Weight-Loss Surgery, Work, Life and Continuing Education: a CDL Student Journey

By Sandra Barkevich, student, Center for Distance Learning and 2012-2014 student representative, Student Affairs Committee

March 5, 2012

I am a wife, a parent of two young kids, a full-time employee and a student. This is what one would call “having a full plate.” Three and a half years ago, the idea of going back to school wasn’t even a blip on my radar. So, what changed? My outlook on life.

My husband and I embarked on a journey to find our health. At the time, I had reached 273 lbs; he had become a whopping 356 lbs. We were always tired, semi-depressed and unsure of where our lives were headed. We were good at losing weight. But, keeping it off? That’s another story. What weight was lost always came back, plus more. We spent the dieting years ratcheting our weight up and up and up.

I wasn’t as worried for myself as I was for my husband. I encouraged him to look into weight-loss surgery because he needed something drastic or he wasn’t going to see age 50. We attended an informational seminar, which informed us about gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding. I immediately thought, “That band thing sounds like it might work for me.”

Weight-loss surgery is not an easy decision for anyone, and I’m no exception. Unlike my husband, other than fatigue and a general lack of enthusiasm for anything requiring energy, I was pretty healthy. I didn’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or clogged arteries...yet. It was the “yet” and the fear of how close it was to becoming “now” that made me think more about gastric banding.

In 2008, my husband and I underwent the adjustable gastric band procedure. We now have an appliance around the upper part of our stomachs that restricts how much food we can eat. This is a tool and is by no means a “magic bullet.” One must remember that the key to successful weight loss includes healthy eating and exercise. The gastric band, and any other form of weight loss surgery for that matter, is merely a tool that allows the individual to follow a healthier lifestyle.

Since the surgery, I’ve lost almost 70 lbs and my husband has lost 216 lbs. This isn’t a typo. He really lost 216 lbs. We both have more energy and aren’t afraid to go for long bike rides or play outside with the kids. I’m convinced that these life changes played a part in my decision to take the leap and go back to school. Now that I’ve added “student” to my resume, it’s more important than ever to keep up with a healthy lifestyle...and harder.

In future articles, I’ll be sharing my tricks for maintaining weight loss and keeping work, life and continuing education on track.