Sabrina Dickens was feeling stuck. She was in her late 20s and weighed 367 pounds.
“Rolling over in bed was hard, putting on shoes was hard, getting in and out of my car took effort,” she says. “I needed help. I wasn’t going to enter my 30s in the worst shape of my life and with declining health.”
That’s when she turned to Cleveland Clinic Akron General bariatric surgeon Marita Bauman, MD, for help.
“I remember feeling that Sabrina was very motivated to make a change in her health,” says Dr. Bauman. “She really wanted to pursue gastric bypass and she was willing to make a required medication change in order to be eligible for the surgery.”
Sabrina trusted Dr. Bauman and her team and was ready to put in the work.
“My doctors believed in me, I just needed to believe in myself,” she says.
Rather than setting a goal weight for her patients, Dr. Bauman prefers to focus on their percentage of excess weight lost and quality of life improvements. “My theory is that if the patient is able to come off of their medications, clothing size decreases, mobility increases, and they are healthier, then the weight on the scale is not as important as overall wellbeing and increased health,” she says.
Although nervous about her first major surgery, Sabrina credits her nurses with helping to make it a positive experience. “My surgery and admission experiences at Akron General were incredible. The nurses who took care of me were so caring and supportive,” she says.
Three weeks following her gastric bypass, Sabrina joined a CrossFit gym — something she never would have considered before.
“I started with just a PVC pipe instead of weights since I was on a lifting restriction, but I was excited about all the new things I was determined to learn and try,” she says. “Prior to surgery, I rarely worked out in public or with groups because I was scared for people to see me fail.”
Sabrina says her coaches assured her there was no failing, just learning, and that everyone would support her no matter what. After losing 55 pounds, Sabrina was ready to try exercising on her own, so she turned to a personal trainer for advice. “He encouraged me to make more fitness goals,” she says. “I decided I was going to run a 5K and two months later I did.”
Sabrina before and after her bariatric surgery. (Courtesy: Sabrina Dickens)
Now down 110 pounds, it’s the nonscale victories that Sabrina notices every day. She even keeps a running list of them, so she never forgets where she started — from dancing pain-free at weddings to being able to run up a flight of stairs.
“I can put on shoes without struggling, I can fit into chairs with arms, I can wear necklaces without needing extenders and I am no longer afraid to get my picture taken,” says Sabrina.
Sabrina has already met and exceeded Dr. Bauman’s six-month post-op expectations. “At this point in her post-op journey, she has lost 55% of her excess weight,” says Dr. Bauman.
“When I started with Dr. Bauman’s team, I felt defeated and didn’t know If I had it in me to change my life in this way. I knew I needed to, but I didn’t know how to,” Sabrina says. “Whenever I felt like I was slipping up or struggling, they were always there to help me.”
She adds, “They believed in me even when I wasn’t sure of myself. They gave me the tools I needed and set me up to successfully start a new life. I get to live life again, the way I want to … not the way I have to.”
Ready to make a change or learn more about weight-loss surgery? Visit Akron General’s Bariatric Center or call 330.344.4751.
Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute