Marion Enjoying Life Again

“I was terrified, but he reassured and educated me. I trusted him completely.”

A Local Resident Improves Type 2 Diabetes And Regains Vitality After Losing More Than 100 Pounds With Gastric Bypass Surgery.

Marion has always been young at heart. Now, at 57 and 115 pounds lighter, her body matches her spirit. She says that bariatric surgery at Community Medical Center (CMC) changed her life. “I got on a bike for the first time in 35 years,” she says. “It was rejuvenating!”

Weight has always been an issue for Marion, who began “packing it on” after significant life events, including childbirth and the death of her parents. The added weight contributed to physical problems: Marion had a double knee replacement in 2013 and saw her type 2 diabetes spiral out of control. “I was dependent on insulin and taking pills to control my blood sugar, and I had neuropathy in my feet,” she says of the side effects of her weight, which climbed to 350 pounds.

When Marion started a new job in 2017, she learned that bariatric surgery was covered by her insurance plan. She knew the timing was right. Marion investigated programs throughout New Jersey and attended an informational session hosted by the Center for Bariatrics at CMC. Marion was convinced. “I was impressed and happy to find a great program close to home.”

Promises Kept

At Marion’s first appointment, she met with Steven J. Binenbaum, MD, FACS, FASMBS, a board-certified bariatric surgeon. He recommended a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass which restricts food intake and calorie absorption and improves blood sugar levels. “Dr. Binenbaum said a bypass was the best option due to my diabetes,” says Marion. “I was terrified, but he reassured and educated me. I trusted him completely.”

The Center for Bariatrics’ staff assured Marion they would support her throughout her journey. “Boy, did they keep their promise!” says Marion. “I had access to the surgeon, dietitian, psychologist and nurses whenever I needed them. They were my cheerleaders and were with me every step of the way.”

A registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with 35 years of experience, Anne Van Meerbeke is part of the Center for Bariatrics team and consults with patients before surgery. She learns about their medical history and dietary habits, and develops a customized lifestyle management plan.

“Many patients think, ‘I’ ll have surgery and be skinny and life will be great,’” says Van Meerbeke. “But there’s a lot of medical preparation and counseling needed. I educate patients about nutrition and diabetes and focus on beha vior modifications. My goal is to provide them with tools so they ’ll have the best outcome,” she says.

Since the Center’s launch more than a year ago, Van Meerbeke has made communication a priority. “I can text Anne a picture of a food label when I’m at the Steven J. Binenbaum, MD grocery store and ask, ‘Can I eat this?’ and she'll respond right back," says Marion. For years, Marion didn't truly understand her diabetes or the foods that impacted it. Now, thanks to Anne, I do," says Marion, who now has a normal blood sugar level.

Inspiring Others

Pounds away from her goal weight, Marion is inspiring others. She never misses a support group meeting. “I’ve become friends with the participants,” she says. “It helps to be with people who understand what you’re going through.” Marion calls pizza her “hot button,” but says she has learned to confront it: “I take a sniff then leave it and go for a walk or visit my grandkids.” In January, Marion’s grandchildren will reap the benefits of their active grandmother’s transformation even more.

“We’re going to Disney World!” Marion exclaims.