I mostly saw Dr. Jawed but I did have one visit with Carmen the APN and Dr. Abkin prior to surgery. The physicians are encouraging and never rush you through an office visit. I felt completely cared for. The office handles your insurance needs and will reach out to you throughout the process to make sure everything is on track. Making appointments was easy and the office staff are very friendly and helpful.
  • What is the post-surgery nutrition plan like compared to the pre-surgery nutrition plan? What are the key elements when choosing food now?
    • Your new nutritional plan really focuses on protein and water first. It is really important that you focus on getting at least 64 ounces of water and 64 grams of protein each day. I find that I am really not hungry after getting in my protein and water. My portion size has completely changed to being smaller and I get full very easily. You must be cognizant of how many times you chew your food before you swallow. Chewing your food 30 times before you swallow will really allow it to be broken into smaller pieces and it will digest easier. Because you want to have enough room in your pouch for protein, you do not drink while eating. You want to separate food and fluids by 30 minutes. I have tried many different types of protein shakes. I found that I eventually get bored with them. Later on you can add things to the shakes like peanut butter powder to give it a different flavor.
  • What is your average rate of weight loss since the surgery?
    • In the beginning I would lose between 2-5 pounds a week when it was coming off quickly. Then I would hit a plateau and not lose at all for a week. I found those plateaus frustrating! I believe it is just your body readjusting itself and I had to learn to be patient with myself. When I got cleared to exercise I found myself burning more calories than I was taking in and had to readjust so that didn’t happen. My body really thought I was starving it so I had to be careful how many calories I was taking in vs. putting out. Sometimes I noticed that the scale wouldn’t move but my clothes were getting bigger.
  • How much weight did you lose initially with surgery? How much have you lost since surgery?
    • In the first couple of weeks I lost 11 pounds. I have lost 70 pounds total since my surgery.
  • Is the weight loss self-monitored and monitored by your physician?
    • It is definitely monitored by your physician and I would weigh myself daily in the beginning. I did end up stopping this practice of weighing daily because I was frustrated with the plateaus and went to weighing myself weekly.
  • How long before you were back to work?
    • I went back to work two weeks after my surgery. I probably could of went back in one week because I didn’t have nausea or pain but I wanted to get used to my new eating pattern at home before I tried it at work.
  • How long before you could become physically active again?
    • I was walking immediately - the day of surgery. I continued walking every day. It really helped with my recovery. I went back to the gym within a month. I started slow and worked out longer each time I went to the gym. I really enjoy walking outside though.
  • Have your health issues been resolved, or are they better managed, after the surgery?
    • Definitely have improved! I no longer have GERD or knee pain. My blood pressure medicine has been cut down. My labs are great - all my levels are perfect and my cholesterol has never been so good!
  • Do you still attend support groups?
    • I continue to attend the support groups both online and in person. I find them to be so valuable. Hearing real life experiences has really helped me. Knowing that people have gone through the same highs and lows as me has been reassuring.
  • Do you still see a nutritionist?
    • Yes, I see the dietician at support group meetings. It has been so easily accessible to get answers to any questions that have come up through my journey. I never have felt abandoned and without answers.
  • What has been your biggest challenge since surgery?
    • I think it has been both a blessing and a challenge to get a new wardrobe. I always hated shopping and it has been exciting to shop for newer and more stylish clothes. I have found using second hand shops have been helpful when I was transitioning into different sizes. Learning to chew was challenging for me. I think I am definitely so much more mindful of what I am putting in my mouth now. Exercise was slow going at first. But now, after being a year out, it comes much easier.
  • What has been your greatest success since surgery?
    • My greatest success was going to Disney during spring break this year. I had so much more energy. I was easily walking 9 miles a day while I was there. I used to be out of breath going up one flight of stairs! I am so much more active. I recently did the tree top adventure course at Turtle Back Zoo. It was something I always dreamed of doing but knew that my weight and knee really restricted me from anything like that. I was so very proud of myself after I finished it.
  • What has been the reaction of your friends and family?
    • Extremely supportive and complimentary. It is amazing to see people that I haven’t seen in the last year and they don’t recognize me. I feel the same and then I see someone who I haven’t seen and they are amazed. It gives me that boost that my journey was all worth it.

