Published on January 27, 2021

Self-Esteem Soars for Frankfort Square Woman Following Bariatric Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital

Following the birth of her first child 10 years ago, Ashley Kettering noticed she had more difficulty than usual losing the pregnancy weight.

BMI Ashley KetteringThe situation doubled down on the Frankfort Square teacher two years later when she gave birth to twins.

Chasing after three youngsters left her out of breath, and going out for the evening was an ordeal. She was nearing 300 pounds on her 5-foot, 6-inch frame, and was worried Type-1 Diabetes could be in her near future.

“I’d try on 12 different outfits, and my husband said I looked great no matter what,” said Kettering, 37. “But I didn’t feel it.”

After trying many different types of diets, Kettering noticed her doctor had lost a lot of weight and looked great.

“She told me she had bariatric surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, and it was great,” Kettering said. “She also said not to think of the surgery as a ‘last-ditch effort’ after failures, but as the next step toward good health.

“So, I made an appointment for one of the seminars there in January 2019.”

Dr. Christopher Joyce presented the program that day. He and Dr. Brian Lahmann have performed over 7,000 weight loss surgeries at Silver Cross Hospital, which has the only program in Will County that has been named a MBSAQIP accredited center – Comprehensive and Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery.

During a follow-up appointment with Dr. Joyce, they decided a sleeve gastrectomy would be the best option for her. That procedure changes the shape and size of your stomach, reducing the amount of food you eat at one-time.

To prepare her body for that shock, Kettering had to go on the same diet she would be on for a couple of months following the surgery: high protein, low carb, and few calories.

“I’m from Wisconsin, and we had a family party camping, with brats and everything,” Kettering mused. “But I stuck to my diet.”

“The hardest things to give up were sugar and caffeine. I get up around 4:30 a.m. to teach English as a Second Language to children in China.” And that’s before she has to homeschool her own three children due to the pandemic.

Prospective bariatric patients also have to go through pulmonary, cardiac, and psychological tests before being considered for surgery, Dr. Joyce said, “to make sure their bodies can handle the procedure.”

The toughest one for her was the sleep study, but she understood the need for all of them, including the psychological study, which gives the doctors an idea of any underlying causes for the weight gain.

Kettering said she wasn’t sure how long she was in surgery but was very pleased to find out recovery was a lot easier than that from sinus surgery she had a while back.

“After the surgery, I really didn’t want to eat right away anyway. Then, I just stuck to the plan they gave me: Eat this for the first three months and adjust it for the next three and so on.

“And sometimes, you hit a plateau. When I did, Dr. Joyce said, ‘Well, let’s go back to this. Or let’s try it this way.’ You don’t just have the surgery and they let you go.”

Dr. Joyce said they’ve found just surgery alone leads to patients gaining the weight back again. Silver Cross offers a broad range of bariatric surgery care services, including inpatient care, post-operative care, outpatient follow-up care, and patient education.

“The bariatric surgery is only one facet,” Dr. Joyce said. “This is a multi-disciplinary approach to changing your lifestyle. We see patients after one month, three months, six months, nine months, and 12 months following surgery.”

 Support also includes group dynamics, done by Zoom now during the pandemic.

“One of the group said, ‘Oh, I ate a piece of candy and got horribly sick.’ I ate a mini Snickers bar at Halloween, and I didn’t. But then I thought, ‘Is there something wrong? Should I have gotten sick?’ But everyone is different.”

Dr. Joyce said Kettering is doing well, adding she’s lucky she didn’t have any health conditions because of her excess weight. Preventing those conditions will be easier now if she stays on the plan.

That may not be too difficult. Kettering has noticed eating carbs like pasta makes her feel bloated and ill. So, when her family has “spaghetti night,” she’ll have another choice, usually filled with vegetables and protein.

But, she also noticed the weight slipping off right away, gradually, so that now, about a year after surgery, she is down 74 pounds to 212. The goal she and Dr. Joyce set was about 160 pounds.

“So, I still have a ways to go. But I know I have a lot of support to get me there.”

And getting ready to go out is much more fun now.

“There is so much less stress and worry. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to feel great about yourself.”

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.