Published on September 14, 2020

New Lenox Teacher Enjoys Brand-New Life after Weight-Loss Surgery at Silver Cross

Nicole Thompson admits she’s struggled with weight issues most of her life.

Nicole Thompson
New Lenox Teacher Nicole Thompson before and after weight-loss surgery at Silver Cross. 

“I’m an only child,” she explains. “So when my parents weren’t home, I got bored. I watched TV and ate.”

When the New Lenox school teacher had her second child at 40 three years ago, she put on even more pounds and tried the fitness center. “They would put me on the treadmill to warm up,” she added. “I had some knee problems, so that didn’t work.”

At 5’4” and nearing 300 pounds, Thompson had been considering the idea of gastric bypass surgery. Then, when a Facebook acquaintance had the surgery, Thompson attended a seminar offered by renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Brian Lahmann on staff at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox in October 2018.

Through BMI Surgery, Dr. Lahmann and Dr. Christopher Joyce have performed over 7,000 weight loss surgeries at Silver Cross. The hospital’s well-established weight loss surgery program is the only one in Will County that has been named a MBSAQIP accredited center – Comprehensive and Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery. The center offers several weight loss surgery options, including gastric bypass surgery and gastric sleeve.

“I went in nervous, but I came out excited,” Thompson said. “I liked Dr. Lahmann’s manner and way of explaining the different types of bariatric surgeries. By the time I got home, I knew I was going to get it done.”

During a screening, she and Dr. Lahmann decided gastric bypass was the best option for her, but there still was a lot of work to do. Dr. Lahmann said there is a lot of misconception about the disease of obesity, even among the medical community.

“Some might say, ‘Oh, just eat less and exercise more.’ But there are people who eat small amounts and exercise, and still gain 10 pounds a year,” he said. “It’s the opposite of that one person we know who can eat anything and not gain weight.”

So, telling a person it’s too bad they couldn’t lose weight the “regular” way, doesn’t mean anything to some people whose bodies won’t comply with their will power.

Thompson passed the required pre-operative medical and psychological tests, and scheduled her surgery for June 2019, during summer break from school. The weeks before the surgery were tough, she said, because patients are required to go on the same strict diet they’ll have to follow for weeks after the procedure.

“Dr. Lahmann explained there were certain foods I wasn’t going to be able to eat right away,” she said. “Like dairy and forget about carbs. It was basically all protein.”

Dr. Lahmann said patients think it’s easy to be limited to 2 to 4 ounces of protein at a meal. But not so much when they had been eating a 16-ounce steak.

“So, we also suggest protein shakes. And they have to stay hydrated; 64 ounces of liquid a day. That’s difficult when their stomachs are so much smaller,” he added.

Since it’s major abdominal surgery, Thompson said, there is also pain following surgery and restrictions on lifting.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “It’s not like, zip, and you’re done. But if you follow the plan, it works.”

Dr. Lahmann agreed. “This is far from an easy procedure. But this gives them a tool to help them change their way of life. But like any tool, you have to use it right. You can’t use the wrong end of a hammer and blame the hammer.”

When she returned to school last fall, fellow teachers and staff who didn’t know about her surgery noticed she had lost some weight.

“But by Christmas, it was noticeable. They were asking me what diet I was on. Even on Facebook, when I showed new pictures, people were asking,” she said. “So, I posted a story of what I did.”

“She is doing great,” Dr. Lahmann said. “It is just amazing to see someone get their life back.”

Slowly, Thompson was able to reintroduce more into her diet: vegetables, even some sweets. Now, she is able to eat just about anything, but in moderation.

The surgery and the work she put into it resulted in Thompson dropping nearly 150 pounds. “I’m a Size 6. I have never been a Size 6 in my life,” she says proudly.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 28, Thompson had blamed some of her health issue on that. But the leg stiffness and numbness in her digits is gone now. “And I’m running! I uploaded a ‘Couch to 5K’ app, and breezed through it!”

Thompson said her husband is happy with her outcome as well.

“He must be,” she added. “He’s doing the pre-testing for his own surgery now!”

For more information about weight-loss surgery at Silver Cross, visit www.bmisurgery.org

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.