March 10, 2022

Bariatric patient overcoming obstacles to better health

Struggling with one’s weight and related illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can get anyone down. Add to that the traumatic experience of losing a leg, and no one would fault them from wanting to hibernate from the world.

Not so for Lisa Biggy, a 53-year-old from Maywood, New Jersey. Thanks to the Center for Advanced Bariatric Surgery at Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center, she is hopeful for a healthy future.

Lisa had always struggled with her weight and had tried a variety of diets for help. None of them worked well, so she decided to have lap-band surgery to help her lose weight in 2012.

Then in December 2018 she was in a traumatic accident that nearly killed her. She ended up undergoing an amputation of her left leg right below the knee.

“With my slow recovery from the surgeries and not being able to move around or bear weight on my leg for months, I got depressed and gained more weight,” Lisa said. “That’s when I started to research other options.”

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Her research led her to Karl Strom, M.D. and the team atthe Center for Advanced Bariatrics at Mountainside. After a consultation with Dr. Strom, Lisa found out that she would be a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery.

She had the lap band removed in November 2020 and weighed 275 in January 2021. The gastric sleeve surgery was performed in February, and by November 2021, she was down to 223 pounds. She now weighs 213 pounds.

“This time around, I started keeping a food journal. Tracking what I ate not only helped me physically but also helped me mentally. It’s a practice that I still continue even as I approach the one-year anniversary of my surgery.”

Her weight loss also improved her overall health, as she used to take medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, but not anymore. She has also set her sights on higher goals.

Future Goals

“I would like to lose another 40 pounds. Dr. Strom feels it is possible, as long as I continue with my healthy eating habits and stay on track with my activity. My weight loss is helping me be more productive and stay on my feet longer. I’m working part-time now, but once I’m physically able to, I want to work full- time. I would love to be more involved with the Amputee Support Group and help people by sharing my story.”

Her prosthetic leg has not slowed her down at all.

“It's actually made me more determined,” said Lisa. “It’s been difficult, yes, but I don’t take no for an answer. I’m also a very optimistic, upbeat person. If you tell me ‘no’ three times, I’m going to tell you ‘yes’ five times. I have a lot of determination.”

Increasing Activities

She has increased her activity by walking for 20 minutes on a treadmill 3 to 4 times a week. She can also leave her prosthetic leg on for longer periods of time. “I want to increase those numbers and maybe one day get a different prosthetic or blade so I can start jogging. As my physical therapist says, ‘Anything is possible.’”

“I know people will doubt themselves, but that’s why I want to share my story. If I can do it, given what I went through, anyone can do it,” she said.

The support Lisa received from the staff at the Bariatrics Center has been very important to her weight loss goals. “When I’m facing challenges and trying to accomplish my goals, the fact that I know they believe in me just gives me more motivation,” she said.

“Dr. Strom is a great doctor and he has an amazing team at Mountainside,” said Lisa. “The nurses there are great and I can call the nutritionist any time. They have been my team for the last two years. I would recommend this team to anyone considering weight loss surgery!”

To learn more about our bariatric services, visit the Center for Advanced Bariatric Surgery.

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