A New Life After 200-pound Weight Loss
Genesis Center for Weight Management has 4 options
Lori Emerick remembers the days when weighing 417 pounds literally
weighed down her life.
Over 10 years, her Type 2 diabetes had become progressively worse. She
suffered knee pain, back pain and frequent migraines. She sluggishly went to
work and then came home and often went straight to bed. At age 45, she felt sick
She would cringe when her teenage daughter wanted to go to the mall; it was
too much walking. She squeezed into the largest size offered at the plus-size
clothing store. She didn’t have near enough energy for the 3-and-4-year-olds she
supervised as an assistant daycare director. Once she got down on the floor to
play, she had to stay there a while.
“My diabetes numbers were out of control,” Emerick says. “I was tired of
taking four insulin shots and two oral medications a day. I didn’t want to go
anywhere or do anything. Finally, I decided I just couldn’t live like this
Today, Emerick is nearly 200 pounds lighter after having bariatric surgery
through the Genesis Center for Weight Management. In a dramatic turnaround from
her pre-surgery days, she rides her bike to work and participates in 5K races.
In fact, last Sunday she finished 3rd place in her age division. She is off all
diabetes medications; crunches on veggies instead of potato chips; and, has
enough energy to be called the “Energizer Bunny.”
“At 47, I feel like I’m 17 again,” she says. “I’m so much happier.”
Weight-loss surgery had been in the back of Emerick’s mind for a while. Years
earlier, she had investigated another program in the region -- only to be told
she had to lose 60 pounds in about three weeks to be eligible. Feeling defeated,
she abandoned the idea.
Years later, a friend from card club convinced her to consider bariatric
surgery through the nationally accredited program at Genesis Medical Center,
Davenport. That friend, Teresa Fraker, managed the center at the time and had
seen the surgery change many lives for the better. She encouraged Emerick to
attend an informational meeting.
“I felt welcome the minute I walked into the bariatric surgery center at
Genesis,” Emerick recalls. “Immediately, I noticed the chairs were larger. I
didn’t feel huge walking in there. I just knew they were on my side no matter
what. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and I loved them all.”
The informational meeting, led by Fraker who is now Director of Outpatient
Services for Genesis Health System, inspired Emerick. She began the journey that
would ultimately bring her to gastric bypass surgery in November 2009.
But first, she would participate in a program designed to assist her in
achieving the maximum success after surgery. “When you’re going through the
process you think, ‘Come on. Let’s get this over with, so I can have the
surgery.’ Later, you understand you’ve gone through this very important process
so you’re prepared for a lifetime of compliance,” Emerick says.
Before surgery, she also would have to lose enough weight to get down to 400
For several weeks, she was on the Optifast® Program, a medically supervised
weight-loss program of pre-portioned, calorie-controlled meals. “The timing was
perfect,” Emerick says. “I found that adhering to the program was easy because I
had the right mindset.”
Not all patients are required to lose weight before surgery. It’s on a very
individual basis, depending on weight and specific medical conditions.
“Some patients ask, ‘Why should I lose weight beforehand when I’ll lose so
much weight after weightloss surgery?’” says Kathy Crooks, RN, Supervisor of the
Genesis Center for Weight Management. “Weight-loss before surgery can help
patients lose some weight to help reduce their risk for complications during
surgery. The lifestyle changes they learn as part of the program also help them
prepare for life after surgery.”
4 weight-loss options
Lori Emerick holds up a t-shirt she
used to wear when she weighed
Last year, the Genesis Center for Weight Management became the only program
in the region to offer Optifast as an option for patients who may not meet
guidelines for a surgical weight-loss solution or who would prefer a nonsurgical
In addition, the Genesis center offers the region’s most comprehensive
surgical weight-loss options: laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass,
laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric-band.
Emerick underwent laparoscopic Rouxen- Y surgery on Nov. 2, 2009. The surgery
was performed by Matthew Christophersen, M.D., FACS, the program’s medical
“I haven’t been on any diabetes medication since the day before surgery. That
alone has made it all worthwhile,” she says. “Without insurance, one insulin
prescription alone would cost more than $300 per month.”
While the Genesis center offers three surgical options, it is the bypass
option that has gained the most attention as treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
A growing body of research shows that weight-loss surgery can reverse
“Most of our patients who have Type 2 diabetes prior to surgery leave the
hospital after Roux-en-Y off all of their diabetes medications,” Crooks says.
“Bypass is remarkably effective for treatment of Type 2 diabetes.”
The surgery brought many other benefits to Emerick, as well. Gone are her
aches and pains and the need to lie around fatigued. She copes better with the
physical demands of her job, and she has a positive attitude.
“Before my surgery, I remember going down to the school’s basement to get
supplies, and the climb back up the flight of stairs would nearly kill me,” she
recalls. “My knees would throb, I’d sweat profusely, and I’d be out of breath
for 10 minutes. I didn’t let people know how hard it was for me, but I felt
crabby and down all the time.
“Weight-loss surgery has made so much of a difference. I’m so much happier