Experience Tammy’s Journey

Tammy Orr experienced lifelong issues with weight. The turning point for Tammy was her declining health.

Experience Tammy’s journey

Erin’s Story

Erin Dangerfield’s Weight Loss Journey

I had tried numerous weight loss pills and programs for over 10 years. Whatever fad diet I was doing seemed to work, for a time, but I would easily get off track and whatever I lost I would gain back, and then some. At 33 years old, I was diabetic, had high blood pressure, struggled with excessive snoring, and I suffered from constant back and knee pain. I was on medication to control my blood pressure and diabetes. Just living every day was a struggle.

My breaking point was shortly after my nieces were born and I was on the floor playing with them. I was out of breath and struggled to get off the floor. I knew at that point I couldn’t continue living like this. I so badly wanted to enjoy my life instead of struggling every day. I wanted to be able to play with my daughter and my nieces without getting out of breath and most of all, I wanted to be able to watch the three of them grow up. The following day, I made an appointment for a consult with Dr. Jawed. After talking to him, I knew that weight loss surgery was the answer for me and it was about to change my whole life.

I had to attend six months of medically supervised classes/appointments before my surgery. At each monthly appointment, I was greeted with such assurance and encouragement. On the morning of my surgery, Dr. Jawed and Dr. Abkin greeted me in the holding area before I was brought back to the O.R. They both gave me a final vote of confidence and really helped calm my last minute anxiety.

The surgery was successful and marked the first day of my new life! I was taken off all medications and my high blood pressure and diabetes had been resolved! I stopped snoring completely, and my joint pain was entirely gone. I literally gained my whole life back in a matter of a couple of weeks.

In one year, I have lost 137 pounds. I can walk up several flights of stairs without having to stop to catch my breath and I walked around Disney World for a week without my knees being in constant pain or tiring out. One of the best things, I can play with my daughter and my nieces endlessly without struggling to keep up. It’s great to feel confident in the way I look, but it is even greater to feel good again! I still enjoy food and the things I enjoyed before surgery, just on a much smaller scale. The decision to move forward with weight loss surgery transformed me and gave me my life back. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Ben's Story

Ben’s Story

Being morbidly obese is NOT attractive, NOT sexy, NOT fun, NOT comfortable and most importantly, NOT healthy!

My name is Ben and I have been struggling through the ups and downs of yoyo dieting for over 35 years. I've lost several hundred pounds during that time span. I have been on just about every diet out there and eventually gained all of the weight back.

It was very frustrating and most importantly, NOT healthy!!! I love food...all kinds. Desserts were always on my daily menu too and lots of them. Family and friends couldn't convince me that I was on a self-destructive path for many years. I didn't care and didn't want to listen to what they had to say.

I continued to overeat on a daily basis, knowing that my marriage was being affected and I might not live to see the birth of my grandchildren one day.

Sadly, I was living to eat and was unhappy at times. I was ashamed by the way I looked, but I comforted myself by consuming an entire pizza pie.

Totally out of control, I finally realized that this behavior couldn’t continue anymore. I had to make a commitment to end this lifestyle or this lifestyle MAY END ME! Desperately needing help, I researched bariatric sleeve surgery because I was unable to keep the weight off on my own.

DON'T let anyone ever say this is the EASY WAY OUT! It's quite the OPPOSITE, believe me! It takes a lot of SACRIFICE, WILLPOWER, DETERMINATION and EFFORT after surgery, but the results are amazing & rewarding.

Dr. Aram Jawed performed the gastric sleeve procedure on me at Saint Clare’s Dover Hospital approximately seven months ago. At this time, I have lost a total of nearly 100 pounds. I feel fantastic and it has brought health, happiness and fulfillment back into my life.

I would like to thank and sincerely recognize Dr. Jawed for his surgical expertise and his caring and compassionate personality, which put my mind at ease. Also, special appreciation to Elizabeth Silverthorne, bariatric coordinator, who has aided in my success with inspiration, nutritional guidance and group monthly meetings.

Finally, to all the readers who are considering having this surgery... DON'T HESITATE any longer. Get started TODAY on this path to a rewarding and healthier lifestyle change.

Thank you for reading my journey and good luck to all.

Ben Farruggio

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