News, Nutrition and Fitness Seth Stratton | 8 years ago

When It Comes To Health, Daughter Did Not Want to Follow Her Father’s Footsteps

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to spark change.

For Kimberley Gardner, it was the death of her father in 2008. “He had a heart attack,” she says. “I was the first one there, and found him. My healthcare training kicked in, but I decided right then that I would never put my children in the position I was in.” But Kimberley was following in her father’s footsteps. He was a big man, overweight and had diabetes. She was at her highest weight ever: 270 pounds. She was borderline diabetic with high blood pressure and arthritis in her knees. “I was just a mess. A big mess,” says the certified medical assistant at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Indian Trail Pediatrics. After her revelation, she tried losing weight on her own, but frequently got discouraged because of the arthritis in her knees. “I just had a hard time getting things going,” she says. When she started thinking about having weight loss surgery, she began researching different procedures and bariatric surgeons. “When I say researching, I mean I really did my homework,” she says. “I took two years to find the right doctor.” For Kimberley, the right doctor was Roc Bauman, MD, at Carolina Weight Loss Surgery in Concord, part of Carolinas HealthCare System. “He is a brilliant bariatric surgeon,” she says. So five years after the death of her father, on Oct. 24, 2013, Kimberley had gastric bypass surgery with follow-up support from Carolina Weight Loss Surgery. “I have never felt better,” she says. “I really feel this surgery and Dr. Bauman saved my life.” Today, Kimberley weighs 115 pounds, and went from wearing a size 20 jeans to a size 4. She’s back to participating in 5K races, recreational ballet and gymnastics. At 39, she has returned to doing the things she loved to do as a child. She was a competitive gymnast for many years and a ballerina for 18 years. “Before the surgery, I never thought I would be back to doing those things,” she says. “Never in a million years.” The keys to her success -- sticking with the plan and making the lifestyle changes that come with gastric bypass surgery. “I’ve done everything Dr. Bauman told me to do,” she says. “I eat a low-fat, high-protein diet. I exercise every day. I’m constantly moving.” She also credits the support system she has at home. “Especially my husband, Larry,” says Kimberley, who also has a 22-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son. “My husband has helped me physically and emotionally through this whole process. Plus, he makes my protein shakes for me every day! I couldn’t have done it without him.” Three months after surgery, she was able to quit medication to control her blood pressure, as well as the cortisone shots in her knees. “I went from getting shots in my knees to taking the table out of my dining room so I could do ballet on the wooden floor,” she said. “I don’t have the aches and pains. I have more energy, and I feel like I’m a much happier person now when I’m at work.”

Her advice to others thinking about weight loss surgery:

  • Do your homework. Research which surgery will be best for you, and find a doctor certified in bariatric surgery.
  • Make a list of the pros and cons of gastric bypass versus gastric sleeve (two types of gastric bypass surgery).
  • Stick with the plan.
  • Go to the pre- and post-surgery meetings.
  • Don’t give up.
“That last one is the most important,” she says. “Don’t give up. You won’t be sorry.”