Berna Woods, 58, is a proud grandmother, but as much as she wanted to get down on the ground or chase around her giggling grandchildren, she knew she couldn’t be as involved as she had wanted. “I was on the floor playing with them and I couldn’t get up,” Berna recalls. “I slipped and sprained my wrist. I realized I needed to lose weight.” Looking back, Berna admits there were other moments she felt her weight was holding her back, like the mission trip to Thailand in 2007. Unable to make the hike through the hills, Berna had to ride in a truck instead of walk. “I was really disappointed I didn’t get to go through the jungle.” As she encountered similar situations, she said it changed her attitude. “I felt I was viewed a little differently. I had always heard there was an overweight prejudice, but I didn’t understand it until it was happening to me. I was disappointed in myself.”
In 2010, Berna had lap band weight loss surgery and lost 35 pounds. She wanted not only to lose weight, but also to address mounting health problems like high blood pressure and aching joints. However, three years later after facing regurgitation issues and scarring around the band, she found most of the weight was back, along with her original health concerns.
“I went to see Dr. Vuong,” she says. “He said I was a candidate for sleeve revision surgery.” Filled with the hope of living a healthier, more active life, Berna began doing her research and reconnected with Lovelace Bariatrics, attending classes and appointments faithfully. Despite a family emergency that forced her to temporarily put things on hold, Berna overcame obstacles and had her revision surgery December 30, 2014.
“I’ve lost 60 pounds and feel better than I ever have,” she adds. “I thought before if I had only had enough willpower, I could lose the weight. Dr. Vuong taught me it is not just about me, but that sometimes you need a helping hand. He has always been so positive!” Losing weight and gaining confidence in herself changed her attitude once more. “Some people say they don’t recognize me, because I’m so happy.”
Today, Berna has 11 grandchildren ages two months to 12 years old. From jumping on the trampoline to climbing into a playhouse, she is not only an active grandmother, she is an example to her family. “Changing the way I ate helped my husband’s health as well. My daughter said it inspired her to exercise and eat healthy. I’m also making an impact on my grandchildren’s life. I joined a gym for the first time in my life! Now I can lift weights, do the stability ball and do squats! I don’t have joint pain anymore and I’m off all my medications.”
It is a transformation even her primary care physician, Dr. Preston Matthews, noticed. “He said, ‘You’ve never looked so good and been so healthy since I’ve known you in 28 years,’” Berna said.
For anyone considering weight loss surgery, Berna says her best advice is to go to a free seminar and talk to patients who have their own stories to share. “This is the most positive life-changing decision I’ve ever made. It’s the greatest thing!”