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Becky's story

Published on Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Becky McKone
For Becky McKone, her happiness was becoming more and more tied to her health. In 2012, the then 50-year-old Burton native struggled with Type II diabetes, hypertension, and was overweight.

Clothes shopping and looking at herself in photos had become reminders that she had steadily gained weight over the last decade. Therefore, she avoided both. Her Body Mass Index (BMI) score placed her in the obese classification. She had tried several times to lose weight with diets and with each setback, she felt more discouraged. Then Becky began researching a surgical solution.

She contacted the McLaren Metabolic and Bariatric Institute and scheduled a consultation. She met with surgeon Michael Kia, DO. Based on her medical conditions and BMI, he determined that she was a candidate for surgery. They discussed the surgical options. The next step was looking into her insurance coverage and costs.

At that time Becky’s out-of-pocket cost was estimated at $7,000 so she decided to put the idea on hold. Then in January 2013, she switched to an insurance plan that provided more substantial coverage, lowering her own cost to about $3,000. This time she went ahead with the surgery.

As in Becky’s case, many insurance providers require six months of medically supervised weight loss attempts before being approved for surgery. During this time, she began attending the Institute’s support group meetings and educational programs. It was at a program called “Mindful Eating” where she had the opportunity to meet and talk with people who chose to have surgical weight loss.

“I met one gentleman named Tom,” Becky recalled. “He said the surgery was ‘the tool he needed to get over the hurdle he could never get past before. After that, the rest is up to you.”

Originally, Becky had opted for Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery where the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch and then constructs a “bypass” for food. However, she was intrigued after talking to a woman who was going to have the sleeve gastrectomy, a “restrictive” procedure, now one of the surgical options available at McLaren Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. The procedure involves the removal of two-thirds of the stomach to reduce its capacity.

The average adult stomach can hold between 1 and 1.5 liters. During the Sleeve Gastrectomy surgical procedure, a thin vertical sleeve is created by using a stapling device. This sleeve can hold between 50 and 150 milliliters or about the size of a banana. This smaller stomach sleeve restricts the amount of food you can eat before feeling full. There is no rerouting of the bowel or post-operative adjustments necessary. Last July, Dr. Kia performed the sleeve gastrectomy for Becky at McLaren Flint. Since that day, she has not taken any medication for her hypertension or diabetes. She eats mainly proteins and takes a special multivitamin everyday. She also enjoys having more energy. Becky stays motivated by attending support group meetings and seeing her results reflected back at her.

“In October I went with my son to have his Senior pictures taken,” she said. “At the studio I walked by a wall of mirrors where I could see myself from every angle. It was one of those moments where I realized that I like the way I look now. And that is a great feeling.” To date, she has lost 66 pounds, enough to reach her goal of being in the healthy zone on the BMI chart.

“I have so much gratitude for all that Dr. Kia has done to make my life better,” she explained. “When I went in for a follow up visit, he told me I’d done everything right and was on track to reaching my weight loss goal. I felt so proud and thankful for his help that I just wanted to hug him, but I didn’t. Then at the end of our visit, I was pleased when he said, ‘I’ve got to give you a hug, you’ve done so well.’ So I got my hug. That meant the world to me.”

When asked if she had any advice to others considering surgical weight loss, Becky added, “Knowing now how much healthier I am and how much better my life is, I wish I would have had it done sooner.”