Published on June 24, 2022

Silver Cross Nurse Knows There’s No Better Place for Weight-Loss Surgery

Jill Ardaugh was hurting. She had more than 300 pounds on her 5-foot-4-inch frame, as well as fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis and a pair of bad knees. 

Jill Ardaugh beforeBEFORE
Jill Ardaugh afterAFTER
Jill Ardaugh before and after Weight-Loss Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital.

Part of her job as a clinical educator on the fifth floor nursing unit at Silver Cross Hospital is to give new employees a tour of the sprawling facility in New Lenox. 

“I couldn’t walk and talk without getting short of breath,” said Ardaugh, 44. “Oh, yes, my weight was affecting my job. But what really got to me was being pre-diabetic. I didn’t want that.” 

So, she talked to Dr. Christopher Joyce, who, with Dr. Brian Lahmann, had performed over 8,000 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. 

Ardaugh was familiar with the program. Gaining a lot of weight after bad knees curbed her once-athletic fitness regime, she had a lap band inserted at Silver Cross in 2012. It worked well for a while, with Ardaugh dropping a bunch of weight, but complications forced her to have it removed in 2019. 

“Dr. Joyce suggested trying another BMI option, but I thought I could do it on my own. I couldn’t. Soon, I was back up to 304 pounds.” 

Because Ardaugh also was suffering from GERD, Dr. Joyce said the best option for her was gastric bypass surgery. She knew before surgery she would once again need to be cleared for cardiac, pulmonary and psychological issues. 

Then, it was time for the high-protein, low-carb diet necessary for 14 days before the April 19, 2021, surgery. 

“That March, before I was to start the diet, I went out with some friends to dinner. I ate, and then I felt horrible. So, I decided to start the diet the next day. Instead of dieting 14 days before surgery, I did 24. 

“For the diet, you make two shakes per day from the protein powder you receive from BMI. Then, you get to have 4 ounces of a protein and a half cup of vegetables. It was no big deal.” 

Ardaugh doesn’t want to make it sound like changing one’s lifestyle is easy. 

“A lot of it is mental. I ate something I thought might make me sick one time, and I didn’t get sick. That actually scared me. I know I have to remain diligent, or I could backslide. And I don’t want to do that.” 

Regular follow-ups with the surgeon are part of the program. Since Dr. Joyce has retired, Ardaugh now meets with the new member of the Silver Cross BMI team, Joe Northup, M.D. 

“My wife is very supportive of the change and is happy to see me losing weight and feeling better. I’m down to 176 now. The goal they set for me was 179. 

“And because I see some of the BMI patients on my floor, I’m able to talk with them and reassure them following their surgeries. I also explain BMI to new employees on our floor because you hear about it, but many don’t realize what’s involved for the patients. 

“I feel so much better. But people have to realize this isn’t a quick fix. It’s just a tool. It’ll work for you if you work at it. I’m proof of that.”

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.