See Why Josephine Chose Weight-Loss Surgery at Jefferson
"I'm really cured. I'm so happy to not have to worry about this"
For Josephine Lacaba, struggling with her weight had been a lifelong endeavor. "I've tried everything," she says. For years, her primary care physician and endocrinologist managed her diabetes and blood pressure. Despite these efforts, she continued to gain weight, and it became clear that, at 49 years of age, it was time for more dramatic action.
Her nephrologist James Burke, MD, suggested she meet with David Tichansky, MD, director of Jefferson's Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program, about weight-loss surgery. She was worried about possible complications, but Dr. Burke and her endocrinologist Serge Jabbour, MD, expressed concern that the alternative was to go on dialysis — a measure that generally cannot be reversed once it begins. She agreed to make the appointment.
Josephine found great relief when Dr. Tichansky explained the details of the procedure and the lifelong support the Program offered. Having come to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1988, English is her second language, and she appreciated how clearly and simply Dr. Tichansky explained the details to her.
The surgery is entirely laparoscopic, which means rather than a large incision, a series of small incisions are used to perform the bypass, which dramatically reduces the portions of food a person consumes. Josephine decided that this was a step she was willing to take, for the sake of her health, and also of her husband (of 19 years) and her 8-year-old son.
"In order to promote safety and likelihood of good outcomes," says Dr. Tichansky, "we have all of our patients undergo extensive evaluations, since a significant portion of our patients have undiagnosed issues."
Josephine underwent the procedure in early June and was at Jefferson University Hospital only three days. At her first follow-up endocrinology appointment three weeks post-surgery, she was delighted to learn that her diabetes had been entirely cured, and she could also go off her blood pressure medication completely. Within 30 days she had shed 20 pounds; within two months she had lost 40, and by the three-month anniversary she was 50 pounds lighter.
"I was amazed," she says. "I'm really cured. I'm so happy to not have to worry about this. My chest pains are also gone, and I don't get tired like I did before." She is extremely grateful for the active involvement of the comprehensive team the Jefferson's Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program offers: Alise Kuhl, CRNP-BC, the program coordinator, and Michelle Moon, the dietitian, saw her at every visit and helped her know what to expect; internist Janine Kyrillos, MD, a team member that makes the Program unique, helps patients with any medical issues that arise; and Saidah Williamson handles the complex insurance issues.
"My family is so happy for me," Josephine says with a smile. "My husband teases me that he doesn't have to take care of my medical problems anymore, and my son has learned a lot about diet and nutrition through all of this. He encourages me to exercise now, and he talks about us all staying healthy."